(This was a report which contributed to the setting up of the first FACTWorld website, it's here for historical reasons!!!)
THE STATE OF CONTENT AND LANGUAGE LEARNING IN SERBIA
First of all let me introduce. My name is Marina Velkovski. I work as a primary school teacher in one Belgrade state school. I have been working as a teacher of English for more than twelve years.
In our country English is thought both in primary and secondary schools. In primary schools (state schools) pupils start to learn it either in the 3rd or 5th year depending on the choice of a school to have English as the first or the second foreign language. The situation is like this because two foreign languages are thought in primary school.
In grammar schools students continue to learn two foreign languages but in vocational schools they choose one.
The Ministry of Education prescribes textbooks that we use in state schools and the authors are people from Yugoslavia (university teachers, people involved in methodological work, secondary school teachers…).
On the other hand there are many private language schools in Belgrade and other cities and towns in Serbia. They use English textbooks of different English publishers (Longman, OUP, MacMillan…). Better results are achieved in private sector because of the fewer number techniques could be applied successfully.
In private schools children can start learning English at the age of five and there are many private “English” kindergartens where children start learning English at the age of seven (in the first year) by using English text-book “Super Me”.
There are some private institutes, colleges where other subjects are taught in English (especially business English) and there is one international high school (Private American School) in which all the subjects are taught in English.
Some universities, for example the School of Medicine in Belgrade, which have foreign students teach different subjects in English.
In our country in urban areas a great stress is put on learning English. Students are very enthusiastic about learning it. They learn it because of educational reason, and they use computers, Internet…
Teacher had different Teacher Development Seminars in the last few years organized by the British Council and the Ministry of Education as well as by the representatives of Longman, OUP, and Heinemann.
For the state schools there are regular summer and winter seminars with foreign lectures.
Still, there is great need for the English teachers here to refresh their knowledge of English especially for those ones who have never been to an English spoken country. Some of my colleagues suggested that teachers could go to England to attend a seminar and stay there during summer holidays and do some work there to pay off at least one part of their stay and the cost of the course or seminar because of their low salaries here.
Due to the current situation working conditions is state schools are not something we should be proud of. There are not enough teaching aids, teaching facilities – copiers, OHPs…
The number of students, especially in secondary schools sometimes reaches the number of fifty students in a class.
EYLS Teacher, Serbia
school email email@example.com
EYLS (English to Young Learners)