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Teaching Philosophy

My earliest experiences as a language teacher stem from the Czech Republic, where I taught for almost four years before my brief stint in Serbia and my return to the U.S. for graduate school. In Czech, “to learn” usually translates as učit se. This verb can be seen as the reflexive form of the verb učit, to teach. I will always remember the delight with which I made this connection: There is no learn in Czech! There is only teach, and teach yourself! I know now that this particular exegesis reflects something of an immature understanding of the language, but the insight remains true: Learning should be just as active on the part of the learner as teaching is on the part of the teacher. In the terminology of critical pedagogy, the teacher is not a fount of knowledge who simply pours it out, and the learner does not simply drink it up; a learner must be active in order to learn, but the teacher is still responsible for guiding this process. There is učení on both sides, a constant dialogical interplay that equips the learner for further inquiry and that may shape the teacher’s insights and actions in the same process.

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