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History teacher reverses roles and becomes student

Posted By Annie Orenstein On December 23, 2009 @ 12:42 am In Global Education | Comments Disabled

Walking into Spanish class the first week of school, junior Austin Pollack finds his classmates not reminiscing about their summers, but whispering about a new student.

The student was history teacher Michael Kozuch.

“It was awkward at first because I was never used to having another teacher sitting in on one of my classes, Pollack said. “But, he isn’t just sitting in; he’s an actual, participating student.

It might seem strange to some students who have to work in partners during a classroom activity since many are not accustomed to seeing a teacher as a peer.

Despite the anomaly, Pollack believes Kozuck “is a great student.

“He is always on time for class and participates well. He always comes prepared with his homework and is always ready for quizzes and tests. he said.

Kozuch, whose partner is a Panama native, has tried to learn Spanish in the past with the language-learning software Rosetta Stone.

“I learned some grammar and vocabulary from the computer software, but I thought I would thrive from being in an actual learning environment, Kozuch said.

Though Kozuch excels on tests and participates regularly, his enrollment in the class has proven to his fellow students that adults do not learn languages as fast as younger students.

“As adults, we build up language learning too much in our minds as something hard or think it will be easy and then get discouraged when we don’t speak fluently in 30 days, language professional Paul Iverson of the University College London Centre for Human Communication said.

The pressure to be perfect is more prominent in adults than in young children, according to Iverson, which can leave adults emotionally distraught when perfection is not reached in a small amount of time.

The pressure often frustrates adults, and sometimes discourages them as well.

“Learning a language when you are young is like riding a bike, he said. “You might forget for a while but when you start again, you’ll be right on track.

Some linguists equate children to sponges who soak up all they hear. The theory helped fuel a movement to introduce foreign language early in elementary school.

“Children learn inductively, by example and by interacting with the environment around them, and adults tend to learn analytically and deductively, former professor Charles Stansfield of the University of California at San Diego said.

But for Kozuch, determination also stems from his desire to communicate with the natives during the schools Sustaining Modern Global Communities (SGC) trip to Costa Rica and Panama this February.

“Although some of the students are honors-level Spanish speakers and would love to translate for myself and the rest of the students, there is something about communicating with the locals that enhances the global community-building experience, Kozuch said.

In preparation for the trip this coming February, the seniors in Kozuch’s SGC course will spend some classes entirely devoted to learning Spanish.

Seniors like Taryn Valley and Yelly Malinsky will be two of the students involved in teaching the classes due to their experience with Spanish.

“It’s exciting that we get to play a different role for once, Malinsky said.

So even though Pollack’s C-Block Spanish class will be a tad different this year, “the class hasn’t changed since Mr. Kozuch joined.

“I have become accustomed to it, and it feels like he is just another student, Pollack said.

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Article printed from Denebola: http://www.denebolaonline.net

URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/12/23/history-teacher-reverses-roles-and-becomes-student/

URLs in this post:

[1] Faculty Focus: Chris Jackson: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/faculty-focus-chris-jackson/

[2] Retirement: Rebecca Block: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/retirement-rebecca-block/

[3] The history of South’s World Language Department: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/the-history-of-souths-world-language-department/

[4] Spanish taught new way: Petrillo heads program: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/spanish-taught-new-way-petrillo-heads-program/

[5] South speaks: Spanish: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/south-speaks-spanish/

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