My journey started nearly 40 years ago (time really flies, isn't it?). I was a small boy in elementary school – I can hardly remember those times now. But some things we remember better and those are usually moments of joy or on the other hand (in most cases?) painful moments. In my early years of „search for English“ I encountered unfortunately mostly the second ones. My parents sent me to the language school to learn English. At fist I welcomed it. It looked like a new adventure for me and it was not so bad. To say the truth, I was even quite enthusiastic about it (at first). But such a state did not last for long!
Needless to say, we were taught by Czech teacher (there were no native language teachers in our country at that time) using classical methods, of course. It was a lot of vocabulary, grammar, exercises, reading, tests... It is the truth, that I was able to cope with it somehow, especially at that particular lesson in which we were taught some grammar phenomenon for exeampe, but a few weeks later? It goes without saying – I had such a mess in my head! And on top of it, I had newer been a good at speaking. I am not speaking only about English but it was the same my native Czech language. I can remember our teacher (regular, not language teacher) saying: „Jirka is such a silent boy. He is not stupid but he is very passive, when I ask him, he usually know ...“. Yes, I used to be very silent and shy. Actually I was not (and still I am not) very clever. I have just had no thoughts in my head at that time and because of it the speech of the teacher „recorded“ somehow into my memory. Maybe that lack of thinking did not interfere with the learning process and actually was very helpful. I nearly did not need to learn at home at all. But different situation was with that English lessons. I had in my head two languages at the same time, fighting together, competing for resources. The results were corresponding. Gradually I become fed up with that „stupid English“ but my parents insisted – I had to continue. And when I think of it, I was not any exception or a bad student in our class, actually I was an average one.
So, I continued, hardly able to understand, hardly able to say something. With my reading and writing it was the same. I forgot most of the grammar from months and years before, I forgot most of vocabulary we crammed up … but I continued. I went for years this way. I was already in my high school and the lessons of English (in language school) were twice a week and 2 hours long each! It started to be a torture for me and I was looking for every opportunity to miss those lessons. Maybe because of it my results deteriorated and it lead to my further disappointment with language learning. I started to skip school. At that time I used to play chess and I was quite good at it actually. It was my hobby and instead of attending the language school I played chess with my friends from our chess-club. My parents, of course, received the news from the language teacher about my frequent absences and were furious. My father was very upset, I remember, he cried to me something about importance of language learning. I was hardly listening (being in puberty – accustomed to such situations) Suddenly my attention focused to one sentence he uttered. It was: „You must chose – you must chose between English or Chess! There is no doubt about it“ He probably did not expect any response from me, but it came to his amazement - I said at that moment: „I chose the CHESS“ And it was. It was a finish of my English education for few years to come and a total finish of my „classical“ English learning. At least such kind of language school organized education. I finished successfully the high school (learning there German and Russian) and went to university. I played chess and I was good at it and happy, I enjoyed it. And what about my English? It had a resting time.
To be continued ...