Language specialist Hans Christoph Pocha from Germany has come come to Armenia for the second year at the invitation of the Armenian Volunteer Corps and Dar Foundation to help the foreign language teachers of the villages involved in the Gagarin project in Gegharkunik Region to acquire new advanced teaching methods. The founding director of Yerevan Mkhitar Sebastatsi educational complex, Ashot Bleyan, coordinates the public education sector of the “Gagarin” project, and that is the reason why Hans Christoph holds educational exchange meetings with the students and teachers of the educational complex. This article of mine tells about his activities in January-February of this year.

   January 18 was a busy day for the German guest specialist Hans Christoph and the students and teachers of Mkhitar Sebastatsi educational complex. First, a meeting was held with students and teachers of the Middle School. Hans Christoph conducted a unique English lesson with the learners using an interactive, communicative approach to foreign language teaching. That day’s session was based on a teaching material I created, Balance in Love, designed to influence the formation of two key components of pedagogy content: attitude and value system.

    My main idea in the text is that both in nature and in social life there are laws that immediately begin to influence and bring balance to any unbalanced phenomenon. In social life, a person is kept in spiritual balance by love and respect for the other person, and in nature, by the laws of nature. Hans Christoph did not resort to reproducing the text to discuss the topic, as many teachers usually do. He had chosen six pictures from the Internet, and by discussing them, it became clear how well the students understood the spirit of the text, what it had to say. At the end of the lesson, Hans Christoph asked the students to invent dialogues and by role-playing to show how to bring balance to any unbalanced social phenomenon. Everyone was inspired by the lesson: the students, the teachers, I myself and of course Hans Christoph himself.

      At 13:00 all foreign language teachers of the educational complex gathered in the high school reading room. As previously planned, Hans Christoph was to present the Google Workspace For Education platform to our foreign language teachers. At first, Hermine Antonyan helped the teachers to register on that platform, after which Hans Christoph explained step by step why it is important to use this educational platform in a public school. All our foreign language teachers now have the Google Workspace for Education icon on their PCs.

       Of course, we have already implemented several tools of the platform, for example, Google Drive and Google Forms, but Hans Christoph is of the opinion that our educational sessions will be more organized and we will benefit in terms of content if the Google Classroom platform is implemented.

The System of Dual Education in Germany

The educational session on this topic aroused special interest among the students of our College during the meeting on February 1. Such programmes offer plenty of opportunities for on-the-job training and work experience. Programmes usually last between two and three and a half years and consist of theoretical as well as practical elements. You will spend one or two days a week, at vocational school where you will acquire the theoretical knowledge needed in your future occupation. The rest of the time will be spent at a company, where you get to apply your newly acquired knowledge in practice, for example by learning to operate machinery. You will get to know what your company does, learn how it operates, and find out if you can see yourself working there after completing your vocational training. It acts as a smooth transition from public school to the workplace. In Germany, students of general education schools can be included in the dual education system at the age of 16. 50% of 16-19 year olds in the country are enrolled in the dual education system.

     Students’ studies are carried out both at the workplace of the production enterprise and in the classrooms of the specialized school. The duration of study is from 2 to 3.5 years. After graduation, students receive professional qualification certificates that are recognized not only by Germany, but also by manufacturing companies in other developed countries, and about 90% of students in this system are immediately in demand on the labor market after graduation, and they go to permanent employment. That is why the youth unemployment rate in Germany is so low at 5.6%.

      Hans Christoph gave the presentation on the German dual education system with great enthusiasm. The attractive thing here is that every young person can choose any of the hundreds of trades and secondary vocational education components according to their preferences and get both secondary education and secondary vocational qualifications while receiving an average monthly salary of €1100. The video included in the presentation shows the equipment of vocational schools.

The February 8 educational session on “Emigration of Armenians from Armenia” in the College was a real master class.

During the lesson, the role-playing method of panel discussion of the topic was used. The students had previously received and read an informative article on the topic, the words and phrases of which would greatly help them during the discussion. Hans Christoph, in his turn, had made a list of polite expressions to be used during the discussion:

  • when you completely agree with the point of view expressed
  • when you generally agree with the point of view expressed, but would like to make some additions
  • when you disagree with the expressed point of view and present your arguments.

This is how the word combination “panel discussion” is explained in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “panel discussion, or simply a panel, involves a group of people gathered to discuss a topic in front of an audience, typically at scientific, business, or academic conferences, fan conventions, and on television shows. Panels usually include a moderator who guides the discussion and sometimes elicits audience questions, with the goal of being informative and entertaining.” For example, Petros Ghazaryan organizes panel discussions on various topics of interest to the public on the first channel of Armenian Public Television, where the debating parties are real people with their real views.

      During our open class, the debating parties were the College students, who were assigned to express the views of one or another fictional character. The moderator of the discussion was also a student. In the first part of the class, Hans Christoph had assigned the roles and presented the views of the panel discussion participants, which the students had to defend according to their roles, and during the discussion that lasted for about 45 minutes, he did not say a word. A student supported the point of view of 49-year-old Samvel Grigoryan, who was a great patriot and was completely against emigration. Arina Zohrabyan, manager of the Armenian Volunteer Corps, who was repatriated from the USA, had something important to say. The Minister of Internal Affairs, Vahe Ghazaryan, informed about the functions of the government, with which they will be able to soften the flow of emigrants. Gayane Gevorgyan, who has been living abroad with her five children for five years, talked about her work abroad and her willingness to help her homeland in some way from abroad. Young doctor Tevos Adamyan is preparing to emigrate to Germany and expressed his concerns about his future.

     I was very pleased to hear the views of all the role-playing participants and their answers to the audience’s questions. It was as if that group of students had prepared for the lesson for months, memorizing their roles. It was simply unbelievable that they had received Hans Christoph’s instructions about their roles only a few minutes earlier. The students’ speeches were impromptu, created while speaking. I think that Armine Khachatryan who teaches English at the College, has had a positive impact on the students’ ability to express themselves freely in English.

The new educational program at our college

Our College has completely changed. I have worked here for the past seven years and I can say with confidence that a community of knowledgeable and dedicated teachers, well-mannered students, and pedagogical workers with human relationships based on love and respect has been created. Such a community can fully meet and satisfy the requirements of the program for the involvement of non-Armenian speaking students in the College in the new academic year.

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