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„For me teaching was the goal in life” – interview with dr. Tünde Sárosi

2024-05-14 14:38:00

In the academic year 2023/24 students chose dr. Tünde Sárosi as the “best language teacher of the semester”. In this interview we asked her what she thinks are the most important elements of language teaching, moreover what she thinks about the newest teaching tendencies.
Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem

A profession

“I’ve been preparing to become a teacher ever since I was a child.” Tünde Sárosi wanted to be a teacher ever since she was little, since many in her family chose the same path. As she said, it was never a question whether she will be a teacher or not, and this plan already started to form during her years in elementary school. “For me to teach was the goal in life.” Beside French language being one of the reasons, a bilingual school and an influential high school teacher also played a crucial role in her decision. She started working at Corvinus in the year 2019, since she wanted to combine researching and teaching.

For her teaching is a true passion, about which she said that “when being a teacher we can give away something that students can carry with themselves throughout their whole lives.” In her opinion, even though there are teaching methods that are said to be perfect, if those don’t align with someone’s personality, they are not worth following. “Teaching in an authentic way can only be done with a true heart.” – she said and then further elaborated that one can only be a good educator if they love their job and what they do.

She considers the practice of different language skills equally important, and therefore in her lessons students have the chance to deepen their knowledge through lifelike, every-day-like and professional situations. However, she thinks it’s important that the exercises align with the goals and the level of a group. “I constantly try to bring their inner motivation to the surface, which can maintain their desire to study French.” For that reason, Tünde Sárosi uses every tool available, no matter if that’s a game or a digital device. Her goal with that is, for students to find the joy in language learning and so that they can face new challenges with the right amount of determination.

The lessons

Tünde Sárosi explained that on the course there is no differentiation amongst the material used on the lessons, because every student is assigned to a group according to their level, but if someone is looking for extra study material, she is delighted to give additional exercises and suggestions about which apps to use, series to watch and books to read.

In her view, the first step to winning over the students is having a trustworthy and open personality, to whom a student can open up to and with whom they never feel uncomfortable or tight during the lessons. “It’s important that they feel the love I have for teaching, my subject and my students.” To keep up the motivation to study, she uses such student-friendly methods that can get and also maintain their attention. The assignments should not be too easy, but not too hard at the same time, so that solving them is a challenge, but doing them doesn’t make students lose their enthusiasm.

“Wanting to communicate is the basis of everything when trying to acquire a language.”

In the lessons, situation-based, partner and group discussions are prominent, since everyday life is also made up of little interactions, and if we want to pursue skills that can be used in real life situations, we need to practice dialogues. “Life is the same: there is a situation that needs to be tackled” – the same is happening during the lessons, because students have to manage different types of simulated life situations. Tünde Sárosi’s goal is to force students into the most diverse situations possible, so that besides improving their communication skills they can also practice the vocabulary related to a given topic and the grammar material. According to her, the biggest enjoyment about learning a language is when one realizes they are able to work out certain situations on their own, which can give a boost for the future. “It’s an incredible feeling that we are capable of doing something and can stand on our ground even in the most unexpected and unknown situations.”

Tünde Sárosi believes if all these factors are met, the created atmosphere can help students through any difficult time. She always tries to not let anyone experience failure, but if that happens because of some uncontrollable, unexpected reason, then she is the biggest help and support possible so that students can get over their problems. “If we don’t handle this in the right way, in terms of language learning it can have fatal consequences.”

Novelties in language teaching

It’s becoming an increasingly common phenomenon that people want to learn a new language in a very short amount of time. Tünde Sárosi’s reaction to this trend was, that this is merely impossible, because for knowing a language, it’s not the lexical knowledge you need to acquire, but rather the skills and the abilities need to be improved, which can only be possible through a lot of practice. For that reason, we need to be careful with programs that promise quick language learning, since those only teach the system of rules. She thinks at least a few years of intensive learning is required to actually master a language.

“We need to pay attention to the changes and teach differently.”

Tünde Sárosi told us that she thinks a teacher should adapt to the new phenomenon, because for students these are already natural. In her experience, using digital devices can ease both language teaching and learning, because this way you don’t need to focus on trying to get attention but rather maintain it and on making the class activity interesting. “We can only grab their attention with something they are interested in.”

She considers Duolingo and other apps to be useful as an addition to other learning methods, but she highlighted that they aren’t enough to completely master a language, because they aren’t able to help improve all language skills a student needs. Their biggest advantage is that apps can increase the time spent on studying and can give enough motivation to learn. “If in any way, we put more energy into learning that can only have positive consequences.” Because of that she mentioned that we need to support the use of apps, since they can be very helpful. The invention of AI can also open up new doors to personalized ways of studying and in the field of automated assessment as well.

“The goal of language teaching is to bring the given cultural community as close as possible.”

She is convinced that getting to know an authentic community is essential for language learning. In her lessons she strives for the class material to reflect the linguistic, formal and cultural environment one can meet when traveling to France or any other francophone states. She fosters that, with not only playing original videos and audios, but also with discussions about such cultural elements, like writers, scientists, movies and books. “These are equally part of the language, because it is the footprint of the cohabiting individuals.”

French is not only important because of France’s leading role in Europe, but also because of its past, since France had a huge influence on political ideas, democracy, culture, art and literature as well. Tünde Sárosi recommends her lessons to everyone, because she believes “French is the most beautiful language in the world and even though a lot of people think it’s hard to learn, only its logic in grammar differs from what is familiar to most people.”

Best language teacher of the semester

Dr. Tünde Sárosi won best language teacher of the semester for the second time already, which means a lot to her. Her hypothesis is, this happened, because students feel that she puts her whole heart into her profession. “There is no bigger recognition than this.” – for her the positive feedback from students is the peak of her career in education, since they are the ones she works for every single day. She considers it an honor that students think of her that way and is hoping that she can give them something they can use in their future. She specifically highlighted that awards like these are very important, because a career in teaching can be hard and socially underrated sometimes, because of which professional recognitions like this, are the ones that give further motivation to endure.

“I would like to thank students for voting and I am beyond grateful that I can be part of the daily lives of the youth.”

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GEN.:2024.06.21. - 07:51:53