Successful international collaboration continues
The Department of English and American Studies of UKF continues its fruitful collaboration with Assistant Professor Fatameh Khonamri, PhD. from The Department of English Language and Literature, University of Mazandaran in Iran. After providing us with two interesting lectures last semester, Asoc. Prof. Khonamri is currently teaching Analysis and Interpretation of Literary Text together with PhD. student Mgr. Augustín Sokol every week. They two work independently from one another, but communicate about certain organisational aspects.
This collaboration was in-part inspired by current dependence on online teaching. Although the COVID 19 pandemic creates numerous obstacles in education, the Department of English and American studies of UKF and The Department of English Language and Literature of the University of Mazandaran were able to use this situation to our advantage by actively working together online. The collaboration is also encouraged by the project APVV-17-0071, which deals with foreign language reading literacy, within which seminars for teachers on how to teach reading effectively are organized and thus strives for improving reading capabilities of Slovak EFL students.
Asoc. Prof. Khonamri actively works with students by giving them texts to read each week. They are of reasonable length: not too long but adequately engaging. She encourages the students to interact with the texts and analyse them critically rather than just memorising and retelling the plot and topics. As such, the students are expected to find implicit meaning within the texts, make inferences and state their own opinion or stance on topics within the texts.
This approach is highly beneficial, since it not only helps to improve reading skills and strategies, but also encourages students to think critically when analysing texts. Indeed, critical thinking is a crucial skill, especially nowadays in the age of the Internet, when information is abundant and one needs to be able to differentiate between valuable info and misleading statements or hoaxes. Furthermore, Asoc. Prof. Khonamri ´s interaction with the students is very friendly, professional and endearing, praising them whenever they succeed and providing constructive feedback, advice and explanation when they face difficulties.
Her teaching approach is also praised by her students. Lukáš S. writes “I really like how Ms. Fatameh does her seminars, I really like conversation-based learning of English language. We are often talking about interesting topics with some additional academic value. Ms. Fatameh always explains some kind of new concept and then explains it thoroughly via discussion. Moreover, Ms. Fatameh is very sweet person and she knows how to stimulate discussion. There is no pressure during the seminars and everything is done in positive mood.” Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, states: “I like her teaching style. She is very nice to us.”
Asoc. Prof. Khonamri's free involvement in teaching at the department proves that even under the conditions of the pandemic, international cooperation is not only possible but can thrive. We are hoping for continuing this successful partnership and having more such projects in the future.
Text: Mgr. Augustín Sokol – a PhD. candidate, Department of English and American Studies, Faculty of Arts