Many of you might have caught my title reference to Teach and Learn with Georgia, the Georgian government’s program placing English teachers in public schools (and while we’re vaguely on the topic: no, I don’t work for them).  At first I thought this name was rather hokey, but now that I’ve been teaching for longer, I understand it more, though not, I believe, in the way they intended it.  After my recent post on ExPat-ese, tcjbritishvili wrote a post about his take on the language situation for foreigners here in Tbilisi, and I commented that “I find it sad that there are many teachers who aren’t interested in learning…it seems wrong to me”.  Which has made me get all philosophical about what I do, and why I do it, and the meaning of life, and the universe and…well, I digress.  Though teaching is not my “profession” as Georgian-English would call it,  it is my job and I enjoy it.

Part of why I enjoy it is because I’m a nerd, and I love picking up new facts: one of my textbooks just had a lesson on rituals that discussed the significance and cultural variation of handshakes around the world, and one of my favorite units explains how to survive attacks by various wild animals–this information could come in handy sometime!  I think a love of learning is an important trait in a teacher, though, because it will (with luck) be contagious and keep the students interested in class.  As an English teacher abroad, one of the easiest ways to keep learning is to study local languages and do some online classes for “fun”.   I’m now enrolled in a great Georgian class here: come join me!

(Edit March 22, 2014: Unfortunately the Georgian program is no longer on the website: I’ve kept the following up for posterity’s sake, and if I hear of the situation changing, I’ll edit this post again)

March 4, 2013:

There’s a relatively new Georgian online language-learning website that I’ve been playing with lately:  They offer English, Russian, Italian, and French instruction for Georgian-speakers, and Georgian instruction for Russian speakers.  I’ve been using their Georgian program, and finding it particularly helpful for distinguishing between tricky Georgian phonics: კ/ქ/ყ, ტ/თ, and პ/ფ as well as for improving my Georgian typing skills (maybe not a major concern for everyone, but I consider it a useful life skill).  Even better–the Georgian programs are currently free!  They plan to develop more levels of the existing programs as demand increases, and a Georgian for English-speakers program is in the works.  I’m spreading the word so that demand for the Georgian programs will increase and I’ll be able to get to some more difficult topics, so please join!  I think that non-Russian speakers with a bit of Georgian would find the program helpful for improving their Georgian and perhaps learning some Russian in addition.  Unfortunately, the website itself  is only in Georgian, so I’ll post directions for getting started below.  I think the website is a great supplement to classroom time or life in the country, because it helps to cement high-frequency words through highly repetitive exercises. It won’t make you a fluent conversationalist (or put me out of a job), but it should help increase your comfort level with the fundamentals.  You also earn points through correct answers, and my competitive side quite enjoys overtaking people with Georgian names in their own language…(cheap thrills!).

Directions for starting a program if you don’t speak Georgian:

  1. Go to the homepage.
  2. In the top right corner, under the graphic that looks like the battery click “რეგისტრაცი“.
  3. In the first two boxes “ელ-ფოსტა” and “ელ-ფოსტა განმეორებით ” type your e-mail address.
  4. In the next two boxes “პაროლი” and “პაროლი განმეორებით” type the password you would like to use for the site.
  5. The next box is optional, but you can provide your telephone number, if you like.
  6. Next required box is “სახელი”–first name.
  7. Followed by “გვარი”–last name
  8. The drop down boxes are for birthday (optional)
  9. The next boxes are optional, sex and city if you care to answer.
  10. When you’ve completed the form, push the white bottom below that says “შენახვა”
  11. You’ll receive an e-mail at the e-mail address you provided. Click on the link to activate your account.
  12. When you’re ready to investigate the class options, click on the “პროგრამა” tab. Language classes are listed by the country’s flag.
  13. The rounded boxes on the “პროგრამა” tab will give information about the course: duration (xx დღე) and price (xx ლარი or უფასო free).
  14. To start a free class, click on the “დაწყება” button, and click “OK” as necessary. You will eventually be brought to a screen telling you that you need to install the appropriate keyboard for the language you are learning. You can do this independently of them with no trouble at all, but remember to switch your keyboard or all your answers will be wrong.  Then start the class, and mess around until you start to learn the language and the software.
  15. To start a paid class click on the “ყიდვა” button, which will take you to the payment screen. I haven’t done a paid course, so I can’t explain this step-by-step, but I know that you can pay by credit card or paybox

Some advice for using the online program:

You don’t need to type the spaces between words, and doing so will be incorrect (this takes some getting used to!).

There are multiple different types of exercises including dictation, translation, filling in the blanks, writing just the first letters of the word, and correcting orthographic mistakes–often I find that when the program isn’t working, or claims I’m making mistakes when I know I’m right, it’s because I’m not paying attention to the type of exercise that has popped up.

There are still some minor bugs–sometimes the audio doesn’t match what you’ve typed when you typed correctly, or it tells you to translate into English when it means Georgian, but none of them are remotely dealbreakers in my book.