The full interview here

Mauricio Guzmán: "It is impossible for a teacher of English to have no affection for any English-speaking culture"

12 de Julio de 2018

What is this elective course about? What is its main goal?

This course is an overview to the history of England as we know it, from the arrival of the Romans to what was known as Pretani in times of Julius Caesar, until the end of World War II during Winston Churchill’s government.

Why is it important to know about the history of England?

As a teacher of English I am convinced that studying a language does not imply only learning new words, but also about a culture and how its language was shaped throughout the ages, what situations, people, and needs led a certain group of people to develop such a rich set of conveyances that finally became a language. Imagine that there are many words that only exist in one single language, all because of the need of expressing an idea that was exclusively present at a certain time in a certain place. History is the explanation to language, and what happened between is what we know as etymology, the origin of word shaping.

Why is this course captivating for you? What motivates you to teach this?

I guess I can mention two branches of this personal attraction to the English history. The first reason, a professional one, arises within the passion of teaching this language. I guess it is impossible for a teacher of English to have no affection for any English-speaking culture, its customs, music, food, etc. On the other hand, I have got a more sentimental connection with the British culture, since a little part of my ancestry comes from Scotland, and it was somehow passed onto me by my grandfather when playing cards over some scones and scotch during cold, rainy, winter evenings.

How many students have you got? How have they experienced this course?

There are 22 in my class, all of which were required to have an FCE level due to the complexity of the vocabulary of some passages in the course, as well as the structures needed to express ideas when discussing about historical issues. They have had the chance to demonstrate how much they know about history in general, but I have got the sense that they feel much more interested when they get to know about interesting and funny details of history that are not necessarily covered in a regular History class. For example, the fact that the English royal lineage comes from the French caused a lot of curiosity amongst the students due to the tremendous pride the English people demonstrate about their breed, and the rivalry they have always had with this neighbouring country. In addition to this, the students have had the chance to develop more academic abilities, such as preparing a good oral presentation with the aid of well-prepared visuals, or writing a formal document using the APA quotation style, which is widely used in the academic world nowadays. 

Why is it important for you that our school provides everyone with the opportunity of having this kind of elective courses?

I believe having cross-curricular courses in our school especially provides our students with the opportunity of seeing the English language in a different way since they get to use it in a different way with different purposes. History, in this case, is just a tool to have the pupils see how important it can be to learn this foreign language, because you never know when and under what circumstances you may have the chance to use it; today is History, tomorrow it can be Science, Religion, a new job, or even your wife… who knows!

What message would you send the students who take part of such an interesting elective course?

I would tell them to come to the class and have fun. There are so many things we do not know about history that can be only learned by studying it in depth. But, in order to have fun while learning you need two things: motivation and responsibility.