An Interview With...
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Toronto/Canada in 1965, but lived there only for three years. In 1968 my parents moved back to Austria with me, where I grew up in the capital of Austria, Vienna.
What were your favorite activities as a child and what was it like to grow up in the place where you spent most of those years?
As a child I loved to play outside, to climb on trees, ride my bike and play ball with my friends. Since Vienna is a very big city, this had to take place at our "cottage" outside of Vienna or we had to go to a park. During the week I loved to go to the cinema or when I was smaller, I loved to play with my Barbie-dolls. Becoming a teenager I discovered the joy of dancing and took several ballroom-dancing courses.
What languages do you speak and what is your "mother tongue"?
In Austria we speak German. In my primary-school we started to learn English in Grade 3, but at that age we were only taught a few words, maybe very short sentences, but no grammar at all. At that time this school was one of the few schools which conducted the experiment of teaching English at an "early age". I was very proud of every single word that I was able to understand and speak and loved being able to recognize some words in English songs. It was not very difficult for us kids, because the standards were not very high since this was only a test-phase at that time. In High School all children started to learn English in Grade 5, Latin in Grade 7 and French in Grade 9. These were real "lessons" including vocabulary and grammar-tests etc and from this time on it became more difficult for us kids...
When you were little, what did you wish to be when you grew up? Did you realize any or all of those early dreams?
Actually becoming a teacher had always been one of my dreams in life from my early childhood on. When I had graduated from High School I had to decide for my courses at University. I had several choices and after considering all the pros and cons for all the courses that I was interested in, I found out that becoming a teacher was still what I wanted most. So I decided to attend the teacher-training college in Vienna. My other dream in life was becoming a mother and also this wish was granted. :-)
Did you have any teachers in your life who were your inspiration to enter this field?
I had several teachers that inspired me to become what I am today. My first "inspiration" was my primary-school-teacher. (Here in Austria we have the same teacher for all four years in primary school.) She really was a very good and dedicated teacher! In High School I was lucky to have several very good teachers who made me understand what it means to be a teacher and educator, to help children understand the world and guide them to become sensitive, considerate and responsible grown-ups.
This experience of getting to know such wonderful teachers strengthened my wish to pass on to other kids what these special teachers had been giving to me.
What subjects or grade levels do you teach?
I am a primary-school-teacher in Vienna, which means that I teach Grade 1 - 4 in the following subjects: German, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Arts, Musical Education, Physical Education, Crafts and English.
When do children start school in Austria?
In Austria children start school (Grade 1) in September after their 6th birthday. Before that they may attend kindergarten and pre-school, but this is optional. In case a teacher finds out that a child is 6 years old, but it is too early for that child to attend Grade 1, the teacher and the headmaster of the school arrange a compulsive pre-school-year for that child which still counts as his/her first school-year.
How many years do they spend at each level?
Grade 1 and 2 build "Basic Level 1". It may take a child up to three years to pass this level (including the pre-school-year if it is a compulsory year because of the child´s age). "Basic Level 2" is Grade 3 and 4. After that children go to a different school and complete "Secondary Level 1" (Grade 5 - 8).
"Secondary Level 2" consists of Grade 9 - 12/13. This is not compulsive anymore. After students have graduated from Grade 9 they may decide that they want to learn a trade instead of going on with attending school (and maybe going to University afterwards). In that case they have to attend school only once a week and this school is in line with their professional education.
If a student wants to go to University after graduating from High School, he/she has to take a general qualification test for University entrance.
Do the majority of your students go on to universities?
In the area where I teach most students (about 3/4) decide to learn a trade after having finished grade 9. Many choose to become hair-dressers, motor mechanics, sales people or waiters, etc. This depends on what they're interested in and if they are able to find an apprenticeship training position. The other students who attend "Secondary Level 2" and finish it with the qualification test for University entrance often go to University of Economics or Commerce, some have even become medics or lawyers.
What languages do they learn in school?
In primary school students learn a little English. After primary school they all learn English and depending on the school-type they additionally take French, Spanish, Latin, Russian,...
What hours do students attend school? How many days per week do they go to school?
Primary school is only from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. In higher schools students may have to come to school once or twice in the afternoon as well, depending on their class-schedule and time-table. All students have to learn and do their homework in the afternoon by themselves, except for those who have signed up for special homework lessons. Business school-students, etc., have to attend school until about 6 p.m. Most schools are from Monday to Friday.
How do they usually arrive at school?
Students mainly either walk to school or take public transportation.
How did you learn about Imagiverse.ORG? What activities have you participated in?
I found the Imagiverse.org-page by browsing around on the Internet and was delighted and impressed right away! My class and I took part in the "Hands around the World" project and the "Postcard Exchange" so far.
Are you and your students able to answer questions about your country for the Imagiverse Question and Answer project?
Yes, we would LOVE to hear from you and we’re looking forward to answering your questions ! :-)
- 3 November 2008
3 November 2008
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