Tanar vagyok.

My 6th grade English Language Class at the ANK (Apaczai Nevelesi es Altalanos Muvelodesi Kozpont)

Before we left Evansville to come to Pecs, most people were pretty clear on what Margaret was going to be doing – she was the Fulbright Fellow, teaching and doing research.  James would be attending school and doing school-work for his teachers back home, maybe playing tennis and drums if there were places to play.  My role in this adventure was a little more vague.  My stock response  to those who asked was that I would do client work when possible, work on a writing project (not this blog, an actual writing project) and mostly keep the family on track and organized (which is pretty time-consuming in a foreign country where we don’t speak the language).  My friend Matt referred to it as a “sweet vacation.”  I was thinking a little more along the lines of a sabbatical. That changed when we met with one of the schools we were considering for James and, after a few minutes of discussion about whether the school would be a good fit, the English-speaking teacher, Betti, turned to me and said, “And you’ll be teaching English for us, no?”  Long story short, I’m teaching 6 English classes and 2 drama classes a week to grades 4-8 – pretty much from 7:15 am – 1:30 pm on Tuesday and Wednesdays.  So two days a week, James and I go to school together (and he’s in my 8th grade classes).

At the city bus stop by 6:45 to get to class by 7:15. Incidentally, the long pink building directly behind James belonged to Margaret's great, great (great?) Uncle Joseph Engel de Janosi. More about that later.

The ANK is the large bi-lingual school in Pecs.  It’s bi-lingual in that all of the students take some English Language classes, but there are sections of each grade where the students have at least one English class a day, meaning that there’s a pretty strong concentration on it.  About a third of James’s classes are taught in English (by a Hungarian who speaks English).  Math and Physics are taught in Hungarian, but James seems to be keeping up pretty well.  James is exposed to Hungarian more than Margaret and me, so he’s picking it up faster. It probably helps that his brain is a bit more sponge-like than mine.

The ANK School is made up of 5-6 buildings that form a sort of ring in the middle. James and I still get lost sometimes. This photo was taken on a particularly clear morning -- you can see the Mecskec Hills in the background.

Proud owner of a Pecs city bus pass. Makes life much easier.

I took this photo from the bus on the way to school - an interesting set of apartment blocks - each one is subtle shade different from the next. The school is set behind these a way.

I’ve never taught English as a Second Language, and coming up with lesson plans on the fly has been a bit of a challenge (I probably spend 2  hours on prep for each class), but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the kids and helping them with their English.  Some of them are nearly fluent — the boy who is almost hidden behind the desk in the photo below is named Arthur Maximillian and he speaks with a very posh British accent from having spent several years in England.  After lunch he might say, “Ah, yes, the peas were quite lovely, yeah?”  In fact, most of the English speakers in Hungary speak with British accents (which makes sense, as they primarily learn it in Great Britain).  The teachers have asked me to focus on speaking and listening, so we’ll be working on pronunciation, vocabulary, reading books and plays out loud, and setting up role-play exercises (buying things, talking on the phone, going to the doctor, etc…)

7th grade English - the boy to my right is nicknamed "Stiggie" (Shtiggi) and he loves fine cuisine and all things Apple. He gave James, from memory, the recipe to those wonderful grilled pastries from an earlier post. He also suggested that one of our next role-play conversation exercises should be about buying a new Macbook Pro in an Apple Store. I told him that it's WAY too complicated and would involve lots of standing around waiting for a salesperson.

On the first day of class, James and I got there a bit early and we were stopped by the “receptionist,” who’s job seems to be to keep people from entering the school.  She doesn’t speak any English and I couldn’t remember how to say, “I am a teacher” (it’s the title of his post, by the way).   Rather than taking us somewhere to figure out where we belonged, she took us to a tiny classroom and left us.  After a few minutes, James and I snuck out and eventually found the person who could tell us where to go.

5th Graders -- a great bunch of kids. They really enjoyed the Google Earth tour of Evansville I gave them on my laptop. They also wanted to see Los Angeles and New York.

This is a section of what I think are above-ground natural gas pipes that pass over the road we take to school. I guess we should feel lucky that we only have power lines over the streets in the street in Evansville.

You don't see many billboards in Pecs. But you do see a lot of giant advertisements right on the apartment buildings.

More later…


About patster66

I'm visiting Pécs, Hungary with my wife and son for the Fall 2010 semester. My wife, Margaret McMullan, received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and do research at the University of Pécs. My 13 year old son is attending a semi-bilingual school here called the ANK where I am teaching English Language and Drama to 4th - 8th graders 2 days a week.
This entry was posted in ANK School, Life in Pécs. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Tanar vagyok.

  1. Tiffany says:

    Patster, it’s so cool that you’re teaching English! If there is anything I can do to help you with the ESL stuff, let me know. I don’t have tons of resources specifically on that, but I could dig some up or put you in touch with some of the nice people here in the Intensive English Center.

    Good luck!!

  2. Peter says:


    I very much enjoy reading about your adventures as a tanár in Pecs. I look forward to reading the next instalment.

    By the way, I don’t think Uncle Jozsef (I still remember him well) lived in the pink house. He lived a few houses east of it. The pink house was, I believe occupied by Adolf, and then some other Engels. Also, by father was born there. More about those details when we see each other. Regards, Peter

  3. Jamesy says:

    That is awesome Pat. Your job is to ensure that some of these apartment buildings have giant ads for Deaconess or Vecren or Industrial contractors smooshed all over them! What a great adventure – and these kids are so lucky to have you teaching them.

    • patster66 says:

      Hey Jamesy,
      That’s the first thing I thought of. When Evansville finally runs out of room for billboards (it must be coming soon), we can start slapping giant ads on the buildings. It would be a boon to the giant-sign-making industry, too.

  4. Kathy M says:

    That is so wonderful! You look so comfortable there. Should I be worried about you wanting to stay there? I couldn’t help but wonder who would have taught the classes if you hadn’t shown up? Enjoy!

    • patster66 says:

      Hey Kathy,
      I don’t always feel as comfortable as I might look in those photos – it’s hard work, as you know! The other Hungarian English Language teachers probably would have taken my classes, but they’re all over-worked. Also, they try to have the more advanced kids learn from one native English speaker a semester if possible.

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