The Teacher 187

37 The Teacher  1-2 (187) 2022 CLIL              ❯❯❯ learning Russian was obligatory in all school types. It started at the age of 10 and lasted for 8 years, covering primary and secondary schools of all types. It was only in secondary schools that students could take up a second (West European) foreign language. In my case, it was an extended program of English: for four years I had 6 or 7 lessons of English a week (other languages students could choose from were French and German). My parents did not speak English, we couldn’t travel to English-speaking countries, there was no internet and English-language newspapers were scarce. However, there was one thing that helped me see the sense of learning English. It must have been the first grade of high school when a classmate brought holiday brochures published by tour operators in the UK. That was it! You see, Geography was my main interest. These brochures offered me two in one: a look into the landscapes of the British Isles (those white cliffs and the Scottish hills!) and the English language describing it. There I found addresses of other tour operators across the country and I did write to them. These were not the letters administered as a practice by my English teacher – it was solely my initiative. As a result, I did get quite a collection of tourist brochures, which proved to be very useful as I started working as a teacher of English myself. The photos ended up decorating the classroom walls and the texts were used as classroom realia. My next step was to get quite a considerable number of the original National Geographic, bought from a second-hand book shop, but that was a different story. I found the language less comprehensible so I often just studied the photos and read the captions. These were my ‘private’ undertakings. What the school itself offered me back then were culture studies, which meant going through British and American history, their political systems, literature, music – all potentially interesting, but not that much to me. My only ‘bright’ moment came before the strongly complex course in British history (I couldn’t remember all those kings named Henry or James and whether it was Henry VIII who had six wives or maybe Henry VI who had eight wives). I volunteered to prepare a lesson on the geography of the British Isles. I talked about the islands, seas and channels, rock types, tectonic faults, mountain systems, rivers, lakes and canals, the Gulf Stream and the weather patterns, and, last but not least, the extent of the last glaciation and the resulting London till. Unfortunately, in four years of my high school education that was the only moment where I could see my interest in Physical Geography transpire into the foreign language class.