Meet Zdeněk Starý, Dean of the School of Education
by Larissa Petryca, on 02 February 2022 09:17:23 CET
In 2021 Akcent College, a Czech-accredited private university joined forces with Prague City University and became our fourth school, the School of Education. The Dean responsible for the school’s Bachelor’s and Professional Qualification programmes is Zdeněk Starý. We spoke to him to learn more about his academic and professional career as well as the unique features and benefits of our newest school.
Academic and Teaching Career
I’ve dedicated my whole academic life to General Linguistics. It began with me studying Aesthetics and Czech Studies at Charles University and took all the language courses that existed at that time before the introduction of General Linguistics which I went on to earn my PhD in. I also studied at the faculty of Mathematics and Physics, this was a huge advantage because linguistics is very Mathematical.
I have taught at Charles University in Prague and also the University of Virginia in the USA, as well as universities in Chicago such as Pomona College.
Why Prague City University?
In 2021 Prague College acquired Akcent College, which specialized in how to teach foreign languages. This was very significant for our education programmes because the students became a part of a large international student community. They also enjoy better facilities such as the Digital Campus, library, student lounge and so on. Our students and lecturers have also become part of the intellectual community at PCU which covers many disciplines such as Business, Computing, Media and the Arts.
In Europe there are two large academic traditions: one is Central European which traditionally covers Germany, Czech Republic and Austria. The second is Anglo Saxon which was connected of course with Britain and the USA.
The benefit of Prague City University is that the Anglo Saxon elements are intensely applied here. For example, there are small class sizes which means that there is a continuous dialogue between the teacher and students. Also the difference between a lecture, seminar and practice is mixed. It means that even during lectures students often take part by completing an exercise or assignment related to the lecture content. This approach, I feel, is the best.
School of Education Programmes
We have two programmes and the students who study these programmes are quite different.
Our Bachelor’s degree programme is Specialized Education (English as a foreign language). This programme has both full-time and part-time options.
In the full-time programme they are mainly students who come to study right after high school. In the part-time programme the students are usually older, working professionally and are continuing their lifelong learning.
Our Professional Qualification for Teaching English in Czech Secondary Schools programme is for those who have a Master's degree and teach English in Czech secondary schools.
Very often these are people who decided to change their career path. For example, they leave the corporate world and decide to teach English to children or adolescents and therefore wish to gain this qualification to formalise their practical work .
There are a few important features. We offer professional programmes but they are developed to satisfy a student's need for theoretical, didactical and psychological bases. Another important area that we emphasise is that our students as teachers learn the methods and skills in how to work with their students. As a result, pedagogical practice begins in the first semester and continues throughout the whole programme right till the end.
This has two benefits. Student Teachers learn to master the material and can perfectly demonstrate and communicate their knowledge effectively to the class and during the teaching practice and they learn how their class work is received and can adapt materials accordingly, all before stepping into their roles as qualified teachers. This is confirmed by our graduate teachers and very much appreciated.
At the moment the language we teach the programmes in is mainly Czech and covers even though the programme is all about English as it begins with pedagogical, psychological and even linguistic subjects. The proportion of teaching in English rises as the student progresses, with the majority of subjects in the 3rd semester taught in English often by native speakers.
Presently we are preparing a programme where the teaching language will only be English. This programme will be open to all, even for those whose native language is not Czech.
The majority of our graduates go on to teach after they finish their studies. They either become school teachers in the Czech educational system, self-employed lecturers or teachers at language schools. The percentage of graduates who teach is more than 75%. I believe that this number is quite competitive when compared to other universities.