Interview with Jasmina Saric, Director of Educational Programs, Prodirekt
Radio show AKTUELNO broadcasted on 27 radio stations across Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro
AKTUELNO program is owned by B2B Interactive Media Group
Radio host: Sanja Velickovic
It seems that our last week’s announcement of the internship post in Prodirekt, a company dealing with education, has encouraged many of you to find out more about the opportunities to learn a language abroad. Our today’s guest is Jasmina Saric, director of educational programs in Prodirekt and co-founder of the social network Verbalisti (Verbalists), will answer your questions on this matter.
Jasmina, your company Prodirekt has agreed to offer a one-month internship opportunity to all our listeners interested in gaining a valuable experience in the field of education. However, you’ve just told me that, apart from being satisfied with the number of received internship applications and CVs, you’re also quite pleasantly surprised by the interest our listeners have shown in learning a language abroad. Why do you think this is, could it be because of the appeal of the social network Verbalisti?
There is no doubt the Verbalisti is an interesting concept in itself and we’re pleased it’s attracting so many language students and linguists; however, when it comes to the growing demand to study a language abroad, I believe it should be partly attributed to the fact that we no longer need visas to travel and partly to the fact that people, not just in Serbia but everywhere in the region, are perceiving the times of recession as ideal for education and improvement. Not to mention the fact that to fit a job, a person needs to tick more and more boxes, with the knowledge of at least one foreign language being very important.
We’ve received a lot of questions from our listeners. For instance, Dubravka Markovic from Belgrade would like to know why a student, before choosing a language course, should consult a language expert?
For a very simple reason – consulting a language expert can save you a lot of time and money. What is it that we can do to help every student choose the right course? The first step would be to define the reason for learning a language: it makes a great deal of difference whether you learn English, for instance, to be able to chat on the internet, or whether you learn German with a view to enrolling in an Austrian college; or perhaps you need Spanish to get a promotion in your company’s subsidiary in Spain. This is important, because it’s a specific level of knowledge that takes you to your goal, but also a specific kind of course. After establishing the goal, we need to determine our starting point and that’s why we ask our clients to do a placement test. The purpose of the test is to find out the current level of the language competence as opposed to the desired one. Once we’ve established these two important points, we can recommend a suitable course.
Our listeners would probably like to know how expensive these consultations and the placement test are?
In Prodirekt and with the Verbalisti, the consultations and tests are free and they are an integral part of our services. However, it is advisable to make an appointment in advance either by phoning 011 26-237-26 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Predrag from Pancevo would like to know whether his 16-year old son who’s been learning English for years, both in school and taking private lessons, needs to attend a course in England? I believe this is an interesting question to students of all ages.
We don’t learn a language in a classroom only. On the contrary. A classroom is an artificial environment, or shall I say, a simulation of real situations. But even in this case there are differences, both in state or private schools – no matter how good the teaching is, or a teacher, when you learn a foreign language in your own country, you’re inevitably surrounded by people speaking the same mother tongue. The communication is bound to slip into that language, sooner or later. In England, or any other country, where you travel to learn its native language, the classes are international, and like it or not, you simply have to communicate in the given language. Even more importantly, outside the classroom, you’re forced to practice the foreign language in real life when for instance, you need to order some food, buy a train ticket or invite someone for a drink.
What is the age limit for language programs abroad?
If we’re talking of programs intended for the teenagers, it’s between 12 and 18 years old.
Since we’re talking of teenagers here, do they travel with a group leader? A tourist guide?
All our groups are accompanied. The person traveling with students is never a tourist guide because these are not tour packages but educational trips. Our group leaders are always experienced foreign language teachers, and in Verbalisti’s team there are at least 10 such teachers who’ve been participating in our programs for years. They are always with children, from the first passport control at the Belgrade airport to arrival at destination including airport transfers, through their stay in a foreign college, until they return home.
Here is an anonymous but extremely interesting question: I want my daughter to study in Oxford, not wander around doing sightseeing and shopping. Is it compulsory for students to participate in social activities program?
It’s not only an interesting question, it’s a very common one. Social activities, such as sport in students’ free time, sightseeing or creative workshops are not just having fun. Their aim is multifold, but the first and foremost one is continuous communication and socializing in an international environment, only this time in real life situations. Such activities are extremely stimulating and they not only help learning, but also familiarizing with different cultures. And last but not least, they help group leaders have all the students in one place.
Do students receive a certificate after they’ve finished a course?
All students receive a certificate indicating their level of language competency, the length and type of the course they’ve done. Let me just point out that all the colleges we work with are British Council accredited.
Are all your programs intended for teenagers and young people?
People learn languages for different reasons; in today’s globalised world the question of speaking languages and being able to communicate successfully is actually the question of professional survival. Verbalisti have developed 24 language programs aimed at all ages and levels. A substantial percentage of our clients are adults – students, young professionals, business people. We also offer a unique service in language consulting to corporations.