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to stick to; to cling to; to be devoted to (an idea, group, organization etc.)
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Interview with Maria Ortner

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Today we are talking with Maria, an English language trainer from Europe.
Maria, you are from Hungary, a recently joined EU member. Does your country''s EU membership have any impact on your personal situation?

Not really. As I don''t live in Hungary any more, Hungary''s joining the EU affected me a lot less than the inhabitants of the country. The only thing that changed in my personal life is the fact that my qualification obtained in Hungary is now accepted here, in Austria as well — , which is quite an important thing. However, as a Hungarian I''ve always felt like a European citizen, so what happened on May 1st is only a political justification of this feeling of belonging to Europe.
As far as I know English is rather a second than a foreign language in Hungary. When did you start learning English?

When I was around 10. It was in the third grade of the primary school. At that time, in the late 80''s we were considered to be a special class being able to learn English a year before we started to learn Russian as well. Had I been born let''s say, 10 years before, I might not have been given this chance.
What languages do you speak apart from English?

Well, my mother tongue, Hungarian, of course, and besides English my major was Italian at the university. There I had the chance to learn some Spanish, too. And German I learnt while living here, in Austria. I think the more languages you learn the easier it gets.
Why did you decide to become an English teacher?

I think it was partly because I had some really great teachers who made this profession attractive to me. I''ve always liked teaching itself, and since I was good at languages I decided to teach languages. I think it''s a profession that gives you a lot. The reason why I like it is that there''s always immediate feedback on the part of the students, and I feel that I make a difference in their lives. It''s a kind of calling as well.
One of the most popular English teachers from Hungary is Elek Mathe — do you know him?

To tell the truth, I haven''t heard of him yet, but now that you mentioned him, I think I''ll do some research on who he exactly is.
What is your definition of «learning»? It''s a very complex, life-long process of finding out about both totally new and also old things that you might have already encountered. It should be fun, though.
You are currently teaching English in Austria. How would you describe a typical Austrian?

Well, I think there''s no such thing as a typical Austrian. They are all very different, especially because the country itself is very diverse. Even if it''s a small country, the fact that the mountains used to be a geographical boundary for the people affected their mentality as well. There''s a strong feeling of patriotism on the local, but not on the national level. An Austrian from Vorarlberg, Western Austria, where I live now is very much different than one from Vienna. In general I really like Austrians, though. I think they are not so different than Hungarians. Maybe it''s because of Hungary''s common history with Austria.
What role does the internet play in your classroom activities?

A very important one, indeed. I couldn''t imagine teaching English without the internet any more. First, I download quite many lesson plans from the internet. Second, I encourage my students to use the net to their own benefit as well. I''ve just started to teach at a school where 30% of my English course is online. With the help of a software the students and the teachers have a common forum on the internet where they put up some interesting links to web sites, and if a student misses a class they can find the class material in the forum. It facilitates today''s language learning a great deal that we no longer need to leave our house to learn English.

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