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Writing to Celebrate Bulgarian Culture, History, and Music

Rena Danailova from Bulgaria

Rena Danailova, a lecturer in English at Konstantin Preslavsky University in the historic town of Shumen, in northeastern Bulgaria, decided together with one class of her students majoring in journalism to organize a writing project that was aimed at introducing English learners around the globe to something of Bulgarian culture, history, and music.

Rena Danailova
Rena decided with her students majoring in journalism to organize a writing project that was aimed at introducing English learners around the globe to something of Bulgarian culture, music, and history.

Rena writes: "The idea the students decided on was to present some interesting topics, writing in TOPICS magazine, so that students elsewhere can learn more about our country.

There is much ancient history here, because Bulgaria is one of the oldest states in Europe, founded in 681 A.D., and the legendary birthplace of the Greek musician Orpheus. It has a wonderful landscape, friendly people and the world’s best yoghurt.

I teach English intermediate-level courses to undergraduate students in a whole spectrum of fields at Konstantin Preslavsky University, in Shumen in northeastern Bulgaria. Students are required to study English for several years as part of their various degree programs.

Many students enter the University with English skills at best at a pre-intermediate level, and our job is to bring them up to a stronger intermediate level over a program totaling 180 hours of instruction extending over three semesters.

Before the great changes beginning in early 1990 with the collapse of the old political and economic system, English in Bulgaria was not a widely taught language. The main foreign language from the late 1940s down to 1989 was Russian. It is a relatively close cousin of Bulgarian, and thus not too difficult for Bulgarians to learn. German was popular as a second foreign language.

Today English is enjoying something of a learning boom, and I can sense a special enthusiasm for learning the language among many of my students now. That was not so much the case even six years ago. Bulgaria’s entry into the EU on 1 January 2007 probably also has intensified interest in learning English.

Among my very best and most enthusiastic students are those majoring in journalism. They quite naturally have an interest in communication, and in writing. Though they have had little experience in writing in English, after looking at TOPICS magazine, a number felt inspired to try their hand at a small project. Following discussion in class about possible themes, several decided that for them, writing something about what they know very well, namely Bulgarian life and history, was a good topic for TOPICS. After all, few people outside Bulgaria know much about this very special country. And they thought that this kind of writing was somehow more connected with their future work as journalists."


View the student project
to discover what Rena's students want to communicate about Bulgarian life and history.

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