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A Guide to Teachers: Mr. Minder

There are a number of teachers throughout Camas High School who have been around long enough to earn a well-known reputation among students. I’m here to make your lives a little easier by interviewing these teachers and giving you some words of advice. I’ll also be talking to some veteran students as well as a few newbies along the way in order to best serve any eager or troubled students looking to better their high school experience.

For this first week I chose one of my all-time favorite teachers: Mr. Minder. To start off, let me give you a little background on who he really is. Mr. Minder is a Swiss native who grew up in Bern, Switzerland. While he was raised speaking Swiss-German, he is now fluent in German, French, and English, teaching the first two languages here at Camas High School. Up until last year, he was the soccer coach for both the girls’ and boys’ team, but he recently retired as head coach of the boys’ team as of the end of last season. Last year he won soccer coach of the nation, not before taking his girls to state and winning the title, only giving up two goals the entire season. Anyway, on to what you came here for.

As a former student of Mr. Minder (German 1-3), I can easily say his class was in no way the easiest class I’ve ever taken. In fact, when asked about the biggest complaint from his students, his response was that, “the level of difficulty is probably a challenge for a lot.” From day one, his students dive into new material and are expected to hit the ground running. His biggest pet peeve about students is laziness. “I have no tolerance for it,” he says. As far as homework goes, he assigns homework every day, with almost no exceptions. If you are going to join one of Minder’s classes, you had better be ready to work.

Obviously, with the amount of work that comes with this class come some tips. When I asked Mr. Minder what the most important thing is about learning German and French, he was torn. After collecting his thoughts, he had his answer. “[German] is 95 percent phonetic,” he says. “Learn the alphabet well.” This will help you understand how words are pronounced. I asked him what the biggest mistake his students make. He said they, “try to use the present progressive form.” In layman’s terms, this means saying ‘I am doing something.’ His advice on shying away from this is, “don’t think English.” You should try to separate English and whatever foreign language you are trying to learn in your brain; make them two distinct things.

As in any language, vocabulary is key. Minder stressed the point that vocabulary is crucial to understanding any language. “If you know what the words mean, it’s gonna be a heck of a lot easier.” Another vital principle is the importance of verbs. Mr. Minder says, “80 percent of mastering a language is verbs.” You don’t realize how complicated language really is until you delve into verb conjugations. But, if you know what the words mean and you’ve got the verbs and their forms down, you will have won most of the battle.

Now to hear from a second-year student of Minder’s, Jillian Johnson. In regards to vocabulary, “make flashcards. Don’t just study out of the book,” she says. In the German and French textbooks, vocabulary is listed at the end of every chapter; next to the vocabulary word is the English equivalent. So, if you study out of the book, you won’t actually learn the words. Furthermore, she says students should spend most of their time studying sentence structure. “If you understand the sentence structure, then you will understand what you’re reading way better too.” Going more towards Minder himself, she says, “he’s gonna just immediately start speaking German and you’re gonna be confused. I don’t think he expects anything less.” Remember that Minder is a teacher; he wants to help you. If you have any questions, just ask him. I know he is scary, but he is a really nice guy.

I hope you enjoyed reading the Camasonian’s first publication of Guide to Teachers. If you have any more questions about Mr. Minder or his class, feel free to visit him in room 807. It’s located in the 800 wing to the right of the locker bay. If you’d like to suggest a teacher that you want to be featured in a future issue of Guide to Teachers, please leave a comment below. I’d be glad to help you out. Tune in next time for Guide to Teachers.

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