Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Schoolhouse Rock

There are two primary schools on Kauvia; my primary school serves the two towns at this end of the island, and there’s a second primary school at the other end of the island for those two towns. There are 25 students in my entire school, classes 1-6. Since classes are so small (class 4 has only 2 students!), they are combined: classes 1-3 together and classes 4-6 together. There are 3 teachers, myself included. I teach English to classes 4-6 for about 2 hours each morning. English instruction isn’t on the syllabus for classes 1-3, but I hope to incorporate some English instruction for them, maybe through extracurriculars.

My class consists of 9 students in 3 grades, but 6 different levels of English. Teaching one grade is difficult enough, but for me the objectives for each class differ widely, making lesson planning a difficult endeavor. I have to consider the student who has almost no English but also the students who are preparing for a test that expects them to recognize “gather” and “distribute” as antonyms. To top it all off, there’s not a syllabus that the Ministry of Education has given. There are “modules,” vague descriptions of what students should know. But, “ability to communicate in English” is not a very concrete goal, so for the most part, I have created/have to create my own year-long plan.

It’s difficult to determine how much English each class knows. A student in class 6 might not be able to use the correct conjugation of a verb in a simple sentence, but he knows what a spotlight is. In preparing for what I see as a very difficult test for students with only three years of regular English instruction, finding how to challenge without getting discouraged is difficult.