Thursday, April 16, 2009

First week of classes

One more day to go. Friday will be my first Communication A class, a low-level elective class that meets for 90 minutes at midday. I have no idea how many students will show up as it is an elective class. Some of the other teachers have had well over 100 students show up for sign up. They usually have an idea of what level the class will be and are able to quickly eliminate more than enough.

However, when I had my Communication L class on Tuesday, only 11 students showed up! One reason for the poor turnout may be that the class begins at 4 pm, and many students do not want a class that late in the day as they have a one to two-hour commute every day. Unfortunately, the class is supposed to be a higher-level reading and writing class (I have to choose/create the content/syllabus), and only seven to eight of the students have good enough English to function at that level. I am going to let the four lower students been in the class if they want, but I am going to warn them that it will be a difficult class. Maybe that will scare them off...

So the class tomorrow will be aimed primarily at low-level freshman who are going to America next semester with the AU exchange program. Hopefully I will have enough students at approximately the same level. This class will also require its own book/syllabus that I need to figure out.

I have two Freshman English (FE) classes: Econ 11 and International Relations (IR) 11 (16 being the lowest). The number indicates the level of English skill based on assessment tests and oral placement interviews. These classes meet Monday through Thursday for 45 minutes. The IR class is 'genki' (outgoing/energetic) and really excited about going to American next semester. The Econ class is a little quieter and is taking longer to open up and relax. Their textbook has already been chosen and has a great deal of supplemental and teacher-helpful materials. (The photo is of my Econ 11 class - notice the classic 'peace' hand gesture...)

I also have a Sophomore English (SE) 4 (12 being the lowest) class that meets on Tuesday at 2:30 for 90 minutes. Most of these students went to a university in Washington state last semester as an exchange student and are pretty fluent. The curriculum is all written out and quite detailed and will be quite easy to teach.

And the last and certainly the least is Freshman English Repeaters (FER). For students who fail FE, they are required to take this class by the end of senior year. There is a writing/reading component that I do not teach and know little about. I will "teach" the speaking/listening part on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The students are required to meet with me seven times a semester, each time having watched a movie in English and filling out a handout about it. We then meet for five to six minutes, talking about that movie. That's it. However, apparently many students are able unable or unwilling to do this and end up failing FER.

So that's it. It is not a very heavy teaching load compared to some. The Center for English Language Education (CELE) is very hands off about teaching and let's us teach the classes as we see best. It is quite refreshing to not be micromanaged. The new vice director is very laid back and open to new ideas. Plus there is just loads of vacation time!

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