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2008年7月

The Library is Complete

2008.07.25

I'm happy to report that the eight boxes of books we received in April have now been entered into the computer and put onto the shelves. I'm also happy to report that I have labeled the shelves to make it easier to find and replace books.

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It's really nice and feels really good to get this done before summer vacation.

In addition, I'm going to begin setting up a graded listening library from CDs that go with the books. In this way, students may check out the book, the book and the CD, or just the CD.

However, we're not finished with our library. I still hope to add to the library little by little, but until we get a library room, we won't be able to add many more books.

投稿者:nelp

NELP Pre-Test

2008.07.11

We're now gearing up for the NELP Pre-Test. For those who are interested, The NELP Pre-Test will be given on Saturday, August 23rd. I'm really excited about this year's test.

This year we're taking the test in a new direction. In previous NELP entrance tests, pictures were a big part of the test. The first thirty questions, in fact, had pictures. The pictures made for a visually appealing test, and in some ways I'll miss them, however, there are four major reasons why pictures will not be used in future tests.

One, it required me to draw forty pictures for each test, and quite frankly, it's a lot of work for test that will take thirty minutes. Often those forty pictures were days of work, drawing and redrawing, and I'm really not that great an artist.

Two, picture-based questions tend to lend themselves to identification-type questions: recognizing the difference between a fork and a spoon for example. However, in NELP, it's not really enough for students to be able to simply recognize objects or know a little basic vocabulary. Many students are now able to recognize basic things and know the words for those things in English. In NELP, we're looking for functional communication ability, and that can be better assessed, in my opinion, without pictures through questions that test the applicant's communication ability: the ability to respond to questions, the ability to correctly complete a sentence and so on.

Three, my mid-term and final exams in the NELP program have no pictures, and I wanted a test that would more accurately reflect the kind of tests the students can expect to see when they enter the program.

Four, as I said before, many students are now learning basic English nouns and verbs in elementary school, but that doesn't mean they can actually communicate in English. Our previous tests, to state it simply (no pun intended), were too easy. Sometimes the scores were too close together. I wanted a test that would more accurately put the students on a scale, that would not merely measure whether or not they met the basic requirements to enter the NELP course, but would rather more accurately assess their language strengths and weaknesses in a way that would allow us to determine their language level in relation to the other students taking the test. As we get more and more applicants to the program, since we are only able to accept 15 students to the course at this time, it will become increasingly important to not only know who is capable of thriving in the NELP environment, but in fact who can MOST benefit from the course. This was a major goal.

So, what will the test be like?
The basic structure of the test, and the material to be tested will not change. There will still be three parts:
Part 1: Listening Comprehension
Part 2: Vocabulary and Grammar
Part 3: Reading Comprehension.

Part 1 will now consist of four sections:
Part 1-1: Question and Response (fifteen questions)
Part 1-2: Fill-in-the-blank (fifteen questions)
Part 1-3: Conversation Comprehension (two questions)
Part 1-4: Narrative Comprehension (three questions)

Part 2 will consist of multiple choice fill-in-the-blank questions.
Part 3 will consist of multiple choice questions about a reading.

Things you should know: the basics. Study the basics. For the pre-test, you should know basic vocabulary, basic verb tenses, pronouns, adjectives, possessives, word usage, prepositions, countable and non-countable nouns, and comparatives.

Students should also be able to answer factual comprehension questions and should be able to make inferences based on what they hear or read.

I think this test will be more successful than previous tests.

投稿者:nelp

Exams are finished!

2008.07.08

Well, I survived! I gave eight final exams this year, and though I fretted and worried a lot earlier, now that it's done, it certainly didn't seem so bad at all. In fact, this year, I was much more on-the-ball and ready-to-go than I have been since the start of the NELP program. The last time I was this organized (meaning my work was actually finished!) was when I was teaching English Conversation back before the NELP program started.

The students did remarkably well. I'm particularly proud of all of them. My junior high first graders did very well on their first ever essay test. I'm also really proud of their performance on the oral communication listening test and the reading test.

My high school first graders did wonderfully on their test. It was a very difficult test, but they got through it, with good scores.

My junior high third graders showed some good improvement over their midterms.

And the junior high second graders? Parents, if you're reading this: I gave your children the most challenging tests ever. Please don't be surprised if their grades have fallen since last year. I was asked by a student to make a more difficult test, and against my better judgment, I did it.

However, next term, we're going back to MY test. I think I've proven that the previous tests were a better assessment of student abilities.

That said: the second graders did far better than they realize. I know they thought the test was impossible, but they really did quite well, considering the difficulty of the test, and I'm proud of all of them.

投稿者:nelp

Lessons with Visiting Professors

2008.07.04

Four times this term, professors visited my high school first grade NELP class. This was a really wonderful opportunity for my class, and I wish sincerely I had taken some pictures, or better yet, video. The only reason I didn't take photos or video was that I didn't want to disturb the professors.

I'm not sure if it's okay to say who they were or where they usually teach, so I'll keep their identities confidential, however, the lessons were really outstanding.

The first professor gave two very interesting lectures about culture. Although the lessons were in Japanese, and I therefore sometimes had trouble following what was being discussed, the students told me that they were very happy with the lessons and that the lessons were very informative and interesting. I think this was also a good opportunity to introduce the students to the kinds of lessons they might expect in a university English class.

The second professor was also outstanding and I was really wowed by the lessons. This professor introduced the students to music. We've used music in my classes before, but this professor really captured the students' interest and I know the students enjoyed the lessons a lot. The professor also introduced the students to The Muppet Show, a TV show from America by the creators of Sesame Street, but for a much older audience. This was entertaining for me as well.

The highlight, and the one point I sooooo wish I had caught on tape, was seeing my high school first graders singing 'Hey, Paula' with the visiting professor. It was really great.

I think inviting university professors to give lessons to the high school NELP students is WONDERFUL idea, and I'm very much looking forward to next term's lessons.

投稿者:nelp