The Seishin High School English Program is going to go through a major remodeling next April. Both the SELP program and the NELP program are going to be completely turned around, updated and improved.
First, in the SELP program, we're going to change books. Our current textbook, Totally True, is a good book and we've liked it, but we feel that this book is not really meeting our needs and goals. First,the book is too easy. It's well below the level that our high school students are studying in their regular English classes. Secondly, it's a reading-based program, and that really isn't going to fit our new agenda for Oral Communication. Starting in September, we're going to aggressively pursue listening in our classes. We'll start by introducing activities from the new listening-based textbook we'll adopt in April. This textbook is one of the most advanced listening text-books I've found, but is still within the ability of our students.
One of our major goals is to improve university entrance exam scores, and so we chose a textbook that will help our students towards that goal. In addition, our students will be given listening activities related to the Eiken STEP Test, the TOEIC test, and most importantly the CENTER test. I want our students to be prepared for a wide variety of tests and situations, and this listening-based curriculum will go a long way towards that goal.
We will STILL have speaking, but listening will play a much stronger role, and I expect at least half of every class will be devoted to listening. Grammar and reading will now be the domain of the regular English teachers, and our English Conversation teachers will focus just on listening and speaking, bringing us back to our original role within the English department curriculum.
The NELP students, on the other hand, are way beyond the activities in the new listening textbook. As such, we're going to have a new curriculum in the high school that will build much more firmly on what the students have learned in our junior high NELP program.
The new High School NELP program will be an audio-video based program. As we did with the junior high reading-based program, wherein we learned a variety of styles and purposes in English language communication by studying poetry, fiction, non-fiction and current events and issues, in the High School program, the students will learn a variety of styles and purposes in English language communication by studying many different kinds of audio and video programs.
In the new High School NELP curriculum students will study commercials and public service announcements, music videos and songs, news reports, short documentary videos, short films, and lectures on important issues.
For commercials and public service announcements, students will naturally study persuasive language, but they will also talk about how audio and images are used in communication of ideas.
Music videos and songs will allow students to look at a very different kind of English than they normally study. We'll also be looking at some of the visuals in the music videos and talking about the contrast between what they see and what they hear.
Through news reports, we'll ask students to scan what they see and hear to find information.
Short documentary films will expose students to educational language.
Through short films, we'll be able to explore different kinds of language, different means of communication. We'll also talk about a variety of issues.
Through lectures on current issues, students will be exposed to very, very high-level academic language, and will be expected to develop and express views and opinions on those issues.
So what will we cover?
In music, we'll cover an award-winning music video by music group REM, a song by comedian Allen Sherman, an amusing song about a broken guitar, a song by country music star Taylor Swift (who at age 20 has already won 22 awards), a lecture by award winning broadway composer Stephen Sondheim (who wonan Academy Award, nine Tony awards and one Tony Lifetime Achievement Award - more than any other composer, seven Grammy Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize) as he lectures a students on how to perform one of his songs, and Arlo Guthrie's epic song/story "Alice's Restaurant (an meandering 18 minute story that didn't win any awards, but is amusing nonetheless), a funny political song by The Pheromones, and a parody of the troubles of heiress Paris Hilton.
In news we'll cover an exploding whale, a parody of Mac simplicity, a man who makes money selling real videos of real criminals committing crimes, a fake abduction, food tampering, and an anchor woman who refused to report a story that she felt wasn't 'newsworthy'.
In commercials, we'll look at sports fanatics, the importance of learning good listening comprehension, a beer commercial, a funny commercial about pets, an inspiring coca-cola commercial, a car commercial about the importance of intelligence, a rum ad about friendship, a funny commercial for an online TV station, a funny commercial comparing Macs and PCs, a public service announcement about the importance of strong character, a sweet public service announcement about the importance of making time for one's family, a funny commercial about not buying the wrong gift, a recruiting ad for the US Marines, a funny levi's commercial, and a very funny ad about motivating people in the office.
In non-fiction, we'll cover a documentary about education and changing technology, a documentary about making hot dogs, a presentation about the cause of the current financial meltdown, an illustration of humankind's place in the universe, and much more.
In short films, we'll cover a wide variety of award winning short films including a manager who uses a laundry mistake to inspire his team, a space-pilot having a little trouble with his coffee machine, hysteria and paranoia on a quiet American street (mirroring not only McCarthyism but the current climate of fear), a misunderstood boy, a government agent who can never seem to catch a slippery criminal, two futuristic police officers on a call that is not as routine as it seems, a woman with a haunted - but confused - kitchen, a man on a ship who can't remember who he is but who seems to know that the ship is in danger, a young man and a young woman who begin a complicated romance by communicating office window to office window using signs, a psychiatrist who discovers that his time is up, a mysterious DJ with the power to undo bad events, a maniacal bomb manufacturer who lives in fear, and finally an old woman who lives in terror that death will find her.
In lectures, we'll study TED talks. TED is an international lecture series about Technology, Entertainment and Design, and includes some very amazing lectures. Our lectures will include a man who stayed silent by choice for seventeen years, a man who demonstrates the power of the mind, a man who explains the importance of spaghetti sauce, a short and funny talk by former vice-president Al Gore about climate change, an amazing presentation about how schools sometimes kill creativity, a presentation about happiness and brain chemistry, an amazing speech about parasites that infect ants and ideas that infect people, and finally an inspiring speech about wisdom and thinking in the modern world.
In addition, we'll also, when time allows, discuss famous works of art, both in the junior high and high school.
Students will study the audio and visual programs at home and will then discuss them in class. In addition there will be activities for them to complete for each program, including pre-listening/pre-viewing activities, listening/viewing activities, and post-listening/post-viewing activities.
In our other lessons, we'll do activities in preparation for the the center test and STEP tests.
And that, in a large nutshell, is the plan for the new high school curriculum that will start in April