Starting from the beginning of Third Term, the High School NELP program has undergone a complete transformation. Up to now, we've been using the book Totally True from Oxford. This is a good book, and there's a lot I like about it, but it has two main problems: first, the level is two easy for my students; and second, it's more of a reading-based textbook, and I'd like a more listening-based curriculum.
My original plan was to replace the Totally True curriculum with a video-based curriculum that would mirror some of the things I've done with the junior high school. However, there were several problems with this idea.
My first concern was that not everyone might be able to view the video files. I tried it on both a Mac and a PC, but it's not necessarily a guarantee that everyone's system will be compatible. Likewise, not everyone may have consistent access to a computer to view the video files. My second, and more important concern however was the purpose of the video-based curriculum.
My philosophy of education is that education should prepare young people for their future. Education should be practical, and applicable. Likewise, the program should further and challenge the learners' English language ability.
I feel that the junior high NELP program fulfills these two points in that there is a noticeable progression to the curriculum, the curriculum is challenging, and the curriculum is designed to develop in students skills and concepts that I believe will be of value to them later on in life.
However, I felt concerns that perhaps the high school's video-based curriculum did not fulfill these criteria. I began to ask myself a number of important questions. What is the goal of this curriculum? Does this curriculum prepare students for life? Will this curriculum be of benefit to the students later on? I had doubts.
Luckily, as I was pondering these things, several members of the NELP committee came to me with an idea for a project they wanted me to attempt. The project would take two terms, beginning in junior high school third grade third term and ending in high school first grade first term.
This meant that part of the curriculum I was planning would have to be replaced. However, ultimately this project inspired me to shelve my current concept for a high school curriculum and begin work on a new curriculum, a curriculum that would satisfy my educational philosophy.
So, instead of a video based curriculum, I have now developed a project-based curriculum. Half of the curriculum will focus on test preparation. I have developed a series of quizzes: one hundred and fifty quizzes to be precise. These quizzes are designed to develop the students' language skills and prepare them for the pre-1st and 1st grade Eiken STEP tests, the TOEIC test, the TOEFL test, and finally the Center Test and university entrance exams. In addition, it will develop skills beyond those, skills which I strongly believe will have real-world applications for the students.
The other half of the curriculum will be career oriented. In addition to being an English teacher since 1992, I've also worked for in a university library, a law office, a safety engineering office and for a phone company. This has given me a unique perspective on careers and on what skills could be useful to students in their careers.
Our first project, starting in junior high third grade and finishing in high school first grade, will be a debate. We've done debates in the past, but this will be a huge step forward. I'll be teaching the students the rules and procedures for parliamentary debate. We'll also be studying logic, argument, fallacies and more. This project could help students prepare for careers in law and government, but could also help in other careers, as sometimes within corporations there are debates on various issues and proposals. In addition, students considering careers in science and medicine could develop important skills related to research that could help them later.
Future projects will include presentation, public speaking, persuasive speech, making proposals, demonstrating products, familiarity with office machines, humor, broadcast journalism, business etiquette, interview skills and more. I'm further considering introducing the students to video editing, audio editing and image editing.
In this way, I hope to achieve my goal of making a curriculum that prepares the students for their future.