All is good on the Valdivia front. It’s a rainy Sunday, and in Chile, Sundays are always spent with the family, eating a big lunch and socializing.
Sundays are also the day for lesson planning and getting ready for the week.
This week I’ll start coaching our school’s debate team for a national competition. The provincial and regional rounds are here in Valdivia, and the national round will be in Viña del Mar. (I’ve definitely used that as a motivating push for the students!)
My team consists six, 2 Medio students. The topic this year is “Organ donation should be compulsary.” It’s kind of an intense topic for my 15-year-olds, but I’m confident in them! Coaching them on body language, having a convincing tone of voice, and how to make counter arguments against the other teams are the most important things we’ll work on. The first round is May 23, so we have less than two weeks to prepare.
In other work news, Fred and I gave a workshop last Friday on the importance of bringing theater games into your classroom. All of the English teachers from our region attended. It went really smooth, and we’re giving another workshop next month. After Friday’s workshop, one of the teachers from a local public school approached me, and asked if I would like to visit her English class.
This teacher, like many others, have told me how difficult it is for them to try and teach a language without the right resources in the classroom. “In Chile, there are good and bad schools. There is no between,” she told me. This goes for all subjects and effects the entire quality of education.
Even at this latest teacher’s meeting, many of the professors were voicing frustrations about how the government’s mandated English lesson curriculum is not matching their students’ levels. “Who can we talk to about this?” my co-teacher asked our regional representative. Apparently, the textbooks and/or methods of teaching English aren’t getting the job done. It’s still too advanced for their students, the teachers said.
That’s one reason the English Opens Doors program was created in 2003. Chilean students were scoring below average on national English proficiency tests, and the government wanted to raise their scores. This is an article from The Guardian a few years ago about what the country’s trying to accomplish, and where my program fits into it all.
I’m constantly told that my school is a drastic exception to the norm. Next week, I’ll see a different reality when I visit a public school.