English World

Posted on September 1, 2011 by


I just received an email from TLG about the new Macmillan books. We’ve known they were coming for a while, but not which series it would be or what the plan would be once they arrived.

The first news is that the new books will be English World. I’ve worked with English World before, and the books are pretty fantastic. Sure, I’ve noticed the occasional typo here and there, but nothing major and no mistakes in the fundamental English skills being taught. I’m confident that English World for grades 1-6 will be a vast improvement over what the kids were doing last year. So that’s the good news.

The email also told us that we would have to teach only grades 1-6 this year. As I was planning to teach grades ten and eleven – and by “planning” I mean I already had the framework of a curriculum that involved a focus on English Composition as well as some vocabulary building from word roots just for fun – I took this news extremely hard, at first. It was, frankly, disappointing to know that all my plans and ideas were being overridden so late in the game by a mysterious and unexpected directive from above.

However, after cooling down a little I realized that the situation has its benefits as well. The little kids are universally the best behaved, at least in my school. My classes will no longer be focused primarily on enforcing discipline. One of the main problems, aside from discipline, with Georgian teenage classes is that many of them were left behind in English very early on, but socially promoted, so they make it to the eighth or ninth grade with absolutely no ability to communicate in English. Having us focus on younger kids will help to alleviate that problem and pave the way for future generations of TLG volunteers to teach older kids, when the 7-12 books come in, who have a more solid background in English.

I think this actually does make sense, but it’s still jarring. I won’t be able to teach with the same coteachers I’ve already built a relationship with. Teaching English World is pretty boring, too – there’s not all that much for a second teacher to do, and the subject matter is, obviously, extremely basic. I’ll feel like I’m wasting my talents – after all, I am a writer, and I write at university level, and I could teach Georgian kids to write at university level too, but obviously not if they’re six. My schedule will be very different from what I expected since the first through sixth grades have different hours at my school – they start later and end later.

Then again, lesson planning will be easy, since Macmillan has all that handled already and all we have to do is follow their instructions. Having a job that is more automatic and more boring has its perks even if it’s somewhat less ambitious than what I wanted to do.

TLG has also pointed out that we are free to pursue extracurricular activities with our older students. I don’t really see this working out in my particular case. The kids in my school mostly have a bevy of after-school tutors, and of course none of them are native-speaking English tutors, which means that rather than having free lessons from me most kids are most likely to be paying for inferior lessons. There also hasn’t been all that much enthusiasm from anyone at all when I’ve brought up things like extracurricular activities. Still, if I do manage to get an extracurricular activity to catch on, I’ll be teaching kids who are ready and willing to learn rather than kids who are only killing time until they’re allowed to leave school.

Overall, my younger kids have been the most active, engaged, and disciplined in the class, so it’s not like I’m dreading teaching grades 1-6. It’s just fear of the unknown, mostly. But I think it could work out really well for me. And at least I won’t have any complaints about the textbooks!