I’m off to my first meeting at my new job. I’ll be starting a 3-year full-time contract at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, teaching in the International Studies department from April 2010. This is a big change to say the least. I had grown pretty comfortable in my high school job over the past 16 years, and even starting a part-time job at Kyoto Sangyo University last year put my head in a fog for quite a while trying to learn a new system. I’m sure the learning curve will be equally steep for the coming months as well.
While everything unfamiliar spins uncontrollably around me for the coming months, I hope to hang on to my new students and my three new colleagues starting on the same contract as me. We’ll call them Ms. T, Mr. S and Ms. D for now, at least until I officially meet them in a few hours.
The focus of this program is simple. We have 18 months to raise their TOEFL scores as high as possible, because they will all travel overseas for a one-year study abroad experience. The basic design/concept of the program seems very, very clever. If these girls can’t feed off of or feed into their own motivation to live abroad, then I’ll be shocked.
I’m hoping to take an approach that focuses mercilessly on a fluency goal. Half the battle is just defining fluency, so here is my attempt for each of the four skills:
Speaking – thinking and speaking at the same time in a relatively natural speed
Writing – thinking and writing at the same time in a relatively natural speed, with a relatively average number of revisions
Listening – understanding spoken English to the depth that is necessary for any given situation. This implies that listening to friends, a university lecturer, the police, a YouTube video all carry uniquely different needs.
Reading – understanding written English at a speed somewhere closer to L1 readers than L2 readers (some say that 250 wpm with a 75% comprehension rate is a good target).
I’d love to hear what people think about these definitions. They are a starting point for this whole approach and I’m sure that many of my wise EFL colleagues out there have bundles and oodles of opinions to share.
Japanese Fluency Program
How to learn Japanese
according to a teacher in the US