Friday, January 21, 2011

School Countdown!

School starts on the 31st- it was supposed to start this Monday, on the 24th, but they pushed it back a week for various reasons. I found that out this week. Ohhhh Tonga! Haha. This week was planning week number 1. There is a new curriculum for primary school so this week consisted of various sessions on that. The new curriculum seems like it is good for the schools. The government primary schools (GPS) are changing it so that English doesn’t start until class 3 (which is age equivalent to 2nd grade in the US- kids here start class 1 at age 5). This is because they found that there was so much focus on English that kids didn’t even know the rules of Tongan grammar. They could speak it and understand it and such but didn’t know a refined level of it- for writing papers and such. However, I don’t work at a GPS, I work at a Free Weslyan primary school (FWPS). So they’re using the new curriculum in terms of what is taught but instead of pushing English back to class 3, my school is actually trying to transition to a bilingual system. Not sure yet exactly what they mean by bilingual, but they’re going to be starting English at class 1, possibly even kindy. So I’m going to be working mainly with class 1 and class 6, but also doing some stuff with every other level too. Class 6 is when they take their major exam, as you remember, to figure out where they go to high school and there’s an English section so they need a lot of practice at that level. Last year none of the kids at my school passed the exam. While I would love for even one to pass this year, I know that it’s not that simple. My goal for now is to improve their English as it functions in real life situations first, and then focus on the exam later in the year.

Anyway, the sessions this week were all in Tongan so I didn’t understand a whole lot of it. I concentrated really hard and ended up with a headache, haha. I did get some of it, and there was a PCV there from Group 75 so she explained some of it to me as well.

Next week is planning week at our individual school. I should find out what my actual teaching schedule will look like and start to get some stuff ready for actual classes. I’m really excited to get to know the kids at school and be in a classroom. I’m also a little anxious about it, since it’s not something I’ve really done before- teaching at a preschool is not the same as teaching in a primary school classroom. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Love and miss you all.

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