The standard, non-remedial, English curriculum expects/demands that the students write compositions in the 9th grade, if not earlier. One of the early chapters in the book from which I taught aimed to make the students aware of the difference between fact and opinion, objective and subjective. I was very excited by the high level and relative sophistication of this text book. But then I was shocked and rather devastated to discover that:
- They hadn't a clue as to how to write a composition.
- They had no idea of what the concept of "objective" meant.
That was just the beginning of my disillusion. I "reported" the problems to the administration and was brushed off.
Me: "How can it be that my top 9th grade students can't write compositions in Hebrew when they need them for English already?"Then I discovered that even these "top" students barely understood the brilliantly simple and logical Hebrew grammar, which is easily divided into active and passive verbs and even adjectives. My horror only grew. These unfortunates had to learn Hebrew grammar from yours truly. So I tried a different "campaign."
Boss: "Don't worry. They will learn how in the 12th grade for their Hebrew Composition Bagrut."
If you want the students to do better in English, improve their Hebrew Language skills.For that idea, I was basically persona non grata.
The English Department in the Education Ministry also noticed the low level of basic language skills, including how your typical Israeli student has been learning literature. But, unlike my suggestion that this be remedied in their native tongue, the English Department has developed a curriculum that mimics an English language country. They pretend to be in "New Jersey."
I titled this post as "Israeli EFL has a Lot to Learn," because there is something very crucial that the heads of the Israeli EFL bureaucracy must learn, and that's Hebrew. They must raise their Hebrew to a level in which they can enter the regular Hebrew-language system and teach all of their wonderful ideas and language skills in Hebrew to teachers and students.
Then the EFL departments can do what they should be doing, teach English.