I just had a baby so I’m not currently in my own classroom. I am however, still a mommy and I just went to the parents’ information night at my kids’ school in Denmark. I think that parents who are teachers have the hardest time accepting academic decisions of other teachers and they live in a constant struggle to support their kids’ teachers and yet wonder how they would of done something differently. This describes my relationship with my kiddos’ school in a nutshell.
At the meeting, they pointed out that English is now taught from the earliest grades but there isn’t really curriculum to help them teach effectively. Now when they mean curriculum, they mean workbooks. In Denmark, teachers do not search for their own materials, they are not expected to ever buy products to use in the classroom, and they do not print, laminate, and cut things to be used in their classroom. I teach through games and dramatic play at all grade levels and use worksheets as a reinforcement only.
This leads to a dramatic cultural clash but, every Dane under 50 speaks fluent English – I struggle to think that their system is wrong if it works so well. I’m currently partnering with the English teacher at my childrens’ school and not only am I creating resources for her but I am slowly coaching her on international teaching methods of center based learning and how to use games as both instruction and repetition. Yet, even as I mentor her in my methods, I’m learning that there is something to be said for the boring but thorough slow workbook method.
I will still advocate for getting students to talk to each other and feel like they are in real-life speaking situations in a safe dramatic play environment. I still believe that games do what worksheets do but in a more engaging way. However, grammar is a beast and worksheets and their repetition are blessings to help grammar become more automatic. Perhaps there is merit in old school methods. Do other EAL teachers struggle with this intersection of ideals?