Curriculum in Public Schools (or lack of...)

There are curriculum guidelines for all subjects. They are entirely in Chinese. Well, recently the 核心素養 (core competencies) – nine general competencies organized under three categories have been roughly translated to English. For the English domain, the 學習表現 (performance indicators) and 學習內容 (teaching content) are only in Chinese, as far as I know. They are pretty general guidelines, anyways. Deeper in, the curriculum indicates that 19 教育議題 (educational issues, such as gender equity education, human rights education, environmental education, etc.) should be covered in English class, where appropriate. Furthermore, integration of content from other subjects is recommended, in an interdisciplinary manner.

In the new form of the K-12 guidelines, even the 1,200/2,000 common English vocabulary, genres/topics, and language functions are not included (we are meant to refer to the K-9 prior curriculum manual).

Textbooks must pass rigorous evaluation before getting the MOE stamp of approval on the back cover. Many of the regulations are finicky standards for paper weight, dimensions, and font (no kidding!). However, a few textbook companies control the market.

A slightly outdated, but informative overview in English is available at the link below. If anyone has a better source, please share.

I worked at a high school. The classes were all 40 minutes long and they were all the same grade level. I was actually asked not to use the projector with slide shows.

Looking back, it was a pretty sweet gig. I only had to think of one lesson every week and perform it 20 times. It’s different expectations though. Typically, English is considered a non-serious subject so us FETs are expected to entertain more than educate. I would have been better served if I had more experience in the buxibans. Having taught in the US almost gave me the wrong teaching technique.

Truly a clown show. I hope you have the right shoes.

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Can’t be any book/magazine work in 40 minutes, can there?

How did you manage that?! Years ago I had one day a week at a junior high school, teaching the same lesson every period, six times total I think. And “merely” six classes had me in a surreal Groundhog-Day-deja-vu fugue state by the time the day was done.

I think I was making $1000 per class session? Maybe $1200? At the beginning of the semester I thought they were overpaying me. By the end it wasn’t enough.

It’s all about state of mind. Eventually you are cracking the same jokes that you think are funny, because the students politely laugh, at exactly the same point in every lesson.

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My first job in Taiwan was with an English Village where we would bus the kids to our school and give lessons in a classroom that had specific themes. Each classroom different: Hotel, Newsroom, Airport, Grocery Mart…

Every month we would pick one classroom and do exactly the same lesson (based on a very formal lesson plan) multiple times a day. That was the epitome of deja vu. Still, it didn’t bother me because I was still finding things that worked at the end of the month.

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Yeah, syllabi/syllabuses are highly overrated.

Ha! Maybe I wrote some of it, or at least edited it. I always wondered how they used that in the classroom. I also worked for the other company that makes ESL magazines. I always wondered how they were used in classes. There were a couple of writers who went around to schools promoting the magazines, but I didn’t think there was much follow up.

Is that still a thing? I’ve been afraid to teach in public/private schools for that reason. I’ve heard of messed up situations where teachers were told to teach the material in large classes without the proper set-up (here, on other threads). There’s a supposedly good private school near me with English Village on a sign that has seen better weather. I was waiting for that whole system to die before considering trying to get a job outside of cram schools and publishing.

It seems the English Village model is on it’s way out. The good part of the English Village system is that we had a lot of FETs all in the office with most of us arriving fresh off the boat. The culture shock in that office was real for the newbies and the old-timers were also an eclectic bunch. At other public schools you get platooned by yourself with no other FETs to help show you the ropes. Not as much fun IMHO but I did get shafted on my bonus from English Village whereas I got my bonus in NTC highschool.

I thought English Village is a teaching system used in some public/private schools. I know there are programs up in the mountains where they have facilities designed for the content, but I think I’ve read it’s used as a curriculum in the schools.

We taught new kids every day and had a few summer camps as well. This is in Taoyuan so I don’t know what they did in other places.

@SunWuKong, yes, there are English Villages in all the counties. Not to bring them up again, but I’m pretty sure it’s become the responsibility of the Fulbright ETA’s to run them now in most counties, though I just saw a posting for an English Village recruiting FETs for next year here on Forumosa. I also think Chayi (maybe???) has FETs at their “English Wonderland”. From what I’ve heard (Kinmen and Yilan), the ETAs are all tossed in the English Village during the last week of August for “experiential training” (aka, thrown to the sharks) by running a summer English camp. Remember Fulbright ETAs are recent college grads with absolutely no teaching experience or certifications, so they are coming in with nothing, getting two weeks of “training” on all things about Fulbright, life in Taiwan, and teaching English, and then expected to create workable lesson plans and create their own materials that they have to use in English Village. Sounds like hell, especially since they’re circumventing a very clear law about “co-teaching” by having the ETAs co-teach with one another, so in many cases, there isn’t even a Chinese speaker in the room when things (inevitably) get out of control, not to mention a teacher.

As someone who teaches junior high in a county with an English Village, I have had moments where I have wanted to leave class and scooter over there and burn the place down. To no one’s surprise, a lot of the content that they are supposed to have learned, they didn’t learn. Such as “how does it taste?” in the kitchen. They should have learned all the English vocabulary/ grammar surrounding that, but the only thing they remember is that they made popcorn and watched Disney movies. So much for “learning English in context”. A fun two day experience where they don’t have school? yes. A chance to learn any English at all? :laughing:

Yeah, I wish the English villages were on their way out. Taiwan gets these great ideas for insanely expensive experiences for students but doesn’t bother training the teachers to use their insanely expensive spaces to any degree of effectiveness. Were every school to have them, and use them daily to do a total deep dive into that content area using effectively implemented CLIL, it would be fantastic. But kids coming for two days once a year for two years? funny jokes. Stay away!

Your teacher collaboration is going to depend on the school and teacher. Some schools require co-teaching, some will just throw a random PE teacher in the classroom with you, and some will expect you to teach on your own.

I teach junior high (7-9th grade) and co-teach all my classes, which are 45 minutes long. All of my classes also have three classes/week with the local teacher using the world’s most worthless textbooks, published by 康軒. The content is supposed to be relevant to their lives, but it moves waaaaayyyy to fast for even the most motivated students, and the dialogues, grammar patterns, and vocabulary don’t really have any way of connecting to each other. They also use example sentences that make no sense and try way too hard to use specific grammar points.

I use Nat Geo’s “Our World” series, which is actually for elementary, but I think it works for their level too. It uses a lot of animals, but it breaks things down nicely (L1-2 for Grade 7, L3-4 for Grade 8, and L5-6 for Grade 9. PS: I never get through everything in there, but you can hop around a bit within each book). Even in the end of the L1 book there are readings that the students will really need to dig into their brains and try to understand, but they’re actually really simple if the students have learned even half of the content that you’ve been teaching that lesson.

I also bought “Time Zones” (also from National Geographic), but that expects too much from the students despite their L1 book being for A1. Taiwanese students learn to dissect grammar, not use it, so when you expect them understand things in context, you lose most of the class/they go immediately to translation and don’t get anything at all from reading English texts. That’s my experience though, plenty of other Forumosans say they don’t have this problem.

btw, you can get Oxford, Nat Geo, and other native English publisher texts from https://www.cavesbooks.com.tw/EC/. Stay away from anything published by Taiwanese (expect some of the magazines) because you will find yourself subjected to unnatural sounding speech on audio recordings and really odd examples of how to use grammar.

edit: by “L1” I mean “level 1”, not “first langauge”

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I think I’m either misunderstanding you or you’re misunderstanding me. Let me ask it like this, in your experience, is English Village a system taught in public/private schools by foreign English teachers, throughout the year (not as a special activity kids are bused to on occasion).
I was sure some people had said they were teaching some variant of it in public schools. It sounded like a horrible experience, so I never considered public school teaching after that.

English Village is a set up inside a designated public school for area schools to bus their students in to attend English-only programs throughout the year.

Some of them, like the English Wonderland in Chayi, are sleep-over camps where the students come for three days/two nights, but I think most of them are day programs, with the students coming two or three days at a time.

I don’t think it’s so much a variant of public schools so much as they try to hire FETs (who are public school teachers) to be the teachers so that the county governments have bragging rights about having foreigners in their classrooms.

If you apply to be an FET and you don’t specify that you won’t work at an English Village, you could get stuck at one, but most FETs just work at regular public schools and not English Villages. Some counties, however, have “English on the Go”, which, as I understand it, is a traveling English classroom with a similar concept to EV. The difference is that the FETs who have run it these past few years seem to have had total control over their curriculum and can do whatever they think needs to be done to make things run smoothly. Though they have had some things to say about that too…

The public school I currently teach at has an “English Village”, but it’s really just two classrooms with a lot of “fancy” computer and other tech equipment that they spent a few million dollars on back in the early 2000’s and never used ever. (as you can imagine, the students’ phones are more engaging than anything in that room). Every once in a while, they ask me to create a curriculum for it, but when I ask them who the target students will be, they can’t give me an answer and they don’t bother asking me for another few months. In three years, I’ve never gone in there for any reason beyond curiosity.

If you’re fresh off the boat, they might try to get you to do English Village, but, as I said before, I think most counties make the Fulbright ETAs do it because enough FETs have pointed out the worthless waste of time that the whole concept is and have enough pull (a teaching license, for example) that they can get themselves into a better teaching situation.

tldr: traditional public schools are exactly what they sound like. English villages are located within some public schools featuring short “immersion camps” with themed classrooms where you teach the same thing every day to different groups of kids.

edit: I know Fulbright ETAs teach in traditional schools 4 days a week and English villages one day a week, so it’s possible that’s what FETs used to be expected to do but there was enough feedback that FETs no longer have said responsibility.

This is great thanks so much.
So all of this taken into consideration what does it actually look like in the class? I’m assuming you basically use this as a guideline to build your classes around. Can you basically just write lessons that hit on these topics but have the freedom to work the class as you see fit? Or do they want you to follow the textbooks pretty firmly (if provided)?
I’m assuming if you are co-teaching, the local teacher will be more inclined to stick with the book and not deviate too much.
I heard from someone that it is a lot of repeated dialogues which sounds mind numbing. I know every school is different but do you think they make you do this with the students or is it more of a suggestion/framework to help guide the lessons?

In most schools, FET classes are separate from the “actual” English classes (taught by the local Taiwanese teachers), so unless your co-teacher insists on borrowing class time to go over their homework and quizzes (don’t let them do it. Especially if you understand Chinese, you will want to crawl in a hole and die/feel horrible that your students are subjected to such nonsense), you will be teaching something other than the book.

But schools have double standards/ask for one thing and then something completely different as soon as you deliver on their first request. My school insisted on me creating two separate curriculums (one for a “listening” class and one for a “culture” class) that could not be related to each other or the official Taiwan-issued textbook. As soon as the semester started, they told me my classes should all be interconnected. So my first year I threw in a modified plan from the Nat Geo “Our World” textbook for the culture class and a modified plan from Nat Geo’s “Time Zones” for listening. Then I threw out both of those plans and just came up with activities that were somewhat related to but actually interesting compared to the nonsense they are expected to learn in their “proper” English classes.

The freedom once again depends on the school.

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Well, unfortunately, as is the case almost everywhere, teachers (even experienced ones) don’t know or follow the guidelines intentionally. That being said, good teachers will fulfill the spirit and, often, the law of the curricular guidelines quite naturally.

You can trust @nz on this. FETs are there for building up students’ communicative and intercultural competences, while local teachers are there to “teach to the test.”

Enjoy the freedom this brings, trust your teaching skills and (when possible) try to be interdisciplinary, build up students critical thinking, autonomy, and general collaborative/interpersonal skills.

You asked about curricula. They exist, but few people other than academics pay attention to them. Or administrators, when applying for MOE grants :sweat_smile:

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How much of a curriculum do you have to provide, by which I mean can you wing it each week or do you need to turn in a plan for the entire semester? Do you have to hand in a weekly/semester plan or are you just left to do as you think is best?

No computer or internet???