Parent Questions: II More questions from our EF parents. Questions are in italics.

Could EF have a hotline where foreign teachers answer questions from students? We’ve tried this and it is difficult to implement well. It ties up teachers during key class hours and it is marginally helpful in the best of situations. We do schedule “Telephone Teaching” times for our Course Representatives to call students at home to review lessons. Could EF offer more activities and events for students to attend aside from class? Absolutely. This is one of our largest priorities for this coming year. I believe that every school – private or public and in any country – is primarily a community. Hosting more events only helps us strengthen our EF community. We are trying to diversify our offerings. Our Life Club is opening with three levels: Playway, High Flyers, and Trailblazers. Students who attend Life Club will play games and learn English in a more fun, less structured way than in normal classes. This summer we will also open a new eight-week Summer Fun course. The theme for Summer Fun this year is Global Citizens. Students will visit locations such as the US, Brazil, Italy, Australia, Egypt, India and the UK and learn about the cultures there. For students enrolled in our normal classes we will offer an eight-week Summer Outlook course to prepare students for the 2010 Star of Outlook English competition. Students not enrolled in our normal classes can consider attending the new one-year Outlook Academy course. Management at EF has discussed many, many ideas for new courses. We have teachers proficient in Portuguese, French, and Italian. I speak Spanish myself. We have teachers interested in photography, art, and literature. We need feedback on which classes to open. Any thoughts or suggestions? Could classes be held twice a week instead of just once? Some of our classes do this. I’m personally all in favor of it. More frequent classes help students retain more language. This is a scheduling problem rather than a methodological one. It can be difficult for a group of students to agree on two class times per week. It can be difficult to arrange teacher’s schedules around twice-weekly classes. How are EF’s normal courses – High Flyers, Trailblazers and Real English – and its special training courses related? Our normal courses use materials provided to us by EF’s international headquarters. They are written by a team of ELT professionals from a mix of native English-speaking countries. Most of our special training courses use materials provided by… me. Personally, I think my materials are much better. Anything students learn in one class will transfer to the others. Our normal EF courses aim to provide students with a firm general base in spoken English competency. Our specialized courses naturally have a variety of aims. I personally enjoy our specialized courses more. I enjoy preparing materials and feel that the classes are more focused and personalized. Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009

Parent Questions: III More questions from our EF parents. Questions are in italics.

When will the Trinity GESE training classes begin? Classes should open later this year. A firm date has not yet been set. Can homework be done in class? Students have enough homework at home as-is. There are well-established pedagogical arguments in favor of homework. It helps students retain information learned in classes. It helps students review previous lessons and prepare for future lessons. Our teachers do bookwork in class. We try to strike a balance between having students complete necessary bookwork assignments in class and giving our students enough time to speak English and interact meaningfully with their teachers. Parents could use more information about what students are learning. This information could be communicated via text messages or a monthly schedule. I’m in favor of parents having more information. Our “blue books” and this meeting are attempts to provide this critical information. A monthly events schedule is in the works. I don’t know about the logistics of text messaging parents or preparing a monthly course schedule. I can promise I’ll look into it. Can students watch English films in class? English movies are a great way for some students to learn new English vocabulary and usages. English movies can also waste a lot of time in class and distract students. We incorporate films into our lesson plans only if there is a sound pedagogical reason. If the teacher is tired and lets the kids watch a DVD – that’s bad. You can play DVDs at home. You don’t need to pay a foreign teacher to do that for you. Sometimes films can enhance a lesson or further a discussion or prove a point. In those circumstances I approve them. Can we tie lessons at EF more closely to lessons in public schools? Unfortunately, no. We have students from all over Zhengzhou and even nearby cities like Kaifeng. Any one class of ours may have students from six or seven different public schools in six or seven different grades. We place students in classes primarily based on their functional conversation ability. Sometimes we have six year olds studying with ten year olds. Sometimes we have four year olds studying with seven year olds. It is impossible to tie our lessons more closely to the public school curriculum because there is no single uniform public school English curriculum. Public schools use different materials from each other. Some teach Super Kids. Others P-E-P. EF classes are meant to educate alongside public school English classes. Can students do more group work and activities in class? We encourage teachers to incorporate group work activities into their lesson plans. Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009

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