At our school (a Christian school teaching English as a Foreign Language in Lima, Peru) we use the A Beka curriculum. Over the years as I’ve been teaching, I’ve made many, many, many modifications to the way we teach, trying to help the kids effectively learn to speak, read, and write English.
But the more modifications I make, the more frustrated I become. Oh, don’t get me wrong; A Beka is a wonderful curriculum. As a homeschooler, I grew up with A Beka, at least for part of my education. And their materials are beautiful.
But A Beka was never designed to teach English as a Foreign Language. They don’t claim to be designed for that, and to tell the truth, it doesn’t work very well. But the thing is, finding another curriculum with our specific needs – 1. Christian, 2. Phonetics-based, and 3. designed for EFL – well, that’s more challenging. There are lots of Christian EFL programs out there, some of them very good….but none of them based in a strong grasp of phonics. (The more I teach the more convinced I become that phonics is KEY to teaching EFL; it makes a HUGE difference in their pronounciation, especially when they start in preschool!!) There are lots of phonics-based EFL programs, some of THEM very good (HUGE shout-out to Genki English, whose fun songs make conversation and phonics a blast in the classroom!) – but none of them with the strong Christian worldview our school is looking for. And of course there’s A Beka, Christian and phonics based, but not designed for EFL.
These past few weeks, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of designing my own curriculum…one that blends useful EFL words and phrases with strong phonics and a Christian worldview. The thing is, I’m not qualified (unless you count 10 years of experience as qualification!), and I’m all-too-aware of just how big a job it would be. But I keep studying, keep asking questions to people smarter than me, keep wondering and investigating and thinking and planning….and one day, I fully believe that it will all come together and form a cohesive, integrated curriculum that meets our needs, where we are.