Scoring Big: English Goals and FC Barca
Attempting something for the first time is always nerve-racking but particularly when first impressions are marked by giving an assessment. TYO designed an English pre-assessment when students expressed that they are eager to learn English and had been struggling with the English taught in local schools. English is a valuable skill to develop for Palestinians given the state of the local economy with high unemployment, and it allows individuals to pursue international positions and those within large multinational corporations.
The struggling educational system in Nablus places extremely heavy pressure on children starting from the 1st grade to succeed at standardized tests. These tests are seen as life-defining; they decide whether or not you are able to attend university. The fear of failure to perform has severe psychological consequences for young Palestinians. Surprisingly the kids didn’t seem too upset completing the written and oral assessment for TYO- some even saw it as a platform to show off their great English knowledge! Incorporating it with some fun introductions and games really helped to make it less formal and more relaxed atmosphere.
The results of the assessments for classes were promising- about a third of the kids seemed to score 100% in the written test. However there was much variability across grades as some classes had up to one third of the kids scoring 0%. While some students were able to write the alphabet exclusively in the upper or lower case, others were not able to write anything, directly copied the question, or listed random letters . Some weaker results were composed of papers with random letters written down or other phrases in English written such as their name and where they were from—the two most answered oral questions from the assessment.
As the last students were finishing their oral assessments outside the classroom, I noticed a picture of Messi stuck on a student’s book. I started to ask him about Messi and FC Barcelona. This immediately sparked interest throughout the whole class as both the boys and girls began to tell me in English about different football teams ranging from Real Madrid to Manchester United and the team’s players. Their enthusiasm and confidence speaking in English about football really encouraged me for the forth coming lessons- as long as football plays a part I’m certain they’ll pick up English very quickly!