The FOCAL SKILLS core curriculum is rich and varied, but it is a good idea to provide opportunities for students and teachers to explore areas outside the core. Our program design has a built-in Elective Hour that is entirely independent from the modules.
What is covered in the electives? Any reasonable topic or activity that students want to work on and teachers are willing to offer is eligible to be an elective.
- Some staples have been Grammar Workshop, Conversation, Vocabulary Development, Pronunciation, and similar subjects that echo parts of traditional ESL curricula. These electives enable us to respond to the needs and wishes of those students who feel reassured by traditional approaches to language study.
- Other electives can provide experiences similar to the various modules, for students who want to have additional work related to their current module or sample the type of work that is done in another module. Some examples are Cinema, Fiction, and Creative Writing.
- Perhaps the most interesting and successful electives have been those that range over topics far removed from language study. Examples are Photography, Science Fiction, and Famous Local Restaurants.
We have found that the elective system works very well when it is made as flexible as practical circumstances allow. The following model has been quite successful:
- Students are allowed to change their elective every week, subject to availability.
- A sign-up list is passed around the classes on Friday, and elective class lists are posted on Monday.
- Students and teachers are free to propose new electives.
- The number of electives offered at any one time is determined by staffing constraints.
- Under-enrolled electives are dropped from the list and replaced with new offerings.