23 COURSES

CALIFORNIA ACCENT

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Instructional Design

Our ultimate goal is to foster a lifelong love of reading English.  We believe that of all the outcomes of TEFL instruction, the ability to read English will benefit students the most in the long run. We are not trying to help our students obtain jobs; we are aiming for something much higher.  We want to open young people's minds to the universe of knowledge written in English, to provide access to the vast library of human thought accessible to those who can read English.  

We adhere to a constructivist pedagogy.  We believe vocabulary is the necessary foundation for teaching all other aspects of English, so we begin each lesson with vocabulary; however, we don't stop there.  We build upon this base with exercises that focus on the following:

   Conversation

   Grammar

   Pronunciation

   Reading

   Spelling

   Translation

Our curriculums ascend a gentle slope.  Each successive course level is only slightly more difficult than the previous level.  Here is an example of a curriculum with a gentle slope:

   English for Primary School Level 1 (EPS1) covers 100 words.  Monosyllabic words are used preferentially.  We don't cover any grammar at this level.

   EPS2 covers 200 words.  We use simple 2-word phrases to illustrate capitalization, word order, and plurals.  Each lesson introduces 4 new words relative to the corresponding lesson in EPS1.

   EPS3 covers 300 words.  We introduce punctuation and contractions.  We use simple 3-word phrases as examples.  Each lesson introduces 4 new words relative to the corresponding lesson in EPS2.

   EPS4 covers 400 words.  We introduce future tense and irregular plurals.  At this point we can se simple sentences as examples.  Each lesson introduces 4 new words relative to the corresponding lesson in EPS3.

   EPS5 covers 500 words.  We introduce past tense and possessives.  All lessons have simple story reading activities.  Each lesson introduces 4 new words relative to the corresponding lesson in EPS4.

   EPS6 covers 600 words.  We introduce articles, additional punctuation, and grammatical terms (i.e. “verbs”).  All lessons have reading exercises.  Each lesson introduces 4 new words relative to the corresponding lesson in EPS5.

Success isn't optional. We don't believe in setting an arbitrary “bar” or standard, then expecting students to achieve that level of competence.  We sincerely want all students to learn English, including those with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Applying a basic principal of psychology, we want students to enjoy learning English, not to fear it.  Our lessons are simple and easy by design.  Realistically speaking, we want 90% of the students to complete 90% of the exercises.  We also think there may be a halo effect, whereby success in California Accent's courses fosters success in other courses.

In addition to believing that no child should be left behind, we believe no child should be held back.  Students who out-perform their peers should immediately be presented with a path forward.  Students who complete exercises quickly should be guided towards more difficult exercises.

Our courses are intended to supplement, not replace, other courses.  We're aware that most teachers and tutors already have teaching materials they're comfortable with. In many cases they're required to use materials provided by their administrative organizations.  We want to augment those materials, not compete with them.

Our development process is highly iterative and is loosely based on the Agile Development methodology used in the computer industry.  All of our lessons are released at least three times.  Each version incorporates improvements based on testing with representative students, new ideas, new formats, and input from reviewers and Beta testers.

Repetition and reinforcement: Lessons at all levels include all content from lower levels plus a modest amount of new content.

Translations: Wherever possible we provide translations in Thai and Chinese.  Vocabulary terms are translated to Thai or Chinese by professional translators.

Our printed lessons cover aspects of English that require live instructors. These include the following:

   Conversation

   Pronunciation

   Writing (penmanship)

Our videos and word games cover aspects of English that can be taught without a live instructor. These include the following:

   Grammar (plurals, tenses, possessives, word order, etc.)

   Reading

   Spelling

   Translation (Thai to English and English to Thai)  

   Vocabulary

Clean format:  We use generous amounts of white space, large fonts, and lots of photos.  We avoid superfluous graphics.