English at Urim is the first foreign language the children learn and is taught as part of the culture it represents. The method of teaching is based on providing a natural and direct way of learning, as close to a mother tongue as possible. We learn by doing.
During the first years (grades 1-3) the child develops, step by step, a feeling and a sense for the language by experiencing the aural sounds, rhythms and intonations. The aim is to develop a basic natural feel for the language dwelling on the descriptive and creative aspect through songs, recitations, games and vivid storytelling, appropriate to the children’s development. The teacher will only speak English and direct the children with movements, using Hebrew only in emergency situations.
From the end of grade 3 and in grade 4, writing and first reading is introduced and with it a more structured approach. “Language is best taught when it is being used to transmit messages, not when it is explicitly taught for conscious learning”. (Krashen & Terrell)
In grades 4 – 6th grammatical patterns and language structures are discovered with the intention of developing the children’s reading writing and verbal skills. The pupils are introduced to dictations and learning focuses on vocabulary through stories, exercises, role play and games.
The transition from primary school to middle school begins slowly at the end of grade 6. As the pupils approach their twelfth year they are now ready for a more explanatory approach. In grade 7, cause and effect enter general considerations and content is given in order to stretch the powers of reasoning. Pupils are required to take on more responsibility and teaching incorporates a broad range of subjects in English: Grammar rules, spelling and writing formats are taught as well as literary texts. Tests and grades are incorporated as part of the learning method and, in order to monitor individual achievements. In addition, the pupils take part in Project Based Learning, requiring them to incorporate their language skills in a creative way.
In Grade 8 the students are exposed to literature and literary techniques as well as various formats of writing, from fiction to academic essays. Students are required to read a great variety of texts. The year culminates with the Living Wax Museum Project, which incorporates all the necessary English skills: Reading and Researching, Writing and Inferring, Verbal Presentation. The children learn to ‘own’ the language as they use their knowledge to become the personality they are representing.
By Class 9 the pupils are able to converse at a high level and English class incorporates a broad spectrum of subjects, which are connected to the students’ growth and search for identity, as well as current events. Class 9 incorporates many projects from debating, ecology, persuasive writing, creative writing, poetry, literary analysis and a lot of reading.