Q: We are not Expats. My child was born here and has only ever attended regular monolingual educational institutions. Would the ENS® programme still suit our situation?
A: Absolutely! As long as your child has a reasonable grasp of spoken English, the ENS® programme will work well. The units are self-differentiating, and can be worked on at a variety of levels. Especially if your child’s English is patchy, ENS® can help close the gap between his/her level of English and German. That’s what we’re all about!
Q: I’m feeling quite overwhelmed. How do I get started?
A: There’s a section on the website called “Getting Started”. This is the best place to begin. Watch the video, then go to “General Documents” and download the file called “Introduction”. This step-by-step guide shows you exactly what to do. If you’re still confused, then please get in touch.
Q: Where can I get the books?
A: You can order the books via the ENS® website, from your local Usborne Independent Organiser or via an online bookshop. Please allow 7-10 days for delivery.
Q: My child is making quite slow progress. Is there a suggested timeframe for completing each task?
A: As far the timing goes, the ENS® units are totally self-paced. There is no time-limit or suggested quota of work to finish during each English lesson. As a rough guideline, we would expect that your child would complete the first unit by Christmas, the second unit by Easter and the third unit by the end of the school year. If you think that it would help him/her to have a more concrete timeline than that, you may wish to set some small goals together (e.g. to finish Task 1A by the end of the week). If he/she is enjoying the task and would like to work on it at home, then by all means do so.
Q: I really don’t understand the timing. Could you provide some suggestions for how long things might take?
A: The timing of the programme totally varies. My daughter took AGES to complete each task, whereas my son (surprisingly!) is racing through them. Here is a rough guideline of how it could look for Unit 3.1:
- Watch videos for Task 1A and task 1B together at home. Child chooses either 1A or 1B. Print out relevant example & scaffold. (10 minutes)
- Read books for task 1A or 1B together. (15 minutes)
- Go for walk in the forest together. Take relevant scaffolds and books. (90 minutes)
- Back at home, parent and child have a “Writer’s Conference”. See guidelines for “Writer’s Conference” and “Proofreading Marks” under the section “Getting Started”. (15 minutes)
- At school, child completes final copy for task 1A or 1B. (45 minutes)
- Parent gives feedback on final copy. Watch videos for task 2A, 2B and 2C together. Child chooses one. Print out example & scaffold. (15 minutes)
- Child reads books at school, and begins first draft (45 minutes)
- Parent gives feedback on work thus far. (2 minutes)
- Child finishes first draft at school (45 minutes)
- Parent and child have a “Writer’s Conference” (15-20 minutes)
- Child completes final copy at school (45 minutes)
- Parent gives feedback on final copy. Watch videos for task 3A, 3B and 3C together. Child chooses one. Print out example and scaffold. (15 minutes) …..and so on…..
Q: Is it necessary for my child to make a final copy of each task?
A: That is totally up to you. Ideally, all children would make a final copy of all tasks (apart from Task 6) once the Writer’s Conference is completed. However, there may be children that simply find this too tedious. For this reason, we have left it up to the parents make that decision.
Q: Is the ENS® Power Hour essential?
A: No, it is entirely optional. The ENS® programme is designed to be completed without any teacher assistance. The Power Hour is really just the “icing on the cake” for those who want a bit of extra support. It is particularly useful for parents who don’t have enough time to have a take advantage of the “teachable moments” that arise throughout a Writer’s Conference.
Q: Why do some tasks have no examples provided?
A: There are no examples for any of the diagrams or posters. This has been done deliberately. These tasks are what we call “blank canvas activities”. They are designed for really creative kids to spread their wings, with no preconceived ideas of how their finished product should look. All the information needed to complete the task can be found in the books. There may even be some examples of diagrams there too, which will give your child a guide to follow.
Q: How much homework is involved?
A: The idea is that the children work on the programme during the regular English lessons at school (generally 2x 45 minutes per week). It is only the initial explanation of the tasks and the feedback after each task that take place at home. A short 5-minute video tutorial is viewed the night before each English lesson, so that the child knows what to do. Afterwards, the child should explain to the PARENT what the task involves. The parent will need to download and print the relevant documents for the chosen task. At the end of each completed task, the child sits with an English-speaking parent and they go through the task together. The time taken for these Writer’s Conferences could range from 15-30 minutes. Guidelines are included in the programme.
Q: The standard of the examples seems unattainably high. Won’t this be counterproductive, and serve to demotivate my child?
A: The examples are intended as “models of excellence”. They are designed to represent the upper end of what can be achieved. We have deliberately set the bar high. Research shows that where much is expected, much is attained. In some tasks, two examples are provided. If your child is feeling somewhat overwhelmed, then it would be wise to show only the simpler of the two examples (e.g. forest animals 4-way table of comparison, solar power exposition). You are welcome to let your child know that he/she is not expected to reach this standard YET, but that he/she can work towards this level of excellence in the long-term.
Q: Can the Primary Kids Programme be used for younger children?
A: No. Down the track, we intend to develop the “ENS® Early Bird Programme” for 5-7 year olds. It will have an entirely different focus, being based on speaking, listening and drawing. ENS® firmly believes that children should learn to read and write in only ONE language at a time. Ideally, their first literate language should be their mother tongue. For Expats, this is often not possible. Of course, children can be exposed to any number of spoken languages from birth. This is a wonderful gift, and is to be embraced! In our experience, the best time to introduce reading and writing in an additional language, is once solid literacy has been achieved in the first language. For children attending a German school, this happens towards the end of Year 2. Starting the ENS® primary kids programme in Year 3 is a perfect fit, particularly as English is introduced into the curriculum at this time.
Q: What can I do to prepare my child for the ENS® programme?
A: If you are a native English speaker, then continue to speak ONLY English to your child. As tempting as it may be, try to avoid using any German words at all. (Even “Hort” and “Brotzeitbox” have English equivalents. Take the “one parent, one language” challenge!) If you speak another language to your child, please continue. What you can do, is to read to your child in English, as often as you possibly can. Of course, this applies to English-speaking parents too!
Q: Why is there nothing for older children?
A: There will be! Watch this space! The “ENS® Prodigy Programme” is already in planning. Again, it will have an entirely different focus from the Primary Kids Programme. Instead of linking specifically to the local curriculum, the ENS® Prodigy Programme will be comprised of a series of age-appropriate units, from which the learners can choose. A wide range of subject areas will be covered, including literature, poetry, science, history, geography, art and music.