The bell would ring twice in an hour. One would signal the end of classes, and the other would be to mark the start. After a seemingly short break of 10 minutes, you’d see students clutching their bags, books, and tumblers, rushing towards the elevator or running up and down the steps to their next class, while their teachers would be calmly waiting by their classroom doors. The second time the bell rings, you’d hear the chorus of flurrying footsteps followed by doors that close one by one almost like the climax of a musical ensemble. And as sudden as the crescendo reached its peak, the hallways would, then, be engulfed in silence in the next 50 minutes.
A typical and ordinary weekday in Monol is probably described by a lot of different sights and sounds. When you pass by the classroom hallways, you’d hear the soft murmur of audio files for the listening classes almost in sync or you’d see students bashfully interview people at the lobby for their speaking classes.
What do they learn in class, you may wonder? What books do they use?
Apart from teachers who were trained to understand the nature of Monol’s curriculums, no one from the students would be curious enough to ask about it. Sadly, it may not be a big deal for them to notice. Perhaps they think learning English is the same anywhere and none of them would even realize the time and effort given for creating course materials from scratch.
For Monol, a curriculum that is well-thought and well-made is the strongest foundation an educational institution could ever have to survive an industry that is ever growing and evolving. Though there were existing materials used for classes when it was established in 2003, the need to improve it became urgent.
And thus, the plan of revamping the curriculum and creating original course materials began.
The right framework and approach
Two years ago, Monol launched a new curriculum for General ESL. This curriculum was a year in the making. The birth of its authors, the Curriculum Development and Evaluation Department (CDED), in December 2011, marked the commencement of this big project.
Before getting into writing and designing the books, it was very important to choose the right framework and approach to teach the course. For CDED, it was the sole guide and light to their path for creating the best books for learning English.
First, they thought of how the students would be able to comfortably use English outside of the classrooms. Second, they thought of how to create venues for retention, repetition, and frequent exposure to the language. With these objectives, they found that the Spiraling Curriculum and the Communicative Approach hit the target perfectly. Through these, they were able to create thematic lessons that are unified in all proficiency levels, incorporate everyday communication expressions in every lesson, at the same time; they were able to integrate activities that also aim to improve skills other than the subjects’ primary focus.
And so, the wheels were finally set in motion…
When asked on the creation of each book, CDED says they had to conceptualize the appropriate flow for every class in each subject and later on, they would distribute the tasks among the members.
“We had to make sure that all lessons and activities per subject were geared towards the framework and are level-appropriate,” Vicky Fabro, the head of the department, said. These tasks would further entail researching interesting topics, gathering vocabularies and idioms related to the topics, and creating exciting activities to liven up the lessons.
Since all of the members of CDED were previous teachers, they have had enough experiences in dealing with and understanding the nature of ESL learners. Their teaching experiences, combined with the framework that guides them in authoring Monol’s books, have naturally become a strong foundation for the creation of the General ESL curriculum. Eventually, course materials for TOEIC and Intensive Speaking ESL were also created.
A time to explore and discover
The major launch of the General ESL curriculum was on March 2013 for the 107th term. A total of 95 books for the course were reproduced, wherein one book had an average of 40-92 pages.
In August 2014, a new course under the General ESL program was again launched – the Intensive Speaking ESL, which comprise of 18 books. In the same month, Monol opened TOEIC Listening and Reading as a new course, wherein 30 books were published.
Within a span of a year and a half, Monol already published 143 books for the General ESL program and TOEIC course.
The books’ design and layout were based on the nature of the subjects’ activities. Each material has its own charm and each page showcases varying creative ways of learning.
When asked about the book they enjoyed creating the most, CDED members unanimously chose Speaking and English Communication Development (ECD).
“It was the most challenging book to make. We allotted more time for it compared to the other books but we enjoyed making it nonetheless,” Fabro said.
According to Emily Guaki, one of the members of CDED, it was difficult to think of many activities for the subject. “But it was exciting to make it because we also learned a lot in Photoshop, like editing images and graphics. It’s like we discovered and explored our creativity making these books,” she happily added.
Overall, creating the materials for the curriculum proved to be gratifying to all the members.
“We learned something new every day,” Marjan Corpuz, the newest member of CDED, said. “It’s not only because we did intensive research on the topics we used for the books, but we also learned how to lay out with Adobe Indesign and we got to know the wide arrays of functions in Microsoft Word,” she added.
Apart from the team, Monol teachers also contributed efforts to the creation of the course materials. From writing passages to proofreading drafts, recording, and designing, CDED gathered the best teachers to give birth to the best books. Some had to lend their spare hours for these tasks while some had to devote months to support the department. There were long working hours and sleepless nights, of course, but the end result was fulfilling.
Behind the voice actors
There are a total of 2,996 audio files used for unit lessons and activities, not only for listening comprehension but also for speaking and pronunciation classes. This number excludes audio files used for exams and level tests. Naturally, audio scripts used for these monologues and dialogues are original creations of CDED and the voices behind these passages are also long-time teachers of Monol. Though the academy doesn’t have its own recording studio, the empty dormitory rooms become their workplace.
The Voice Actors
A big break
2013 was probably the year that marked a lot of changes in Monol. New departments were formed, a new curriculum was introduced, and new course materials were launched. There were those who received the change well and there were those who refused to shy away from their routine and comfort. Because of that, 2013 probably was one of the toughest years for Monol as well.
Days, weeks, and months come to pass and though the sights and sounds on an ordinary day at Monol are just that – ordinary, the courses are very well-received by the students. 95% of monthly enrollments are comprised of General ESL students and while some would pursue Post ESL courses later in their study program, 85% of the student population remains in this course to build their foundation in English.
Though there may be some high and low points during those times when change was unacceptable to some, this big break paved the way for the one true pride of Monol – its curriculum.