I’ve mentioned before how Jaclyn and I were team teaching at Tornhagsskolan for 3 weeks before we moved on to our respective Gymnasiums for the last 8 weeks here. Well, the time to switch came; this week was our first week at our Gymnasiums! I’m at Anders Ljungstedts Gymnasium (pronounced “Andish Yoong-stets-uh Yim-nahs-ee-um) and so far it’s been going really well! The school is nicknamed Ungan (at least, I assume that’s how it’s spelled — I’ve only ever heard it spoken) and thank goodness for that because it is a mouthful to pronounce. It’s a vocational school, so the students who attend pick a “specialty” whether it be restauranteering, hair styling, woodwork or business administration. Ungan used to be the biggest Gymnasium in all of Sweden, but it has fallen to number 2 now with a population of ~1200. That’s about the size of the average high school in the US, but Gymnasiums only have 3 levels, not 4. At Ungan, I teach with two cooperating teachers, Lizelotte Karlborg (Lotta) and Birgitta Melin-Trinks. With Lotta, I teach all three levels of English offered at the Gymnasium level — A, B and C — and with Birgitta I teach English B. The class sizes are pretty small, the largest group I have here is 23.
The school system here is different from in the US in many ways, not the least of which is the class size. Here, compulsory schooling ends at grade 9 (our grade 10) and after that you can continue your education at a Gymnasium after going through an application process. There are two ends of the Gymnasium spectrum — schools, like Katedralskolan (where Jaclyn teaches) that are meant to prepare students for university and schools like Ungan that are meant to prepare students for careers. Basically, there are prep schools and vocational schools. The curricula are different depending on where you go, but students are required to take English and Swedish at every Gymnasium. When it comes to English, the students are divided up based on ability level. Those who take English A are the least advanced and they’re typically the youngest of the Gymnasium crowd; English C is the most advanced.
As far as what material I’m teaching, it’s quite the mixture. The English A class with Lotta I have most often — a total of 20 times over these 8 weeks. In that class, we’re reading The Outsiders. Because their level is somewhat low, we’re moving at a pace that’s comfortable with them. It’ll take all 20 classes to finish the book and complete the assessment. With the English B class, I’m doing a survey of British Literature (Brit Lit). We’ve done conventions of Renaissance literature and read one Shakespearean sonnet so far (#130) and (thank GOODNESS) the students thought it was pretty funny. I LOVE Renaissance lit; I was a little worried at the beginning that I threw the students off with my unabashed enthusiasm for it, but they really enjoyed breaking the sonnet down and when they understood it I think they understood why I was so excited about it. When we’re done with Renaissance lit, we’ll move into Romanticism and read excerpts from Austen novels. Then we’re doing Impressionism, Victorianism, Modernism and Post-Modernism. It should be an interesting course. I have these students 18 times. Finally, with English C, I’ll teach Death of a Salesman which I’m really excited about because here, more than in the other classes, I can use my background in American history to my advantage! I’ll only have this class 10 times though, so we’ll have to move pretty quickly.
In other, very exciting news, Rome this weekend! I’ll be taking my final Praxis test on March 10th and spend the rest of the weekend gallivanting around with Rachel!
Good luck to my MIC friends also taking the Praxis this Saturday!