"Reading Approach" to teaching Esperanto in American high schools.
Having now spent several weeks with my students in the study of Esperanto, I am starting to think that the best goal for such a course in American high schools may to to focus initially on reading -- including the ability to read out laud. Now I recognize that this is a much different approach than is common in typical foreign language instruction, but I think that there are differences with Esperanto that may make this an appropriate strategy.
The reason that this seems interesting to me is that I am coming to the conclusion that students who can read at the high school level in their native language can probably become independent readers of Esperanto in a single trimester (40-50 hours of instruction). On the other hand, if one follows the typical approach of focusing on all of the language skills such as also independently interacting with the spoken language and also producing text, one could only introduce the language.
I also find much less variability in student ability when it comes to reading text than in comprehending or producing the language in a spoken form. Or perhaps it is just that the variability is less important to moving the class forward.
I also suspect that students who are fluent readers of Esperanto will find the transition to conversational Esperanto or the production of text much simpler than if one tries to teach it all at once. For some, this transition may even involve very little planned instruction, while for others, at least one can avoid having to teach multiple skills at once.
So, a possible model may be to focus on written Esperanto the first trimester, while those continuing on can work on conversational Esperanto the second trimester, and production of written Esperanto the third, and at the end of a year the goal would be would be to reach a level similar to that produced by one of the "B-Level" proficiencies described in the Common European Framework.
Additional advantages of this approach is that it requires less experience instructors and it is much easier to to make work with computer augmented instruction. Spoken language and the monitoring of written work requires experienced conversational partners and readers which is less important when the initial goal is on reading for comprehension.
I would define an independent reader as one who can read at 150 WPM without the aid of a dictionary when working in a content domain that one is familiar with, and with an Esperanto only dictionary in other domains. And that seems possible with well-structured instruction in about 50 hours. And since one would hope that a student could also continue their work in spoken form, reading out loud and reading along with the spoken text would certainly be part of the instruction for the first term. And many of the reading may be of dialogs that would also facilitate this transition.
The above does not describe my current instructional method, but it is a direction that I seem to be heading as I consider methods that might be most appropriate for Esperanto in an elective type high school course where one might have students of only a single term.