ESL is known as English for survival, whereas EFL is known as English for fun, which, of course, isn't really the case at all, but that's the view held by some.
What you will be teaching is called EAP: English for academic purposes, or rather for academic survival. The focus is on reading and writing because students will need to read in English and write papers in English. That the other major skills, oral (speaking) and aural (listening), are not in primary focus has to do with the reality that most, if not all students, will attend a university in their native language, say, Hebrew: the professors will speak Hebrew, so the students needn't--it's believed--learn to converse in English, or for that matter learn to comprehend spoken English because the the lectures will be in Hebrew, not English, and any materials they come across such as books, essays, and so on, will be--it's assumed--in the standard dialect, which is why the standard, or "textbook English" is taught. So you see, getting the students to personalize the language, would defeat the purpose of EAP--again, it's assumed. It wouldn't actually, but then again, the whole point of teaching English in school is to focus on the academic side. It's similar to studying a language in university. You're taught how to read and write it so that you can read and write in that language at a master's and/or PhD level. In the case of high school, passing the English test is paramount to getting into many universities. Whether a student goes on to study English is neither here nor there.
In teaching "EFL", remind yourself that you are teaching EAP. Help the students navigate their way around the language so they can pass the tests, and do it in a way that has both you and your students enjoying your time together. Find out what they need to know to pass the tests and, above all, teach it! That's your goal.
In closing, one of the major hurdles, if not the major hurdle in teaching English in the school system is that most of the students don't care and don't want to be there, which has the teachers feeling that way too. My advice to you is this. Teach your curriculum but do it in a way that has your students interested: find a way to invest them. For example, why should they learn English? To pass a test? Certainly not, but that's your objective nonetheless. What about, say, "Today, we're going to practice the past tense by translating a Hebrew song into English." Would that invest them a little?
The bottom-line is know your audience. Find out what interests them. It'll make your job teaching EAP in the school system that much more worth your efforts.
All the best.
- For Teachers