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BANGKOK 19 October 2018 19:04
rooster59

New approach to teaching English already shows results

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New approach to teaching English already shows results

By The nation

 

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The British Council and the Ministry of Education have teamed up to improve the skills of 17,000 primary and secondary English teachers in Thailand through the Regional English Training Centres (RETC) project – and results so far are overwhelmingly positive.

 

The new method will focus on communication rather than the outdated “grammar-vocabulary” memorisation system now in wide use.

 

Approximately 75 per cent of English teachers in Thailand are ranked at the A2 elementary level in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), representing an IELTS score of 3.5 to 4. The approach combines language accuracy and memorisation rather than taking a communicative approach.

 

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The RETC Boot Camp project was first introduced in 2015 to improve overall English teaching proficiency. After two and a half years, 15,300 English teachers have improved their confidence in teaching English and were using it in their classrooms.

 

Additionally, more than 30 potential teachers have been intensively trained to become Thai master trainers (TMTs), working with the British Council’s trainers to extend mentoring, and the transfer of knowledge to teachers and school directors. They are also creating academic networking opportunities with regional supervisors, to improve follow-up sessions.

 

As the next step, an assessment and evaluation system is to be considered to assist in shift towards the communicative approach.

 

Approximately 17,000 out of 40,000 of Thailand’s English teachers have been trained and mentored in the communicative approach at 15 RETCs since the start of the project, said Andrew Glass OBE, Director of British Council Thailand.

 

 As well, more than 30 teachers have been intensively trained to become Thai master trainers (TMTs). They can be counted as agents of change, working with British Council trainers to mentor and transfer knowledge to teachers and school directors.

They will create academic networking opportunities with regional supervisors to improve their follow-up sessions.

 

The outcome of the project has exceeded expectations in capacity building and facilitating change in the primary and secondary English teaching field, said Glass.

 

After completing the project, the research found that more than 90 per cent of participating English teachers have more confidence in teaching English in the communicative approach and more confidence in using English in their classrooms.

 

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Moreover, 72 per cent of English teachers had improved their lesson planning and were able to give clearer instructions, while 94 per cent improved their lesson management. In addition, 93 per cent of English teachers had improved their English subject knowledge. All in all, the success of RETC is a result of the collaboration between a number of parties, including policymakers, educational service areas, Rajabhat University, regional supervisors, and core teachers to help solidify the project, Glass concluded. 

 

Sutthiwat Sutthiprapa, a Thai master trainer and full-time English teacher at Khor Wittayakom in Nakhon Phanom Province, said he can apply everything he learned from the RETC project in his English classes.

 

It significantly changes the atmosphere of the classroom and the students’ attitude towards English, said Sutthiwat. “Students are eager to attend the class and make every effort to participate in class activities. I believe that if every English teacher in Thailand exploits the RETC concept, Thai students’ English ability will increase considerably,” he said.

 

Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Minister of Education, said that the development of Thai students’ English skills is crucial and needs serious improvement. 

 

Each Thai student studies English for at least 12 years at primary and secondary school, but most remained unable to communicate in English. This remains the main obstacle to global competition, said the Minister.

 

The two main challenges that need to be addressed are Thai teachers’ English skills and their teaching approach.

 

By focusing on language accuracy and the memorisation method rather than the communicative approach, most Thai students are left unable to communicate effectively in English. Many Thai students have been found to also have a poor attitude towards English classes.

 

After recognising the challenges, the RETC in collaboration with the British Council and Ministry of Education, aims to refine Thai teachers’ English skills and adapt the existing teaching methods into a more communicative approach to enhance students’ listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30355408

 

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-09-30
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1 hour ago, Lupatria said:

Now that's what I call an "overnight success"! Yesterday's news:

Three quarters of Thai English teachers are only at elementary level - or worse

 

And that's exactly what this report confims "Approximately 75 per cent of English teachers in Thailand are ranked at the A2 elementary level in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)"

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All well and good. I wonder what percentage of them teach in small classroms with 40+ students. I also find that many of the books used here are from Singapore and are being used at the same level. Grade 2 Singapore is more like grade 4 here. Here in Thailand there is no real English language foundation to build on. By the time Singapore kids are school age they have already been exposed to English, all be it Singlish. This doesn't happen here. 😎

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2 hours ago, rooster59 said:

I believe that if every English teacher in Thailand exploits the RETC concept, Thai students’ English ability will increase considerably,” he said.

I believe your pushing your own barrow.

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Reality check - despite these results, most administrators just want their foreign teachers to play games and be entertainers.  The best hope is to play communicative English games with the students and act like a clown.

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22 minutes ago, connda said:

They'll teach them a method that is not "grammar-vocabulary" rote learning.  Good for them.  That's the approach our school took to teach Thai English teachers.  And then after the training sessions, they would go back to their school and be told by their school administrators to teach "grammar-vocabulary" rote learning because that's the Gold Standard in Thai education! 


Then let's not even talk about Thais aversion to risk taking.  To change the status quo, one has to be willing to take risks.  But Thai culture is highly risk adverse.
Change requires risk-taking; risk-taking leads to criticism; criticism leads to loss of face; loss of face is unacceptable; therefore, change never happens.  That's the reality of the Thai institutions of education.
 

Yep, you can take a horse to water, but..................... :dry:

If that is Liz from the British Council in the first photo then it will work or she will make it work.  One of the best English trainers in the world.  She uses the CLT approach.

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Language is somehow connected to communication. Well, fancy that! Why no one has thought of that before is a mystery to me.

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50 minutes ago, connda said:

They'll teach them a method that is not "grammar-vocabulary" rote learning. 

Grammar and vocabulary do not necessitate rote learning.

 

Thailand is an EFL country, but most of the farangs here only know about ESL. ESL was developed in NES countries for multi-lingual classes. It has limited applicability in mono-lingual classes in an EFL country.

 

If languauges can be picked up by chatting then the farangs here should all be experts in Thai.

 

The method put forward by the British Council is based on the 70's Communicative Approach. It is as outdated now as the Grammar Translation approach.

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22 minutes ago, connda said:

Only if Liz is going to follow them back to their schools and then continually follow-up in order to make sure that the 'new and improved' methods she and the British Council are teaching are implemented.

It's not Liz's and the British Council's teaching methods that are in question. I have no doubt that the teaching method is solid. It's what happens after these Thai English teachers leave the confines of her classroom and are tasked with implementing the new approach in a risk-adverse, change-resistant environment of the typical Thai school. 

I've been there. I've done that.  I know.

 

Don't get me wrong.  If 2 to 5% of these teachers successfully implement what they have learned - that is progress that bodes well for the future!

 

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Ah,a Sisyphean task. Risk averse (note) except on the roads and matters health and safety.

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I took Latin for years. Useless at it. You won't learn unless you want to learn. The church required I take it.

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Knowledge and application ! If you aim at nothing you will hit it with monotonous regularity...... .

Edited by Lucky mike
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