Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dear PET!

Phangnga English Teacher Club (PETC)

“Join for the Better Chance”
Established September 2004

Our Goals :
1. To be the center for English teachers
2. To share, exchange, and learn more about teaching techniques and experiences
3. To participate in academic activities and teacher training
4. To improve learning resources and professional development

Hello everybody,

How have you been doing?
Phangnga English Teachers has formed ourselves and established our Club since September 2004. Currently, there are 130 members from various districts, both from primary and secondary schools. We had a few meetinngs as well as a one-day seminar last year. We've shared and exchanged our teaching experiences so that we could help each other improve our English skills.

I've been very honored and pleased to be voted the first President of the PETC. I'll try my best to activate and encourage as well as help train most teachers of English in our province to catch up with this modern world. No matter how busy we are, how far we live, we will do it with all our attempt.

I look forward to hearing from you in the coming days.
Best wishes,
Weena K.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Teaching English in Thailand

The following article was written from my own history, more than 5 years ago.It was composed and sent to in order to share teaching experiences and receive some English books as a token. Take a read...

Teaching English in Thailand

When I was a student, about to attend upper primary school, my father told me in advance not to ask him anything about English and Maths for he couldn’t give any explanation. I remembered that well and prepared myself every minute to face the situation. Unfortunately, as the first child of the family, I did not have any older siblings to ask or consult.

In the old days, most Thai people were first introduced to the English language when they were in grade 5. My parents’ knowledge was merely fourth-grade level so such warnings were completely true.

Later on, my first English class began as expected. The young-lady Thai teacher of English started the lesson by politely commanding her students in Thai to “read the sentences on page 1, please”. All pupils but me chanted loudly, “This is a book. This is a chair. This is a desk. This is a door.” I was totally amazed and wondered how they did that!

Time passed. Gradually and eventually, my instinct for survival, endless curiosity and intensive English exposure accumulated and taught me to adapt and adopt the input provided. I got through six years of student life in school and four years in a teacher’s college. I vigorously managed to learn and master the language with great confidence and self-esteem. However, I later realized that my theoretical competence in English was a different matter than my practical performance. In fact, what I had learned and mastered might have been more fruitful and meaningful to me if communicative language teaching had been introduced and applied at the time.

In the Thai educational system, English has been considered one of the core school subjects, along with Thai Language, Science, Maths and Social Studies. Students have to study very hard so that they can pass the university entrance exam that includes an English paper, created specially to use with contestants nationwide. Teachers work extremely hard to present and drill their students with as much of English as they can – mainly grammatical structures, vocabulary, reading comprehension and previous exam paper exercises. As a result, students are unavoidably over-loaded. Pressed with unreasonable demands, many suffer emotional depression. This all contributes to chronic learning styles for most smart students. They are unlikely to enjoy learning but to compete seriously and bitterly. Such constraints will be released later. A few minutes after the examination, every chunk of English will be gone (with the wind) for good, except for a few students who willingly further their tertiary studies in the relevant field.

The so-called competition has nothing to do with any language skills except reading and choosing the correct answers. Once the total scores are announced and are high enough as designated, the testees are allowed to attend their first choice faculty; otherwise the second or third choice for substitution. They will be spending a semester or two studying basic English at university as a compulsory course.

Not surprisingly, most graduates involved in various professions usually complain about their practical English competence, especially in everyday face-to-face communication skills – listening and speaking. They admit to insufficient concentration, confusing learning styles and lack of full attention while being exposed to the subject at an early stage. Had they been in a learner-centred environment as the curriculum indicated, they would have been more successful and fruitful in their chosen careers than ever.

The National Curriculum was reformed in 1999 and every school subject was planned to involve learners through classroom activity. That helps promote a learner-centred atmosphere throughout the country. English has been formally indicated as a foreign language (EFL) in the new Foreign Language Subject Group. For two years, some state secondary schools both in the capital city and upcountry have tried out “English Program” in the first grade for the first time. Almost every subject is instructed in English. Teachers are native speakers and some are Thai who are fluent in English. These programs are being extended year by year towards the highest level and spread to more institutes. Hopefully, teaching English in Thailand can be viewed as a more dynamic process, producing more effective learners in the near future.

Weena Kanadpon, Thap Put Wittaya School, Phangnga, Thailand.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

What we did in Hawaii

I had a good chance to visit Hawaii between July 25 - August 8, 2005. There were many interesting activities to share with you all. Here we go...

Teaching Southeast Asia : Standard & Strategies
July 25-August 5, 2005

- Mapping SEA and its cultural landscapes, by Barbara Andaya, Center for SEA Studies, University of Hawaii

- “Setting the Table” for Infusing SEA into your curriculum by Jean Johnson, New York University

- “Reading, Writing, and Dancing to the Global Beat” : Teaching about Cultures and Diversity through Exchange and Collaborative Projects,
by Richard Burniske, College of Education, University of Hawaii – Manoa

- Introduction to “Web Gems” and “Web Log” by Richard Burniske and Soo BooTan, Education Specialist, East-West Center

- Movement of people, Goods , and Ideas in Pre-Colonial SEA : Uncovering
History through Primary Sources, by Barbara Andaya

- Teaching about the Hindu-Buddhist World of SEA : Classroom Strategies, by Jean Johnson

- What makes a Ruler Legitimate? : A Lesson Demonstration, by Jean Johnson

- Culture Night announcement

- Getting Credit for Your Work : Flinders University’s Studies of Asaia for Teachers/Gradute Topics by Distance by Doug Trevaskis, Topic Coordinator, Flinders University, Adellaide, Australia

- The Ramayana in SEA : Performance/Demonstration, byPatricia and Matt Dunn

- Will the “Real” Muslim Please Stand Up? Islam and Its Diversity in SEA, by Barbara Andaya

- Teaching about Islam and Its Diversity in SEA, by Jean Johnson and Gwen Johnson

- Maritime Trade and European Imperialism in SEA, by Leonard Andaya

- Preparing “Table Setting” by Gwen Johnson, Jean Johnson, Sue Peppers, and Soo Boo Tan

- “Web Gems” : Posting “Table Setting” Ideas on the Weblog by Soo Boo Tan

- Chinese in SEA, by Barbara Andaya

- #Teaching about SEA through Tales and Pictures, by Jean Johnson

# Interdisciplinary Teaching Strategies : Colonialism in SEA, by Gwen Johnson and Sue Peppers

- “Movie and Pizza” : Max Havelaar, by Barbara Andaya and Jean Johnson

- Revolution and Revolt : The Philippines’ Struggles for Independence, by Victor Ordonez, Senior Education Fellow, East-West Center and former Director UNESCO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

- Teaching about Issues of Decolonization : An Open Discussion, by Gwen Johnson

- Sharing Our World in SEA : Thailand, by Thai participants

- Exploring SEA in Honolulu : A Hands-on Expedition, by Peter Kiang, University of Massachusetts

- SEA in Our Schools : Strategies for Using Community Resources ,by Peter Kiang

- Sharing Our World in SEA : Indonesia, by Indonesian participants

- AsaiPacificEd’s Schools Helping Schools Initiative, by Namji Steinemann and Gwen Johnson

- Engaging Students in Real-World Issues and Developing School-to-School Connections through Schools Helping Schools, by Neil Ginsberg, Scarsdale High School

- Culture Night and SEA Food Fest

- Managing Digital Images Using PICASA, by Soo Boo Tan

- Classroom Applications : Teaching with Primary Sources, by Gwen Johnson and Sue Peppers

- The U.S. – Vietnam Relations, by Raymond Burghardt, Director of Seminars, East-West Center, and former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

- Three Views of Vietnam War, by Gwen Johnson and Sue Peppers

- The Destruction of Cambodia and Its Current Struggles , by Judy Ledgerwood

- Buddhism and Ideas of Cambodia Identity, by Judy Ledgerwood

- Sharing Our World in SEA : Cambodia, by Cambodian participants

- Classroom Application : Introducing Cambodia and Meeting Curriculum Standards, by Kelly McKee, Lake Forest High School, Chicago, Illinois

- Sharing My Reading “Picks” by Gwen Johnson and Sue Peppers

- Teaching with Oral Histories : Using Survivor Stories, by Peter Kiang

- Strategies for Teaching about Global Issues, by Kelly McKee

- Global Issues and Local Challenges in SEA : A Progressive Roundtable Discussion, by Richard Baker, East-West Center, Judy Ledgerwood, Northern Illinois University, Ricado Trimillos, University of Hawaii, Peter Xenos East-West Center, Kelly McKee, Moderator

- Institute Wrap-up, by Namji Steinemann

- Becoming an East-West Center Associate, by Larry Foster, President, Alumni Association of the East-West Center

Dear Mattayom 5 Students!

Hello...Everybody, could you please introduce yourself on this weblog? Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Love, W.

School Subjects

There're many subjects in TPW. Students are supposed to be happy in class as well as outside!

School Life

At 7.50 am, the first bell rings and students rush to their designated areas to pick up rubbish. There’s one class a week doing the public cleaning such as student toilets, and teacher restrooms. Between 8.00-8.20 am., the morning Assembly begins and homeroom session follows till 8.30.

The first lesson starts at 8.30 and lasts for an hour. The class rotates each hour. Lunch can be begun at about 11 am or a bit late. The afternoon class continues. There’re both fundamental subjects and supplementary ones, for example ; Thai, Social Studies, Science , PE, Vocational Studies, Computer Studies, Buddhism , Islam, and English as a Foreign Language.

Finally, the afternoon Assembly arrives at 4.00 pm. Two-row trucks and buses are routinely transportations : motorcycles with helmets are also allowed.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Greeting from Thap Put Wittaya School

Thap Put Wittaya School (TPW) is a medium-sized secondary school in Thap Put District, Phang-nga province, southern Thailand. The population is currently 1,100 students and 50 teachers. It's located about 25 kilometers east of the Provincial Hall in Phang-nga town and about 2 kilometers south of the Thap Put District Office. Our school was officially established in 1975 with amount of 3 teachers and about 50 students.

Students mostly arrive school early at about 7-7.30 am. There are on-duty teachers welcoming them at the entrance every morning. Many of them have breakfast at school canteen otherwise at the school co-op shop. There are two levels of students distinguished by their school uniforms – lower and upper secondary levels.