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English is Not All Around

Discussion in 'The Teachers Lounge' started by Mr. Chips, 23 Oct 2016.

  1. Mr. Chips

    Mr. Chips Thread Starter Active Member

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    There have been many discussions on why there is an English learning problem in Thailand.
    Who is wrong?
    Who is right? (In that order).
    Why don't they get it?
    Sorry, but I would like to take a minute to defend the students. When their day is over, that's it. English for the most part is non-existent (OK apart from homework...maybe). Also, many students seem to be getting more into English music lyrics. At least a move in the right direction. If they were exposed more outside, maybe they would have a little bit more interest inside (the classroom). Time to cut to the chase. Cartoons and English programming. There should be some type of mandatory cartoon and english programming. When and at what time is not my concern. Anything is better than nothing. I have four children, so Boomerang is constantly on. Not a word of English. Sorry. There was one word. "Aside". They had some Thai girl for an English minute type segment. I kid you not, that same word hasn't changed in months. Like a fool, when it comes on I keep checking whether they changed the word or not.
    I don't want to get into the fact that if it's on, and the only cartoon on, kids will watch it. Then there's the repitition learning factor with the never ending reruns etc...
    I lived in Japan, HK and Singapore. This the only place where there is very, very close to nothing.
    Chez Whitey English teacher is an easy target for the failures of the system. Somehow, the cage has to get rattled somewhere, and wake these people up. The onus cannot always be on us.
     
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  2. stfranalum

    stfranalum Well-Known Member

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    well whoever is doing that is merely finger pointing. the culprit to thailand's english language woes mainly stems from a long running history of education by rote learning. that style of learning can be ok in maths and such. but for the languages, its abysmal.

    yes, the amount of lousy foreign teachers is breathtaking. but for the salary offered, it only goes to demonstrate how little they actually want it. that is, if you believe putting your money where your mouth is, means anything. thailand's government has the money. and so, if that mattered, then they would buck up to get quality folk. as it is, they will hire anyone because its cheap and in the end, its only appearances that matter.

    and of course, there are exceptions. there are schools that pay ok. there are decent places to work. some students are quite keen and so forth. for the majority of foreign teachers, teaching in thailand is just a way to stay in thailand. i can count on two hands the number of english teachers ive met in LOS who really enjoy the field and are somewhat versed in what they are doing. that doesnt mean there arent people there trying their best and doing ok. its quite a hodgepodge tbh, and that lack of consistency reflects the layout of the situation at-large. a jumbled mess, but if you are lucky you can find a decent spot in there. if you're lucky.
     
  3. Mr. Chips

    Mr. Chips Thread Starter Active Member

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    The main intent of tread is not in defense of teachers. White or otherwise. Just an example of their view. Enough of that. It is to highlight that if this country is seious about getting children educated in English, show it. Do something in addition to just hiring foreigners. There is very little exposure to English outside the classroom as compared with other countries. I admit that I cannot speak for China. This is really in reference to Thailand's
    neighbours.
     
  4. Mr. Chips

    Mr. Chips Thread Starter Active Member

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    Apologies for typos off the Android. I should double check.
     
  5. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you. If students' aren't speaking English with their parents or to their friends, then they are not practicing it and they won't get better at it. English cartoons is a great start.
    Can the parents speak English? Then this could also be a problem. Are students motivated to learn English for job opportunities both within Thailand and abroad? I don't think so.

    I had the same frustrations in Korea and even now in China, but in Korea, if parents can afford it they will send their children to after class English institutes or get them a private tutor. In Korea, students' are pushed mostly because there is a lot of competition for getting a job in Seoul and having some English could help them with getting some top jobs. Also, many parents are now sending their children to study and live abroad. That all costs money. However, I don't know if many Thai parents can afford to do this.

    In Chinese public schools, children are basically learning rote grammar by Chinese teachers, and they really only learn some English in high school and if they are in an international school. There are some private institutes here that teach English, but I am amazed how little English is spoken in Beijing. Even in places you would expect that English would be spoken is rare. I found more English was spoken in Korea and when I went back for a visit last month. I was blown away by how many people spoke English, although I was in a a few touristy areas.

    I don't think the onus is 100% on the teacher, because it takes a lot of practice to learn and get better at a language.
     
  6. sirchai

    sirchai Well-Known Member

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    You made some great and valid points. Thailand started to broadcast English news about 4 years ago and I watched them every morning at 7 am. The guys were from Bangkok Post and did a great job, usually an American English and a British English speaking news reporter.

    But that went on for only two to three months and it was canceled. I offered my current school to give them free cartoons in English to show the little ones a carton every day.

    Believe me, nobody was or even seemed to be interested. If you want to achieve something you’ve got to do it in a way that the idea came from a Thai.

    Then the next mistake when they hired an inexperienced Asian teacher to teach English to Kindergarten and Anuban kids. Always the same song where not even one kid understood what they sang didn’t help them to learn English.

    Yes, it’s true that there’re a lot of foreign teachers who have no idea if the kids understood them. Now mix it with the 90 % Thai speaking English teachers, stir them well and the outcome is what’s actually going on at Thai schools.

    Unfortunately, the belief that a teacher can lose face by not knowing an answer does the rest. You can’t fail a student, if you do so as a foreign teacher, you fail yourself, or they just give them a passable grade. And show you the door.......

    What happened to all the ASEAN hysteric sequence where almost all schools did ASEAN camps and English was in the center of the universe? Thailand postponed the start of ASEAN for almost a year and now you seldom hear anything about ASEAN anymore.

    Our Po-O’s Doctorate was written by my ex-neighbor, a clever science teacher with a brain, the Master’s in English of our grade six Thai English teacher wasn’t done by her.

    I received 1,800 baht for my “help to correct" all written stuff that was far away from English. There's nothing to correct, all had to be re-written and that takes some time.

    95 % of her English lessons are conducted in Thai. How should that work? Also, the meetings at our school when all English teachers sit together are in Thai, nobody wants to lose face by saying something wrong. It's really a huge mistake when being an English teacher to "teach in Thai". Isn't that common sense?

    If you don't speak in English, how can you somehow expect that your kids/students speak English? Most of the grade six students are not even able to write their names on a worksheet. You can watch them week by week, copying their name from a notebook, but that's the minority. The majority write their names in Thai and they don't even try to remember how to write their names in Roman letters.

    Arrai Waa>

    At some schools, these days you can find some Thai English teachers with a PhD from the Philippines, but they were never in the country? Well, maybe to pick their degree up and for some photo shooting.

    How many Thai head teachers who do the hiring know the difference between a foreigner who’s using proper Queen’s English and one who’s using some mixed up Tinglish with some cannibalized Spanish words?

    I mean those teachers who call all and everybody Ajarn, even the janitor, in the beginning, to be on the safe side.

    Ouups, I almost forgot the almighty agencies who do the rest and send “experienced NES teachers” from Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Ghana, Utopiastan and other English speaking countries to schools.

    It would be very easy to make an agreement with universities in English speaking countries and send all Thais who’d like to become English teachers to an English-speaking country and after four years they’d come back with a BA and really speak in English, plus the face losing part would be gone.

    But no, it will, of course, continue that laws and regulations will be changed and the educational hub of Thailand will soon be highly erected in the Asian hemisphere. :huh

    Considering that the level of English in the last 13 years didn’t increase it is really time that they do something that helps the students, foreign and Thai English teachers and the country itself. Lol.:go10
     
    Last edited: 23 Oct 2016
  7. Gor Blimey Guvnur!

    Gor Blimey Guvnur! What the duck ! Staff Member

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    Yup, and the biggest problem IMO. But where's the incentive to practice English outside the classroom?

    I have had opinion from students when I taught at a University here in Thailand: "There's no point to me learning English well as in my future job there is no need for it". This came from many students who were not doing a degree that majored in English and I was the unfortunate teacher trying to teach English courses as a mandatory part of their degree, e.g. students of Engineering and Accountancy were two such faculties I had to teach. The courses as you can imagine became 'dumbed down' in order for said students to be able to pass. Like I said, where's the incentive?
    The same university teaching English majors. Once the lesson was over, often I'd walk by the outside recreational areas where the students would be discussing my assignments and other English work, yep you guessed it, in Thai. I tried to encourage them not to and use English instead but the following week back to Thai again.

    Language cannot be learnt well just in a classroom setting, it has to be applied outside too. If there is little or no incentive then it will not be learnt well, just IMO. My experience of learning Thai academically extended beyond the classroom with regular hook ups with Thais, and other students learning Thai, in study groups, at parties, down the pub, or just for lunch strictly using Thai only ....but then I had a personal incentive.

    I just read in another thread in connection with CEFR that only 10% of the Thai population can use English well. But then when you think about it there are probably only that amount (or a bit more) of jobs and trades in Thailand where you need to use English, the tourism industry being one of them. So in the real world here in Thailand there is no real incentive for a good 80% or more of the population to be proficient in English, only that of a personal pride standpoint.

    Who is wrong and who is right? In this context nobody ...it's just a reality of need and incentive.
    Why don't they get it? 80 to 90% don't need to IMO.
     
  8. sirchai

    sirchai Well-Known Member

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    A fantastic view and insight. What's really frustrating is that the "usual bargirl" speaks a much better English than the most/ many Thai English teachers. ( Please forgive me, Thai English teachers.)

    But how does that happen? Because they're often around English speaking people and use English almost daily. Under them, on top of them, or somewhere sitting at a table in a restaurant.

    But isn't it a sort of worrisome if prostitutes in a country have a better command in an important language than the teachers of the language?

    And even those who dropped out after grade six seem to speak a better English than our Thai English teachers.

    The Land of Sa-miles.- :celebrate2
     
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  9. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher Well-Known Member

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    ^Haha, valid point and great post Govnur! I believe that it all starts from the top and trickles down. So, a lot of how important learning English is, starts from the government and trickles down. I mean a lot of it has to do with salaries as well in regards to hiring qualified teachers to teach the language. I think another issue is how much time children have to learn English. If they are learning English for 40 minutes a day, that isn't a lot of time to learn. Learning a language takes time and practice both inside and especially outside of the classroom.
     
  10. gungchang

    gungchang Well-Known Member

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    I don't have Ph.D. or a degree in education.

    I still feel that the Thai schools have three fatal flaws:

    1) Two-legged photocopy machines. Learning is an alien concept.

    One or two students might carry an entire class.

    2) The teacher is at fault so everybody passes.

    I had one student who chose to sleep during an exam. I had to write his student number on a blank sheet of paper and pass him.

    3) The worksheet mentality.

    Some just write random answers on a worksheet and feel
    that the rest of the class is theirs.

    Others could not understand the concept of speaking practice.
    They stared blankly if they had a dialogue to practice.
    They expected a multiple choice sheet to fill in and show mom.

    These kids really are clueless as to why they're at a school.

    The exceptions were the Muslim students. They came to study.

    One walked when the other Thai students started playing games.
     
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  11. steveolevi

    steveolevi Well-Known Member

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    That's what you think Big Brother.
     
  12. sirchai

    sirchai Well-Known Member

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    Isn't it insane to believe that it's the teacher's fault when an M 6 student who never attended English class and hasn't got a clue about English at all failed an examination?

    But how should students learn English from a constantly in Thai speaking English teacher, mispronouncing 99 % of her speech? ( When speaking the 1 % in English)

    How do you fix a lost face? If anybody finds a solution to it would be great. Where's my face at?
     
  13. gungchang

    gungchang Well-Known Member

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    Here is a humble example.
     
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  14. sirchai

    sirchai Well-Known Member

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    A real classic one, thanks. Here's a great example how watching English movies can help people to speak good English. Which raises the question why Thais don't get that?



     
  15. SageAdvice

    SageAdvice Well-Known Member

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    Movies, music, cartoons, etc do not take the place of a field-tested English curriculum written by folks with an understanding of why they're doing it; teacher training and evolving classroom and admin experience creates another part of the foundation necessary for relevant education; resources appropriate to the needs of public schools must be constantly evaluated and re-evaluated. In short, the current situation is an egregious shambles that tortures students and should be reported to the UN Human Rights Commission. Whether or not the poor students can mumble a few words of an unnecessary (for the most part) language seems, to put it mildly, beside the point. The folks currently in charge of this degrading exercise should be made to sell lottery tickets for the rest of their professional lives.
     
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