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September 2018

British Council boot camp boosts Thai teachers’ use of English

Teacher Training News

Matt Salusbury

OVER 15,000 Thai teachers are now using English more often in their classes, following a three week ‘boot camp’ run by the British Council. Over 90 per cent of attendees reported their ‘subject knowledge’ of English had improved.

The results of the programme, which is run by the Council in partnership with the Ministry of Education were released in September.

Andrew Glass, director of British Council Thailand, told The Nation newspaper, ‘the outcome of the project has exceeded expectations.

The programme was established after a nationwide assessment of 40,000 English teachers in Thailand’s state primary and secondary schools found that two thirds of them tested at A2 on the CEFR, an elementary level, barely above that of some of their students.

This revelation led to the project in which more than 30 Thai ‘master trainers’ with good English skills have been employed to mentor and upskill 17,000 of the nation’s state school English instructors.

The initiative is run via Thailand’s Regional English Training Centres (RETCs) and is known as RETC Boot Camp. It aims to promote ‘real communication with less reliance on learning by rote,’ as well as teaching students to ‘actually speak English’ rather than relying on the currently prevalent ‘grammar-vocabulary’ methodology.

RETC Boot Camp has been running for two and a half years now. Thomas Kral, Head of Academic Management at the British Council’s RETC project told the Gazette that these courses were for many teachers ‘the first time they were exposed to English and communicative methodology in such an intensive way.’

The Nation reported Thailand’s minister of education Teerakiat Jareonsettasin as saying the development of Thai students’ English still needed serious improvement. The inability of most school leavers to communicate in English after 12 years of study remains the biggest obstacle to global competition.

 

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