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UK Language Assistants leave Thailand with a smile

In May of this year, Thailand’s Minister of Education, Dr. Suchart Thadathamrongvej was sitting down to dinner in Bangkok with the (then) British Ambassador to Thailand, Asif Ahmad, and the British Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Martin Davidson.

The conversation went something like this:

Thailand’s Minister of Education:  “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if we brought UK undergraduates to Thailand during their university holidays to teach English in Thai schools”
British Ambassador: “What an excellent idea!”
British Council CEO: “Great.  Let’s do it this summer!”

And so the Thailand English Teaching Project 2012 was born.

With only 8 weeks to plan, prepare and implement the entire project, the British Council and Ministry of Education teams in Thailand set to work.  With support from the British Council in the UK, UK Higher Education Institutions and the Royal Thai Embassy the London, we set about recruiting, screening and arranging practicalities to bring 65 undergraduates and recent graduates to work as language assistants in Thai primary and secondary schools.

On 22 July, amazingly, our English Language Assistants (ELAs) stepped off Thai Airways, British Airways and Jet Airways flights and into the warm Bangkok air.  Three days and a whirlwind induction programme later, they were escorted to their host schools all around Thailand, where they would live for the next 8 weeks: from Nan province in the North to Surat Thani in the South; from Kanchanaburi in the West to Nakhon Phanom in the North East.

Armed with new teaching skills and resources from the British Council, they set about supporting Thai English teachers to deliver motivating and interesting English lessons in the classroom; to assist with extra-curricular activities and English clubs; and to be on hand to bring English to life within their school community.

During the 8-week postings in Thailand, our ELAs were invited to enter a blog competition and record their experiences while on the programme.  This quote comes from the prize-winning blog from Jamie Dos Anjos in his Passa Angrit blog:

“Today I have worked my last day as a teacher at Pookajorn Kindergarten and Primary School, Kamphaeng Phet. Hugely emotional affair as you can imagine, over the 8 weeks I have gotten to know my classes so well. I can't believe my time has come to an end so quickly, there is still so much more work to do! But I hope that I have helped to teach the importance of English, to share a part of my culture with them and, ultimately, I hope that I have inspired children to go on and learn.”

We are currently evaluating the 2012 programme as a whole with partners, participating ELAs and schools.  We are also discussing future plans with partners at the Ministry of Education in Thailand and potential project sponsors.  We hope that we will soon have an announcement about a bigger and better programme for 2013 and beyond.

For more information, please contact Brian Stott, Head of English Programmes, British Council Thailand.

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