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Thais tie teaching to tests

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nomad soul

Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11291
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 12:46 am    Post subject: Thais tie teaching to tests Reply with quote

Thais tie teaching to tests
By Matt Salusbury, EL Gazette | November 2016

A new series of English language tests for Thailand, based on the CEFR, aims to establish English proficiency levels needed for students and to ‘weed out backpackers’ from its pool of foreign English teachers, according to the Bangkok Post. (See New test for English teachers & students.)

The test, designed by the Thailand Professional Qualifications Institute for the Ministry of Education, is based on the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for adult learners studying another European language. CEFR-T, as it is known, will be adapted to Thai circumstances and have a 1 to 10 scale.

The test designers were as of late September awaiting confirmation of the required attainment levels. Provisionally, students starting English in the final years of primary school were expected to reach levels 3 and 4 ‘within five years’, with university entrants needing a 6. Foreign TEFLers who don’t have a teaching degree would need a 7 to apply for a two-year waiver, after which they would – eventually – have to take a teaching diploma and obtain a licence to teach in Thailand.

(End of article)
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the Thais want " to ‘weed out backpackers’ from its pool of foreign English teachers", they should look at the root causes of the lack of good teachers, so that maybe they could attract them.

As usual their approach employs a kind of backward logic: If we make it more difficult to teach in Thailand, better teachers will come to teach here.

The TEFL industry has grown tremendously since the turn of the millennium. Sure, with economic problems and ever expanding police states, adventurous people have been arriving and adding to the labor pool. But, is it enough?

People I know who are looking for work these days get on the Internet and contact schools in any number of countries: China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia plus the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the EU, etc. They do skype interviews and want to know what can you offer? The bottom line is that people have options. Thailand is only one of many options

People want higher pay, of course. Teaching pay in Thailand has always been notoriously low.

People want cheap and easy visas. Thailand has been "cracking down" in recent years.

People want a low cost of living with a comfortable lifestyle. This used to be one of Thailand's strong points, but times have changed.

Scanning through the most popular teaching job site, I'm seeing a multitude of postings, mostly paying 15K baht(!!!) to 35k ($1000) per month.
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plumpy nut

Joined: 12 Mar 2011
Posts: 1652

PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no reason to sit and wonder what is wrong with the Thai school system. It has nothing to do with backpackers, absolutely nothing. Increasing salaries and government edicts directed towards teacher "standards" won't help the school system either. Everybody who has taught in Thailand knows that.

In China you have dumb students and you have smart students. Every student knows that they have to try to learn; they have to listen. Even the disruptive students know I have to pick this stuff up, at least some of it. Also learning is so important that the students teach other students in the classes, all are responsible. This is not at all like Thailand. You have backpackers teaching in China also, but the scenario is completely different. The backpackers have learned how to teach, because they have to and because they know they have to, and because they know they can make a difference with the students.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is not about backpackers.... that is just a distraction.

It is about the Thai mismanagement of foreign staff - full stop.
They don't know how to assess and hire. They don't know how to properly utilize the staff they do find and then they are quick to get rid of those staff when they become inconvenient (by wanting things like a visa and work permit).

The administrators are not interested in improvements... Admin they are interested in full books and white faces to show the parents. Copy and close.

Make English noises. Hand in good scores (regardless if the score was based on nothing more than the ambient temperature in the room).

Don't worry about the O-nets or any other national test. They have no basis in reality anyway. Validity and reliability have no room in Thai assessment of Thai students (or Thai teachers for that matter).

Don't sweat the tests.... there is NO ONE at the ministry or at the National Institute of Educational Testing Service who can write a test of English in English that is comprehensible anyway.

Select the correct answer:

How do you like your coffee?
a) Black.
b) With cream and sugar.
c) I don't like coffee.
d) Sugar only please.

And here is what they have to say about "teacher testing".

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make English noises, hand in good scores.......

That's about the size of it.

I'm done teaching at high schools in Thailand.

They want you to blow sunshine up their rears and make them FEEL like they are learning English. Whether they can actually even recognize a question or a statement is not important.

I was instructed to teach 'speaking' at my school.....that's it. No guidance otherwise. First thing I did was to check their level.

When I would say 'I like cats', I'd get a 'No!' response. They couldn't answer 'Do you.....?' , 'Can you.....?' or 'Are you ....?' questions. Not M4, 5 or 6. So, I went back to the basics. The goal was to have them have a conversation in English, making statements, asking questions.

I have a 320 hour accredited TESL course (TESL Ontario/TESL Canada) and 14 years of teaching experience. I got 100 percent in my final exam for teaching the skills in my TESL course evaluated by a professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto. I had years of teaching experience in Japan before I took the course. I'm not trying to brag, just to show you that I'm not some newbie backpacker who doesn't even understand what the 3P method of teaching is.

I got fired recently teaching M4,5, 6 at a high school because they asked the students to rate me on how enjoyable the lessons were. It didn't occur to them that they didn't enjoy the lessons because we were covering stuff that they should have learned 3 years ago. Many of them couldn't tell me their student number in English.

They did not have not a clue what I was saying most of the time. Probably because I didn't modify my accent. I refused for example to say that I am from Canadaaaaaaa rather that just Canada. They complained that I 'spoke too fast' when in fact, their listening skills were just really poor. Probably because their pronunciation was also very poor.

Unfortunately, the keen students felt that the lessons were too basic. Meanwhile, it was way over the heads of more than half of the class. I worked on their pronunciation....tried in vain to get the students to raise their hands when answering a question rather than have the 'smart' students blurt out the answer whilst the others just turned their brains off.

I tied my conversations to what they were supposedly learning in their regular English class. I tried to put new vocabulary in there. I tried to teach them how to ask 'What does _______ mean?' and encouraged them to ask questions. I tried in vain to get them to bring English/Thai dictionaries to class. Some classes would skip en masse. I got blamed for it.

I had some success. One girl told me that I was her favorite teacher on the last class of the semester (right before I got the sack) Unfortunately, I didn't pass the popularity contest my job hinged on and they fired me. I feel like a trained chef that got fired from McDonald's.

I just don't think that I'm suited to teach High School in Thailand.
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