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This page is meant as a resource for Thai teachers to help them use English in the Classroom. It is not meant to be comprehensive. What we want to do is to share some of our ideas with you. Many schools teach English by rote which results in students who are very good at spelling and who know many grammar rules, but not many of them can actually use English in a real situation. At Sriwittayapaknam School, we use English as much as we can.

GETTING STARTED: When speaking English, it is important the students are not afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes, when I ask a student a question they hesitate for what seems like a long time. This could be for one of four reasons: didn't understand the question, didn't hear the question properly, didn't know how to reply or were just afraid to make a mistake. As long as they can give some sort of quick reply in English then they shouldn't be punished. Appropriate answers for the above examples would be: "I don't understand the question", "Say again please" and "I don't know how to answer".

Everyone is usually scared when starting something new. I usually try to break the ice by playing some fun games and singing some easy songs with the students for the first week or so. Don't worry if these activities are noisy or seem to be irrelevant to the course material. The important thing is that the students are "warming up" and are getting used to speaking English in a relaxed atmosphere.

CLASSROOM COMMANDS: English should be used in the classroom as much as possible. At the start of a new school year, spend a few days going through all the classroom commands that might be useful. [Click Here]

PENFRIENDS: Having a penfriend (sometimes known as keypal if computers are used) is an excellent way for students to practice their English. This can either be done the old fashioned way by sending the letter through the post office (now known as snail mail for its slow pace) or by e-mail using the internet. Penfriends are good as the students are communicating with people their own age in real situations. They feel good when they ask their penfriend a question and then a few days later receive a reply. It also bolsters their confidence when they see that their American or English penfriend has similar difficulty with spelling and grammar! [ Examples and vocabulary ]

DIARY: Keeping a diary, whether it is for seven days or the whole term, is a good way for the students to practice writing about every-day events in their lives. It is also a good way for them to use past tense and certainly more interesting than writing some of the sentences found in grammar books: "The girl touched the window yesterday" and "They opened the door this morning" can get boring after a while. [ Examples and vocabulary ]

VISITORS: I am not sure about other schools in Thailand, but we usually get 2 or 3 foreign visitors to the school every month. Sometimes they are teachers wanting to know what a Thai school is like and sometimes they are tourists or backpackers who just want to experience a different side to Thailand. We welcome any English speaking visitors as this gives our students opportunities to converse in English in real situations. [Examples and vocabulary]

BORROWED WORDS: If you listen carefully to Thai radio you will be surprised to hear an English word spoken every now and then. Without realising it, your students probably already use a lot of English in their everyday conversation. Their text books are certainly full of English words. Like other languages, Thai has borrowed heavily from the English language. The thing is, most people don't realise they are English words. Triple your students English vocabularly list in just a few minutes by brainstorming a list of Thai words borrowed from English. [Examples and vocabulary]

10 MINUTE FILLERS: The following are some ideas for using English if you have a spare 5 or 10 minutes:

  • INTRODUCTIONS: Students are told to write an introduction about themselves and their family. They should write about 250-300 words. They then have to memorize what they wrote. Then, every day, ask two or three students to come to the front of the class one at a time and introduce themselves. The rules are that they have to keep talking for one minute without pausing. If they stop or can't think of what to say next they then have to try again another day. [ Examples and vocabulary ]
  • SHOW AND TELL: Students are invited to bring a favourite object in from home to show their friends. This could be a teddy bear, watch, book, game, pictures of a holiday or a toy. The students should try and speak about their favourite object and at the end invite their friends to ask questions. [Examples and vocabulary]
  • MORNING ASSEMBLY: During assembly in Thailand, the duty teacher will give the students an obrom. This is a talk on ethics. Sometimes they will remind the students to walk on the left while going up the stairs or that they should greet the teachers properly when they first arrive at school. Invite some of the students to the front of the class and ask them "What did the teacher say in assembly?" If they don't know how to say or admit to not listening to the teacher in assembly then let them return to their seats. This speeds things up. But, make sure they say this in English! [Examples and vocabulary]
  • LAST NIGHT: Choose someone to come to the front to tell their friends what they did last night or at the weekend. Make sure they speak for at least one minute. [Examples and vocabulary]
  • MATH PROBLEMS: This is a good example of using English. Make up ten easy math problems for the students to do. Remember, this is testing their English and not their math. A good example would be: "Five pencils cost thirty five baht. How much is one pencil?" Once they are used to these kinds of questions give them a strict time limit of only 10 minutes. This will force them to think in English. It is a mistake for them to translate into Thai first, work the problem out in Thai and then translate back into English. [ Examples and vocabulary ]

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