Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

On Teaching English Skills in a Globalized World

One of my friends has been teaching English in Thailand for many years and has kindly allowed me to repost some of his recent observations on ‘how English could be better integrated into Thai instruction’. I have numbered his points:

  1. There is clearly a need for English skills. Engineering is a worldwide discipline. This is recognised by many local employers who often bemoan the poor English skills of our graduates.

2. Teachers must always question their own approaches and look for ways to enhance the tools they already have. Being totally aware of the subject and the latest developments is essential.

3. Flexibility in the approach to teaching is valuable.

4. The purpose of using English in a non-native environment is not to replace the native language, but to enhance familiarity.

5. While the main delivery medium is in English, the wide use of supplementary tools and supportive techniques must be available so that students understand the skills or concepts being taught.

6. Preparation is essential. A student entering a classroom without a basic awareness (including pre-reading) of the concepts to be taught, is as much to blame for not understanding as a poorly prepared teacher.

7. Options for preparation – as well as textbooks – could include a range of options like group presentations, internet searches and verbal reports, and simple report writing.

8. Preparation must be guided by the teacher and complemented with in-class work: group discussion, quizes, quick-fire questioning, random presentations (related to the topic). The students should not be allowed to remain passive recipients of old-fashioned lecture notes.

9. Outside the class, students should be actively encouraged to set up study groups. This does not need the attendance of the teacher, but some facilitation (room availability, materials, refreshments) is useful.

10. Teachers might also consider the tutorial system, where smaller groups of students discuss problems with the teacher after adequate preparation.

11. Note that the lecture in English is not to replace instruction, but is to be used so that students may become more familiar with the use of English in more normal circumstances. This needs considerable reinforcement so that the students can still access the information they need. Some students will not like the point that they are being asked to work rather than being spoon-fed. There is no room for that attitude.

Borrowed with permission from Graham K. Rogers.

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This entry was posted on January 31, 2017 by in Education and tagged .
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