In My OPINION
Having just returned from a recent conference in Cambodia, this veteran teacher feels fired up and ready for the challenges ahead.
Look, listen, digest
Cambodia held its Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Tesol) conference in February, and because I enjoyed it so much last year, I felt compelled to visit again.
Last year, I remembered being very impressed with the organisation of the conference, especially with the way that they kept everyone up to date with the latest news concerning the activities.
This year, it was evident that their method of evaluation was working as small problems from last year had been rectified this time around.
I noticed that once again there were many teachers of English from rural areas who had been sponsored to attend the conference and that university teachers had the opportunity to let their students present their research concerning the problems facing Cambodian teachers that were particularly relevant for the majority of countries in the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
There were quite a few things that I found impressive, but more importantly, I believe that there are areas that we should adapt for Thailand.
Thailand Tesol and the way ahead
The next time that ThaiTesol has a conference, how about having one strand dedicated to research conducted by our university students? They could be supervised by their university teachers and sponsored to attend the conference if selected.
This is not a far-fetched idea, considering that all Rajabhat students who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Education (English) programme across the country have to submit research in their fifth year while teaching at a local school before graduation.
This would be an ideal opportunity for them to stand up in front of their "newly found" peers and share their ideas as well as see what everyone else is doing.
The next ThaiTesol conference is in Chiang Mai, and I understand that the one after that is Bangkok's turn again.
If in the future it returns to Khon Kaen, as well as having pre-service teachers presenting their research, I think it would be a good idea to involve more of the rural teachers in what goes on at the conference.
My suggestion on how to do this would involve there being a Thai strand, where Thai teachers of English from rural areas who do not possess the necessary language skills to present their research in English could do so in Thai.
It would not have to be groundbreaking research as narrative inquiry and action research in the classroom are internationally recognised forms of research. If rural teachers were sponsored to attend the conference, there would be a ready-made audience for these new presenters.
The costs could be kept to a minimum by having this session for only one day to start with, and teachers could be bussed in just for that day.
This is not an excuse to water down the academic nature of the conference. However, it is a way by which three distinct sets of teachers and researchers could work together side by side at an international conference.
In my opinion, these ideas could bridge the ever-widening gaps that have appeared between our students, our rural teachers and our academic community.
Steve Graham is an English-language teacher at the Language Centre, Udon Thani Rajabhat University in northeast Thailand. You may discuss matters related to this article, by sending your comments to 'In My Opinion' at email@example.com .
About the author
- Writer: Steve Graham