English in the news: Govt launches app, Teachers' 'boot camp'

English in the news: Govt launches app, Teachers' 'boot camp'

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday listens to an English lesson through Echo English, an app for Thais learning English with native speakers. THANARAK KHUNTON
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday listens to an English lesson through Echo English, an app for Thais learning English with native speakers. THANARAK KHUNTON

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has introduced "Echo English", a mobile app intended for Thais to practise their English with native speakers. Meanwhile, 350 teachers are in a 5-week English-only camp run by the British Council.

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As of early this morning, I, and others, could not find the "Echo English" app in the Google Play store. If you find it, let's us know via Facebook so we can check it out.

Prayut launches free app to help students with everyday English

Dumrongkiat Mala
Patsara Jikkham

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has introduced the first version of Echo English, a mobile application intended for Thais to practise their English with native speakers.

"We made this app because we want Thais to practise speaking English. Do not fear farang because they are ready to understand us," Gen Prayut said. THANARAK KHUNTON

Gen Prayut said the Education Ministry was responsible for creating the app, which he hopes will boost English competency so Thais can compete in the Asean Economic Community.

"We made this app because we want Thais to practise speaking English. Do not fear farang because they are ready to understand us," Gen Prayut said.

The premier said most schools focus on teaching English grammar, with the learning largely bookish and repetitive, leaving students unprepared when having to communicate in more practical situations.

Gen Prayut said the best ways for Thais to improve their English is watching movies in English, reading English books and speaking the language as often as possible until they get used to it.

"I admit I am not good at English but I try to speak it. When I travel overseas, I have an interpreter to help me because the language must be correct.

The prime minister's wife, 62-year-old Associate Prof Naraporn Chan-o-cha, is a long-time English teacher who is completely fluent in the language. PATIPAT JANTHONG

"Though my wife is an English language teacher and she has taught me, I speak very little of the language," he said.

Education Minister Dapong Ratanasuwan said Echo English, a free app, is played like a game and has multiple-choice questions.

He said it will help Thais learn conversational English.

He added that there are four versions of the app; the first version, launched Tuesday at Government House, is designed for the general public.

The version is available to download on Android devices and will be available on Apple devices by the end of this month.

He said there are currently about 40 English lessons, which by the end of this month will expand to about 200 and will allow 20,000 users to play simultaneously.

Gen Dapong said the second, third and fourth versions of the app are in the process of development. The second version will be designed for students and teachers.

The next one will be designed for various professions such as people in the tourism industry, engineers and technicians, while the last version will be for government officials, he added.

Dept kicks off teacher 'boot camp'

Dumrongkiat Mala

The Education Ministry on Monday launched a five-week boot camp for Thais teaching English or the so-called "train-the-trainer" programme for the first group of 350 teachers in state-run schools nationwide.

Deputy Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, who oversees the programme, said the teachers will be trained by 30 British Council English specialists who are all native speakers to boost their confidence in English.

"The 350 teachers will live in what we call an immersive environment for 37 days, speaking, listening, reading and writing only in English with native speakers," he said.

Dr Teerakiat said the training aims to improve the teachers' proficiency in the language and their teaching techniques as English lessons in Thai schools focus mainly on grammar and vocabulary, with a lesser focus on communication or creating a supportive learning environment.

Before expecting better English skills from Thai students, the ministry must first improve its teachers' English skills and their method of teaching, he added.

Earlier, the ministry conducted a survey on the capability of Thai English-language teachers across the country and found only six out of more than 43,000 teachers in public schools can achieve native-like fluency or C2 level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF).

Dr Teerakiat said the 350 teachers attending the programme have been selected from across the country according to their CEF test scores – B2 (upper intermediate level) and above – and are required to be under the age of 40.

After the training, the ministry will select the 50 teachers who did best in the course to become trainers for the next group of teachers undergoing the programme.

The remaining 300 teachers will be sent to teach at their schools.

These teachers will be closely monitored by the ministry for one school term before assessing whether their teaching has improved students' English language skills as hoped, he said.

Learn from listening

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  • admit: to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it - ยอมรับ
  • aim: to have as your purpose or goal - มีเป้าหมาย มีจุดมุ่งหมาย
  • allow: to let somebody/something do something; to let something happen or be done - อนุญาต, ยอมรับ
  • application (app): a program designed to do a particular job; a piece of software - โปรแกรมใช้งาน, โปรแกรมคอมพิวเตอร์
  • Asean Economic Community (AEC): the ASEAN organization for economic cooperation between countries in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos), includes lowering of tariffs and taxes on goods shipped between countries and free labour mobility for skilled workers; a plan to create regional economic integration by 2015 - ประชาคมอาเซียน
  • assess (verb): to carefully consider a situation, person, or problem in order to make a judgment - ประเมิณ, ประเมิณสถานการณ์
  • available: that you can get, use, find or buy - มีอยู่, หาได้
  • bookish (adj): very formal, like the language of serious books, instead of being informal; more interested in reading books and studying than doing more physical activities - เกี่ยวกับหนังสือ, ชอบอ่านหนังสือ
  • boost: to increase; to strengthen - เพิ่ม; ทำให้มีกำลังมากขึ้น
  • boot camp (noun): a training camp for new members of the armed forces, where they have to work hard; a short course of very hard physical training - ค่ายฝึกทหารใหม่
  • capability: the ability to do something - ความสามารถ
  • communicate (verb): to express thoughts, feelings, or information to another person or animal, for example by speaking or writing - สื่อสาร, ติดต่อสื่อสาร
  • compete: to try to be more successful or better than somebody else who is trying to do the same as you - แข่งขัน
  • competency: competence; the ability to do something well - ความสามารถ
  • conduct: to carry out — - ดำเนิน
  • confidence: being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future - ความมั่นใจ
  • conversational (adj): not formal; as used in conversation - ที่เกี่ยวกับการสนทนา
  • create: to make something new - สร้าง, แต่งขึ้น
  • currently: at this time; now - ในปัจจุบัน
  • development: the gradual growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger, etc - การพัฒนา
  • engineer (noun): a person whose job involves designing and building engines, machines, roads, bridges, etc. - วิศวกร
  • environment: the place in which people live and work, including all the physical conditions that affect them - สภาพแวดล้อม, สิ่งแวดล้อม
  • expand: to make or become larger - ขยาย เพิ่ม
  • fluency (noun): the quality of being able to speak or write a language, especially a foreign language, easily and well - ความคล่อง
  • fluent: able to speak, read or write a language, especially a foreign language, easily and well - คล่อง, พูดหรือเขียนได้อย่างคล่องแคล่ว
  • framework: a system of rules, ideas or beliefs that is used to plan or decide something - ขอบข่ายงาน, โครงร่าง
  • general public: people in general - ประชาชน, สาธารณชน, มหาชน
  • get used to: to become familiar with something so that it no longer seems new or strange to you - ชิน
  • immersive (adj): causing someone to be completely involved in something - หมกมุ่น, มุ่งมั่น
  • improve: to make better - ทำให้ดีขึ้น
  • industry: the people and activities involved in producing a particular thing, or in providing a particular service; the production of goods from raw materials, especially in factories - อุตสาหกรรม
  • intended: planned; wanted to happen - ที่ได้วางแผนไว้ ที่ตั้งใจให้เกิดขึ้น
  • interpreter: someone who changes what someone else is saying into another language - ล่าม
  • kick off: to begin an event; to launch - เริ่มต้น, เริ่มทำ
  • launch (verb): to start something - เริ่มต้น, เปิดโครงการ, เริ่มทำ
  • lesser (adj): to a smaller degree than other people or things of the same kind - น้อยกว่า,เล็กน้อย
  • level: a position or rank in a scale of size or importance - ระดับ
  • method: a particular way of doing something - วิธีการ,วิธีดำเนินการ
  • monitor: keep track of - ตรวจ, ติดตาม, เฝ้าสังเกต
  • multiple-choice (adj): showing several possible answers from which you must choose the correct one - ซึ่งมีคำตอบหลายคำตอบให้เลือก
  • native speaker: someone who has spoken a particular language since they were a baby, rather than having learnt it as a child or adult - เจ้าของภาษา
  • oversee (verb): (past form: oversaw) to watch or organise a job or an activity to make certain that it is being done correctly - คุมงาน,ควบคุม
  • practical: suitable for the situation in which something is used - ที่ขึ้นอยู่กับความเป็นจริง
  • process: a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result - แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
  • profession: a type of job that needs special training or skill, especially one that needs a high level of education - อาชีพ
  • proficiency (noun): the ability to do some task or work correctly and efficiently; skill, knowledge, competence - ความช่ำชอง, ความเจนจัด, ความสามารถ, ประสิทธิภาพ,ความเชี่ยวชาญ, ความคล่องแคล่ว
  • repetitive: saying or doing the same thing many times, so that it becomes boring - ซึ่งเกิดซ้ำๆ, ซึ่งกล่าวซ้ำ
  • responsible for: to cause something to happen - ก่อให้เกิด
  • selected (adj.): specially chosen - ถูกคัดเลือก
  • simultaneously: happening at the same time - ในเวลาเดียวกัน,ที่พร้อมกัน
  • situation: all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์
  • skills (noun): the ability to do certain things well, usually as a result of experience and training - ฝีมือ, ทักษะ
  • specialist: a person who is an expert in a particular area of work or study - ผู้ชำนาญเฉพาะทาง
  • state: government - รัฐบาล
  • supportive: giving help, encouragement or sympathy to somebody - เป็นกำลังใจ, สนับสนุน
  • survey: the act of examining and recording available information - การสำรวจ, การหาข้อมูล
  • technicians (noun): people whose jobs are keeping particular types of equipment or machinery in good condition - เจ้าหน้าที่เทคนิค, ช่าง
  • technique: a method of doing something using a special skill that you have developed - เทคนิค, กลวิธี (เฉพาะด้าน)
  • undergo: to experience a process of change - เผชิญกับ, ประสบ
  • various: several different - หลากหลาย, ซึ่งแตกต่างกัน
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