The Non Formal Education sector in Thailand is one of the most important, well-funded areas of education and one of the most deeply rewarding audiences to work with. Many people grew up in villages where they were required to help their families and start working, and so were unable to complete their formal education. This later impacts their earnings as the pay will be based on where you left education. So enormous effort has been made to provide nationwide access to excellent opportunities for students who as young adults are determined and willing to return to evening classes. This is the most amazing way for young adults to finally complete their school certification process, and the dedication speaks for itself.
I have a class of thirty of the brightest, most hard working students any teacher could wish for. They are all in full-time employment, and make the time to come to class four times a week, so they can proudly finish their thai school years. I am employed for twenty hours a week to teach English, and have been given a lot of freedom in my classes. Their official text books are banded into the level at which they need to gain their Thai certification, and the text books are a guideline with probably too much emphasis on Hello, my name is......
The Thai students have often studied English for many years and switched off from their endless grammar lessons because they saw no point in learning. With a good teacher based in solid PPP teaching, it is possible to present new material and grammar and let them practice and produce great work. Of course, when they see the real language come alive through speaking and listening activities, their love for English deepens and they take the leap and actually can't stop talking English!
Learning what is your name, really only develops staff working in housekeeping, and does not have any real sense of empowering students to talk about their lives, and interests and learn the non Asian skill of expressing opinion. I now have a noisy class of adults talking about what film they saw at the weekend, where they are going next weekend, and what they want to achieve in five years time.
Practical applications for past and future tense, make them see very quickly that grammar brings all their vocabulary alive.
The reason I write, however, is that the Non Formal Education sector has two additional courses that on paper sound creative and essential. Learning Skills and Sustainable Economy. However, these two course books have been written at Post Doctorate level and translated into diabolical English. The level is far beyond even the best of students. They have no teacher for these two subjects and now, four weeks before their exams, they are in a terrible state of upset as they will be tested on material they can not possibly comprehend.
Of course, I care. If they fail these two papers, all their scores in English will drop and they will suffer from a lowered overall score. How can I help? I can drop all their English hours, and step in and pretend to be Teacher 2, and in four weeks try to translate these two text books, cram them for their exam and with a wing and a prayer get them through this. But, the bottom line, is the very thing they need to establish the potential of getting through these course books, is English, and this now has to be stopped. Yes, I can see the irony. And yes, I am pretty furious about this. I did not agree to a job teaching a theoretical social and economic model that is based on Thai agriculture policy and religion. And of course, I am not equipped to do this.
Are there any teachers in the NFE sector that are currently faced with the same concerns, and if so, please advise me how, on earth to manage this. Suddenly, my superiors, cannot speak English, and refuse to recognize that there is a problem. In fact, in typical fashion, I am now the problem!
Many thanks, and look forward to hearing from anyone in the know.....