Unteaching what the Thai teachers have taught

Unteaching what the Thai teachers have taught

I am responding to a letter dated July 3, 2010 from Apso “Is the writing on the wall for foreign teachers in government schools?”

The writer states he was told by a recruiter, in no uncertain terms, that the MOE isn’t happy with the foreign teachers and that Thai teachers do a very good job of teaching English. He continues to say that the only reason foreign teachers are here in Thailand teaching is because of their accent(s).

Let’s look at the reality. Thai teachers do teach grammar and vocabulary, although I don’t see how considering most can’t even speak a coherent sentence in English. Most of the ones I have worked with in the eight years teaching here in Thailand have a difficult time responding to “Good morning. How are you?”

If the Thai teachers do a “very good” job of teaching English as the recruiter states, why are the test scores low and most students that complete M6 unable to say much more than “Good morning teacher”? Of course there are exceptions, but not many compared to the number of students.

It’s common knowledge that the reason we are here teaching is simply MONEY - as with everything in Thailand. We make the schools and the government too much money for them to get rid of us. I personally do not believe they care about education or if they do, it is very low in the pecking order after Buddha, the temple, sports, competitions, teacher’s day, sports day, etc.

Until the Thai government gets serious about education, Thailand will stay a third world country as it has for many years. The students have no accountability or responsibilities, so they skip classes at will. No one cares or even checks to see where they are. With a “no fail” policy and no discipline policy, what is the incentive for the students to come to class?

The following are some excerpts from a upper level M6 student’s notebook that a Thai teacher wrote, “exseleant work” at the last school I worked in.

Dialog 1 (in part) Laura- What a beautifully day.
Manit- Sure that a good idea

Dialog 2 (in part) John- I go shop and no open
Juila- That to bed

Dialog 3 (in part) Clerk- One monent, I will arrange him
Wangla- Yes, could you tell me what call breakfast ready?

Dialog 4 (in part) Wangla- No, I to go to market with my mather.

Keep in mind that this was an upper level M6 student. Obviously, I think it is clear as to why we are here. Trying to “unteach” what the Thai teachers have taught wrong is one of the most frustrating aspects of teaching here.

So, to hopefully answer Apso’s question, I do not believe that, “The writing is on the wall at the government schools” now or anytime in the near future. This is a money hungry country, but the Thais aren’t stupid enough to get rid of the foreign teachers. We make too much money for them. But, then again, this IS Thailand and anything is possible.

Ralph Sasser


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