During the semestral break I attended a 2-day seminar on "My First English Adventure". This was facilitated by an eloquent and knowledgeable supervisor of schools that hosted the seminar. Actually, the seminar was given to teacher applicants who intend to land a job in Nonthaburi private schools and to Thai administrators whose schools use the said module too. I was glad I had the opportunity to be a participant for I learned a lot from it.
On the first day, the speaker explained the theoretical framework of the module and presented the steps on how to teach a story using big books. Template making and demonstration followed in the afternoon wherein each participant was given a particular lesson and grade to teach then executed the said plan utilizing all the materials of the kit. Every demonstrator was critiqued by two supervisors to correct or improve some points to come up with ideal teaching or to highlight the principles of the module subscribed to.
The 2nd day was lessons on reading and writing especially teaching phonics to enable kindergarten students to read in English. The unique curriculum uses spiraling method so there is overlapping of lessons in every grade level. However, in the implementation, the teacher may raise the level of difficulty as students go to a higher grade.
As a result, by the time students finish primary grades, they are already able to speak, read, and write in English with ease and confidence. Furthermore, students obtain mastery because lessons per topic are connected with each other and the teacher doesn't go to another lesson unless the class attains 90-100% proficiency. For instance, a story can be learned in a month or two depending on the ability of the class. They subscribe to the idea that learning can be very effective if it is tackled "slowly but surely."
This method originated from Israel and is being used in ESL schools there and relatively a sizable number of private schools in Thailand especially in Nonthaburi use it. In fact, it gets commendation from the Nonthaburi government because of the schools' outstanding ratings in inspections/ visitations of education officials.
Amazing test pass rate
Worth mentioning are the remarkable achievements of their students in district, area, and national level competitions. This module uses colorful and attractive big books of classical stories with accompanying beautiful flash cards, posters, CDs, and teachers' guide. Users of this module claim that they do not review for O-Net. But every year their O-Net results show a hundred passing and very high percentile marks because their students are good readers and had acquired skills in analyzing and understanding questions.
Look at the strategies they use in teaching a story. For motivation, the cover of the book is studied wherein the students must know the - title, author colors, illustrations/objects seen etc, assessing how much knowledge they know about the story.
In the first reading, the teacher just reads the text as he/she points to them. In the second reading, the teacher reads the text and points to the pictures as well as act out important words for more understanding of the story. In the third reading, the teacher reads partly the text and the students continue reading the remaining part. Then checking of comprehension follows. Finally, students role play parts or the whole story.
Learning through songs
Every lesson has accompanying songs in CDs that are lively, simple, and repetitive. There are chants also using the vocabulary words studied in the lesson. Here I learned how they teach a song. First, the song is played while students listen. Secondly, the song is played while the teacher acts out the song. Thirdly, the students sing along with the CD and with action. Lastly, the students sing the song without music.
The most interesting part of the seminar was the demonstration of the teachers on the second day wherein three observers gave their feedback to each demonstrator and the participants derived a lot of insights from them.
Lucky are the schools that use this module for students will surely learn to speak, read, write and listen much better than the usual way of teaching.
I hope more Thai schools will know about this and embrace "My First English Adventure".