Tim Cornwall

Drugs anyone, anyone?

Simon Gunn’s TEN talk

Adventurous teenagers, elite schools, lots of cash, massive amounts of free time, and add some spice to life with a little stash a friend of yours heard about and got, from a friend of a friend. Sounds like the intro to an episode of that 90s favorite Beverly Hills 90210. However, in fact, these conditions reflect real life for many expat teens in Bangkok.

How do we as teachers offer help to students in need, tell who is in need, and do so in an ethical manner within the bounds of school policy? Now that is a tightrope to walk.

Simon Gunn, Managing Director of Channah Thailand, came to TEN August 10 at Roadhouse Barbecue and shared some of his vast expertise gained from working in the Drug and Alcohol field since 1993 with various organizations, including five years specializing in counseling young people with drug or alcohol problems.

Simon has started several clinics in the UK to treat drug and alcohol misuse as well as a Steroid Users Clinic. He has also worked teaching Relapse Awareness, Drug Education and Solution Focused therapy to teachers and counselors. As an author, he developed the ThinkingCap Relapse Awareness program used at rehabilitation programs around the world as well as here at Channah Thailand.

At the school level, there are three primary perspectives. First, principals often feel that having a drug education program implies a drug problem. Teachers believe they have no problems related to drug and alcohol and often see no need for a program.

If principals offer any programs or training, or even acknowledge drugs are a concern, parental ignorance of the prevalence and pervasiveness of drugs today will lead them to believe that drugs are a school's fault, or that a program about drug prevention will actually encourage, not discourage their use.

Every school has its own policy concerning drugs. You should become aware of yours. The responsibility of reporting to administrators or parents could complicate any interaction with a child. What you can do is look for the signs of drug use in your students and have lessons with information about places where they can get help. The information is freely available at www.channahthailand.com.

For children, the most important people on campus, they just want to know with whom they can talk about drugs or alcohol, but know that a teacher must report what they say to the principal. It is not clear how and where these perspectives can come together and if they do not, the only ones losing out are the children.

With regard to student privacy, when Simon goes to schools and offers training to students, he does so with the proviso that there will be no teachers or administrators in the room, as kids need to be in an open environment free of any distractions. As he pointed out, if you have a teacher in the room, you might as well not bother.

What is important, Simon suggests, is that as existing programs do not work for every young person, we need to remember that the most important thing for kids planning on or currently taking drugs is awareness and education. While not what many parents would like to hear, if young people are considering taking drugs, they need to question their frame of mind, who they are with and what the setting is.

When looking for the signs of drug use, as teachers, we need to know our students. We have to look for patterns of behavior that can change drastically; introvert becomes extrovert and vice versa. Clothes and friends can change just as drastically. However, as these can just be signs of adolescence, knowing your student is best, along with being supportive and, if speaking about drugs, be honest.

In particular, Simon insisted that one of the best ways to negate a successful anti-drug message is to tell them, "Drugs kill." Far too many of them know or have heard of famous people who take drugs and who are not dead to believe this. In addition, it is important to remember the mind-set of many young people in that they believe they are indestructible and as such have no concerns whatsoever about drugs and death...

In fact, today the two most dangerous drugs according to Simon are alcohol and tobacco, killing more people in one day that drugs in an entire year. Two drugs, that while many parents would be unhappy to see their children use, are probably being enjoyed in the student's home by parents themselves further reducing the impact parental pleas and warnings to avoid ‘dangerous', addictive drugs might otherwise have or have had...

This month, TEN has two great events to bring to your attention. First, our event

Thai Culture course unraveled

and an Oxford University Press event

Evaluating changes in English and exploring effective use of dictionaries and grammar instruction in the classroom.

Thailand Educators Network

Thai Culture course unraveled

Dr Nikolaus Mische
United Educational Consultants
Wednesday, 8 September 2010

All foreign teachers in Thailand require the 20-hour Thai Culture & Ethics Course. Why was it created and what can we really learn? How can we connect the dots and use cultural differences to student advantage in the classroom beyond what we already know.

Beginning with a closer look at us first, we will analyze and identify trigger points for frustration and self-improvement. Nik's talk will appeal to teachers and administrators interested in understanding more about important elements of Thai culture and what makes a good, 20-hour course.

Dr Mische, MD, UEC Thailand, an adjunct faculty person represents the State University of New York graduate program for international educators in Bangkok and international conferences. He is also a trainer at the TEFL Institute with an interest in culture and its impact on decision-making.

► Meeting Details

Non-member - THB 380
Members - THB 280
Includes one drink and snacks

Meeting starts at 18.00; Dr Nik's talk about 18.45.

TEN Meets at the Roadhouse Barbecue, Surawong at Rama IV

or call 081 834 8982 or e-mail

Oxford University Press Event

► To celebrate the launch of the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary 8th Ed., Oxford University Press invites you to a FREE workshop featuring two academic experts: Michael Swan and Dr Somseen Chanawangsa.

Evaluating changes in English and exploring effective use of dictionaries and grammar instruction in the classroom.

Getting young adults to speak English is a challenge faced by many teachers but more support is on the way from Oxford!

► Meeting Details

Thursday 16 September 2010 - Doors open 12:30
Emerald Hotel, Bangkok

Please book by 10 September as places are limited!

For more information or if you have any questions please call 02 751 4700
► We would like to invite you to a FREE professional development workshop featuring topics on ‘What is Happening to English', ‘How much does it matter?' and ‘Some things that matter in grammar teaching, and some that don't' by Michael Swan and ‘How to use Dictionaries Effectively' by Dr Somseen Chanawangsa.

► Schedule

14.00 - 14.45
What is happening to English, and how much does it matter?
Michael Swan

Do you care about the threat to the apostrophe? How do you feel about ‘Between you and I'? Do you twitch at sentences like 'If you'd have asked me I'd have told you?' or 'Charles is understanding French a lot better since he went to France'?

Would you burst into tears if somebody said 'He was like, well, I better go home now'? English, like all languages, is in constant flux.

The talk will consider the meaning of 'correctness', changes in modern English, and the various reasons for them ways of keeping track of what is going on how much emphasis we should give to correctness in language teaching• the importance (or not) of native-speaker models for learners.

14.45 - 15.15
Open your EFL dictionary; open up the world of language
Dr Somseen Chanawangsa (in Thai)

How to learn English vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation from your monolingual learner's dictionary

15.45 - 16.30
Some things that matter in grammar teaching and some that don't
Michael Swan

Good and bad reasons for teaching grammar, setting realistic goals, prioritizing, fashions in grammar teaching, explanations, examples and exercises: what makes them work?•Does grammar really have to be grey?

► Presenter Bios

Michael Swan is a writer specializing in English Language teaching and reference materials. His OUP publications include Practical English Usage and with Catherine Walter, How English Works and The Good Grammar Book.

He is also co-author, with Catherine Walter, of the Cambridge English Course series. His most recent books are Grammar (in the 'Oxford Introductions to Language Study' series) and Grammar Scan (OUP 2008), a collection of diagnostic language tests written in collaboration with David Baker.

Michael's interests include pedagogic grammar, mother-tongue influence in second language acquisition, and the relationship between applied linguistic theory and classroom language-teaching practice. He has had extensive experience with adult learners, and has worked with teachers in many countries.

Dr Somseen Chanawangsa obtained his PhD in Linguistics from Georgetown University. He is currently an Associate Professor of EFL at Chulalongkorn University Language Institute, and a fellow in Linguistics, who served for five years on the Advisory Panel of the Royal Institute of Thailand.

Among his varied interests are, in particular, language pedagogy, computational lexicography, translation and English for Dhamma studies. He can be reached at chain,jason@gmail.com.

Information and questions:

Julian Warden
University Press, ELT Division
Tel: 02 751-4700-3
Fax: 02 751-4704
Mobile: 081 752 9588 E-mail


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