Each year, the AUA Language Center holds a two-week seminar for Thai teachers of English who work under the Ministry of Education. The Ministry selects up to 170 teachers from every province in the Kingdom to participate. The overall aims of the seminar are two-fold: first, to provide a forum for the sharing of current English language teaching principles and practice; and second, to provide opportunities for the participants to upgrade their knowledge and use of the English language. This year will be the 40th annual seminar, which will be held at AUA Language Center, Rajdamri campus, from October 13-22, 2008.
AUA annual seminars bring together teachers, teacher educators, and notable experts within the TESOL field for two weeks of carefully coordinated plenary presentations, focus sessions, demonstration lessons, and workshops intended to help Ministry teachers develop a practical framework for teaching English in their provinces or districts.
The theme this year is English: The Missing Pieces. Our objective is to explore other school subject areas as a source of interesting texts, useful information and raw materials (articles, maps, charts, diagrams, etc.) for use in English language classes. We often refer to this approach as content-based, meaning that the focus of instruction and learning is on the subject matter not on the language itself. The approach employs English as a tool for learning and gaining knowledge from the principal content areas of science, math, and social studies: the missing pieces for real learning and knowledge-building in the language classroom. Ultimately, we aim to make language classes more interesting, motivating and relevant to students lives.
During the seminar, teachers will have opportunities to analyze the content-based components of contemporary English language teaching coursebooks. We will then guide them in the effective design, preparation, and presentation of their own content-based materials that will be appropriate for their students. In addition to this instructional design component, we will also demonstrate and examine a range of assessment strategies that are appropriate to the learning objectives, tasks and materials.
Our target audience will be secondary school teachers of English. We would especially like to request that the Ministry invite secondary teachers who will be able to share methods, techniques, and materials with colleagues in their schools and districts once they return home. This years program will be of special interest to teachers working in English Program contexts, but would like to encourage only those EP teachers who are conversant in English to attend. We would also like to encourage the Ministry to consider sending Educational Service Area Supervisors of English to this years seminar, as they can provide the leadership to help take English language education in Thailand forward into the future.
Each day will begin with a 90-minute plenary presentation that will help establish a conceptual framework for incorporating content-based materials and strategies. After the plenaries, participants will participate in break-out focus sessions in groups of about 20 teachers. During the focus sessions, they will enjoy hands-on experience in materials selection, task design, and assessment strategies for specific subject areas including:
- physical science
- home economics
- physical education
Afternoon demo lessons will feature original content-based lessons developed by AUA trainers and derived from those subject areas. Each day will conclude with a materials design workshop in which participants work together to apply the insights and strategies of that day in the development and presentation of their own content-based materials.
Other features of the seminar will include: opening addresses from key personnel within the Ministry of Education, the American University Alumni Association, the US State Department, and other organizations and educational institutions; daily exhibits by major book publishers and suppliers in Thailand; an evening reception at the US Ambassadors residence for all participants; daily coffee breaks that enable the participants to mix and network socially; and a closing ceremony which includes the presentation of gifts and certificates.