The Nation March 16, 2012 1:00 am
The English for Integrated Studies (EIS) model has proven to be accessible to students from all income levels and to improve Thai teachers and students’ Englishcommunication skills, organisers of a conference promoting the approach said.
The event, attended by more than 600 educators and teachers, officially opened yesterday to encourage and motivate them to overcome their fear of using English in class – even though they may never have taught English or may hardly ever have spoken it.
The Education Ministry plans to amend a draft law to seek more funds to expand EIS’ role in the ministry’s English communication development project for Thai teachers and students, said Wiboon Shamsheun, vice education minister. Wiboon was speaking at the event, titled “English Bilingual Education and the 2nd EIS International Conference on Integrated Studies and Asean Community Development”.
Teachers at more than 300 schools across the nation have adopted EIS. They use English to teach science – including physics, chemistry and biology – math, computers, physical education, English and social studies, according to Surapong Ngamsom, president of the EIS Association of Thailand. Surapong initiated EIS at Sunthonphu Pittaya Secondary School in Rayong.
He said teachers had been trained in how to teach in English, search for instructional media and content in English, and to use multimedia to help students understand lessons and questions in English. They try to teach most lessons in English, except for some deemed too complicated.
“Confidence is the most important thing. Despite being nonEnglish speakers, many of the teachers have gone beyond their limit with confidence to speak out.”
“Sunthonphu Pittaya’s rank has improved from around 2,000th out of 2,500 ranked schools in 2004 to around 200th in 2008. It has remained near that rank. Students at the school and other EIS network schools are able to communicate in English more fluently,” Surapong said.
As a result, the Office of the Basic Education Commission granted his association over Bt2 million to host the conference, which Surapong said aimed to promote best practices in EIS and demonstrate the teaching of different subjects in English. He hoped the conference would motivate more schools to join the network.
“We hope that the expansion of EIS will help us prepare more Thai teachers and students in terms of English communication for the Asean Economic Community, which will be in effect in the next three years,” he added.
Wiboon added: “We’re going to use English as the medium of teaching. We’re starting today, not in 2015.” The conference is being held in Bangkok and ends tomorrow(Saturday 17 March).