Friday, 26 June 2009

Having a live sing along with Michael Jackson and the carpenters esl classroom activity

What's the best way to teach English to foreign students in the classroom? How can we most effectively teach the kids and at the same time provide them with a healthy dose of edutainment!

What is the one method we can use that will most effectively cover all the educational angles in the classroom?

Well there is no silver bullet, there are just techniques and activities. As I pointed out in another one of my posts, variety is the key. The more the merrier, sometimes just experimenting can reap great successes in the efl classroom.

However today I'm going to focus in on one method that virtually any esl teacher can put to immediate use in his or her classroom. It's simple and the great thing about it is, you already know and are familiar with it. Yes, it's called English through music and singing.

Now as luck would have it most Thais are very fond of singing and especially love western pop music. I personally have used The beatles, the carpenters and I found that my students really loved Michael Jackson, Yes, the kids really loved Michael Jackson. Whenever I put him on they'd get up and try to do the moonwalk, it was so funny, a good and jolly time was had by all.

The technique:

1.Ask the kids what music they like, and go get the cds!
2.Download the lyrics to a few of the songs and print some copies out.
3.Blank out some words in the songs and then copy the sheets.
4.Hand out the copies to the students with the words blanked out.
5.Put them into teams and play the music
6.The first team to successfully fill in all the missing blanks are the winners.
7.After that get out your microphone and make two teams.
8.Challenge them to a kind of sing off style competition
9.Score them
10.Team with the most points are the winners.

The kids really love this and it can become really competitive at times, so watch out you'll have a heavy duty sing off on your hands.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

English teacher caught using fake degree in Thailand!

An unknown English teacher who posts on a popular Thailand teaching forum has apparently been caught for using a fake degree!

The unnamed teacher was reported to have spent two nights in the notorious Bangkok immigration detention center, a place where you really don't want to end up in period!

The teacher was fined a sum of 3,000 thai baht and received a six month suspended prison sentence. Phew that was lucky for him! I bet that he'll be breathing a big sigh of relief now!

The judge added that the sentence should have been double that, but due to the teacher in question coming clean and admitting up to the charge a bit of leniency had been shown in his case.

So how was he caught? Was it the school that he worked for? Apparently not! According to sources inside the M.O.E, they now have a dedicated team checking on all foreigners who have submitted degrees and diplomas. It seems that Thailand has finally woken up and decided to do something about the problem.

So as a final note...
Anyone who is working on a fake degree or has in the past submitted a fake degree should now be worried! Be very worried!

The teacher in this article got off lightly, YOU MIGHT NOT!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

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Friday, 19 June 2009

Teaching under the radar (illegally) in Thailand

Today we're going to take a look at teaching under the radar in Thailand. There are a few reasons why individuals should do this which are explained below.

At this point I'd just like to point out that this article is not a how to guide for teaching illegally in Thailand or anywhere else for that matter, that's not the aim!

All this piece is doing is pointing out what actually goes on in Thailand, rightly or wrongly depending upon your point of view.

Why should someone wake up one day and think, hey I want to teach illegally in Thailand? A number of factors could come into play here, for example...

1.No degree, which in most cases is required to obtain a work permit.

2.Not wanting to pay tax, which is a bit silly because these days doing visa runs and getting a new visa from surrounding countries isn't as cheap or as easy as it once was.

3.The person only intends to stay a very short time in Thailand and doesn't see the point.

4. The school that the teacher works for, can't get a permit for some reason. Eg, doesn't know the procedure, is on bad terms with the labor office, or just plain laziness on behalf of the company, or is to cheap to spend the money on the permit.

So if you have no permit how do you stay in the country? The answer is that you do visa runs. Now years ago it was all a pretty straight forward affair. You entered the country on a two month tourist visa. After that you went to a visa agent, and paid them some money upfront, around 1,700 baht and they'd send off your passport to Malaysia. Seven or so days later, you'd get a call from the agent telling you that your passport had arrived back, and you'd go and collect it!

Well times and visa regulations have moved on since then. Tightening of regs has made this a slightly more costly and time consuming affair. Which has made most expats think twice about working on temporary visas. Put simply it's more trouble in most cases than it's worth!

If you should be in the above category, and need to do border hops or jaunts into Laos for a ne visa, then I recommend jack golf. This company specializes in border runs and will usually be able to advise you on visas and options in regards to where to go and what visa to get.

So when you go to the border now, you'll be issued with a short stay tourist visa about 15 days. In another 15 days before it runs out you'll have to do a run to the border yet again!

What a royal pain in the ass! and at 2,000 baht a trip on the visa bus not a cheap pain too! Plus on top of that you can only get about two of these stamps back to back at the border, then the next visa you'll have to get is at the embassy in one of the surrounding countries.

One thing I would advise people to do is this, get a non b visa at the embassy in your own country if you're able to! These visas come in two flavours, single entry = up to 3 months and multiple entry up to 12 months!

The regulations have been changed with these too. At one time all you had to do was get some company documentation from the school that was employing you and that was it you'd be issued with a multiple entry b visa which would be valid for a year. Unfortunately now with all the rules being tightened, you have to provide proof of your teaching credentials when you apply for this visa.

So what happens if you can't get the one year b visa?
Well, and it's a long time since I've done visa runs but it should go roughly along these lines...

1.Enter country on two month tourist visa, this can be extended at immigration in Bangkok for an extra month for a small fee. That will get you 3 months in the country.

2.After three months do two back to back border runs with jacks golf, that will get you another month = 4 months.

3.Do border run to Laos with jack golf, and get another two month tourist visa and extend it at immigration = 3 months.

4. Go and do another two border hops again or go to Laos and get another two month tourist visa up to you!

5.Start the cycle again.

If you're really desperate to stay in the country, you could try applying for a one year non o visa, which in most cases is issued for marriage. Many expats simply refer to it as a marriage visa. Of course if you intend to apply for this type of visa then you'll need to get married duh! You'll also need to show that you have a certain amount of money in your bank account, a few hundred thousand baht or so last time I looked. If you get the non o it should be issued for a year, though you can get single entry ones for 3 months.

What happens if you get caught?

I'll tell you this... in all my time living and teaching in Thailand, I've never known anyone to get caught teaching illegally! I've heard the occasional rumour and heard reports of a few language schools being raided in Bangkok. A few teachers were hauled in and made to sweat it out in a police cell. Then they were given a talk, fined and told to get themselves the necessary paperwork and that was that!

I must point out that the above cases, I read about on internet forums, so my view on this matter is as follows, Yes, I do believe that these cases were true! Why do I believe this? At the time when they happened, there was a big fuss going on about some American guy who confessed to a murder in the u.s you might remember it.

The person in question was a teacher in Bangkok, and he'd been teaching on false credentials. So this embarrassed the Thais, which then sent them into a very predictable knee jerk reaction in which they started to raid language schools in certain areas of the capital. The raids continued on for a few weeks and then eventually fizzled out.These were worrying times for teachers who weren't on the books!

So the question is should I or shouldn't i? As Suzie wong would say... up to you!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Esl classroom discipline

Ever walked into a classroom with 50 or more students, and they're literally all wild? Well if you take up a teaching position in Thailand then odds are that you'll probably encounter something similar to what I've just mentioned above.

How should we handle such a situation? How can we get control back in the classroom? and most of all how can we maintain it!

There are many forms of discipline that we can use. One of the older forms which was very widely used in the west up to 25 years ago was corporal punishment. This meant if a student stood out of line he or she got whacked! Usually with a cane or a belt!

This was a very effective way of controlling 99% of the students 99% of the time. Unfortunately for the teacher, the wishy washy loony leftie do gooder politically correct brigade got it banned. The results of what happens when discipline is taken away are evident for all to see today, especially in western societies.

Okay so we've established the above method is not for use. Even though the stick was banned 5 years or more ago in Thailand, some Thai teachers still carry it and use it! You shouldn't! Period!

When you look at discipline it's all about control in many cases. If you can control the kids then you'll have little or no problems! Right so how can we most easily control the kids in a way that will be beneficial for all concerned?

1. When you enter the class, lay down some good classroom rules and stick to them!

2. Try not to raise your voice and shout all the time. This will initially work at first, but after a while they will grow used to hearing you and ignore you.

3.Have a good plan for your lessons with no gaps here and there. For example a 10 minute gap at the end of the class where you've run out of material will lead to a noisy and rowdy class.

4.Make sure your lessons are fun, plenty of games and activities. Nothing is worse than doing boring book work for all of the lesson, chalk and talk.

5.Variety... variety is the spice of life and English teaching! More interesting topics will keep students focused and engaged in the lesson.

6. Be firm but fair, becoming a tyrant will not help you and you'll become hated.

7.Do not sit friends together wherever possible! They will chat and lark around, split them up.

8. If you give lines to naughty students, make sure they do them! Chase them twice a day for them until the lines have been completed. The message that will get around is that you mean business.

9.Instead of shouting when you want to get peoples attention. Why not just try this... stand in front of the class quietly and stare at them. They'll eventually all become quiet, then you can start talking.

10. If the class gets too out of control and you get too stressed, just walk out for a few minutes compose yourself and then go back in.

Good luck!

Friday, 5 June 2009

English pronunciation and language in the esl classroom

For many students learning a new language is a rather daunting task. What with all the new vocabulary, grammar sentence construction, tenses etc. Then on top of all of that there is the dreaded pronunciation! Yes, if all of the previous wasn't enough you've still got to get your tongue around it!

Imagine you are the student in the class, or maybe you've already had experience of being a foreign language learner or maybe you've completed some adult education course.You'll almost certainly know how frustrating it is when you just can't voice those sounds, or even catch them with your own ear.

The poor students sometimes feel embarrassed to even open their mouths and produce a simple utterance. Why? Because of the fear of losing face in front of their peers and looking really dumb.

The more people who feel like this, then the quieter your class will be. You really don't want to be the only one who is talking in your class now do you! It should be all about the students. The students should be the ones who are producing the vast majority of the language. The teachers job is to help facilitate this and to give any essential prompts and extra help that may be needed.

When a student makes an error whether it be with pronunciation or anything else related to language learning, it's important not to jump straight in and be critical! Imagine yourself in their situation. You've just plucked up enough courage to stand up and speak. You then proceed to utter your sentence and all of a sudden are jumped upon from a great height by some foreign teacher saying... NO..NO..NO..YOU ARE WRONG!

Your confidence could well take a bashing especially if it keeps happening. At the end of the day you might even start to think, what the hell I'm not interested anymore. Remember when you first started to learn your own language, you made all kinds of mistakes. You'll have no doubt been reminded of these bloopers by your parents or other siblings in a jovial way whilst they recollected your childhood with you.

So try this approach...

Okay, little Somchai is rather a brave character he decides to take it upon himself to answer your questions.


Teacher: What did you do at the weekend Somchai?

Somchai: I went to shopping

Teacher: Really, I went shopping

Teacher: So where did you go at the weekend Somchai?

Somchai: I went shopping

Teacher: Very good somchai

Correcting language errors this way is more beneficial and allows the learner to realize their mistakes and make corrections themselves.

Getting back to the main topic of our article, pronunciation. We can learn pronunciation through tongue twisters, and believe me there are plenty of resources out there on the net for you.

Tongue twisters are fun, especially if the teacher goes first and makes a mistake. You'll certainly get a chuckle or two out of it and the students won't feel too anxious about speaking up and getting involved.

You could even make it into a two teams game or something like that, and award points for the best pronunciation.

Here are a few tongue twisters to be going on with...

She sells sea shells on the sea shore.

How many yaks could a yak pack pack if a yak pack could pack yaks.

Whether the weather be fine or whether the weather be bad

Blakes back brake bracket block broke

Have fun!