Literacy Training for an Ethnic Minority Community

 
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Repetition of basic English grammar in CLC class.
Repetition of basic English grammar in CLC class.

These past three months for the Community Learning Center (CLC) have flown by! Our three separate language classes (two English and one Thai) have such promising students who have shown remarkable success. These scholars are hard workers and their teachers couldn’t be prouder.

As our International volunteer, Channing, starts to wind down her time teaching CLC, she observes how far her students have come from when she first started teaching.

“There pronunciation has come a really long way. Through the use of poetry and tongue twisters, each student is starting to get more and more used to the different sounds of the English language. It is no easy feat, either. The English way of spelling versus pronunciation is extremely difficult to get the hang of since there are so many rules and exceptions to the rules!”

Volunteer Channing sat down with a new regular, Pam, and Pam told her all about her aspirations.

“When I graduate high school, I want to go to Chiang Rai University to study English and Hotel Management! I want to live in a big city like Chiang Mai or Bangkok and work in a really nice Hotel, so I can meet people from all over the world. One day, I would like to work outside of Thailand, and travel, and meet more friends. I want to have a friend on every continent!...South Africa would be a really cool place to work, I think, but I also really want to go to New York and Miami. I want to go to New York because I want to see all of the lights and snow!…I think CLC is very helpful because it goes over what I learn in school, too, so I can remember things better.”

So, there you have it! CLC has had another successful term, and we look forward to checking back in in three months.

We would like to thank all of our donors who keep helping this amazing program happen and who help these wonderful kids achieve their dreams.

Links:

Left to Right: Tommy, CLC teacher Channing, Seoul
Left to Right: Tommy, CLC teacher Channing, Seoul

DEPDC/GMS would like to formally thank all of their supporters and wish to express the hope for continued support as we try to make a difference in the lives of children and the community!

In the past three months, the International Department, which is responsible for Community Learning Center’s (CLC) English as a Foreign Language class (EFL) has seen a turnover in volunteers. A relatively new volunteer has taken over all three CLC EFL classes since the last report was turned in. Over the past three months, Thai schools have had final exams and have begun a one-month vacation period.
The new volunteer is a native from the United States and has created a curriculum that revolves around three main aspects of the English language: pronunciation, creative writing, and grammar. She also takes into consideration the interests of her students, so with 15 minutes to spare at the end of every lesson, she hosts a culture-themed question and answer session. Topics that have been brought up include the difference between British English and American English, life at university, and questions about popular books and movies. The new volunteer will continue her commitment to CLC EFL until the end of her volunteer period. She will continue with her curriculum, and as many holidays on the horizon, looks forward to doing holiday-themed activities (i.e. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years).
Due to exams and vacations, attendance is greatly varied. During normal school time, the class averages about five students per class, and during exam-time and breaks, the class averages about two students per class. The general English-level of the class is pre-intermediate.

Interview with Seoul and Tommy:

What are your goals pertaining to learning English? Why do you want to learn English?

Seoul:
“I would like to learn to speak English well. I want to learn English so I can travel and meet a lot of people and have foreign friends. I also want learn English so I have more range in job options and can get better jobs.”

Tommy:
“I want to learn English so I can find a job that requires me to speak English well. I would like to study abroad in America and travel around there, too. I want to make friends who speak English.”

What is your favorite part of CLC?

Seoul:
“I like the volunteer teachers. They are very nice and friendly. I like practicing my conversational skills with the teachers. I also like learning more about foreign cultures.”

Tommy:
“I like getting to spend time with volunteer teachers. The teachers are nice and good at teaching. I like getting to meet all of the new volunteers and making friends with foreign people.”

How do you think learning English will help you with your future?

Seoul:
“Many people speak English. English is the second language to learn, because it is most people’s second language. Learning a second language makes you more open-minded and culturally aware. Being closed-minded harms your ability to participate in a [globalized world].”

Tommy:
“English is the only language in the world foreigners speak to other foreigners (Interviewer: I informed him that is not necessarily always the case). Speaking an international language is the best way to lead an international lifestyle!”

As always, our volunteer, Channing, welcomes suggestions on what could make her class better, more effective, and more fun! Please feel free to email her directly.

Links:

Nin at a CLC Dinner
Nin at a CLC Dinner

For this report, we are pleased to highlight one of our most dedicated and diligent Community Learning Center upper-level English language students. Nin has been studying English for the past 6 years. Although she has not always been able to come regularly, she is very dedicated to learning English. She aspires to own her own business and believes that gaining fluency in English will help her achieve that goal.

Although Nin grew up in Patek Village and was always aware of DEPDC/GMS and its variety of programs, she became aware of the CLC English classes after participating in the DEPDC/GMS Border Youth Leadership Training Program. Through the program, she lived one year at the Mae Sai center and assisted the organization's Director of Administration with administrative tasks. During this time, she learned about administration, was involved with other DEPDC/GMS projects. Nin worked for the Child Voice Radio project and taught Thai language at the Half Day School. This also gave her the opportunity to work with international volunteers at DEPDC/GMS whom she spoke English with.

After the Training Program, Nin was inspired to continue her English language studies through the Community Learning Center program. She credits her English level as helping her towards achieving her goals. Nin was able to get a position as a barista at an upscale coffee shop where she interacted with English speaking tourists regularly. She is starting university in Chiang Rai next month and we wish her the best! 

Nin says, “I love CLC because I love learning. I have so much fun playing games and practicing my conversational skills."



Nin with some of her CLC classmates
Nin with some of her CLC classmates
Some of our CLC students with birthday cakes !
Some of our CLC students with birthday cakes !

Since our last report in January, Community Learning Centre (CLC) classes have been going really well at our Mae Sai centre. Our two current CLC teachers for intermediate English classes, Eléa and Genevieve, were happy to welcome new students to their classes! Having a new student in class is always a reward for our teachers, since the classes are mostly advertised by word of mouth.  Eléa, from France and who lived in the United Kingdom for 5 years, says: ‘A new student in class means that our students have talked to their friends about our English lessons and have convinced them to study as well.  For us, it is great feedback and proof that our students have a positive experience with their CLC classes. I am always excited to get to know a new student in class and have fun together.’ 

Community Learning Centre classes are also currently taught by Genevieve, who is from the United States. Genevieve has been teaching for a month and has already developed a close relationship with her students. Last month, she turned 22 and we all celebrated her birthday together. The students brought her two birthday cakes that were shared and thoroughly enjoyed.

Some students of our intermediate English classes have been coming to the Community Learning Centre for a long time. Seoul, 17, is a student who has been coming to CLC classes for over a year and a half.  He says: ‘I really enjoy my classes because it isn’t just a class, it also feels like family. The atmosphere here is friendly and there is no pressure to fail. We can all exchange knowledge and ideas. I come to CLC classes to improve my English skills and to gain confidence to speak.  My English has improved a lot.’

Another Community Learning Centre student, Pam, who is 16, has been coming to CLC classes for 4 years. Pam says: ‘I like this class because our teachers like to play games to teach us English. I think CLC classes are useful for everyone now and in the future, because we use English regularly and it is important for everyone to speak the language a little bit.’

Our students come from various schools around Mae Sai and also have different nationalities and backgrounds. The CLC ‘open door’ policy means that our classes are open to anyone in the community and that no one is ever turned away. Students come to class to learn more vocabulary and grammar in order to enter highly-rated universities or simply to have a bit of fun in class.

Thanks to the generosity and support of Global Giving donors, all other Community Learning Centre classes (Thai, Burmese, and Computer classes) are taught every week and provide a fantastic opportunity for members of a community in need.  CLC provides free literacy and human rights education to members of ethnic minority hill tribes, undocumented migrants, Buddhist monks, and other community members living along the Thai-Burmese border.

On behalf of our teachers, volunteers, and students, we would like to humbly thank you for your support which helps maintain this important project. We invite you to visit the DEPDC blog to read recent updates and information about the Community Learning Centre and other DEPDC projects.

Finally, we would like to wish you a very happy Thai New Year from all of us here at DEPDC!

Thank you so much!

Links:

Erica and her CLC students
Erica and her CLC students

At the end of November, we were sad to say goodbye to Erica, an international volunteer from Ireland, who had been teaching English classes for 6 months at DEPDC. She was much appreciated by the CLC students and will surely be missed!

We are happy to announce the arrival of a new international volunteer, Elea, who is from France. Elea currently teaches intermediate English at CLC and is sharing the classes with Julie, who is from the U.S and arrived to DEPDC last October. The intermediate English classes run three times a week, while other classes (Thai, Burmese and computing classes) run every day Monday to Friday at the centre.

Under the instruction of volunteer teachers DEPDC International Department, the students are often taught English grammar but are also encouraged to practice their oral English skills through various activities, such as games and classroom conversations. However, the English classes taught at the CLC are not just about improving English skills. The classroom is a place for students to build confidence in themselves and their abilities, and about building relationships with each other. Teachers and students have established a good relationship, and sometimes dinners are organised after class so everyone can get to know each other a little bit better.

Thanks to your generous support, CLC has continued to provide vital English and Thai language and literacy education. Our heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has supported and continues to support this important project that helps the surrounding communities of Mae Sai. Your kind donations are proof in the belief that everyone – no matter their age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, or skill level – has the right to learn, thrive, and grow!

CLC provides computer training, human rights education and literacy training in both the Thai and English language for up to 100 refugees, members of ethnic minority hill tribes, undocumented migrants, the Mae Sai community and other community members living along the Thai-Burmese border. We invite you to visit the DEPDC blog to read recent updates and information about CLC and other DEPDC projects.

CLC students and teachers having dinner together!
CLC students and teachers having dinner together!

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Organization

DEPDC

Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Project Leader

Alinda Suya

Director of Mae Sai Projects
Mae Sai, Chiang Rai Thailand

Where is this project located?

Map of Literacy Training for an Ethnic Minority Community