The last three months were quite busy at DEPDC's Community Learning Center (CLC). The CLC organized a one month special English workshop focusing on 'English for Social Workers' for the participants of the "Social Workers Training Program for an At-risk Group of Women and Children in The Shan State” A new Burmese language course was set up the two English language courses ran as before, with a short break.
Between 15th May and 13th June 2015 DEPDC, in cooperation with Alliance Anti-Trafic, organized a one month social worker training program for people from The Shan State in Myanmar. The young people participating in the workshop came from many different walks of life, from farmers, to monks, to university students. One part of the program was an English language course focusing on English for Social Workers. This part of the program was organized by the CLC and taught by three teachers at the same time.
The big challenge in this course was the very different levels of English proficiency of the program participants, reaching from very basic English to an advanced intermediate level. The fact that we had three teachers to teach a group of 11 people made it possible to organize the classes in a way that everybody had a chance to learn, and to improve upon their skills at a pace which suited them and their own abilities, enabling the participants to make good progress during the one month course.
The second big news from DEPDC's CLC is that we managed to set up a new Burmese language course for pupils. The new course takes place every Saturday and Sunday at 3pm, and is taught by our Burmese teacher, Ms. Kwanmai Lasang, who also teaches beginner English CLC classes.
These classes give children from the villages around DEPDC a chance to learn Burmese, which is becoming increasingly important as the trade across the Thai-Myanmar border is increasing and is expected to boom after the introduction of the 'ASEAN Economic Community' in the near future. Mae Sai as one of the main border crossings between Thailand and Myanmar will be one of the major trade hubs and having the ability to speak and write Burmese might be an advantage in the labor market.
All of DEPDC's staff, volunteers, and students would like to thank our generous donors for their support. Without your support DEPDC's work in furthering the education of our students would be impossible. Thank you!
DEPDC wishes everybody a happy Songkran (Thai New Year)! Due to Songkran and school holidays DEPDC's Community Learning Center (CLC) classes took a short break this week and will restart on April 21st, 2015.
At the moment our CLC offers three different levels of English classes every week. Lower-level and intermediate English classes run every day of the week from Monday to Friday and upper-level English class three days a week from Tuesday to Thursday.
Thai language classes take place at a slightly irregular base at the moment, because most of the students in these classes are monks and novices from the local temples, whose schedule is bound to the religious holidays. In addition to the language classes, the CLC also organizes computer classes. These classes are now organized on a workshop base and not following a regular schedule anymore.
At the moment the students of CLC's upper-level English class are between 14 and 19 years of age and are students, and recent graduates of the local high schools around DEPDC's Mae Sai center. Their families are not able to pay for the very expensive private schools, that have foreign English teachers in their all English programs, or to receive private tutoring by native English speakers. CLC's upper-level English class enables them to improve their English skills, this is important because today three English language courses are compulsory for all Thai university students.
Three of our upper-level English class students will leave CLC in the near future and move to Chiang Rai city to visit the local university. All CLC teachers and DEPDC staff wish them best success for their further studies and hope they'll be able to make their dreams come true.
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.
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.
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."
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Director of Mae Sai Projects