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Enhancing English in the Land of Smiles

10 January 2013



Assoc Prof Preang Kitraporn (seated left) and Assoc Prof Wu signing the MoU, witnessed by (standing behind table from left) Prof Tan, Mrs Chua, Ms Chaweewan Klangsand and Mr Cheong

The Centre for English Language Communication (CELC) at NUS will be helping to raise the competency of Thai university students' English language through a programme launched early this year with Temasek Foundation.

Working with the Ministry of Education of Thailand, the Centre will develop, trial and implement methodologies, strategies and activities that will further enhance the English language level of students. The venture is made possible through a grant of more than S$400,000 by Temasek Foundation.

Officially launched on 4 January in Bangkok with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Associate Professor Wu Siew Mei, Director of CELC, and Associate Professor Preang Kitraporn, Chairman of the Meetings of Rajabhat University Presidents, the event was witnessed by Thailand's Vice Minister of Education Ms Chaweewan Klangsand, Singapore's Ambassador to Thailand Mrs Chua Siew San, Chief Executive Officer of Temasek Foundation Mr Benedict Cheong, and NUS Vice Provost (Student Life) Professor Tan Tai Yong.

His Excellency Phongthep Thepkanjana, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, said: "Investing in our teachers is the key to reversing the high rate of secondary drop-out and poor performance in key subject areas." He thanked the partners for the development initiatives to help address the issue of student learning and school performance.

The Ministry of Education of Thailand has appointed a cluster of 25 Rajabhat Universities - one of the university systems in Thailand focusing on teacher education - to partner CELC and Temasek Foundation on the programme. The recent expansion of the universities' focus to encompass a broad range of disciplines means learning English has become increasingly important especially for the job market.

The 18-month programme will equip lecturers of Rajabhat Universities with knowledge and skills to develop methodologies, strategies and activities to improve teaching and learning of English in a Thai environment. Workshops, consultation sessions, as well as the piloting of strategies and activities at respective universities will be conducted. At the end of the course, participants will share the cumulative knowledge and revised materials with the wider English language teaching community in Thailand.

Professor Tan expressed confidence that the collaboration will be another platform for all the partners to share the best practices in motivating students to learn English and communication skills. "More importantly, I hope for a cascading effect where participants involved in the programme will be able to share what they have learned with other colleagues either within the same or beyond the institution," he said.

Mr Cheong noted that Temasek Foundation's ongoing support for the Thai Ministry of Education's efforts will help to build capabilities of English for business communications at the tertiary level, and assist university students in learning it as a second language.

CELC has been working with universities in Southeast Asia to address critical and relevant questions about the learning and teaching of English in this region. It has successfully led various initiatives to improve the English language curriculum and materials as well as lecturer-student engagement.


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