The Ysaan Institute & LivingHour.org continue to rewrite the book on English teaching and education in Thailand with the release of student workbook versions of its popular paperbacks Generation Next (Slang & Colloquial Talk) and The Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary & Learning tool.
The workbooks are for English students in Thailand, as well as expats learning the Thai language. The release of the two books follows the Ysaan Institute’s production of two online Thai Scholars English Reading Programs that take science and liberal arts students from a 3rd grade reading level to the college level over the course of one academic year.
“English and Thai language students both face the same problems,” says Ajarn David, an English specialist who has taught for ten years in Thailand and is an adviser to the Ysaan Institute. “More often than not the Thai and English books they use are littered with mistakes, lack word for word literal translations, and/or are filled with material that wouldn’t be spoken in the same way by the average Thai or English person on the street.
“Spoken Thai and English are much different than the written forms, yet most Thai language books and English books for Thais ignore that fact. In addition, Thai and English students both struggle with the very different ways that the English and Thai languages arrange thoughts and words, yet current language books rarely show them the differences.”
The Generation Next and Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary workbooks address these problems by using both figurative and word for word translations with all of its material, by including sentences and dialogue that both Thai and English speakers would naturally use, and by having professional Thai and English editors work on the books together. While some English teachers in Thailand might think that their young students need to be taught more formal English first and that idiomatic talk and slang is best left for advanced students, Ajarn David disagrees.
“The current methods of teaching English in Thailand are a total failure for the vast majority of students. This isn’t only my opinion. This failure was something talked about quite publicly a number of years ago by a former Thai Education Minister, who said that everything about teaching English in Thailand needed to be radically overhauled. One could say the same thing about the teaching methods applied to learning the Thai language. Unfortunately, English and Thai language students continue to be taught in the same ineffective ways.”
“As all experienced English teachers in Thailand know, it is often difficult trying to get students interested and motivated to study English. Students often find the material either too difficult or too boring. They get frustrated easily and think that they’ll never be able to learn English. As teachers, we are continually trying to help students get over their frustration, shyness, and confusion, and have fun learning English. The book Generation Next (Slang & Colloquial Talk), which was co-authored by Sam Kittayapong, helps teachers do just that.”
“The important thing about both the Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary and Generation Next books is that they engage students with material that interests them. You must first get students interested before any learning can take place. And just because both books focus on colloquial Thai and English, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be effective in helping teach these languages at a more formal or professional level. In addition, we don’t expect teachers to only use these books, but to use them as a valuable supplement to other language learning material.”
The Ysaan Institute provides English teachers in Thailand with free help should they decide to use either The Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary or Generation Next (Slang & Colloquial Talk) in their classroom. The following are a few suggested sample activities:
1) Write some of the word for word English translations on the board. Then have the students try to figure out (without looking in the book) what the sentence is and how to write it correctly. This is an important activity because it gets students thinking about how thoughts and words are arranged differently in Thai and English.
2) For the Thai vocabulary words which are derived from English words, show students how the pronunciation and stress changes when the Thai language adopts an English word.
3) Have students learn the transliteration system of spelling Thai words phonetically for English speakers and randomly select different Thai words found in the book to spell phonetically. Learning to visualize the Thai language in English helps students better visualize English words too.
4)Place students in small groups and have them write new sample sentences using the slang or colloquial English words. Write them on the board and correct as needed.
5) Rewrite sample sentences and/or dialogue using more formal English, instead of the slang or colloquialisms that are used.
Contact the Ysaan Institute today at living(at)livinghour.org to order your copy of Generation Next (Slang & Colloquial Talk) or The Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary. Teachers who order ten copies or more pay only 110* baht per copy, which is over 50% off the 225 baht price for a single copy.
*All proceeds from the sale of the Generation Next workbook is either being donated to The Foundation For Underprivileged Children in Chachoengsao or used for development of free learning material at the Ysaan Institute.