- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Party in the Rain at LIST
Studying education in Chiang Mai
Payap University celebrates 30 years
Marvin recently went to a
theme park. He thought the best thing was the roller coaster. So he went to
the library to find out who invented this really cool ride. He discovered
that the first roller coaster was built in America by accident! In the
mountains of Pennsylvania the coal mining company built a roller coaster to
carry coal from a mountaintop to the boats waiting below. It was 18 miles
long and it dropped more than 1,200 feet. Many people came to see it and
wanted to have a ride so the coal company used it for fun rides and made a
lot of money.
The five fastest roller coaters in the
NAME SPEED LOCATION
Millennium Force 92 mph Sandusky, Ohio
Fujiyama 86 mph Yamanashi, Japan
Desperado 85 mph Primm, Nevada
Goliath 85 mph Valencia, California
Steel Phantom 80 mph West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
Have you ever been on a roller coaster?
Write to Marvin and tell him where it was and if you liked it. Maybe you
could even draw a picture of it. You can send your letter to:
Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co., Ltd.
156-158 Im-boon Housing Estate
T. Changmoi, A. Muang,
Chiang Mai 50300
Or Fax: 053 234 145
1) What do computer scientists eat?
2) What do frogs drink?
3) What do jelly babies wear on their feet?
4) What do you get of you cross a pig with a cactus?
2) Croaka Cola
This week we have a picture from Basile
who is in the Kindergarten class. He has drawn a picture of a hotel. It has
67 windows. Can you count them all?
Bye from Marg and Marvin
If you have a question about animals, Leslie
Wannemacher’s Grade 4 class at Chiang Mai International School (CMIS) can
probably provide an answer. The class’s twenty students have been
exploring the world of living creatures lately and they are well on their
way to becoming animal experts!
Every good investigation begins with gathering facts, so
Mrs. Wannemacher’s class hit the books and dug up all the information they
could on animals from Anteaters to Zebras. They put their note-taking and
research skills to the test when they wrote animal reports. The young
researchers also created animal models and opened their own “zoo” for
younger students at CMIS to visit. Grade 4 guided other elementary students
through their exhibition, answering questions as well as any “animal
4 students at CMIS with their animal models. Back row from left: Laura Cobb
(USA), Eun Young Shin (Korea), Peter Abbott (USA), Tan Singhanetr
(Thailand), Don Weatherhead (USA).
Sometimes Fourth Grade’s study of animals got dirty.
The class experienced first-hand the challenges of taking care of animals
and they shared the responsibility of making sure their class pets (a
rabbit, a hamster, a turtle and a guinea pig!) had food, water and clean
The climax of the Animal Unit came when Grade 4 had the
opportunity to actually visit a number of the animals they had studied in
class. Khun Nipon Vichairat of the Chiang Mai Zoo, father of Grade 4 student
Nam, kindly organized a personalized tour of the zoo for the students last
Thursday. The chance to see lions and tigers and bears ‘up close and
personal’ was one of the highlights of the term!
The Animal Unit is one of many “integrated curriculum
units” at CMIS that “allow our students to learn concepts and skills in
a meaningful context,” says Christina Jupo, Elementary Curriculum
Coordinator. Teachers select themes that can be related to multiple subject
areas - from science to social studies to creative writing and art. Students
not only learn about the bone structure of dinosaurs, for example; they also
write stories about them, draw pictures of them, and maybe even sing a
Dinosaur song or two - a truly integrated approach to learning.
More on Chiang Mai International School can be found on
the school’s website www.cmis.ac.th
Party in the Rain at LIST
The school year is in full swing at Lanna International
School (LIST). Already several groups have participated in field trips
around the area and the Parents Teacher Organization (PTO) has organized its
first bake sale and social event. The former is always a great success at
Lanna and this proved to be no exception. Everybody enjoyed the varied and
delicious fare provided by the parents.
On Friday, September 5, the PTO hosted their annual
barbecue. The weather was unkind, to say the least, but as the pictures
show, the rain did not dampen the spirits of the students, parents and staff
who attended, and everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
children did not mind it at all ... as long as the entertainment was there
it was fun!
to capacity and the food tasted as good in the rain as it would have
Studying education in Chiang Mai: What’s wrong with English Language Education in Chiang Mai
month, more than five million baht is spent in Chiang Mai on English
language classes at private schools employing occidental teachers. Yet any
cursory stroll through a shopping mall or a brief encounter with a service
staff at a tourist destination or a simple inquiry of a university student
reveals that much of what is uttered is merely a series of sounds that
generally escape easy comprehension. So a book awaits a writer inquisitive
enough to answer some basic questions: why is the quality of English
language education decidedly dreadful? But of greater importance: why is
there as much indifference about this situation despite an ever increasing
diversity of institutions catering to most income groups?
A skeptic may claim that there is no problem since the
system remains stable. Though Thais subsidize the almost standard-less
system and teachers receive paltry percentages of the considerable profits,
everyone else remains indifferent enough to remain silent. True,
indifference born of ignorance admits of less reproach than does acceptance
of the abysmal. But why should we settle for this?
Let’s start with what is taught and why. The
traditional approach to second language learning relies almost exclusively
on a teacher, a textbook and tapes. Call this the teacher-centered approach.
The teacher stands on Mount Olympus, proclaiming the rules of the language
game, teaches grammar as if it’s as sacrosanct as the chalice during Holy
Communion, drills students on what must be so and graciously allows them to
participate ever so humbly when the occasion demands. Though there are
moments of heightened animation, the pace is slow, progress languid and the
students rarely learn how to acquire linguistic knowledge independently of
their hallowed teacher.
For Thai students, the traditional approach is compatible
with a cultural heritage that celebrates hierarchical social relations.
In-class passivity is punctuated by mindless activities and games that keeps
them coming and makes them comfortable, but inhibits their acquisition of
solid communication skills. How else to explain why after 10 years of
English at school and countless hours of study at relatively expensive
private schools, they remain unable to read The Old Man and the Sea and then
explain Santiago’s dilemma without grave anxiety. Or why schools and
teachers feel no shame that only in the rarest of instances can
pre-intermediate level students convey their appreciation of a
garden-variety Hollywood film with few subtleties of plot or dialogue other
than “I liked it. It’s funny.”
Thais are exceptionally knowledgeable about the formal
structure of grammatical categories; yet they seldom learn how to combine
words and phrases and clauses that make such otherwise worthless knowledge
worthwhile. The pedagogical style of most schools only reinforces these
tendencies though an imaginative failure to teach vocabulary and
word-groupings (collocations) that allow speakers to express their ideas,
feelings and attitudes in idiomatic English.
A secondary effect is that world-weary westerners enjoy a
self-satisfied complacency about the whole affair. The low state of Thai
progress in English summons dated forms of Oriental’s chauvinism (they can
only copy us, not think for themselves or do without our expertise).
Superiority breeds contempt. So it’s their fault they can’t learn. To
suggest that maybe the schools, perhaps even the teachers are part of the
problem remains taboo.
But consider the obvious: class sizes remain much too
large to do anyone any good except the owners/managers/investors. Books that
were originally designed for Europeans or westernized Latin Americans and
are therefore filled with Anglo-American assumptions, remain pitifully
inadequate for developing Asian countries. Yet every bookstore in the
kingdom is filled with them and schools make tidy profits on selling them to
their students. Few schools have more than five proficiency levels (starter,
elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate and upper-intermediate) and
opening mixed-level classes is the norm. Failure on the end of course exam
is no barrier to promotion. There are few academic standards and even when
formally present, business interests trump most other considerations.
So why is the traditional approach now the
standard-bearer? It’s easier for schools and teachers and familiarity
keeps the students content, which in turn stabilizes enrollment. Admittedly,
tradition in morals occasionally has merit; but in education as in politics,
it more frequently preserves what is no longer pragmatic. In the 21st
century it should be possible for Chiang Mai to do achieve more creditable
results in English language education. There is a critical mass of dedicated
teachers and a precious few schools with innovative curriculums. Chiang Mai
has a sufficient amount of intellectual resources and creative souls to
generate ideas and offer solutions. In subsequent weeks these issues will
find their way into print.
Payap University celebrates 30 years
Payap University, the first private university in the city
of Chiang Mai, celebrated its 30th anniversary at its Tharnkaew Campus, on
Huay Kaew Road. In addition to the three decades, the opening of the newly
renovated Crystal Spring House was celebrated.
Dr Boonthong Poocharoen, the president of Payap
University presided over the anniversary as well as the opening night party
at the Crystal Springs House. Students from the university’s Arts and
Cultural Center performed dance routines, and followed by cocktail shaking
displays by students in the field of hotel management.
The Tharnkaew campus’s Crystal House is situated on 10
rai of land and has 28 rooms, with 24 being standard rooms and the remaining
four deluxe. There is also a dining room and a conference room that can
cater for 80-100 guests. Payap University also offers a special room rate
for the general public.
dancers perform the candle lamp dance.
provided musical entertainment during the celebration of Payap
University’s 30th anniversary.
women perform the time-honored umbrella dance.
instrumental band performed at the celebration.
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