HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Frontiers of International Astrophysical Research

Language Matters

Faculty of Fine Arts CMU organizes contemporary Asian music concert

Math Morning at PTIS

APIS acquires IB Primary Years’ Program candidate status

Frontiers of International Astrophysical Research

Pavinee Chommuang, Project Manager British Council

Dr Saksit Tridech the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology giving token of appreciation to Jon Glendinning Director of British Council for supporting the workshop on INYS Workshop: Frontiers of International Astrophysical Research for collaboration between young researchers from UK and Thailand

The British Council, in partnership with the National Astronomy Research Institute (NARI) of Thailand hosted a week long workshop for Thai and UK astronomers as part of the inaugural activities of NARI.

The workshop was designed to bring together young scientists from the two countries to promote the creative exchange of ideas in the field of Astronomy.

Dr Saksit Tridech the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology witness the signing ceremony between Dr Boonraksa Soonthorntham Director NARI and Dr Andrew Lyne Director Jodrell Bank Observatory University of Manchester

Both Thailand and the UK have a long tradition of research. This is important as the take-up of science courses in both countries needs to be extended if the basic scientific research which underpins our economies is to be vigorously pursued.

The theme of the conference was the ‘Frontiers of Astrophysical research’ and the recent landing of the Spacedust probe and the increasing commercialisation of space travel is evidence of the direct relevance of Astronomy today.

In addition to the workshop discussions, there was also be one of the regular British Council @the bar events where interested members of the public could take part in a lively and informal discussion on the topic of ‘Dangers from Outer space’.

Goup photo, from left: Jon Glendinning Director British Council Chiang Mai, Dr Daorung Kungwanpong Vice President Chiang Mai University, Dr Saksit Tridech Permanent Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Boonraksa Soonthorntham Director NARI, Dr Monkol Rayanakorn Dean Faculty of Science Chiang Mai University and Dr Andrew Lyne Director Jodrell Bank Observatory University of Manchester.

Language Matters

Confessions of a language school junkie

Peter McKenzie-Brown (Head TEFL instructor at CMU Language Institute)

Many people in Chiang Mai’s expat community teach English, and many more are learning Thai. Combined, they have more than a passing familiarity with the
frustrations of learning language. But help may be at hand, “If you follow a few basic rules, you can take the ordeal out of language learning,” says local resident Dr. Lynn Morris.

The occasion was a presentation at Chiang Mai University, and Lynn called his talk “The Confessions of a Language School Junkie.” An economist by training, during the last 12 years Lynn has studied five languages in seven countries at 15 different language schools. He only moved to Chiang Mai three years ago, but has already developed conversational fluency in Thai.

In his seminar, he offered ideas about language study from a learner’s perspective and in his case, a learner with a bad memory. His audience included foreign students training to be English teachers in Thailand, and English instructors from CMU.

Lynn’s presentation offered suggestions for learners based on his own experience and research. Noting that the great majority of language school students give up long before they reach conversational fluency, he stressed motivation above all. But suppose you are motivated. What can you do to speed up your language learning? You need to begin by understanding that most students study too little and try to learn too much. No one can realistically learn more than ten new words a day, for example, but learn new words you must. Says Lynn, “Vocabulary is king in language learning, and verbs are the queen. Ninety-nine percent of the time that I can’t do something in language, it’s because I don’t know the right word.” As a personal aid to his language study, he has created a system of vocabulary cards and voice recordings for pronunciation practice.

Technically speaking, this system uses a principle known as anticipated graduated interval recall. Lynn’s language regimen has five deceptively simple rules. First, “Repetition is the mother of mastery.” Use it. Another imperative is this: learn the most common words in your early days of language learning and move progressively on to those less frequently used. Third, get the pronunciation right. “If you can’t pronounce a word,” Lynn says, “you can’t memorize it.” Vowels are the biggest pronunciation problem for most people, so make this an area of special effort. Fourth, learn the vocabulary before you begin a reading practice. After all, reading exercises are about developing reading fluency rather than acquiring new words. Finally, spend 80 percent of your study time reviewing what you have already learned.

Lynn Morris

A vocabulary fetishist in every way, Lynn notes that you can actually define the stages of language learning by word count. For example, a learner who has only mastered 500-1,000 English words can have no more than functional proficiency. By contrast, fluent conversation in social settings requires 3,000-8,000 words. And to understand TV news, read newspapers
or participate in group conversation, you need 5,000-10,000 words. To put all this in context, an adult native speaker can typically use or recognize more than 20,000 words.

For most of us, the road to learning a new language is long and hard. Linguists
often explain this by noting that we acquire our native language in fundamental-
ly different ways from the classroom-based approaches used by most language schools and teachers.

A rare few schools can teach languages quickly. America’s Foreign Service Institute, for example, is operated by the State Department and has supremely motivated students (career diplomats, military officers); highly expert instructors; and vast financial and training resources. Even with these enormous advantages, the FSI needs at least ten months to train an adult to work effectively in Thai. By contrast, most language learners have limited resources and average teachers, so the period of mastery is much longer. Unlikely though it may seem after your first Thai lesson, however, there is no reason why a serious adult learner can’t become conversationally fluent. It just takes time and dedication.

Faculty of Fine Arts CMU organizes contemporary Asian music concert

Pinutda Suwanchaisri and Kittiyaporn Kanjam (student trainees MFLU)

Changsaton Lanna music band of Fine Arts Faculty, led by Ajarn Thitiphon Kanteewong, performing Lanna music at Chiang Mai University Art Museum.

Prof. ML Surasawat announced that a world music concert entitled, “The Roots of Asian Sound” will be performed on February 18-19, 2006 by Changsaton, the Lanna music band of the Fine Arts Faculty, CMU, conducted by Ajarn Thitiphon Kanteewong and joined by “Ankara”, a Singaporean traditional band.

The concert will feature contemporary music and special songs composed by the two bands, with the songs coming from different ethnic locations but all originating in Asia.

There will be three performances of the concert; two at CMU Art Museum on February 18, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets cost 300 and 500 baht and a further performance at Gong Dee Gallery on February 19th, at 7 p.m. with tickets costing 500 baht. Tel. 053-944-805 for more information and reservations.

Math Morning at PTIS

Tara Colen

Marcus Hansen putting his mother to work finding multiples at Math Morning.

In an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program classroom, mathematics is a vital and engaging part of students’ lives. Recently, the Grade One class at PTIS played host to a Math Morning.

At this event, parents were invited to learn about the school’s math program from the students. The students taught their parents different math activities of shape, addition, strategy, estimation and counting.

Twenty parents attended and were challenged to learn with their children and
make connections to the real world. “It was so rewarding seeing parents on the floor with the children, trying to figure out the strategy games together or putting the tangram pieces together,” said Trudy Nelson, the Grade One Homeroom teacher. “It’s important to realize that math is more than just flashcards.”

APIS acquires IB Primary Years’ Program candidate status

Kath Phillips

Patsy Wecker, Tania Lattanzio and Keith Wecker during the visit to the main boarding campus

The community of American Pacific International School (APIS) celebrated
its official acquisition of IB PYP candidate status for K1-Grade 5 last week. The IB Asia-Pacific Associate Regional Manager from Singapore, Tania Lattanzio, completed her official visit to both campuses of APIS last week and her report has now confirmed that both campuses are committed to the philosophy and implementation process expectations of the International Baccalaureate organization. The school was congratulated on its progress to date, with specific mention being made to the enthusiasm and impressive work of the staff and the PYP coordinator, Patsy Wecker.