Angels for Children has been actively supporting Lao English teachers for several years by initiating internships for high school graduates or students from Germany and by recently establishing a teach-the-teacher program with the help of the University of Education Karlsruhe, namely Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin (Head of the Institute of Multilingualism) and her first team of university graduates.
In the past, high school graduates from Germany visited Laos in order to help teach at Ban Sikeud school for three months, either from September to December, or from January to April. The academic year in Laos, however, runs from September to May.
Although the persons involved acknowledged the significance of supporting English education in Laos and were committed to the project, the initial realization was not quite sustainable, for several reasons. First of all, the support in English courses lacked a profound systematical and methodical basis. Secondly, the high school graduate internship program ignored the need for English teaching training for Lao English teachers. We observed the reoccurring phenomenon that issues which had (supposedly) been dealt with in one school year still reappeared in the next.
In Laos, there is little possibility for frequent contact with foreign English speakers. Increasing the frequency of contact with foreign English speakers would support Lao teachers in fostering their grammatical and communicative skills while diminishing pronunciation issues.
In June 2015, contact was established between the chairman of the Angels for Children foundation Christian Engel and Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin from the University of Education Karlsruhe (Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe) by the help of Daniel Wensauer-Sieber and Elke Sieber, members of the Engel family foundation who knew Prof. Martin’s work. The first meeting happened to take place on 2 July 2015 when Prof. Dr. Martin and her “Singlish” band (university students) held a workshop at the 300th anniversary celebrations of Karlsruhe city for school children. “Singlish”, the combination of singing and English, is a both worthwhile and fun approach to motivate children for language learning.
After outlining the English education problems in Lao schools, the link for a possible cooperation with the PH Karlsruhe was found very quickly. In less than two months, between September and October 2015, Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin then set up a teach-the-teacher program adapted to the Lao education system and standards. She informed partners in the publishing sector, who started sending large donations of teaching materials for primary and secondary schools. After one brief official call for volunteers at short notice, several English graduates from Karlsruhe volunteered immediately, interviews were held in cooperation with the International Office, and a team of five graduates was set up. Instantly the revision and collections of more materials and methods began and 6 workshops were organized and held to prepare the graduates for teaching English in Laos. On 28 October 2015, the team and Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin arrived in Ban Sikeud.
In a two-and-a-half month pilot project, the graduates from PH Karlsruhe are currently working on the implementation of suitable methods and materials in English education of Lao students and teachers. The results of the project will be presented at the end of January.
In September 2016, the teach-the-teacher program will continue, but this time English graduates from the PH Karlsruhe can accompany English teachers from Laos throughout their academic year. The project aims to support Lao students and teachers in improving their English language competences and to provide educational, didactic and methodical training for teaching English as a foreign language to the teachers at the same time.
The main goal of the cooperation between the Angels for Children foundation and the University of Education Karlsruhe is to support the Lao education system in its development. The Asian Economic Community (AEC), a new initiative in the ASEAN, focuses on bringing Southeast Asian countries closer together. In this context, English will be the common language in education and economy, starting in 2016. With three model schools in Ban Sikeud and Ban Phang Heng, Angels for Children commits to supporting the development of English education in Laos. By setting examples for designing and teaching lessons to develop communicative competences and by taking on consulting functions, Angels for Children engages in integrating insights of education research and modern English didactics and methodology into the Lao education system.
Text by J. Zeck
As of January 2016