On the weekend of the 28 Feb to 1 March, Phnom Penh hosted the 11th annual CamTESOL Conference, a conference for professionals in the field of English Language Teaching and related issues. It aims to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and dissemination of information on good practices within English Language Teaching, and showcase research in the fields of language and language education in the ASEAN region. The theme of the 2015 conference was English: Building Skills for Regional Cooperation and Mobility. 1,721 participants attended, from around 33 countries.
David Picart, Education Services Manager here at CWF gave a presentation at the conference titled Intrinsic Motivation for Short Term Teachers, to an extremely receptive audience. David designed the CWF curriculum workbooks and teachers guides, which focus on using cultural exchange as a vehicle for engagement and empowerment of students. As he discusses below, CWFs focus on cultural exchange also motivates and improves the performance of our short term voluntary teachers.
Here is a summary of the discussion from David:
“Many course books used in Cambodian schools to teach English are modeled on Western paradigms which fail to make English readily accessible to Cambodians and provide a Western-centric golden standard of English which is unreasonable.
Teachers who come to teach at CWF come from all parts of the world and walks of life and make up a diverse group of teachers which sets CWF apart from other language schools. They generally come to teach for only three months and have different backgrounds in teaching ranging from no or little experience in the classroom to many years of teaching experience.
Yet they all have one thing in common: They all share a deep interest in Cambodia and Cambodian culture and are eager to take part in cultural exchange with the students. They want to know and understand as much as they can about Cambodia within the scope of their short term three-month placement. We found that the creation of an in-house localized curriculum based on the realities of Cambodia enabled them to be fully operational teachers earlier on and increased their motivation and commitment to the CWF program.
The localized curriculum also improved their satisfaction at the end of their three months and made them better at assessing their own performance as teachers overall.
Also, by giving the students a voice in the process of bridging the gap between the two cultures, we noted that the teachers were naturally taking on a facilitator role in the classroom which allowed students to be more participative and increased their speaking time.
We would like to thank here all the previous teachers who took time off their busy schedule to complete the online survey. Your participation was crucial. We would also like to express our special thanks to Alexandra O’Brian (S29) whose support and help from beginning to end was invaluable and greatly contributed to the success of the presentation at the 11th Annual CamTesol Conference.”
Using Davids approach, CWF’s curriculum is designed to address the challenge of teaching English in a development context. We aim to make English a real–life communication tool and our students confident users of English. CWF’s curriculum draws on our student’s desire to share their traditions and uphold their cultural identity. So the course reflects the realities of Cambodian life by incorporating Khmer food, celebrities, travel destinations and ceremonies. The resulting cross-cultural dialogue between our students and their teachers, who come from across the world, is effective not only in motivating students to speak and practice English, but also to promote a balanced exchange of ideas. Students are empowered to express their pride in Cambodia.