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BANGKOK 19 April 2019 17:21
White Tiger

New Policy on MEP classes

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So, if I understand this announcement correctly, it appears the authorities have announced that MEP classes are to be stopped from academic year 2019 - that's next term. The announcement of this new policy was made last Friday, 8th March.  It affects around 400 schools currently operating MEP courses. I think it says, amongst other things, that all schools are being sent an instruction book/manual telling them how to apply the new requirements and what to do with their existing MEP courses (which have to cease). It's in Thai and will need translating - I used Google translate so my understanding of what is being announced may not be completely accurate. It's a radical change of policy.  Driven it seems by the fact that Thai students from MEP courses struggle to do well in O-nets and GATS/PATS tests in subjects that are examined in Thai, but which the students were taught in English - that's the logic/reasoning. Anyone heard any more about this or have a good translation of the announcement?

 

https://www.brighttv.co.th/latest-news/356943

 

 

 

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What is an MEP class?  

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If I am reading the crude translation correctly, it applies to English Programs and Mini English Programs.

 

There is something wrong when schools try to teach many different languages (Chinese, French, Japanese, and Korean) to M1-M3 students which dilutes the interest of the students to the main goal of being in EP/MEP which is to learn English.

 

Schools now have OVERLAPPING programs. English Program, King's Program (KP), Science Program (SP), Science-Math Program (SMP),   and the Education Hub which are all doing parallel courses.

 

The problem lies with teacher agencies who bypass the rule of having licensed teachers by getting any foreigner who wants to travel and teach on the side for six months up to a few years.

 

 

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On ‎3‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 1:50 AM, mrwebb8825 said:

.....

There was, however, a 2nd anouncement made within 24 hrs of the 1st 1 that has started backtracking on the original anouncement and may push the timeline by a year or reverse entirely this new "proposed" policy change. 

The resulting confusion has halted government funds from being distributed to all public schools causing them to halt the renewal of foreign teacher's contracts.

There is a sort of a loophole in that all schools may rename their programs and apply for an IEP with paperwork from the local Depatment of Education if they feel they can compete with the International Schools BUT, they may NOT use the Thai curiculum and must adopt an International one which can not be taught by Thai teachers. 

I know, still trying to get my head around that one as well.

Anyone with further updates please add them as many of us are on edge over this as it not only affects our jobs but also the 12 month income chain required by immigration for future Non-O extentions based on marriage.

Thanks for posting this mrwebb.  When I spoke to my school about the changes, a few days after the announcement, my school told me there was a change of policy and the changes raised in the original announcement had been cancelled.  I ought to have posted that here. Sorry.

 

I tried without success to find news of it on an official website or Thai news website, but couldn't.  So I didn't post about it. I guess it's the Thai thing about losing face - no one in authority wants to own up to having made a mistake or jumped the gun on this.

 

My school told me that many many schools had objected to the change immediately after it was announced. My school said lots of schools had argued that the "logic" on which the decision was made is flawed. The "logic" assumes Thai MEP students do badly in their Thai science exams as a result of their focus on English. Thai schools have said it's nonsense to suggest that. Thai schools argue that their MEP students (who are said by their schools to be "special" or "gifted" after all) are perfectly able to understand science questions written in Thai, their native tongue, and the Ministry of Education backed down when faced with that. So poor science results must be blamed on something else, not their English programs.  That's the story given to me.

 

I didn't know the bit about the delay in allocation of Government funds and the effect it's having on new contracts being given to foreigners. That might help explain a delay I'm experiencing with my new contract! 

 

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My wife's school was bussy with creating an MEP program and teaching Math classes in English. Their program was approved a few weeks before the anouncement. Rigth after the announcement the MEP program was canceled.

 

Now the Thai teachers have to do the classes themselves, in Thai instead of science and math bij native English speaking teachers. 

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10 hours ago, Preacher said:

My wife's school was bussy with creating an MEP program and teaching Math classes in English. Their program was approved a few weeks before the anouncement. Rigth after the announcement the MEP program was canceled.

 

Now the Thai teachers have to do the classes themselves, in Thai instead of science and math bij native English speaking teachers. 

We've had our entrance exam for EP and the interview that goes with it weeks ago. We've already come out with the list of the students who passed and the school director already had a meeting with the new students and their parents.

 

I asked the head of EP in my school about this transition and she said that there is nothing to worry about because the said proposal for a change had been canceled. 

 

The school that I work in even had a display that showed the work of EP students for a school in a neighboring province that is just about to start their own English Program.

 

We are getting different signals from different sources. 

 

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An update to my previous post: My well informed friend told me that, "For the upcoming year" all EPs, MEPs and BPs are back to the way they were but no update on the release of government funds that help pay foreign teacher's salaries yet.

Also, there seems to be 2 interpritations to what IEP was supposed to/does stand for. International English Program was the government roll out and Intensive English Program is the school's push back.

The first 1 I spoke about before, the 2nd cuts back English exposure from approx. 18 hrs per week to 12. Go figure. 🙂

If I get any more updates I'll post them.

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On 3/11/2019 at 8:50 AM, mrwebb8825 said:

That's a load of bs. The problem has nothing to do with foreign teachers and their ability to teach directly.

I have a friend that is my goto guy for all silliness regarding teaching that comes from the ever rotating Education Ministry pool and he explained it to me like this:

Students participating in the BPs, MEPs and EPs at their schools are being taught English, Science, Math, etc. in English approximately 18 hrs a week with the rest of their grueling schedule being taught in Thai. This has resulted in a huge upswing in English abilities but a downturn in Thai abilities when sitting for the O-Net, GAT-PAT and university entrance exams. (M1, M3 and M6 level) These exams are being written by people with varying degrees of literacy, curiculum understanding, subject knowledge and expectations. This seems to be having the adverse affect of "losing face" for Thai teachers and the Thai teaching profession.

WhiteTiger is 100% correct in the rushed timeline and cancelation of these programs; i.e. 2 months prep time for the schools.

There was, however, a 2nd anouncement made within 24 hrs of the 1st 1 that has started backtracking on the original anouncement and may push the timeline by a year or reverse entirely this new "proposed" policy change.

The resulting confusion has halted government funds from being distributed to all public schools causing them to halt the renewal of foreign teacher's contracts.

There is a sort of a loophole in that all schools may rename their programs and apply for an IEP with paperwork from the local Depatment of Education if they feel they can compete with the International Schools BUT, they may NOT use the Thai curiculum and must adopt an International one which can not be taught by Thai teachers. 

I know, still trying to get my head around that one as well.

Anyone with further updates please add them as many of us are on edge over this as it not only affects our jobs but also the 12 month income chain required by immigration for future Non-O extentions based on marriage.

This is great inside information and perspective. I'd love to have a beer with yourself and your friend, just talk shop.

 

I've taught EP and enjoy the fluency of the kids but quickly saw that like sensei had stated, the (Filipino, Nepali) teachers were not really up to the task. But there was more, I saw clearly the disconnect between the students learning in English but then being tested in Thai be it ONET, 9 subjects, GAT/PAT.

 

I became resolved then to either teach only IEP or English Standard. It's a big step back in what I can do with classes as I grow as a teacher and want to experiment more with the classes. But I think it best for students so I'm pleased the ministry sees this contradiction or issue.

 

Yes, from what I've heard from within my department there is a huge push to develop international programs in lieu of EP and other programs. A huge issue here will be Thai teachers don't have these abilities and frankly 85% of foreign EFL/ESL teachers don't either, I'm very much talking about native English L1 teachers here.

 

So, do I have this correct? All funding for EP programs was placed on hold but now released due to loophole (public schools). I'd also experienced rushed MOE proposals and then silence.

 

Personally I think English, Japanese and Chinese should almost exclusively be taught in the schools. If you want to learn other languages, find a tutor.

 

In another thread programs were broken down I believe into three groups. What I think best about this is a foreign instructor teaching same grade and program can use the same book and lessons. In fact, MOE should just write the core lessons, syllabus and course outline derived from its own learning indicators and objectives. With that standard it's also far easier to assess teacher performance. But it makes it easier to change schools and once at a new school and focus on teaching not reinventing (multiple) courses. An issue though is no one is going to pay for a PGCE and that Cambridge coursework $$$ Public schools are dead set against paying more than 42.5k regardless. It must come from outside sources not always available. Then, if we are honest only 10% of foreign teachers are on top of their game, another ten hold their own. After that it's purely a crapshoot.

 

A friend of mine told me two years ago, true or not Cambridge wasn't certifying English teachers, only other subjects. Maybe this will change. I really like their materials but I think books are dead. Bill Gates stated similarly recently. I can put together a solid course with online edtech websites and my own stuff given the time. In this regard, I think it not progressive.

 

I think for many reasons international programs just as flawed as EP programs. I'm sure BC and Cambridge will work to make this as British as possible and sideline other English L1 natives. Most of all the teachers need to be up for the task and the administration must be fully supportive. If you think how slow and incompetent many school bureaucracies are, international programs will not function well. Thai administrators will be loathe to have farang HoD with budgets and power. I think foreign teachers and HoD starting in these positions especially how rushed and typically unplanned it all is will be very disappointed with their new career choice despite best of intentions.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ozmeldo said:

The elephant in the room of course is how poorly written and designed all Thai standardized exams are. I often joke that the best excercise Thai students get in critical thinking are these exams - to guess and infer what the answer is despite all the choices appearing to the contrary. Not to select the best choice, but the choice the exam writer believes is the best choice.

There is a stadardized core curriculum which every school prints out and puts on display every time the Ministry of Primary/Secondary Education inspectors come calling.

http://www.act.ac.th/document/1741.pdf        <--English version)

Nobody actually follows it or has even read it but it checks the inspection box. I keep my prepared "Dog and Pony Show" ppt handy for those visits and dutifully sit at the microphone in front of the meeting hall and go through it while the inspector and the school director discuss the consitancy and texture of their "kanom" and ignore me completely because they don't understand English.

As for the tests, students are taught in much the same manner as the tests are written. You can't correct what you don't understand to be incorrect.

Conflicts arise when we teach correct Conversational English and our "betters" (those in charge [HoDs]) teach their way based on 100 year old British Grammar Rules and have never upgraded their education. I chuckled when I saw our HoD referring to a Grammar book that was copywritten and translated in 2456. I won't ingage in finger pointing and blame games as it has the same impact as the loosely translated Thai saying, "The dog barking at the moon". :wai:

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, mrwebb8825 said:

There is a stadardized core curriculum which every school prints out and puts on display every time the Ministry of Primary/Secondary Education inspectors come calling.

http://www.act.ac.th/document/1741.pdf        <--English version)

Nobody actually follows it or has even read it but it checks the inspection box. I keep my prepared "Dog and Pony Show" ppt handy for those visits and dutifully sit at the microphone in front of the meeting hall and go through it while the inspector and the school director discuss the consitancy and texture of their "kanom" and ignore me completely because they don't understand English.

As for the tests, students are taught in much the same manner as the tests are written. You can't correct what you don't understand to be incorrect.

Conflicts arise when we teach correct Conversational English and our "betters" (those in charge [HoDs]) teach their way based on 100 year old British Grammar Rules and have never upgraded their education. I chuckled when I saw our HoD referring to a Grammar book that was copywritten and translated in 2456. I won't ingage in finger pointing and blame games as it has the same impact as the loosely translated Thai saying, "The dog barking at the moon". :wai:

Indeed

 

I think best assistance for the exams in English at least is just building a whopping vocabulary. I don't see the point of doing gap fill excercises. Grammar and writing really difficult to cram for. Reading comprehension can be improved a bit.

 

To the curriculum, I'm aware of it. I like the idea of now specifically incorporating books and materials. In theory, teachers can move about and at least in theory their lesson plans should get stronger building on the same materials. Each move I've made the school wants me to do something completely different. Then perhaps you're assigned a different grade. In the context of the discussion nothing can be done about that. Even staying on at schools I tend to get shuffled to work under or with the department head and that might require all sorts of new work. Finally, the school might actually get new books, then you're rewriting again. So, I really like the idea of one set of materials as a core.

Edited by ozmeldo

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