One of the biggest challenges in learning english for rural Thai children is the absence of native speakers. Often the english teachers are not so good at speaking the language they are teaching and it makes it very hard for the students to progress.
Also the style of teaching relies heavily on rote repetition and so the learning experience is limited and passive. Students are very shy and not used to speaking up in class. Many students do have a strong desire to learn English and indeed there are big advantages for those children who are able to learn english. Having english language skills provides career opportunities in tourism, hospitality, commerce and education as well as greater understanding of the wide world beyond Thailand, particularly through the internet.
Blood Foundation is working with PCs and english learning software to offer children another avenue to english learning. Providing the CDs, headsets and microphones allows the children the great benefit of listening to native speakers, testing their own pronunciation and progressing at their own individual pace.
One site where this project is proving very successful involves 150 boys at a high school for monks. These boys have ended up at a temple school because of necessity, either they are orphans or their families are too poor for them to attend regular schools. They are so motivated to improve their english and they get a great deal of benefit from using this technology.