University of Calgary

Sharing our teaching expertise with Thailand

UToday HomeDecember 12, 2012

By Clayton MacGillivray

Faculty of Education Dean Dennis Sumara and Associate Dean, International Jim Paul meet with delegates from Thailand at the International Seminar on Dual Language Learning, Curriculum, and Leadership. Photo courtesy of the Faculty of EducationFaculty of Education Dean Dennis Sumara and Associate Dean, International Jim Paul meet with delegates from Thailand at the International Seminar on Dual Language Learning, Curriculum, and Leadership. Photo courtesy of the Faculty of EducationWhen Faculty of Education professor Nancy Arthur answered an email from a local colleague she never suspected that the result would be a 10-year collaboration with the Guidance Council of Thailand.

The group from Thailand was looking for professional development opportunities in Canada and the Faculty of Education’s counselling psychology program fit the bill. The recently completed fourth seminar saw educators and senior politicians from Praksa Municipality come to campus to gain insight into expanding dual language learning in the public school system. The previous three seminars focused on modern trends in counselling, career development and guidance in schools, and inclusive education.

“It is through the development of a relationship of trust and collaboration that we have been able to customize programming to meet the needs of our colleagues in Thailand,” says Arthur.

During their time here, delegates attended morning workshops with education faculty members and afternoons were spent in schools and agencies to observe practical examples of program implementation.

“The delegates gained first-hand knowledge about leading-edge models of practice, including research and pedagogy in the field of dual language learning and curriculum. They were provided with a competency framework for school leadership and heard from principals about directions for the implementation of successful dual language programs,” explains Arthur. “Key for the delegates was the focus on both the content of dual language learning and the emphasis on learning strategies and applications.”

Pakinai Soontornvipart, director of Praksawithedsuksa School, is hoping a partnership with the University of Calgary will serve as a pilot project for creating bilingual schools throughout Thailand’s 1800 municipalities. A critical feature of this project is providing access to dual language learning for students in public education, particularly in areas of Thailand where families have limited financial resources and cannot afford the tuition fees of private schools.

“When you build a house the foundation is very important and teachers who speak English are the foundation,” says Soontornvipart. “We are here because we believe the University of Calgary can help us.”

In addition to language learning, Soontornvipart is looking to establish an exchange program that would allow Education students to teach English in Thailand and his teachers to train in Calgary.

“Relationship building will allow us to enter new countries for the export of higher education,” says Arthur. “As Thailand looks to new innovation in educational practices, we hope that the relationship developed with the Faculty of Education will continue to grow in ways that mutually benefit the partnership in both countries.”