The Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR (MoES), with the support of Australia through the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR program (BEQUAL), is finalizing the production of teaching and learning resources for the new Grade 5 curriculum that will be implemented at the start of the school year in September 2023. This is the final year of the National Primary curriculum renewal process that started in 2019.
English, along with Lao Language and Sciences and Environment, is one of the subjects taught in Grade 5 that has been developed with the support from the Australian Government. Primary students in Lao PDR start learning English from Grade 3. When students learn a new language, they need exposure to the language with multiple opportunities to listen to it. It can be challenging for teachers in Lao PDR to provide the level of input students need, especially if they do not feel confident about their own English.
Since Grade 3, MoES, via BEQUAL, has been collaborating with Vientiane International School (VIS) on the production of audio materials for the English language curriculum. For the third year in a row, several students volunteered to record the audio tracks in English.
Today, Mr. Khamchan Lattayord, Deputy Director of Research Institute of Educational Sciences (RIES) and Ms. Vanessa Hegarty, First Secretary, Australian Embassy, presented certificates of appreciation to the six students who recorded the Grade 5 audio tracks. The ceremony was held at VIS in the presence of peers and teachers. The students expressed feeling very honored to support the education sector in Laos.
“On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to thank the students who volunteered to be a voice actor in this important project. I heard they were very enthusiastic and professional. Thanks for supporting primary education in Lao PDR,” said Ms Vanessa Hegarty.
“Primary teachers will use the audio materials for lesson preparation and will also play them directly in the classroom. Thanks to the international students’ participation, Lao students will be able to listen to native speakers and be exposed to a variety of accents in English Language,” explained Mr. Khamchan.
The students recorded dialogues and played a range of roles so the lessons will be lively and true to natural conversation. They also recorded a few songs, and they have truly beautiful voices. The students did an excellent job reading their parts – focusing on slowing down their speech and pronouncing each word very clearly so that the Lao Grade 5 students will be able to understand and follow the material. They also did a great job with ‘voice acting’ to make the materials realistic and engaging.
The students recorded the audio tracks in MoES’ recording studio at the Research Institute for Educational Sciences (RIES), which is used daily to submit education news via MoES’ radio station. They were very impressed to come to the Ministry and learn about the technologies involved in recording and editing audio. They met with curriculum writing experts, the technical sound team from RIES and the BEQUAL team. They also explored the new Grade 5 textbooks to get a better idea of the lessons linked to their scripts. The students appreciated the illustrations of the textbooks which are colorful, and very inclusive representing students from different backgrounds, equal participation by boys and girls, and students with disabilities.
There will be 104 audio tracks in total for Grade 5. The Grade 5 English teacher guide includes instructions about which audio tracks to use as well as transcripts of the audio tracks in both English and Lao. Using the audio materials will enable Lao teachers to give their students authentic language input, expose their students to a range of English accents and make lessons more active and entertaining.
The audio tracks will be provided to all schools throughout Lao PDR on a USB stick and will be available for live access or download via the YouTube Channel: ວິດີໂອສໍາລັບການພັດທະນາຄູ Teacher Development Videos. They will also be hosted on the Ministry’s online learning platform ຄັງປັນຍາລາວ Khang Panya Lao.