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 4 curriculum that will be implemented at the start of the next school year in September 2022.
English, along with Lao Language and Sciences and Environment, is one of the subjects taught in Grade 4 receiving full support from the Australian Government. Lao students start English instruction in 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 Laos to provide the level of input students need, especially if they do not feel confident about their own English.
MoES, via BEQUAL, contacted Vientiane International School (VIS) to continue the collaboration on the production of audio materials for the English language textbooks. For the second year in a row, several students immediately volunteered to assist with the recording of the English audio tracks. After completing a voice casting, the curriculum writers from the Research Institute of Educational Sciences (RIES) selected seven girls and boys.
Today, Ajan Outhit Thipmany, Deputy Director General of RIES and Dan Heldon, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy, handed over certificates of appreciation to those seven volunteer students. The ceremony was held at the school in the presence of their peer students and their teachers, with strong COVID-19 prevention measures in place.
“On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to thank the students who volunteered to support education in the country they are living in. I heard they were very enthusiastic and professional; and that they also had of lot of fun with the recording,” said Dan Heldon.
“Primary teachers will use the audio materials for lesson preparation and will also play them directly in the classroom. Thanks to your participation, Lao students will be able to listen to native speakers and be exposed to a variety of accents in English Language. Thanks for supporting Lao children education.” said Ajan Outhit Thipmany.
The students recorded simple monologues and dialogues and played a range of roles so the lessons would be lively. During their first session, the students met with curriculum writing experts and the BEQUAL team; roles were allocated, and students practiced the audio scripts. They also explored the new Grade 4 textbooks to get a better idea of the lessons linked to their scripts. The students were very impressed by the illustrations of the textbooks which are colorful, and very inclusive representing students with disabilities and from different backgrounds. During their second session, the students recorded the audio tracks in the RIES studio and met the sound specialists. 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 4 students are able to understand and follow the material. They also did a great job with ‘voice acting’ to make the materials realistic and engaging. They persevered and stayed motivated even when they had to record the same track several times. More audio tracks were also recorded by adult native English speakers.
There will be 105 audio tracks in total for Grade 4, including model pronunciation of the new phonics and the mini stories. The Grade 4 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 plenty of authentic language input, expose their students to a range of English accents and make lessons more active and entertaining.
The audio tracks will be available on a USB stick distributed to all Grade 4 teachers as well as on the YouTube Channel: ວິດີໂອສໍາລັບການພັດທະນາຄູ Teacher Development Videos and the Ministry’s online platform Khang Panya Lao.