The new Grade 4 English primary curriculum developed by the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), with support from the Australian Government through the BEQUAL program, has been designed using a communicative approach to help students use English and communicate in real-life situations. There is a strong focus on developing listening and speaking skills to provide students with plenty of exposure to English and to develop the oral language skill required to support reading and writing. But pronouncing the sounds and words in English is a new and difficult skill for most teachers in Laos. Without any modelling, teachers won’t know how to pronounce the sounds correctly and thus won’t be able to teach them.
Mrs Manoly Dongvan, Deputy Director of Foreign Language Resource Center explains “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. This is why, since the start of English lessons in Grade 3, we have produced audio materials to support the teachers and the students.”
The Research Institute of Educational Sciences (RIES) with support from Australia has just released 105 short animated Grade 4 audio tracks on the ດີໂອສໍາລັບການພັດທະນາຄູ Teacher Development Videos YouTube channel. The audio tracks are in addition to the 101 Grade 3 English audio tracks produced last year. They were recorded by native English speakers of a range of ages and are very lively. They include simple monologues and dialogues as well as stories, songs and model pronunciation of the new phonics. The accompanying animations are composed of illustrations from the Grade 4 English textbooks. The Grade 4 English teacher guide includes instructions about which tracks to use as well as transcripts of the audio tracks in both English and Lao. RIES has also recently started recording audio tracks to complement the forthcoming Grade 5 curriculum.
“Using the animated audio materials will enable Lao teachers to give their students plenty of authentic language input. They will be able to expose their students to a range of English accents and make lessons more active and entertaining” adds Mrs Manoly.
In addition to those audio tracks, the E-learning department of RIES released three teacher development videos in 2022 to demonstrate the methodology of the English Phonics instruction as well as the correct pronunciation and letter formation for the different sounds and letters that students will learn in Grade 3 and 4 English classes. The videos are dubbed in Sign Language to be more accessible to all.
“Primary teachers and trainers use the videos and the audio materials for lesson preparation and self-learning on the new curriculum teaching techniques and on active learning. They can also play the audio tracks directly in the classroom” explains Mr Khamchan Lattayord, Deputy Director general of RIES. “We have now reached over 2.6 million views on the dedicated “ວິດີໂອສຳລັບການພັດທະນາຄູ Teacher Development Videos” YouTube channel; this high audience engagement level proves that teachers highly appreciate the materials we produce. The materials are also disseminated on Lao Education and Sports TV on Lao Sat Channel 8, tablets for target districts, USB to teachers and on the Khang Panya Lao platform.”