VP Surin Maisrikrod Talks Reforming English Language Teaching at Walailak University in Thai GE Network’s Online Forum

Associate Professor Dr. Surin Maisrikrod, Vice President of Walailak University (WU) and Dean of the School of Languages and General Education (SOLGEN), was invited to deliver a talk on English Language Teaching at Walailak University, as part of the online forum organized by Thai GE network on Approaches to Foreign Language Teaching in General Education (GE) today.

Keynote speakers included Associate Prof. Dr. Jirada Wudthayagorn, Director of Chulalongkorn University’s Language Institute; Assistant Professor Dr. Todsapon Suranakkharin, Head of Naresuan University Faculty of Humanities’ English Department; and Lecturer Suthathip Ratthapat from Chandrakasem Rajabhat University

The forum was honored to have President of Mahidol University Professor Banchong Mahaisavariya preside over and deliver the opening speech. 

During the event, Dr. Surin emphasized the importance of approaches to foreign language teaching, highlighting various issues for discussion. He expressed appreciation for the current embrace of languages, extending beyond English.

He said that at WU, the teaching system has been transformed since the presidency of Professor Dr. Sombat Thamrongthanyawong in 2016. The university adopted the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) to train the teachers, focusing primarily on student-centered learning to enhance critical, analytical, and synthetic thinking. 

However, he expressed concern about Thai students’ English proficiency, based on the EF Proficiency index, which ranks Thailand in the "very low proficiency" category at no. 101 out of 113 countries worldwide in 2023, lower than the 2022 ranking at no. 97.

He mentioned that WU has revamped English language teaching in GE courses, including reducing class sizes from large to small classrooms, with no more than 25 students per class. English instructors in GE courses receive orientation, training, and regular audits. And SOLGEN consistently gathers feedback from students.

Vice President Surin also said that the evaluation of WU first-year students in the Academic Year 2023 for their English proficiency, based on a CEFR-based pretest, showed that 86 percent of them were at A1-A2 levels. SOLGEN aims to increase students' proficiency to the B1 level by the end of their second year and eventually to help them reach the B2 level upon graduation, following the latest announcement from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation.

Dr. Surin noted that the teaching hours of English for freshmen have also been increased from two to four hours per week. And importantly, “Every Student is given an opportunity to speak English every time they're in class.” 

“What we are trying to address is to change the traditional method of learning English for exams to communicative English,” VP Surin said. 

WU SOLGEN has studied Stephen Krashen’s Comprehensible Input Theory and applied it into teaching, in response to this initiative, allowing students to learn English from stories such as Aesop's Fables so that they can link what they learned to real-life conversations. From this approach, in merely 14 weeks, 20 percent of students have made noticeable improvements and are at the desirable level. However, SOLGEN researchers will continue their study to see how effective the approach is in WU context.

News by Settaboot Onphakdee, Division of Corporate Communication