Teaching English as a Foreign Language boosts ACU student international community engagement experience

Published: Wednesday 20th April 2016

ACU students are helping Cambodian and Thai teachers better prepare for lessons thanks to an ACU-developed English as Foreign Language (EFL) resource.

English language teaching has become a golden opportunity for students taking on international community engagement activities to make a real change in local communities.

Under the Igniting Capacities: Live.Give.Learn (LGL) program, ACU students, through Challenges Abroad Australia, will work with Children’s Action for Development (CAD) in Battambang, Cambodia, as well as in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in June and July this year on education initiatives that build the capacity of local organisations. This capacity building initiative commenced in 2014 and ACU students participate in LGL every June/July and Jan/Feb.

The students provide educational support to the poorest children within the community who have experienced multiple levels of disadvantage.

Youssef Taouk, from the Institute of Advancing Community Engagement (IACE), says students from various disciplines bring their own skill sets along and learn from each other and from the community.

“The ACU students learn from each other and each discipline has special skills.”

In Cambodia, LGL allows ACU students to work with the local staff to offer education in an informal setting to children and young adults who are at risk of living on the margins.

The community learning space has very few teaching resources and the staff are generally untrained volunteers who appreciate the support and expertise that ACU students bring.

ACU students bring structured EFL lessons. Students are assisted with the creation of lesson plans involving teaching EFL through the development of the EFL resource for students taking part in the program. IACE, the Faculty of Education and Arts and ACU Library collaborated to develop the resource.

The language learning program is based on the three Ps - Presentation, Practice and Production, and is the most common modern methodology employed by professional schools around the world.

Presentation is the beginning or introduction to learning language, and Production is the culmination of the learning process, where a learner is becoming a "user" of the language as opposed to a "student" of the language.

Practice is the process that facilitates progress from the initial stage through to the final one.

ACU students taking part in the program have been so effective, that recently the Director of a 3-school cluster asked ACU students to conduct a “demonstration” class for the teachers from the cluster.

The focus of the class was not only on vocabulary, but also on the emphasis on pronunciation. The teachers observing the lesson were so inspired, and the Director so impressed by the difference in the ACU Students’ English teaching abilities, that he asked if they could start teaching in his schools.

LGL gives students experience in English language teaching, a skill that is useful if a student decides to travel to developing countries after graduating. It also helps the communities that ACU students work with, considering the importance of learning effective language in those communities.