What is IEP?

Thanks for your interest in teaching in the Intensive English Program (IEP). Unlike the more expensive English Program (EP), where the foreigner is the classroom teacher and teaches most lessons in the English language, in IEP the classroom teacher is Thai and she will teach most subjects herself in the Thai language. Your only responsibility is to use English with your class as much as you can.

You will teach them at least once, if not twice a day. But, what makes or breaks IEP is the contact time that you have with the students before school and during break times. We’ve found from experience that the students learn far more when we do one-to-one or small group work during informal times. In addition, you should use English with them at other times during the day. Such as when they are lining up to go to another class or when they are eating lunch.

You need to be in your classroom before 7:00 am which is when your first contact time starts. You will then call the students to your desk one by one or in small groups depending on what testing you are doing. You might want to get them to read to you for a few minutes (sight words or stories depending on their age) or get them to take part in a conversation of some sort. You can also test them on vocabulary words. A good way to do this is to show them a picture of a scene and get them to identify what they can see.

The kindergarten classes don’t have any fixed break times during the day and they also take a nap during the lunch break. So, you need to do most of your contact time while your Thai co-teacher is teaching the students. This might not always be possible, but after a while, you will work out which lessons are best for you to do contact time. If it’s another teacher coming in to teach a lesson, like Chinese, or the students are going to learn in another classroom, like music and P.E., you can then take this opportunity to take a break yourself. Lunchtime is a great time to use English with the students.

For the primary classes, you won’t be able to interrupt your Thai co-teacher while she is teaching. And so, you will need to do your contact time before school and during morning break, lunch break, and afternoon break. You will also need to look out for opportunities during the day to use English with the students. For example, if their next lesson is elsewhere in the school, you can get them to line up outside the classroom. Try also to be there when they come back so you can ask them how their lesson was. Lunchtime is also a great time to use English with the students. You can talk about what food they are eating and whether they like it or not.

What is the difference between an IEP class and a regular class? A regular student memorizes vocabulary and phrases much like a parrot. An IEP student can use new vocabulary in real life situations and conversations. Comprehension and being able to follow instructions is very important. For younger students, it is easy to do this through repetition. Make sure that you choose your words carefully and just keep using the same set of vocabulary every day. They will pick it up very quickly. They might not be able to translate into Thai everything that you are saying, but they will be able to follow your instructions with practice. Basically, just keep talking to them whether they understand you or not. They can usually figure it out by context if you show them pictures, or if you use some kind of sign language. Perseverance on your part is very important.

Intensive English means surrounding the students with much English as you can during the day. This could be anything from showing cartoons on the television before school or during breaks to playing English songs. For kindergarten, read to them regularly from the many pictures books that we have. For the older students, encourage them to read the books in our library. All of these methods are great ways for students to increase their vocabulary. For the older students, it is particularly important that they increase their vocabulary beyond the Let’s Go books. This will be helpful for them when they take national exams.

We have also noticed that students that have gained confidence at school, go away to teach themselves at home by watching English videos on Youtube or listening to English songs. Please encourage them to do this. Quite often I have had conversations with students and I was surprised about some of their vocabulary or natural sounding phrases. I asked them where they had learned that and they replied, on Youtube. The students are also really amazing at learning the lyrics for English songs. It doesn’t matter so much if they don’t understand the whole song. It’s just important that they have English both at school and at home.


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