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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        14  April 2011

Thailand teaching Chinese English

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A Bangkok English language school is introducing long-distance online learning courses to China to tap into the growing demand for English teachers and courses in remote areas of China.

Fun Language International (Thailand) has been providing English teachers and curricula for children in both public and private schools in Greater Bangkok since 1997. Managing director Tongjai Tangsanga said it was cooperating with its partners in China - Leap School and an investor from Hong Kong - to develop interactive English classes via the Internet.

It has set up a 10-million-baht studio in Shanghai where English-speaking teachers are filmed and broadcasts sent to schools in Shanghai's suburbs.

Mr Tongjai said China's education market had improved markedly after the country held the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. Demand for English teachers and courses is rising significantly, and many international English teaching institutions are setting up shop in Beijing and Shanghai.

Suburban schools still lack native English teachers as most prefer to live near city centres. "Remote schools have no other alternatives in finding English teachers than online learning," he said.

However, the Chinese market is still unfamiliar with the company's style, which emphasises speaking and listening skill rather than tutoring for exams.

Many schools are hesitant to invest in facilities like projectors or high-speed internet connections, but Mr. Tongjai insists online classes can save schools money in the long term.

He estimated Chinese schools might have to spend 9,000 yuan per month to hire a full-time foreign teacher, but online classes only cost 2,000 yuan per month.

Fun Language started broadcasting its courses to six schools in Shanghai suburbs last October. It aims to increase the number to 24 by the end of this year. China's industrial city of Tianjin and Vietnam are also in the company's business expansion plan.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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