ENGLISH TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIP (ETA) PROGRAM
In 2013 the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand Foundation (ATF) began supporting the Thai - U.S. Educational Foundation (Fulbright Thailand) by sponsoring American English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) to increase the English language proficiency of Thai students by working with English teachers and teaching English in schools throughout Thailand. In 2014, ATF donated Baht 3.5 million to Fulbright Thailand to support ten ETAs. The success of the program provided for its expansion in 2015 to 22 ETAs.
ETAs work as full-time English teachers at under-served schools throughout Thailand. After a month-long orientation in Bangkok, ETAs are dispersed to their respective provinces. ETAs teach conversational English for two semesters. There are host teachers to help acquaint ETAs with the school and who may occasionally co-teach. However, for the most part, ETAs are mandated to design their own lessons and structure their own classes. The grade levels vary widely, from kindergarten to twelfth grade, and English proficiency can vary just as widely even within the same classroom. For many Thai students, who have never spoken in English with any foreigner, having a class with an ETA is their first interaction with a non-Thai person. ETAs provide two invaluable resources when learning any type of language: a native speaker and a passionate teacher. Most ETAs are recent college graduates who bring their youthful energy into the classroom. They approach classroom challenges optimistically and willingly.
In the broader community, the ETA is usually one of a handful of foreigners, if not the only foreigner. Locals often approach them with curiosity and ask questions. Simply answering questions with a positive attitude can greatly change the perceptions that local Thais have of foreigners, particularly Americans. Therefore, ETAs also act as ambassadors who can potentially help bridge the cultural divide between Americans and Thais.
English proficiency is an incredibly sought after resource in Thailand. With the continued internationalization of the Thai economy, English has become a perquisite for a growing number of jobs. English is one of the major subjects in the Thai education system and included in every major national examination. Although the Thai government invests heavily into education, Thailand’s English proficiency is still among the lowest in Southeast Asia. Narrowing the gap between the economy's demand for English speakers and the scarce supply of Thai English speakers is one of the long-term goals of AMCHAM Thailand and its members.
To have a more personal look at the ETA program, here are some blog stories by former and current ETAs.
AMCHAM contributes to raising the English proficiency of Thai students by partnering with the Thai-US Education Foundation (Fulbright Thailand) and sponsoring English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) who work at Thai schools around the country on improving the English curriculum. These American teaching assistants work both with students and with Thai English teachers to increase the quality of English language education in Thailand and make the country’s future work force competitive on a regional and global level.
A donation of 350,000 Baht will sponsor an ETA for one year. Donors can request that ETAs are placed in a specific region/province.
Your donation will impact hundreds of students across Thailand and build the English language capacity of your future workforce.
Some of the 2015 ETAs with U.S. Ambassador Glyn T. Davies at AMCHAM's October 2015 monthly luncheon