What we do
English as a Foreign Language
Learning English is vital for many reasons; it’s even more critical in countries like Cambodia, where the native language isn’t spoken nor understood outside the country. It’s a key to the future!
We have classes for kids (primary school) and classes for adolescents (secondary school), as a complement to what they learn at school. Cambodian law imposes English as a subject in all schools as from grade 4, but most schools cannot meet this requirement, due to lack of skilled teachers
The classes for primary school kids (3 levels; phonics, level 1 and level 2) take place in the morning (for the kids who attend public schools in the afternoon) and in the afternoon (for those who go to the public school in the morning). We work in small groups, emphasis is on speaking skill.
The classes for secondary school students (3 levels, 1,2 and 3) take lace in the lter afternoon, between 5 and 6 pm.
Currently, over 200 students attend the classes daily!
English for Teachers
Most of Cambodia's English language teachers speak English as a second or third language rather than as their first language. Teaching English is compulsory in all primary and secondary schools, but most teachers' level of language proficiency doesn't meet the minimum standards.
English for Teachers focusses, besides on general English, on English for Teaching. It encompasses teachers' ability into three functional areas: managing the classroom, understanding and communicating lesson content, and assessing students and giving them feedback.
The entire English for Teachers approach is based on the concept of 'Flipped Classroom': trainees work themselves through the content of a lesson (grammar, vocabulary ..) outside the classroom. The time in class is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the coach guides students to apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.
We work in three levels: pre-intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced.
Centre for Speech Excellence
The Centre for Speech Excellence, setup in cooperation with Vives, university for Applied Sciences, department of Speech therapy, specialises in pronunciation, speaking in public, voice training and remediation of voice problems.
Everyone is familiar with the jokes about Asian students ordering "flied lice" and, in fact, such pronunciation problems persist today. To a large extent, Cambodian students have problems with pronunciation and stress. This is primarily since their native tongue may not have that particular sound (their native grammar may even prohibit making that sound) and the absence of "consonant clusters" (strings of consonants such as s-t-r in the word strong).
We help teachers improving their own pronunciation and stress patterns, and coach them when it's their turn to be in front of a classroom. We provide voice-training and teach them how to identify and remediate common problems in their classrooms.
Don’t be afraid!
Why don’t you say something?
If you have friends who know you’re learning English, you’ve probably heard these requests before. Don’t they know it’s not that easy? Speaking English is hard! You want to speak it correctly, but it’s complicated. You might not always find the correct word. Or maybe your mouth refuses to make the right sounds. Even if you’re a highly social person, it can be scary to speak in another language, especially in a group.
Wondering how to overcome these problems and fears?
Language Buddies is the solution!
Chatting is a fun, friendly way to learn English from native or near-native speakers. You can talk or video chat. You can learn every-day words an expressions that are not in your coursebooks! You can get cultural insights from your chat-partners. You will gain confidence and improve your pronunciation. But above all, you will have fun, lots of fun.
And it’s completely free!
For native or near-native speakers of English, English teacher students, English teachers or any equivalent profile, Language Buddies offers the opportunity to become a mentor to a student (mostly teachers in training) in a well-organized manner.
How does it work?
It’s quite simple.
On one side, there are mentors, native or near-native speakers, who commit having two hours a week of online conversation with a mentee in Cambodia.
On the other side, there are mentees, students and teachers in Cambodia who want to improve their language proficiency.
Mentor and mentee meet one-to-one, using a tool of their choice (Zoom, Messenger, WhatsApp, Teams or any other tool).
It is important to have a regular schedule, for example, every Monday at 17.00 and every Saturday at 11:00.
The topics of conversation are communicated a few days in advance. Mentor and mentee will receive a ‘Target language Sheet’. This ‘Target Language Sheet’ is a tool. It’s a vocabulary and idioms list that helps mentor and mentee to keep the conversation alive. It’s not a list of all words that need to be used, it’s a list of words that can be used.
Mentors also receive a ‘Helper Sheet’. This ‘Helper Sheet’ contains a series of questions that the mentor can use during the conversations. Again, it’s a tool, not a list of mandatory questions!
But you’re free to deviate as much as you want, after all, the purpose of Language Buddies is to help people practising their day-to-day English! (mostly teachers in training) in a well-organized manner.
Who can participate?
Early career English teachers and English teachers in training in Cambodia can become Language Buddy mentees.
Native or near-native speakers of English, English teacher students, English teachers or any equivalent profile (retired teachers, educators, language coaches ….) are welcome as Language Buddy mentors. Universities and Teacher Training colleges are welcome to include ‘Language Buddies’ as an extra activity for their students.
A program lasts between 15 and 25 weeks. You decide for how long you can be available, 15 weeks being the minimum.
You can enrol here
Bla Bla Kru
Mastering the art of conversation is a skill – mainly when that conversation is not in our native tongue. When acquiring our first language, we start with speaking before moving on to grammar and writing skills. However, learning a second language often focuses on reading and comprehension first rather than verbal narrative. If speaking is the primary language skill needed, how can conversation practice be better integrated into language training?
Bla Bla Kru (Kru is the Khmer word for Teacher) brings English speaking travellers and local English teachers together around small tables over a coffee or refreshing drink. Every Sunday, late afternoon, we gather with tourists, make small groups, and …talk, talk, and talk.
It’s a low threshold, fun activity for both sides of the table.
Traditional language teaching is heavily based on students answering teachers’ questions and this is not indicative of how adults use a foreign language in the real world.
Bla Bla Kru is only about the conversation. Forget grammar, forget manuals, forget tests and exams!
Interested ? Let us know through this link
Our library is open to all students and teachers, and contains fiction - and non-fiction books.
For teachers we have an on-line library with hundreds of works on pedagogy and English linguistics.
Another fantastic way to acquire a language is by watching movies.
TV and movies have something for everyone, whether it’s drama, romance, soap operas, nature documentaries or the news. And all this can help you improve your language skills. The diversity in narratives, genres and themes will allow you to learn a language from all kinds of angles! No need to understand every single word; the context helps to understand.
We always use movies with closed captions, and this is of great support for the trainees. Sunday is movie day!
ITTSR: Interactive Teacher Training
ITTSR, Interactive Teacher Training Siem Reap is designed for early-career teachers of English.
It is widespread in Cambodia that young people, after graduation from secondary school, come to town to study or find a job. Many of them, providing they know a few words of English, start teaching English in all kinds of NGO’s and community organisations. Unfortunately, none of them had any training.
Even those who go to universities to obtain a bachelor in English Literature or TESOL are unprepared for teaching. A TESOL bachelors degree, for example, is spread over five years, and it is not before starting year four that students get their first pedagogy courses. But, no job means no income, and no income means no university! Parents are unable to afford further education.
The Interactive Teacher Training Program provides these young teachers with basic training on how to teach English. The course lasts 30 weeks (on Saturdays/or Sunday mornings, each session is 4 hours) and covers 15 topics. The course is interactive, with a large variation of activities, reflection and observation tasks, roll-plays, discussions a.s.o.
EPPS: English in Public Primary Schools
Public primary schools are deemed to teach English for 2 hours a week to all students, starting from grade 4. That affects, in the province of Siem Reap only, a population of around 100.000 students (grades four and up of primary schools). Unfortunately, many schools cannot live up to this expectation, as there are hardly teachers able to speak English, not even to mention the ability to teach it.
The province of Siem Reap has over 500 primary schools, counting for over 5.000 staff. It is impossible to upscale the language proficiency and teaching skills of such an amount of people in an overseeable time spam.
Therefore we have offered to the POE (Provincial Office of Education) an approach that builds English teaching capacity at school level rather than at the level of individual teachers. This means that in every school one (for large schools it may be two) teacher is trained and will teach English in grades 4,5 and 6!
Obviously, teaching English only and improving the quality of English classes is just a part of the efforts needed to improve primary education. Other subjects (Khmer, Mathematics, Science), support for students with special needs, promotion of going to Kindergarten schools, promotion of homework classes, and extracurricular activities are only a few examples of activities that need further development and support.
A bottom-up strategy
The project started in a limited number (15 trainees) of primary schools. Since 2021, the project is gradually rolled out over the entire province.
The advantages of such a bottom-up approach are : • The project can start with limited funding and resources. • Experiences from the first phase 1 can quickly be taken into the subsequent stages. Adjustments of the content of the training can easily be made. • No need for a vast administration • The POE and other relevant authorities and stakeholders will gain confidence in the project as it will have proven to work. • The project can start almost immediately, with no need for long-lasting discussions. • From the second phase, the scale on which the work will be done can easily be adjusted to the available financial resources
In its first year, the project impacted around 3.000 students (15 teachers spread over 15 schools), as from the second year, the number of affected students is a multiple of this.
Considering progressive implementation over eight years and rotation of students (every year 33 % of the students leave primary school and 33 % new students start in grade 4), the total number of students impacted over the eight years exceeds 200.000!
These are approximative numbers, assuming that all classes have the same number of students. This is, of course, not the case.
Training and coaching approach
The training consists of 2 elements, teacher training (teaching skills) and language proficiency: the teachers/trainees have to pass a language level test, and those who don’t reach the minimum level required are guided to the English for Teachers program before being accepted in the teacher training program.
In the first phase, the trainees are brought together to receive a very concise theoretical training on teaching English (similar to our ITTSR-program).
After this introduction, they meet regularly to prepare for their upcoming classes. As they all teach the same grades and levels, the lesson plans and preparation are the same. The teachers-trainees meet regularly, under the guidance of the instructor/coach, to evaluate the lessons already given and prepare the upcoming ones. This rhythm is maintained for a longer period.
The trainer/coach visits every trainee regularly in their respective school to coach in practice. At the same time, the trainees will participate in a language proficiency program.
After one school year, the trainees have received around 200 hours of training and many more hours of practice. This should enable them to continue to work autonomously from the second year. They will then be encouraged to join the Community of Practice and to follow further in-service training.
The benefits for the participants are:
• A professional and free in-service training that can easily be combined with professional duties and private life.
• The trainees receive a financial incentive, so their work is remunerated. This also helps to keep trainees ‘on board’ for the entire duration of the project.
• The trainees get access to (free) school materials of good quality (books, flashcards, audio- and video sources etc.)
• The trainees are in a privileged position when it comes to promotion
• When international trainees are available, the local trainees are the first ones to be selected to co-teach.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) :
The outcomes of the project are measured as follows:
• Drop-out: at least 90% of the trainees that engage in the project also complete it. This means an attendance rate of at least 80 % and an assignment completion rate of at least 80%.
• Assignment completion: at least 90% of the trainees obtain an assignment evaluation rate of average at least 70%.
• Evaluation by school principals: at least 80% of principals of schools concerned rate the outcomes of the project positive. For that purpose, an evaluation model is developed where different aspects can be evaluated.
• Evaluation by trainees: at least 80% of the trainees express interest to continue training. At least 70% of trainees express interest in further cooperation with international trainees or volunteers.
The trainer-coach evaluates every t
The total cost of the project is lower than 5 USD per student!
I Teach Cambodia
The objective of the Teacher Training Program is to provide free training to Cambodian teachers, mainly those working in NGO’s and informal education projects, covering pedagogical skills.
Short modules, allowing the participants to continue their current (often teaching) jobs. Every module (around 20 hours per module) will offer students (groups of no more than 15 students) the possibility to attend the weekday program (one day/week for 5 weeks) the weekend program (Saturday or Sunday, for 5 weeks), or the all in one week program (for remote students, 5 full days where the students are offered compensation for transport and accommodation). During regular school hours, the practice training will be done in cooperation with the schools where the students are currently teaching.
The curriculum focuses on English Language Teaching skills. The program is developed in cooperation with reputed universities and Language centres across the Anglo-Saxon world.
A local, highly skilled teacher trainer takes care of the classes of pedagogy.
Graduate students are followed up before and after completing their course. A teacher coach visits all students at their respective schools to observe current practice (before attending the classes) and to help to implement the acquired skills (after completing the courses). Moreover, regular follow-up meetings are held where experience and best practices can be shared (learning community).
A web platform is available for all trainees. Lesson plans, documentation, lesson materials are available on this website, and users can share comments, suggestions and experiences and even post their own contributions. This creates a sense of community and keeps the trainees involved and committed over a more extended period.
The various modules are (non limitative list, it’s permanently updated)
The basics of Teaching English, from theory to practice. What elements are necessary for successful language learning in a classroom? What if students are all at different levels? Teaching vocabulary to young learners Teaching reading to young learners Teaching speaking to young learners Adults in the classroom, a different approach …
7. The ‘Cambridge English Teaching Framework’.
The Cambridge English Teaching Framework has been designed to encapsulate the critical knowledge and skills needed for effective teaching at various levels and in different contexts. It aims to:
• help teachers to identify where they are in their professional career • help teachers and their employers to think about where to go next and identify development activities to get there.
The framework describes teacher competencies across four stages and five aspects of teacher knowledge and skill.
By mapping both trainees and training modules to this unique framework, the effectiveness of training will increase.
8. Headteacher coaching
Headteachers play an essential role in training and coaching teachers; they support the teachers, guide, monitor progress, encourage.
Several headteachers requested guidance and help in this. Since 2019 we dedicate some workshops specifically (and exclusively) for headteachers, looking into best practices to assume their responsibilities.
Teacher Learning Community
The Teacher Learning Community is
IT for Teachers
The ICT for Teachers program is designed to equip teachers with ICT competencies to strengthen their own professional capacities and to effectively use ICT tools and devices in their learning and teaching.
The digital skills that teachers need have long moved on from just using word processing and spreadsheets software. Digital skills that 21st-century teachers should have include cloud storage and sharing solutions, social media, web editing, image editing, presentation software, and general multimedia.
The basic IT for Teachers courses are online, and every trainee can participate in the course at their own pace. The program covers the most used desktop applications, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Lists, ToDo, Forms, Outlook, OneDrive etc …
A test is provided at the end of each module, and those who pass can rightly call themselves proficient user.
As digital media proliferate, and increasing amounts of daily work are performed in digital environments, there are increasing demands from parents, educators, and governments to deploy educational technologies, whether as a means to improve the quality of education in general, or as tools to familiarize students with the technologies that will shape their future lives.
While all schools may share a common goal of educating students, there is a broad diversity of available resources, such as infrastructure, qualified staff and financial means.
Also, moving from the classical in-classroom lecturing to interactive teaching-apporaches, supported by technology, requires a change of didactic approach
The ICT4E (Information and Communication Technology For Education) project guides educational institutions, NGO’s and public schools, in their choices of technology, the deployment and maintenance of the chosen solutions, training and coaching of system administrators and users (delivery of TELT-projects: Technology Enabled Teaching and Learning).
The differences between online and classroom instruction go beyond technology alone. How teachers deliver information, interact with students, and assess learning is much different in a virtual learning environment.
The ICT4E project delivers training to teachers, technical and pedagogic, to make them familiar with the various concepts of online teaching/learning.
Our Outreach Program
Although it’s not at the core of our mission, an organisation that works in a country like Cambodia can’t ignore that sometimes people in our immediate surroundings have an imminent need for support. Covid-19 made this more pressing.
At first, we thought of distributing food packages to the neediest families. After some reflection, the team concluded that this might not be the best solution: it requires a lot of organisation and workforce, on a larger scale, it disrupts the local markets, and the beneficiaries are reduced to beggars, on who’s behalves others decide what, when en how they should eat. It’s not that there is not enough food on the market; it’s not that these families don’t know how to manage their budgets; it’s not that they don’t know how to prepare a healthy meal for their kids... They only lost their jobs and income due to the crisis in tourism and the lack of social benefits.
We try to respect people’s autonomy and dignity. So we provide them with paid work. Paid work, be it on a temporary and part-time basis, provides people with an income to spend freely and without paternalistic supervision or interference. The jobs provided are beneficial to our organisation (gardening, minor maintenance ...) or the community (removing trash from the neighbourhood, ..). We are currently looking into further developing this approach, keeping in mind that it’s a temporary project that will stop when the worst consequences of the corona crisis are behind us.