|Term Project 2004
||What did the cadets
learn in the project?
English-9 is the last English course in the old curriculum of the RTNA. The main focus of the course is integration of all English skills acquired in the previous 4 years. This is achieved through a Term Project.
[Note: In the new curriculum we plan to do a similar course in the third or fourth year.]
The approach of the course is student-centered. Cadets are responsible for their own learning and learn by doing instead of listening. Because the learning is active, they will remember better. They are involved in the decision-making, so the subject is relevant to them, which means they will enjoy it more. This type of learning is very suitable for project work.
Term Project 2004
Task of the Term Project in 2004 was to develop a "Guided Tour for foreign visitors to the RTNA". Every year groups of foreigners, Navy or other, visit the RTNA. Cadets will usually be assigned to guide these visitors. Groups of 4 cadets developed a tour to provide the visitors with information about the RTNA and its sights in English. They visualised the tour through a map.
What did the cadets learn in the project?
Cadets were divided (or divided themselves) in teams of 4 and worked together for the duration of the project. They chose their own team name and selected sights in the RTNA to describe. Teams were responsible for the planning, division and execution of their own work.
Research (English reading)
Teams searched for information about the RTNA and its sights. They used a wide range of sources, varying from books, the Internet, magazines and brochures to interviews with RTNA personnel. Sources were in Thai and in English. Information was translated from Thai to English. Sources used were documented as references.
English speaking and listening
All classes were conducted in English, also when conducted by the Thai teachers. Classes were student-centered and based on ideas and answers from the cadets.
(b) Weekly progress report
Teams discussed their weekly progress with the foreign teacher. Each cadet reported what he had done the past week, what he was planning to do the coming week and his thoughts about the project work.
(c) Presentation in class
Teams gave presentations about the RTNA, its sights and their evaluation of the project. They were asked questions after the presentations. The presentations were recorded on video and discussed in detail afterwards. The cadets and the teachers evaluated all presentations. Each cadet presented with his team and we tried to let everyone present more than once.
(d) Guided tour
Cadets acted as tour guide for foreign visitors. They introduced the RTNA and showed them around the sights. The tour was recorded on video and briefly discussed afterwards.
Activities performed and grades awarded, were discussed and evaluated with the cadets in English.
Teams wrote four short stories about the RTNA and its sights in English. Information from various sources was summarized and rewritten. The final work was typed in English.
(b) Presentation materials
Teams developed presentation materials in English.
(c) Weekly progress report
Teams wrote what they had done the past week, what they were planning to do the coming week and their thoughts about the project work.
Cadets expanded their vocabulary about the RTNA, its sights and activities performed in the project.
Cadets learned the history of the RTNA and its sights.
Personal skills for presentations
Personal skills required for effective presentations, like gestures, voice and position in class, were discussed and tried out in class. Cadets built the confidence to speak English in front of a group.
Visual aids for presentations
Teams learned to prepare presentations using visual aids like PowerPoint.
from the cadets
Teams gave us their feedback halfway through and at the end of the project, orally and in writing.
In general the teams enjoyed the course, the way of teaching and said they'd learned a lot. They particularly mentioned that they'd gained confidence, improved their English, teamwork and presentation skills and learned the history of the RTNA.
They also reported the problems they'd had during the course. The main problem was the absence of team members, usually due to extra-curricular activities like the Cadet Games. Some groups had a problem finding enough information on their subjects in books or on the Internet, but solved this by interviewing people in the RTNA. Using the cadets’ notebooks for presentations instead of the less modern RTNA equipment solved technical problems.
The teams recommended us to do this course again next year. They gave some suggestions for other subjects, like every-day cadet life, attractions of Thailand or sports (suggestions from other sources include the Hall of Fame, ceremonies and the Naval Museum). One useful suggestion was to split the course in two parts, so that cadets have a chance for a fresh start with a new team halfway the course. We will take this into consideration.
Feedback from the teachers
We teachers enjoyed this course very much, although it was hard work. Due to all the different types of activities we got a chance to get to know the individual cadets. With this course we pushed the cadets to greater heights than they would have reached with conventional teaching methods.
We had two major problems during this course. The first problem was technical. The computer equipment used for presentations was out-of-date and not as advanced as the computers in the computer room and notebooks the cadets used to prepare their presentations. We solved it by using cadets’ notebooks, but the RTNA equipment should be upgraded. Also, sometimes it was difficult to reserve a projector for the presentations, and we had to borrow from various sources to solve this problem. Besides this, the Internet was not always available when required for research.
The second problem was missed classes, especially in the second half of the semester, when classes were cancelled because of the Cadet Games. Also, individual cadets were absent regularly due to extra-curricular activities that were scheduled during teaching hours. Therefore, some cadets could not present in class and did not contribute enough to their team.
Once these problems are solved, the project will run smoothly. We’re going for another term project with next year's fifth-year cadets.
Feedback from the foreign visitors
Mr. Mark Watson found the cadets well-prepared, enthousiastic and knowledgeable. Some sights were closed when we showed up during the tour, so he suggested we organise that better next time. He said the course is a good idea, because "It's a useful lifeskill for later to show somebody around."
Captain Siriporn Sai-roon said most cadets were knowledgeable and their stories were interesting. She suggested to do the tour in smaller groups, so that more cadets have a chance to speak and become more involved. The course is good, because it lets the cadets apply their English knowledge outside the classroom. A subject for next year's course could be the Naval Museum. Her last comment was, "I really enjoyed being a visitor. Don't hesitate to invite me again."
Captain Santi Boonnuch said it was a good project, because it is "good to do something new" and "to push the cadets to speak English." However, he was not satisfied with the level of English of most cadets. They should have been able to retrieve simple words automatically and present spontaneously, instead of doing it from memory. This can be achieved by practising more speaking and listening. Projects like this should also be done (on a smaller scale) in the earlier years of the Academy.
Mr. Hein Verweij thought the information given was interesting, although the cadets' English was not always great. Most cadets were good hosts, but some cadets should learn how to keep their visitor busy. He suggested to make a proper program for the tour next time, so that the visitor knows where we're going and what time it will finish. His final conclusion was, "All in all it was really fun."
We would like to thank the "foreign" guests for their cooperation and comments and will take their suggestions into consideration for the next course.
Also our thanks to cameraman Lt. Sommaat, labman CPO Somkit, the Marine Engineering Department for its facilities and equipment and Lcdr. Prakrit for lending us his pointer (which we kept far too long).
Humanities Department. Syllabus English-9. Samut Prakan: RTNA, April 2004.
Rogers, Gray. “Student-centered learning. What does it mean for teachers?” Bangkok Post 1 June 2004:
Learning Post 1.
Photographs by Caroline Favier, Humanities Department, 2004.
Capt. Chanida Dechkum, Lt. Jittima Jarayapun and Caroline Favier, Humanities Department, October 2004.
“Project Work in(English) Language Teaching, Nov 2011“