Academic journal article International Education Studies

Concentrated Language Encounter Approach in Practice for Global Teaching of Literacy: Lighthouse Strategy Implementation

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Concentrated Language Encounter Approach in Practice for Global Teaching of Literacy: Lighthouse Strategy Implementation

Article excerpt


This article presents the lighthouse literacy strategies model using the concentrated language encounter (CLE) approach that has been successfully replicated in many countries in different languages and cultures. A review of CLE research studies and the project implementation in Thailand showed highly significant results in students' literacy skill improvement. The theoretical bases were derived from the research on language education in Australia with aboriginal children. Through the implementation program in Thailand, three CLE models/stages in teaching language and a specific 'train the trainers' program were developed at different levels of literacy skills. Four different types of CLE literacy programs that include formal, informal, special education, and ethnic groups were successfully implemented.

Keywords: concentrated language encounter approach, lighthouse strategies, CLE models/stages of teaching literacy, train the trainers program

1. Introduction

Poverty is a serious global issue that affects people's lives and has a major impact on national educational reform planning (OECD, 2014). Literacy education is generally considered to be the only long-term solution to solving this problem. In many areas in Thailand, illiteracy and poverty are also grave issues causing various difficulties for educational, social, political, and economical development. In Thailand, the primary emphasis has been on functional literacy because it involves learning to communicate in practical and direct ways as well as adapting knowledge to vocations and other subject areas. Even in a poverty-stricken context, the need for literacy is playing an increasing role in community and workplace processes as well as in educational contexts. The use of computers in information processing is becoming more necessary and more sophisticated, both for the purposes of social participation and for economic performance. Rapidly changing demands mean that children need to enroll in educational programs to reach those goals, especially for children in various rural areas, which encompass a statistically diverse range of people, such as in the northeast, north, and south of Thailand, where different minority languages are spoken. Unfortunately, children in these areas experience many language-related difficulties at school, and as a result, there is a high student learning failure rate. Research indicates that ethnic language literacy rates in Thailand remain well below average in most groups. Ethnic minority groups have scarcely benefited from their educational developments. Studies suggest that because of poverty and language constraints (the Thai language is the official language of instruction in schools) school completion rates are lower among non-Thai speaking students. As a result of the high school dropout rates, illiteracy is generally more prevalent among ethnic minorities (Wisanee & Petchragsa, 2005; UNESCO, 2007). Accordingly, good sustainable literacy programs must be developed as a matter of national urgency ( Ministry of Education, 2009; UNESCO, 2014).

In general, the traditional approaches to teaching the Thai and English languages in Thailand have not been successful primarily because they tend to perceive language in terms of various small elements that are broken down and taught in a fragmented manner. This approach was based on the theoretical assumption that students must learn all these language elements in isolation before they can put the elements together to create coherent language. However, such learning theory divorces language from the considerations of purpose and meaning (Christie, 2012).

To eliminate mass illiteracy in Thailand, appropriate approaches in the teaching of language were researched, and the Concentrated Language Encounter (CLE) approach of Gray's program at Traeger Park was first introduced to the author by Richard Walker, an educationalist and Deputy of the then Mount Gravatt College of Advanced Education in Brisbane, Australia, in the early 1980s. …

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