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Make a Difference This Summer in Thailand
CANHELP Thailand Needs English Workshop Volunteers

In 1998 a friend told me about a volunteer English teaching workshop in Thailand that he was joining that summer. I was immediately attracted to the both the idea of doing some volunteer work and a chance to return to Thailand which has always been one of my favourite countries. So, that year I too joined the CANHELP Thailand English Workshop Program.

CANHELP Thailand is a Japan-based NGO aimed at promoting health and education for the children and adolescents of Isaan, Thailand. Isaan incorporates the northeastern provinces of Thailand, bordering Laos and Cambodia. These mostly rural areas are the poorest and most arid in Thailand, and do not benefit from the flow of tourist dollars like Chiang Mai in the northwest or the island provinces of southern Thailand. The English Workshop Program is only a small component of the CANHELP Thailand NGO (other programs include building schools, establishing sustainable lunch projects, scholarships, etc.), but the English Workshop Program is central to the concept of sustainable education. In Thailand, English language proficiency is one means of improving future economic prospects, as Thais proficient in foreign languages have better higher education and employment opportunities. The English Workshop program not only focuses on providing Thai English teachers with the knowledge, ideas, and confidence to teach English effectively and communicatively to their students, but encourages them to share what they learn with other teachers and continue the process long after CHT volunteers have returned home.

CANHELP volunteer playing with Thai schoolchildrenIn Thailand, teachers are very professional and dedicated to their students, but their monthly wages do not exceed what many teachers in Japan would earn in a day or two. In the classrooms, there is a notable lack of the abundant tape players, photocopiers and copy paper, and computers found in most Japanese schools, and even an insufficient number of textbooks. However, it soon became obvious to me from my very first day as a CHT volunteer that all teachers, no matter where they are or what their situation is, have the same practical and immediate concerns - how to make their classes work, and how to motivate their students to learn. My volunteering experiences through CANHELP Thailand have not only been of a benefit to my Thai colleagues, but have also enriched my own teaching.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the CANHELP Thailand English Workshop Program, please email Su Carbery at

By Susan Carbery
Obirin University ELP
Tokyo, Japan

2002 ESL MiniConference Online