Cambodia needs to improve the teaching of English as it is the official and business language of ASEAN. Better English skills are vital for the youth to explore new avenues of growth. This is according to a research paper published by the Cambodian Education Forum (CEF).
The paper, titled “Challenges of teaching English as an additional language in high schools in Cambodia,” was co-authored by Vibol Boy of Regional Teacher Training Centre in Kandal and Tineke Water of Cambodia University of Technology and Science.
The researchers interviewed teachers from four public high schools in Kandal province, Cambodia, to investigate the challenges of teaching English as an additional language. They also looked at the school environment, such as physical facilities, management and administration, staffing, curricula, and resources; and the attributes of teachers, such as their knowledge, skills, qualifications, experience, and attitudes towards English Language Teaching (ELT).
The study found that the core problem is the lack of resources and inadequate funding for teachers. Cambodian teachers mostly live in poor conditions because of low salaries compared with other professions. This has resulted in a low commitment to teaching quality.
The study also found that many teachers lack proper training and have limited English proficiency. Additionally, the selection of study materials is often based on individual preference rather than quality. Many English textbooks currently used in Cambodia were introduced in 1997 and are now out of date.
The study also pointed out that teaching methods are outdated and reflect a lack of ongoing training. The most common method of ELT in Cambodia’s secondary schools is the Grammar-Translation Method (GTM), which is less effective than contemporary best practices.
Despite the challenges, there are some positive developments. Missions representing English-speaking countries in Phnom Penh and international organisations have teamed up with governmental agencies to promote English education and English teaching in the Kingdom. For example, the US Embassy has helped more than 1,600 Cambodian students improve their English language and leadership skills through the English Access Scholarship Programme.
The Cambodian government needs to invest more in English language education and provide teachers with the resources and training they need to be effective. By doing so, Cambodia can ensure that its youth have the skills they need to succeed in the global economy.