Sala Baï 2020: new skills and a new pedagogy! As the students returned to school at Sala Baï on September 28, the sanitary protocol put in place for the reopening was not the only novelty: the students are discovering a new pedagogical method and new tools which put them at the heart of learning.
During the 7 months the school was closed, the teachers followed several pedagogy training sessions. The objective was to prepare the implementation of a new learning method more interactive, more fun and more student-centered. Since teaching methods in Cambodia have traditionally been more teacher-centered, it seemed necessary to develop an approach in which students are more active.
An interactive learning method
Various workshops are regularly set up such as the “Go Fish”: cards representing a character or an object are distributed to all students. Each student must then find the card identical to his or her own by asking questions in English to the other participants. But beware, if the person being questioned gives a negative answer, the student must look for another person to question! Other workshops consist of playful dictations where students are divided into groups and must write a word in English as quickly as possible. Finally, Reception students prepared a presentation on cultural and sports activities in Siem Reap using photos.
The English teaching has also undergone a revolution. It now follows a direct method, avoiding the use of the mother tongue and privileging a triptych: presentation, practice and production. This method favors an intuitive learning of English over classical grammar and translation courses. Several teachers have also received refresher training in English and computer skills.
Teaching with digital tools
In addition, thanks to a subsidy from the Cambodia mobile telecommunication operator Smart Axiata to Sala Baï Hotel & Restaurant School and Bayon Education & Development, the two schools have been equipped with digital equipments in order to adapt to the health context. All students now have a smartphone with 8 months’ credit and headphones. The school has also received a supply of tablets for trainers, laptops and video projectors. While these tools enabled the students to continue their courses at their home during the confinement, they continue to use them today. Indeed to comply with the health measures, the promotion is divided into two groups, the first attending classes in person during the first half of the day, while the other follows online training from the boarding schools.
Online training courses to reinforce soft skills have been developed in partnership with the Pata Foundation (Pacific Asia Travel Association).
Students access the courses through an application on their phone. These classes include communication methods, the importance of body language, problem solving, etc. Training courses have also been set up to teach them how to use digital tools and various software and applications.
The students are optimistic about this new pedagogy that encourages their participation. Classes are now more dynamic thanks to the use of various tools and teaching aids (photos, videos, workshops, games).
Strengthened by these new features, Sala Baï is rediscovering laughter and masked smiles.