Chris, tell us about yourself.
Originally from the UK, I started my teaching career in the early 1990s where I taught a diverse range of Thai students. I then moved up to positions of corporate English assignments, which led to work as a developer of customized curriculums -- increasingly in digital eLearning materials -- for business skills courses and workshops.
Today, I specialize in one-on-one Executive Coaching for personal development programs and Leadership Coaching for Thailand’s blue chip corporations as well as being the Lead Trainer for Vantage’s TEFL program.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I have many years of business English teaching and corporate training with previous companies, along with training materials development.
However, I’ve really honed that skill with Vantage, as we offer customized corporate training programs — business English and management and corporate skills on an exclusive basis.
We specialize in blended learning programs, so a new and important skill I’ve developed is eLearning instructional design.
I’ve also become a teacher trainer since working at Vantage Siam, for which my experience and varied roles have been invaluable. Vantage has given me the opportunity to grow and develop professionally, and I’m sure there’s more to come.
What is the best story you’ve heard from a return student?
We had a recent trainee who had had a rather troubled past. He decided to essentially “grow up” and better himself by getting himself a respectable career.
He contacted us and, after meeting with him, we were pretty sure he could become a good English teacher. However, he had very little confidence that he could make it.
We soon discovered he was very good at drawing out language from the students by use of questions, prompts and cueing during the first phase of the ESA methodology (Engage, Study, and Activate).
With subsequent training in the Study and Activate phases -- along with observed teaching practices -- he became highly effective in delivering a class to non-English speaking students in a live classroom. In short, this ‘raw recruit” became a highly skilled teacher. The surprise was that we had no idea in the beginning how good he would turn out to be.
We then helped get him a good teaching position at a prestigious school that is very appreciative of the way he motivates his students into successful English language acquisition.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
Vantage has always embraced the cutting edge in educational technology. We were among the first to offer customized courses in English for Special Purposes. We embraced eLearning and blended instruction in our classrooms in Thailand over fifteen years ago. We have been advocating computer-adaptive proficiency testing. Later this year, we will be educating the market in the first speaking and writing tests to be scored by AI technology.
And while we teach an American accredited TFFL course, we do supplement the curriculum with an introduction to both assessment methodology and emerging teaching technologies.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I think one of the key factors in being successful is the ability to re-invent yourself -- or at least being open to change. And to change yourself effectively, you need to be able to hear what’s going on in the world around.
We like to think we’re good listeners. We listen to a couple of key voices to help point the company into head winds that we lead us to future successes.
We listen what the market is telling us in terms of what skills schools need for successful teachers.
We also hear what our TEFL candidates tell us during our time with us. We look at what skills they bring on day one --
what we do throughout the course -- and what the final product turned out to be. In other words, how well can they teach in a real classroom at the end of their training.
And finally, we follow key thought leaders in the education field. People that are talking today about what may be mainstream in learning tomorrow.