In mid-August, 2015, British Council conducted a 10 day highly intensive training for teachers at Phu Bia Mining in Rural Laos. The 72-hour training conducted over 10 days was met with a high degree of enthusiasm by mining staff and trainers. British Council and Phu Bia Mining are optimistic that subsequent training will take place during the spring of 2016. Future training will likely include a teaching practicum with observation, feedback and support from trainers at British Council at Phu Bia Mining.
The recent teacher training took place in the mountains of rural Laos at a copper and gold mining operation. The mine employs about 3,000 people and exports concentrated ore to Thailand where it is further refined. A range of professionals from engineers to medical staff and supervisors come from a wide variety of countries. Nationalities include Laos, Philippines, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia. As a result of this diversity, it is necessary to provide a great deal of English language training.
Nine trainers work at the training centre delivering English lessons for the mining staff. They teach a variety of English for Specific Skills courses for those working in mechanical, electrical or managerial sectors of the company. The teachers are all Lao nationals who speak English as a second language. They come from a range of backgrounds and some have limited training as English teachers. As a result, the teachers were extremely enthusiastic and worked relentlessly. In addition to nearly 8 hours of training a day, the teachers studied further in their free time. Their level of dedication is remarkable and they are highly committed to their students and their field.
Living on a mining camp is not easy. People are separated from their friends and family for long stretches of time and work demanding hours. Most employees work for 12 hours a day up to 24 days at a time. The operation runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Nevertheless, company morale is very high and people take good care of each other. There is a real sense of community as everybody is working towards the same goal. It was a rare, remarkable and memorable experience to be a part of it and another of the fascinating experiences that come with a career with the British Council.