Thu 15 Feb 18
Kanatip Soonthornrak is "flabbergasted and overjoyed" to be chosen as a finalist in the British Council Alumni Awards for his incredible work to promote English language learning in Thailand.
Kanatip, who completed a MA in Theatre Directing in 2009 at East 15 Acting School at our Loughton Campus became the founder of one of the most renowned English tutorial schools in Thailand and has found huge success launching language tutorial videos on YouTube.
Despite his successes, Kanatip had to overcome social stigma from an early age to pursue his own ambitions.
He said: "I was born and raised in a Thai speaking family and grew up in a very small village. Learning English back then wasn't easy. I ended up being bullied and humiliated but I kept fighting on and won."
After his best friend recommended the East 15 Acting School, he started looking at his options to study at Essex.
"I did some research online and the director of the course was in Thailand to recruit students. After being interviewed by him, I knew that I made the right decision," he said.
Kanatip arrived at Essex in 2008 to start his Masters degree and found the experience transformational.
He said: "Learning at East 15 allowed me to explore my potential as a theatre director and as an actor. Throughout my academic year, I had chances to really learn from a great number of talented theatre makers and qualified professors.
"Spending just a year in the UK broadened my world and changed my life forever. Studying in the UK reminded me how small I was and made me realise that I had to endeavour to be among the greatest."
After he graduated, Kanatip returned to Bangkok to set up ANGKRIZ, an English tutorial school in Thailand. The school has now celebrated its 8th anniversary and has nearly 50,000 students worldwide. He also hosts an online English talk show, LoukGolf's English Room on YouTube which has over 130 episodes with over 30 million total views.
He said: "I dreamt of running a school that would change the way Thai kids think about learning English. I wanted to create an ideal classroom where no one would be judged, mocked or teased."
Kanatip says the skills he developed during his course played an important part in being a teacher.
He said: "Teaching is like performing. Every time I teach, it's like I am on stage. Directing taught me to guide students more effectively and studying at East 15 allowed me to learn from professional directors. I learned from them that as a teacher it's not enough just to perform well; I must be able to direct, guide and lead students."
Kanatip is also working with GoUni to encourage students to study in the UK, has been chosen by British Council Thailand to represent the Study UK Education Fair in Bangkok and is the first openly gay brand ambassador for laundry detergent brand OMO. In partnership with OMO, Kanatip has produced one million free English course DVDs which are given to all purchasers of the brand's products.
He credits his studies at Essex for shaping his successful career: "Each of us has different roots, education backgrounds and places that make us who we are today. For me I would say the UK is definitely the most important crucible that makes me who I am today."
The British Council Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education. Last year we had the highest number of finalists shortlisted outside the Russell Group.
This year the British Council received 1,700 alumni applications in total from 125 countries representing 140 british higher education Institutes.