Hua Hin…day 16, 17,18 and 19
Aaah, finally I have time to chat to you guys. It has been a rather busy couple days here with camp and lesson planning and homework and as such I haven’t been able to sit down with my laptop and come up with a lovely post for you guys. But I have now found some alone time and will attempt to fill you in on the last couple days.
So it all started on day 16 (which was a Thursday) when we woke at 5:45am in order to be ready in our smart work outfits for our lift at 6:45. However things had not gone as planned the day before, as once we finally finished school and were able to get to the shopping centre we discovered that we were too late and all the printing shops had already closed. For myself and many others this meant that a great deal of our lesson plan would have to change, we needed to either adapt our worksheets into some sort of activity or board work for the students or just come up with a completely new plan. I decided to adapt my worksheet into a sort of team activity in which students would be required to do work on the white board and have to write down sentences in their workbooks, however some (the brave ones) decided to trace out and draw their worksheets (some numbered about 60 worksheets) and so for them it was a rather late night haha. After chatting to our instructor about our predicament we learnt that situations like these are common in not only the teaching field but in Thailand in general, he told us about a number of situations where he had planned 6 lessons worth of work and upon arriving at school was told, “No no, why are you here? You don’t have any lessons day, we decided to cancel them.” On a separate occasion he was told on a Friday after school that he now needed to prepare 3 lesson plans for the lessons he was meant to take the next day (yes a Saturday). It seems in Thailand that they like to keep people on their toes and live life to the last second, and believe me on many occasions this is a very irritating trait. Anyway back to the lesson planning, after adapting my plans to not involve worksheets I was almost ready for ready for class. We set out to the local shop to purchase some tennis balls and sweets (bribes for the kids), we were using the balls to act as indicators for whose turn it was to ask and answer questions.
Once we arrived at school at about 7:10am we had about an hour in which we could prepare last minute things and go over lesson plans and make sure everything was in order and ready. During this time we were also told in which classes we would be teaching and which classes we would be observing (when we weren’t teaching we are meant to be observing). Our first lesson began at 8:30am, we were teaching P4 (roughly 9 years old) and our topic for the day was Morning Routine. With our nervous butterflies creating mayhem in our stomachs we entered the first class, there were about 18 students with a mixture of boys and girls. It went well from the start, we went through the greeting ritual with the class and then began our lesson. We began by introducing them to our theme (morning routine) and our vocab words, they did really well with all the vocab and the majority of them were able to say the words in the correct manner. Our vocab words were:
Now although these seem really easy, there were a number of students who battled with the pronunciation of certain words, words such as; Breakfast, school, brush and wash were particularly difficult for them. Thai people have difficulty saying sounds such as “sh” and “th” and in most cases they just seem to ignore these letters and sounds so words like brush become bruu and wash becomes waa, this not only makes it difficult to understand them but also to know when to congratulate/be positive about their English (as they are still saying the correct word, their pronunciation is just wrong). However through a lot of repetition we were able to get them to pronounce these words correctly (although it will probably only last for the lesson) and some could even use them in a sentence.
Helping to educate the young P4’s of Thailand
Following our first successful lesson we immediate moved across the hall to our next class, the P6’s (roughly 11 years old). Now these kids were extremely well behaved, they stood when we entered the classroom and remained standing until the end of the good morning ritual. On a side note, the manners and respect of these kids towards teachers is amazing. The kids (no matter of age) all bow and say hello to every teacher, our P6’s even said thank you every time we made them stand up and sit down for activities. It creates a very warm feeling to be so appreciated and respected, but this also applies a lot of pressure on teachers to be the perfect roll-models (both in and out of school). But back to my lesson, so we went through the same routine and process as the lesson before but this time we increased the difficulty and length of the sentence. Many of the students were able to complete and say the sentences with a little guidance from us as teachers, however there one or two students who were very bright and could say all the vocab and complete all the sentences without any assistance from us. It was nice to see these students attempting to help their friends out when they did not know the answer, they would quietly whisper the answer into their friends’ ear, or repeat the question to their friends in Thai. Although technically this is cheating as long as they finally spoke in English we don’t really mind how they get to the answer haha. The gap between the p4’s and the P6’s was quite substantial for them being only a year apart in age, but we were told that this gap is common and that in many cases this gap in ability can be found even within classes. However, we still found this class to be really fun and clever, they partook in all the activities and completed all the work. They especially loved the broken telephone game we played to end off the class haha.
Helping the P6’s with sentence work
We then moved onto our last class for the day, the P2’s. Now these students are about 6 years old so as you can imagine the word attention span its self is longer then their actual ability to pay attention haha. Upon walking in we saw immediately that we would have to change the lesson plan to try and make it more activity based in an attempt to control their attention and interest. We decided that we would attempt a couple of the vocab words and were pleasantly surprised by their ability to repeat the words. Many of them however lost interest in repeating the words and instead focused on copying it all down in their notebooks (this isn’t a bad thing but it does take the focus away from speaking which is our main aim). We soon managed to regain their attention though and proceeded to learn all the vocab words, this involved a lot of repetition and copying but in the end was more successful then we imagined. Once the vocab section was complete we got them to draw a three stage comic strip of their morning routine (coincidently ALL their routines are exactly the same as the one we had shown on the board haha). But they really loved this activity and enjoyed colouring it in even more. All in all this class was definitely the most fun for me as a teacher, the kids were cool and funny while still showing some interest in learning haha.
Day 17 started with everyone being rather positive and excited for what was to come, we felt we had a bit more of an understanding for what lay ahead and for that reason the butterflies were vastly diminished. For me the day went rather fast, I spent most of my time between classes taking photos and observing the others teach. I only taught one class the whole day and it went very well, the kids were well behaved and quite intelligent. The theme for the lesson was exercise and of course involved many activities which the kids loved. I would say the their favourite activity was by far our cooler, for this we set up a tenpin bowling type situation (made with water bottles and a tennis ball), the kids would have to step forward and say one of the vocab words from earlier and then they were allowed to bowl and see how many bottles they could knock down. The winners (being the top three) were all given sweets but soon the whole class was crowding around and demanding a sweet each haha. Friday had more positivity in it then I could have imagined when the day began. For on this day Katy and I were told some of the best news yet, we have both been offered jobs!!!! We were in fact offered two jobs and could choose which one we wanted. This was a great feeling for us as it meant that all this work that we have been doing is finally paying off. So the first job we were offered was in a place called Isan which is situated northeast of Bangkok (about an 11hour drive), here we would be teaching high school students (ages 14-18), The second option was at a Christian school in Bangkok located near the main airport, at this school we would be teaching at a primary school level. After being presented with both options we were given 2 hours to make a choice, and so off we went to do some research. We research both areas and both schools and also spoke to a number of the XploreAsia staff who have been here for a number of years as to exactly what the different areas were like to live and teach in. We took all this information and combined it with our own personal requirements and likes and came to the decision that we would take the Bangkok offer. And so we are now going to be working at a school called Marialai school in eastern Bangkok (well in Thai life it is about 98% confirmed, as they say, “nothing is 100% confirmed until you have taught your first lesson at the school haha). This news made our day but also means the search for an apartment is now underway, so if anyone reading this knows of anything in Bangkok please do let me know.
Here are a couple photos of the other teachers in action from the camp:
Teacher Ben and Teacher Andrew teaching a class on sizes
Kids doing an activity
Attempting to get control of everyone
Saturday, again like last week they decided it would be fun to make us come to class on a Saturday morning. As you can imagine although we all attended there was no enthusiasm or excitement this time round haha. Class consisted of going over the last two days of practical teaching and was used to provide feedback and criticism which were are to use when preparing for our kindergarten classes come Monday. During this time we also went through the new project we were given, called the curriculum project. For this project we were meant to come up with 5 lessons plans (which are all linked) which we would use when planning for a semester of teaching. We were split into groups of 4 and each group was given 3 topics and an age group (my group was given music, electronics and hobbies and our age group was P1-3), we were then allowed about 3 hours in which we could work on the project if we wanted in an attempt to minimize the amount of homework. Lucky I had quite a good group and we managed to get 4 out of 6 things complete and this meant that we could take the rest of Saturday off. So we did just that, we (which turned out to be the whole of red group) decided to spend the day by the pool just chilling and having a couple beers in the sun. Now this perhaps wasn’t the greatest idea as a number of people forget to reapply the suntan lotion and as you can picture- when the temperature is in the high 30’s- this did not end well haha. For me though, it was nothing a little after sun couldn’t fix and I am now finally getting my golden tan on haha. The rest of the day went by quite well, it consisted of swimming, tanning, eating, drinking and sleeping so pretty much all my favourite activities in one day.
Sunday was a reasonably slow day as the lucky people were only either sunburnt or hanging while the unlucky people were both hanging and sunburnt haha. The day become a sleep and eat type of day with many people just lying in bed with the air-con on watching movies and series. We of course had to take a quick break from this in order to finish our curriculum assignment, but this went off without a hitch and we were able to get it all done within 2hours.
This one and a half day breather was desperately needed by many of the red team after the busy week we had had previously. We have learnt to cherish these moments of calmness after trying to teach a bunch of 6 year olds haha. I must say however that these past three weeks have a truly incredible time, although at many stages it was stressful and scary together we have managed to come through the other side stronger and much better prepared for what lies ahead of us. I would also like to thank everyone that has supported me through this whole process, both those at home and the new friends I have made here during the course, You are all wonderful people and I’m sure we shall all be friends for many years to come.
Thanks for reading