Two Weeks Gone
Last weekend, we had our very own Thai style labor-day weekend, well, except we didn’t get the Monday off. We decided to take a group trip to hike Pala-U waterfall. It was an eventful hike consisting of me falling on my ass on four different occasions. Crossing the creeks and running water on slippery boulders in my running Nike shoes was NOT easy. It was beautiful though and we felt like we were in the Tarzan movie.
Something special happened one night this week. A group of us, a few fellow teachers and myself, have found a “Thai mom” here in the city of Hua Hin. She is an adorable petite older lady who owns a fantastic Vietnamese/Thai restaurant. She loves big hugs, taking pictures and feeding us until we are stuffed. We will be visiting her as many nights as possible until we leave Hua Hin. She is amazing.
The vibe has most definitely changed this week, but in a good way! Monday (9/7) marked the first day of our intense TESOL/ESL training. Our main focus this week in training has been preparing speaking based lesson plans, while also learning about Thai culture in the classroom and understanding how to tailor our lessons to different English proficiency levels and age groups. We jumped right into things on Tuesday (9/8) where we had to present our speaking based lesson plans to our fellow teachers also taking the course. We each covered a different topic/theme and centered our English teaching based on speaking skills and conversational skills. After receiving feedback, we had to present our lessons again to our peers to then practice classroom management and behavioral issues. Several of us had to act as Thai students during each of our peers’ lessons in order to practice different methods of classroom management. This is something I have done plenty of times in my own teaching experience back home, but oh my gosh… nothing, and I mean NOTHING could prepare me for the Thai classroom.
This week was meant to not only help prepare us for our future teaching placements but also to prepare us for a FULL day of English teaching in SIX different Thai classrooms at a local Hua Hin government school on Friday (9/11). While I was given younger primary classes, others in my training were given upper primary/middle school classes. Regardless, I think everyone had an interesting, loud and sweaty experience.
Let’s break this down…
SIX different 1st & 2nd Thai classes – back to back (lunch break halfway) –
SIX 60-minute English lessons X about 35-40 Thai students per class (roughly 230 kiddos altogether) with barely any English proficiency all while sweating profusely since air conditioning is non-existent in most schools.
It was nothing short of pure CRAZY, but it was also nothing short of AWESOME. Getting the chance to immerse myself in the Thai classroom for the day was such an incredible experience. The day was only just a part of our training but wow; I am now even more eager, anxious and excited for my very own Thai class! Yes, having to deal with the utter chaos of the kids thinking they had a free day because they had six different “substitute teachers” teaching them English ALL day long (while their Thai teachers were enjoying their own free day), definitely caused a bump in my classroom management skills and technique… but oh well! I had SO much fun letting go of my concern and expectations for what a classroom should always be like, because the truth is, there is no way a Thai classroom will ever be like the classrooms back home and it is truly refreshing!
The important thing to remember is that kids are kids no matter where you are in the world. Their smiles and laughs are infectious and their excitement towards learning brightens up any dreary day. Even though there is this awkward language barrier and it can be extremely difficult to communicate throughout the lesson at times, it is OK and is essentially why I am here! Overall, I think I am ready for this new challenge, or as ready as I’ll ever be! Next Friday, we practice teaching English to the high school students all day. God help me.
Today (9/12) we decided to visit a bizarre but very cool place called Monkey Mountain. Up at the top there is a gorgeous temple and some amazing colorful architecture and casually thousands of monkeys. The monkeys are absolutely adorable but can get pretty wild and aggressive. They are clearly used to having humans around and getting food from them. If you do feed them, understand that you will be swarmed. It made me nervous watching my friends get swarmed so I decided to feed them in a gentler manner. Most of the monkeys were very cute, especially the little babies holding onto their mamas. It was definitely one of my favorite things we have done so far!