Categories
thailand

Teaching in Thailand Part II

IMG_6501.jpg

We are now on the third week of class. Each week there is a predetermined topic to base lessons around. The first week was “orientation,” the second week was “school,” and the third week is “body parts.” In addition to teaching them English, I also teach English math and English science. When I am not teaching, they are either in Thai class, Thai science class, at the playground, eating lunch or taking a nap. I also teach an art period and a “movement” period (which is basically PE but mostly dancing along to English songs for kids).

IMG_7152

Each week I prepare worksheets, phonics flashcards (for both the letter of the week and for the topic of the week vocabulary), at least one game/activity, several videos to show and an art project. The best part of lesson planning by far is when I get to color a worksheet/picture for an example for the students. I am grateful for the freedom I have within the curriculum to choose what worksheets and other resources I use especially now that I have accessed their English skills. There are actually big differences in knowledge between classes of the same grade here- possibly due to the frequent turnover in teachers at this school.

As the semester moves forward the students are not only improving their English but also becoming more comfortable with me as their teacher and in turn becoming more confident in their speaking. Last week a student was able to communicate to me exactly something that happened between two other students in the class (one pushed the other) and that was a great feeling to share that understanding. There have been a few moments so far where things didn’t go as I planned such as a certain activity not working out as well as I had hoped but the students are so funny and always immediately raising my spirits with their positive energy.

I am learning a lot from the students and hopefully they are learning a lot from me and we’re all having fun doing it so far!

Categories
thailand

Ko Phangan

IMG_7116.jpg

The second place I visited on this trip was the island of Ko Phangan. I flew from up North in Chiang Mai to the South of Thailand. It is located next to the popular island Ko Samui. I had to fly into Surat Thani airport and then take a combination of a bus and a ferry ride to get to the island. Once there it was really easy to get around since it is a somewhat small island.

I stayed at Sea Love Bungalows which are cute little bungalows located directly on a beach. They had a restaurant and bar located right in the center of all the bungalows in addition to a beach volleyball/badminton net and games plus free rafts and paddle boarding, and beach umbrellas and cushions. It was the perfect carefree atmosphere I was hoping for on this getaway.

IMG_7105

There were a lot of cheap food places within walking distance. One place I went for breakfast interestingly added French fries to their dish labeled “American breakfast.” Here are a few photos of some other dishes I tried.

The best part of the stay here was a trip to a different beach on the North side of the island. I took a taxi and then a taxi boat to get there since it is only accessible by water. Consequently, it was much more secluded than many of the other beaches on the island, bearing only one small bungalow resort. It was quiet, relaxing and extremely beautiful.

IMG_7121

Categories
thailand

Elephant Nature Park

IMG_6929.jpg

Elephant Nature Park is mainly a sanctuary for elephants but they also have dogs, cats, buffaloes and many other animals they have rescued. We were told during our visit that they have around 70 elephants and that their oldest elephant at the sanctuary is 100 years old. Additionally, they make sure to educate their visitors about the plight of elephants in Thailand.

You’ve probably heard about elephants being treated poorly in Thailand. I did and that’s why I did my research to find a sanctuary to support rather than a camp where elephants are trained, tortured and generally mistreated.

IMG_6954.jpg
Our tour guide, Mike, with his favorite elephant, Kaboo.

Our tour guide, Mike, was very passionate and knowledgeable about elephants. He showed us an elephant that had no hair on her back due to the saddle on which tourists rode her before she was rescued. He also showed us an elephant that had a misshaped head due to being beaten with hooks during training by its previous owners. Another elephant had a deformed foot from stepping on a land mine before its rescue. While these things were absolutely difficult to see, it was comforting and completely reassuring seeing the proper love and care they are now given at ENP.

IMG_6946

Here is a few more details about this from ENP’s website:

“They are forced to walk on hot tarmac roads by gangs of elephant owners and beg for fruit and food. The owner often buys the elephant purely to obtain begging money from sympathetic passers by. As he has scant experience with animal training, the hapless creature is cruelly treated and beaten as the rider becomes impatient. In the city the animal cannot possibly get the 200-300 kg of food and 100-200 litres of water necessary for it’s daily nourishment so it plods the hot polluted streets, thirsty hungry and confused. These animals quickly suffer from stress through polluted air, poor diet, dehydration, loneliness and their sensitive ears are soon damaged. Much of the fruit purchased from local sellers has been treated with chemicals and causes serious stomach problems and eventually death.

Other forms of, less apparent abuse come in the form of pet baby elephants featured at hotels and entertainment complexes. Although the animals may seem happy enough they are invariably fed the wrong diet, suffer from loneliness and boredom and will soon die. Many unwitting tourists, delighted at the sight of a “cute” baby elephant, are completely unaware that the lifespan of the creature is likely to be only a few years.”

I love that at ENP, the caretakers are extremely compassionate and attentive to the needs of the elephants and that the elephants get to relax and roam freely all day.

IMG_6887

On our visit, we got to help feed the elephants one of their many daily meals. We fed them watermelon, cucumbers and other fruit.

GPTempDownload.jpg

We also helped them cool off in a river at the sanctuary by splashing them with buckets of water.

IMG_6907

This was definitely an experience I will remember for the rest of my life!

Categories
thailand

Chiang Mai Festivities

IMG_6878.jpg

For my week off after summer camp and before the semester begins, Chiang Mai was my first stop. I stayed at a place called “Poi De Ping Guesthouse” and it was one of the nicest and cleanest places I’ve stayed so far while in Thailand. Since it is located slightly outside the city center, it was extremely affordable adding up to a total of only $40 for 4 nights for 2 people. So it was only $5/night for each person!

Our second day in Chiang Mai happened to be on a Sunday, which is the day of a large night market down Ratchadamnoen Road. We went into the city early and spent the morning at Wat Chedi Luang, which is a Buddhist temple that has a program called “monk chat” where you can sit down with the monks and ask them any questions you can think of about their lifestyle, beliefs, etc. It was beautiful!

Then we walked around the town a little bit and enjoyed a fresh coconut, which are for sale on almost every block. We ate some food (Pad Thai) and explored the town some more and grabbed a drink (Thai iced tea) near the market to watch all the vendors begin setting up their tents and tables.

IMG_6855.jpg

Finally, around 6p.m. the market started to get crowded so we walked the length of the street in awe of how much was for sale and how cheap it all was. They had anything from fruit smoothies to musical instruments to t-shirts to fancy soaps for sale. There were some musicians performing for the crowd as well.

On Monday, we visited an elephant sanctuary called Elephant Nature Park but that will be it’s own upcoming post!

On Tuesday, we took a taxi to Mae Sa Waterfall, which is inside a national park in North Chiang Mai. The ride from our guesthouse was only about a half hour but the scenery was completely different. We went from an urban landscape to a straight up jungle basically. It was a very dense forest surrounding the path up the 10 level waterfall. In some places there were no steps so it was more of a hike up some rocks as well in certain areas. It was also extremely buggy because that comes with the humid territory here in Thailand. However, we did manage to climb up all 10 levels and each view was better than the next. It usually costs 100 baht to enter but we went so early in the morning (to avoid crowds) that there wasn’t even anyone around to collect the fee and we were almost the only people on the path the entire time. This was really nice because we were able to take in all the sights and sounds of the park without any distractions from the outside world.

This was a really cool used book store (pictures weren’t allowed inside) and this is one more photo from Wat Chedi Luang.

Categories
thailand

Teaching Kindergarten Part I

IMG_6760.JPG
Here I am with my Co-teachers Ploy and Pou.

I work at a school that has students from pre-k up to 6th grade. I teach a kindergarten class of 33 students. Here they separate kindergarten into K1 and K2 so there are two years of it. I am teaching in the K1 year so they are fresh out of preschool and around 4 or 5 years old. I don’t have much previous experience with kids except for a program I volunteered at as a sophomore in college at my park district. There I was an assistant for an after school program for kindergarteners.

IMG_6759
nap time!

The first big difference here is the language barrier. There is a Thai teacher and a Thai assistant in the classroom with me. The Thai teacher I currently have speaks incredibly good English and helps me understand what the kids are saying sometimes (it’s usually them telling me about toys they have at home which I think is pretty adorable). She also gives them Thai lessons and has helped me get my footing in the classroom and taught me a lot about the routine the kids are used to. The Thai assistant mostly works on discipline with the kids and she is very good at that and keeping them focused.

IMG_6693
Lunch time!

For the last two weeks, I have been working as a part of their summer camp program. There is one half of a week left and then there will be a week and a half off until the actual semester begins. During that time, I will be going on another mini vacation so get ready for a lot of photos and eventually a blog post about it! (That post probably won’t be timely seeing as the semester begins almost immediately once I return). During this camp, I haven’t had to plan very many activities but have been more of an assistant helping out with planned activities, observing and getting to know my students.

IMG_6659
Story time!

When the semester starts, I will be planning all my own worksheets, activities, etc. but there is a set list of topics for each week. The first two weeks just say orientation so those topics are somewhat up to me but the rest of the semester the weekly topics are more specific like shapes and colors, body parts, the five senses, food, etc. Additionally, there is one letter we are supposed to work on each week beginning with A. I am at school from 8am-4pm and when I am not teaching, like during their lunch and naptime, I have office hours to work on classroom plans for the week.

IMG_6704
Play time!

The kids all have “English” nicknames some of which are funny since they’re random English words instead of names (i.e. Nail, Dream, Brownie, Focus) or a lot of the time not even words in English (i.e. Pood Pard, Cha-aim, Taff). It’s been a nice introduction to the school during this camp. I have learned that we really need to supply our own paper or risk being unprepared for class when the office runs out. I have met around 10 other English teachers at the same school that are from the U.S. and England. It’s also already really easy to see which kids behave during class and which cause a lot of problems in the classroom. I’ve also noticed there are a few kids in my class who need extra help with writing and aren’t used to holding a pencil properly yet, however, most of them can and can write fairly quickly.

IMG_6691
This is a different class I helped out in since they haven’t found a teacher for this class yet.

I’m happy to say I’ve finally learned all of their names and they’ve learned mine as well. I’ve also gotten to practice some explanations so I can improve how I phrase things reminding myself I’m not only speaking to kindergarteners but also in a language they’re not accustomed to. I’ve seen what sorts of activities and videos work with them and what happens when you don’t hold their attention. I’m preparing for a lot of repetition, songs and educational games.

Did I mention how CUTE my class is???????