Teaching in Thailand Part III

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This post is just an update about some of the topics I’ve been covering with my students and some of the activities I’ve really enjoyed. Last Friday we made Mother’s Day cards since Mother’s Day in Thailand is August 12.

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We’ve covered one letter a week so this week we are on Letter N. I’ve begun adding their names to the phonics for that letter so every student whose name begins with N will be sounded out, written out and repeated by the class. They all laugh when this happens but they seem to enjoy the lesson more.

Some of the recent topics I’ve covered have included colors and shapes, five senses, my home, safety first, healthy food, fruits and vegetables, Thai/western culture, Mother’s Day and this week is seasons.

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For the topic of “Seasons,” I had to ask what exactly they meant by that because in the U.S. specifically Midwest, we have four seasons (summer, spring, fall, winter) but here in Thailand they really only have two (wet and hot). It is currently the wet season. Sometimes that can mean cooler temperatures during a storm but most days I’ve been here it has still been extremely hot temperatures. Similar to the week of Thai/Western culture, they wanted me to do a little bit of both. The main vocab words are “season,” “winter,” “spring,” “rains,” and “summer.”

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The last few topics of the semester I will be covering in the rest of my time here will include trees, flowers, “butterfly,” weather, “enjoy with numbers” and finally “project.”

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I’ve also still been teaching my non- English program classes as well. I see two classes each once a week focusing specifically on speaking and listening (they call it “English for Communication”). Since I only see them once a week for one hour, it is difficult for them to remember what we learned so it’s a lot of repeating and reviewing.

A usual class session with these students starts with me having an individual conversation with each student where their classmates listen until it’s their turn. Then I will attempt to have two students stand up and talk to each other although this usually includes a lot of help from both their Thai teacher and myself.

Example of what point we’ve reached thus far:

Me: Hello (waving)

Student: Hello (waving)

Me: How are you?

Student: I am happy/good/okay.

Me: What is your name?

Student: My name is _________.

Me: Nice to meet you.

Student: Nice to meet you.

Me: Goodbye. (waving)

Student: Goodbye/bye-bye. (waving)

Next week I am going to introduce them to handshakes during the “nice to meet you” section and intro the response of “nice to meet you too.” I take very small steps with them since these few classes they’ve had with me are their first ever English classes whereas my homeroom class have been in the English program for one year already and I know a few of them have tutors outside of school to help them with their English and a few also attend a Saturday school program at the school here.

I also always play songs and videos for these non EP program classes since they don’t have internet or a video projector in their classrooms and I like to make it as fun as possible for them.

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Ko Chang

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This weekend was a long weekend due to Mother’s Day, which in Thailand is on August 12. On Friday we made Mother’s Day cards at school and then Friday evening I embarked on a trip to Ko Chang. It’s a longer journey than I’ve taken by van previously so I split up the trip by staying overnight one night in Chantaburi and then continuing to the Trat ferry pier in the morning. The ferry goes from Trat to the island of Ko Chang. Then a taxi truck took me to Chang Park Resort, which I had booked through booking.com. (Use this referral link for $25 off- https://www.booking.com/s/34_6/cnc93081 )

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Ko Chang was larger and less touristy than Ko Samet. However, perhaps due to the holiday or it being an off-season, a lot of shops and restaurants were closed down. That being said, there were still many worthwhile places open and within walking distance.

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Since I’ve been here around 5 months now, I’ve finally started to become a little bored with Thai food so I indulged in greek salad and pasta to change it up a bit. The cacio de pepe I ordered at an Italian place was TO DIE FOR. It was honestly better than what I had in Rome and it’s a traditional Roman dish. The owner is from Milan and decorated his cozy little restaurant with antique and vintage items for an old-fashioned décor.

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The resort was almost deserted with the exception of a few families. I expected it to be pretty crowded so it was a nice surprise that it was fairly secluded. There were always beach and pool chairs available even during the beautiful sunset. The pool bar wasn’t overpriced either. 120 baht for a cocktail is a great price especially considering you’re right on the beach.

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The resort also had a lot of pets including 4 black cats some of which would always follow you up the stairs and were very friendly. The dogs were friendly as well but kept more to themselves than the cats. My personal rule in Thailand is to only pet animals with a collar and even then approach quite slowly so as to not startle them. There are a lot of strays everywhere since they don’t neuter them here.

Ko Samet

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I have been very fortunate with the amount of paid holidays this semester since we had another 3 day weekend July 28-30. This time I visited a small island that took about 5 hours to get to by van and ferry. Ko Samet is a very small island that can be either very expensive or fairly affordable depending how you travel. For example, the ferry took about 20 minutes and had a pretty view but they also offered a speedboat option, which cost double the price of the ferry. They had a 20 baht entry fee for everyone just to enter the pier (but 20 baht is less than $1 USD so it’s not a big deal).

It was extremely crowded since it was a holiday weekend so I definitely saved a lot of money by booking a place to stay ahead of time. The hostel I stayed at was called Samed Thanee. They were the cheapest option I could find with wifi and AC included. It was very nice and clean but on the opposite side of the island from the good beaches, however you can drive there on a rental scooter easily in 10 minutes or less. The plus side of this location was that it was very quiet at night since it was pretty far away from all the touristy bars and party hostels.

There were also lots of food choices for about 150 baht on average but I managed to find meals for 60 baht since this was the end of the month and I had a very low budget. I also went to the beach early enough in the day that I didn’t have to pay the 200 baht they normally charge foreigners since the good beaches are located inside a national park.

The first beach I went to was called Ao Prao and it was fairly empty which was surprising considering that there are resorts located directly on the road on this beach. There were tree swings, which were fun to relax in the shade on especially since it was an extremely hot and sunny day. There was some trash which is a problem with a lot of the beaches I’ve visited around this area of Thailand but they at least have workers picking it up and have signs put up that ask tourists not to litter.

I stopped at one more beach that was next to Ao Prao (not sure of the name of this one) but this beach had very soft, white sand so it was very beautiful as long as you kept your eyes open for broken glass around the entrance. Overall, it was definitely an enjoyable weekend getaway with gorgeous views!

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Bangkok Part II & III

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Part II:

This time around I took the train from Chachoengsao to Bangkok to attempt to bypass the traffic I’d inevitably run into on the highway on a Friday evening. The train was moving very…let’s say…leisurely but it’s very old so it most likely can’t run any faster. All the windows are left open with just a few ceiling fans to cool the passengers. It was fairly crowded but it only costs 13 baht so you can’t find anything cheaper. The view was pretty interesting since in between the cities is mostly rural area and some very poor living conditions.

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I had to then transfer to the BTS to get to the hostel. It was located near Silom road. I tried Thailand tacos at Sunrise Tacos. It was average and pretty pricey since you’re mostly paying for the comfort of the food and not the actual quality of it. However, they did have endless tortilla chips with about 8 different salsas.

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The next day I visited Siam Center, which is a huge mall with stores as upscale as Balenciaga and Dolce & Gabbana but also included more affordable options such as H&M and Uniqlo. It had 6 stories of shops so it was easy to spend the better part of a day inside especially when I found a bookstore with a big selection of English books!

Part III:

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This time around I stayed near Khao San Road, which I had read is very backpacker heavy. It turns out it is even more of a tourist trap than I had expected. It was very much a party area which is alright if that’s what you’re looking for but even so it was overcrowded, overpriced and overrated. It just so happens anyway that I am on a little break from drinking so this was truly the worst place to go during sober times.

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I don’t look very happy here but I am! I bought this cool shirt from a street vendor

I stayed on the street parallel to Khao San thinking it would be a bit more quiet like the reviews online suggested but instead ended up unwillingly staying up until about 4am due to bars blasting music and extremely thin hostel windows.

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As much as I love Thai food, I eat it everyday for every meal here in Chachoengsao so when I go to Bangkok I like to order things I can’t get where I live. I ate a Greek salad, which was delicious by all means but also triple the price I usually pay for a meal. The worst part about this was all the salesmen who would not stop pestering me while I’m trying to enjoy my meal. They continuously offered scorpions on a stick, handmade bracelets, fidget spinners and more while I tried to wave them away with a mouthful full of salad.

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The best part of the trip was actually breakfast because I found a place with American breakfast and it was really refreshing. (Until another salesman came up and I had to ask him if he wants me to try to sell him sunglasses during his breakfast haha).

Wai Kru/Teacher’s Day

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A few of us blinked at the wrong time unfortunately.

Excerpt from Asia Pacific International University’s website(http://www.apiu.edu/2016-news/wai-kru-day-in-appreciation-of-all-teachers-mentors) :

“Teacher’s Day around the world is celebrated in honor of teachers. Unique to Thailand, Wai Kru Day, or Teacher’s Day, celebrates and honors not only teachers in the classroom but all who contribute to sharing wisdom including parents, religious leaders, relatives, and friends. Celebrated on the first Thursday at the start of every academic year, Wai Kru Day is marked by the giving of “paan” and flower garlands in honor of educators. Wai Kru is an integral part of Thai culture and fosters a deep appreciation for wisdom and education within the cultural traditions of Thailand.”

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At the school I teach at, each grade had their own Teacher’s Day assembly. Since I teach Kindergarten, I attended the ceremony for pre-K through K2. We had a rehearsal for this occasion a few days before so the students would know what’s expected of them.

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I sat on the stage with both American and Thai teachers while the students sang some songs. Then each class would have 2 students (one boy and one girl) carry flower arrangements up to the stage and present them to the school’s director. They were each collected and displayed on the stage.

 

All of the speaking at the assembly was in Thai but it was an honor and a fun experience to be apart of even so (especially after only teaching here for a few months so far). The kids seemed to really enjoy it as well. One of my students brought me a handmade flower garland, which I believe her mother made.

Teaching in Thailand Part II

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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).

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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!