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Thursday, November 4, 2010

"My grass is leaking"

Now that I've got a better handle on what my role as teacher will be, I thought I would give you an update on my life in the classroom.  I'm working with the 7th (M1) and 9th (M3) graders at Sa-nguan Ying School, and wow are they cute.  First of all, their names. They all have nicknames to make it easier for the poor folks like myself that could never pronounce their Thai names, and some of them are just extra special, here's a small sample: Arm, Nine, Eye, Donut, Cartoon, Ping Pong, Dream, Mean, Air, Champ and Wow.  I'm not sure how or when they chose these nicknames, but I'm thankful that they have them!

I'm teaching the students Reading & Writing and Fundamental English - which is primarily focused on listening and speaking English.  I spend a lot of time with my students working on pronunciation - something which I previously thought was no big deal - but it has surprised me how important it is to focus on.  Some common problem sounds/words for Thai speakers are the words that end in -ce, -se, or -x - since word endings are usually dropped in the Thai language.  They also have a very hard time with the letter "R", convenient because my name is Sarah, so I've become either Sarah with a rolling R or "Salah" - which is appropriate given there was also no R in the Zulu language of South Africa so I went by a similar name when I studied abroad in Cape Town.  Salah it is.

I've experienced some great success in my lessons and also some epic fails - sometimes with the same lesson to a different class of students.  I'm continually amazed at how much work goes into my lesson plans - I spend all day when I'm not teaching researching teaching styles and methods and then I spend most nights developing lesson plans - I have so much more respect than I already did for all of my teachers! I will definitely have my work cut out for me in teaching both my M1 and M3 students to write, last week I asked them to write one sentence for each of the 10 vocabulary words we had learned in class, 6 of the 16 students decided not to do the homework (this is typical in Thai education) and those that did turned in some very interesting work.  Here's a sample of their sentences:
  • My grass is leaking.
  • My essential thing is study.
  • Paper boat is flating on water in the boat have a duck.
So...while grading papers is extremely entertaining, it also makes me realize that I have quite the challenge ahead of me!  My Thai co-teacher told me after class that I really had to stress that they turn in their homework, she said, "I told them in Thai: Do your homework or I will cut your skull."  Um, thanks?

Other than lesson plans and grading, the school has been very welcoming to their foreign teachers, this week they had a welcome ceremony before classes for all of the new teachers.  I had to make a short speech in front of all of the faculty and staff and the 2,600+ students.  I kept it short and sweet but also mixed in my "nidnoi Thai" (little Thai).  "Sawatdee Ka, Chan chue Sarah, chan ma jak America, I teach M1 and M3 in the English Program."  The speech was met with resounding applause...well, kind of! I also received a bouquet of white roses and a school pin from the Director.  Today the teachers spent the whole day in a conference on Challenge Based Learning, complete with group activities and what I would call the Thai version of "Buddy Walkers" (my Sunset Point Camp friends will understand). Tonight, the English Program is having its welcome dinner for Nell and I, we've been forewarned that there will be karaoke, of course, so I guess I should go warm up my voice! 

My flowers and school pin! 
Single file entrance to school every day
Morning Assembly
Raising the flag: Morning Assembly video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX6DTFj7sqI

1 comment:

  1. What song are the kids singing in the video? National anthem?


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