On the bus to Khao Yai. After one of the most exhausting weeks in recent memory, we have left the sanctuary of the JL Bangkok, and we are onto the next adventure. The three week course with American TESOL Institute was intensive and actually prepared me for the coming semester more that I thought would be possible in such a short time. This last week, Tuesday through Friday, was all practice teaching at school nearby. This meant that each day after class we were given a time slot, an age group, and a topic, and we had to plan our lessons accordingly. In the morning, dressed in our “teacher clothes” (skirts and blouses for the ladies, suit pants and nice shirts for the boys), we would board buses that would take us to our classes for the day, and we would observe the other trainees in our groups, writing out feedback for later. Once everyone had taught, we would get back on the buses, go back to the hotel, and lesson plan for the next day. It was exhausting, but also rewarding and it gave me a much better idea of what I’m getting myself into.
Tuesday I was with the wee ones – a class of twelve 2 and 3 year olds. Tara and I were paired up which was good, because at that age you’re really mostly babysitting in English, not teaching it. However, we put up a noble fight to teach them a few fruits, and I was rewarded by the sound of a tiny voice at recess after our class calling out “mango mango mango!” from the playground. Even at that age however, it was incredible to see the beginnings of comprehension.
Wednesday I was paired with Tiffany, and we taught a more extensive lesson about world travel to some hyper-intelligent 8 year olds at an international school. They had a really astounding grasp on the English language, and they were all so excited to learn. A few girls kept their hands up for the entirety of class, even when we weren’t asking questions, because in case we did, they wanted to be the first ones to answer. We were asked by a good chunk of the class at the end if we would come back and teach them every day.
Thursday I was with Tara again as we took on some older students – 15 to 17 year olds. The school was a vocational school for 7 Eleven workers, and we were meant to go over some listening and speaking skills in the context of apologizing. This was a little harder lesson to get through, because these high schoolers were very much beginners with the English language. Though it was very clear they wanted to learn – wrinkled brows, diligent note taking, and silently shaping each words after we said it – it was still very difficult for them to comprehend very much of the lesson. Knowing this was important for planning the lesson the following day.
Friday we were at a different 7 Eleven school, with about the same age group and comprehension level, but I was teaching on my own for the first time! I went over reading skills in the context of advertising, and I felt very good about how the lesson went over. I had to adapt to the class a lot, having them repeat words more often, and going to each group to make sure they could read their answers aloud, but by the end of the class, I felt like I had maybe made a little difference, though I don’t know how much of the lesson the students retained. Either way, I feel much more prepared to take on my high schoolers in a couple weeks!
Which reminds me. Just after my last post I found out about my school placement! Daniel and I have both been placed at Klaeng Wittayasathaworn School in Rayong Province. Ashley is at a different school about 20 minutes away. Rayong Province is about 2 ½ – 3 hours away from Bangkok, Southeast, near the beach. We are very excited. Klaeng is a very small district, so it looks like there will not be a whole lot of night life, but I think I can deal with being a beach bum for the next 5 months.