Teach Abroad - Thailand, Teach Abroad Programs

Chalk Dust on My Trousers; Observations from a Teacher in Thailand

by Paul Hoffman, Greenheart Travel Teach Abroad Participant in Thailand

After perusing all of the Pre-Departure Orientation Material from Greenheart Travel and the Teach in Thailand Newsletters before coming to Thailand, I only packed one pair of jeans and a few “docker” style slacks for teaching.  All the dockers I brought are dark color.  Nice going Paul!  Dark colored clothing shows chalk dust big time!  A nice little tidbit to pass on to upcoming teachers – bring clothes that are less likely to show chalk dust. Some of my classrooms have chalk-boards, some have white-boards (which end up causing red, black, or blue marker stains on my fingers) and some of my classrooms have electronic smart-boards that only unlock their mysterious workings to a technically advanced Thai student.  Thank goodness they know how to turn the smart-boards on.

When I first learned that I would be responsible for coming up with my own curriculum and lesson plans, I was very nervous.  I’ve never taught English as a second language before and I don’t have a teaching background, so you can understand why I freaked out a little when I found out that I would be coming up with the material.  But you know, it’s really not so bad.  There are plenty of topics to choose from and the Internet has thousands of websites that have lesson plans available.  With a little digging and thinking, I have made an extensive list of topics and potential lesson plans.  Plus, there was a valuable piece of advice given during our teacher training sessions during orientation:  Keep It Simple!!  That is so true!  Keep it simple and the students will learn and they will be more likely to speak English the classroom.  I want them to SPEAK.  If it’s too easy or simple for a given class, you can make it more difficult right there and then by adding more vocabulary words or by introducing a more advanced idea.  Continuing on from last week’s theme, Here’s a few more Thailand observations / revelations / hilarity’s:

photo from OnMyWayTo from Creative Commons

* Before adding hot boiling water to the “cup – o – noodles” be sure to dig around in the dry noodles and find the spice packet and pull it out and open it and pour it in!  I know, it sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve learned the hard way….

* I was totally intrigued with all the little chalk lines around my electrical outlets, door frames, windows, and floor boards in my apartment… why are they there??  Who ever would have thought it’s to keep the little ants from coming and going as they please!

* Karaoke is a national sport in Thailand!  People sing and dance like they are stars themselves – it’s amazing!  It even happens on a public bus at 9am that is zooming through the countryside that is carrying people that have never met before… unbelievable.

* When someone gives you cooked rice with coconut milk inside a bamboo branch, find a hammer! (I must admit that kow lam {or kow lan} is really good and in a pinch I’ve used the leg of a chair to open it)

* As teacher, you must remember that repeating yourself over and over in class doesn’t mean that the students get it.  Also, your English words are not understood perfectly when you say them a little louder.

photo from Creative Commons courtesy of Isma Monfort

* Socks should be outlawed in Thailand!  They are too hot!

* Every time I see a bottle of Hong Thong for sale, I think about that song by Sisqo from 2000.  (you may have to think about that one)

* And finally, what is up with the flattened pig’s face / head in the market??  I thought they were a joke when I first saw them!  Are they made out of wax?  No, I think they are real.  What do people do with them??!!  After a day of work, you walk in the house and your partner says:  “Welcome home Hon, tonight we’re having pig face soup for dinner – yum, yum!”

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s