Posts Tagged With: TEFL teaching

Past tense postcards

This is a really enjoyable consolidation lesson for students who have done a topic on simple past tense verbs (regular and irregular verbs.)

I started the lesson off with a mind map on the board and asked students to put their hands up and tell me all the activities they like to do on holiday! For Thai students sunbathing is a complete nono, they want to keep light coloured skin. Also amongst the suggestions were “Study English, do homework etc” but tried to steer them into vocab such as “make sandcastles, go snorkelling, go swimming.”

 

Then I went round the class and the students took it in turns to change the verbs into past tense. I also reminded them of “It is” becomes “It was.” I then taught the students how to write a simple informal letter – ie a postcard.

Dear Mum and Dad,

Wish you were here!

Miss you.

Lots of Love,

xxxxx

Also explaining that in the UK we use “x” to mean kisses, which sent the class into giggles.

Students wrote full sentences in their books as a mock postcard, then when corrected they copied it onto actual postcards to keep and give to their parents. If they had time they decorated it too. This class also decorated it for homework (without me even asking) and bought them in next lesson to show me and get more stickers!

The first 2 are from the basic level of Year 5 and the rest are from Kings class (advanced.)

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The one below is from Phat, my A*student. He got 100% in all his exams this term. Can you see why? (He doesn’t like colouring, so no pretty pictures but the English is great!)

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Categories: Teaching Thailand- Private School | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memory Lane, back to KCS.

Today I had the day off from my new school (due to the students taking their midterm tests, classes were cancelled.) So because I never had the chance to say goodbye to my students in Khaochaison I decided to go back there for the day!

I was awake at 6am to get the 8am minivan (that didn’t leave till 830) and arrived in KCS at 10am. I’d really missed my babies! My new kids are great, super clever but the ones in KCS were my first students and despite language barriers i felt i had a strong bond with them. They are also younger and hug me more!

So, i arrived in school and as i walked upstairs to the office the students closest to the windows could see me and were shouting out Teacher Zo, looking very confused. After saying hello to everyone in the office I was told the new foreign teacher, Alan, was upstairs teaching my favourite class (2/2 now 3/2) so I went there to be nosey! I completely disrupted his lesson, just walked in and said hi, and the kids eyes popped out of their heads, they all cheered and came running towards me and pretty much bundled me!! When I had recovered I apologised to Teacher Alan about the interruption and introduced myself but he said it was only a makeup class for him being ill so that it was okay and offered to take photos of me and my babies.

One of the cutest girls who was always by my side in school, Namforn, came up to me and said ” Teacher Zo, kit-tung mak mak” with the saddest little face. She was telling me she missed me lots. Throughout the day this happened a lot, and it was difficult to explain to the students, that no there is not going to be 2 teachers, just Teacher Alan and that i was visiting just for the day. They understood eventually and then were asking questions about my new school and Hat Yai!

It was also great to see the other teachers. Teacher Jai and Pen welcomed me with big hugs and wanted to know all about my new life and told me I have to visit again before I go to Australia! I’ve also invited them to come see me in Hat Yai whenever they are about. Teacher Jai mentioned coming back and having a sleepover at hers because she has a new house and her son will soon become a Monk and thats a big ceremony that hopefully I can attend! Teacher Wa took me out for lunch and we caught up too, then Madam joined us for a bit. She critised my choices a lot but wasn’t too rude considering. Then asked me if i had bought her a souvenir from Hat Yai – nope! Inbetween their classes I also briefly caught up with Lee and Nonku and was good to see them too, though they are busy preparing their students for a reading competition next week.

It was great to go back, not much had changed. The goodbye letter I had written to the students telling them I love them was pinned above my desk for them to see and everyone was so excited to see me, its nice to know that I am not forgotten because these students mean so much to me. I’m glad I got to say goodbye and give them all hugs. Since it’s sports day on Wednesday the school also finished early to practice sports, so everyone was having an assembly together and they all waved me off as Teacher Wa drove me to the minivan station! Also a nice end to the day was the driver gave me the coveted front seat next to him (usually reserved for monks or old grannies) and supplied me with chewing gum after a nap!

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Teacher Pen and I

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Me and Mummy Jai!

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Categories: Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swapping small town life for the city!

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I didn’t have any intentions to move town/school and leave my babies and I wasn’t actively looking for a new job. But I do believe everything happens for a reason. The week before last I went to Ao Nang beach, in Krabi, by myself. Since returning from home I was already feeling hemmed in, in Khaochaison and I wanted to do something with the long weekend, so I went away. It was nice and relaxing and whilst there I met a great group of teachers from Hat Yai in the South, about an hour and half from KCS. It made me realise how much I missed having people around, and that if I was being honest with myself I was getting lonely and bored in my small town. I just told myself that the end of term was only 4 months away and that I could stick to it until then.

However something intervened and on Saturday one of the teachers rang me to let me know there was a job going in Hat Yai and to find out if anyone I knew was still looking for a job. A teacher, who had previously lived in Dubai, was struggling to pay her mortgage in the US and so once receiving her pay check had quit the school and moved back to the US. After a brief pause I said I would be interested. I found out lots more about the school and job, and the agency spoke about me and wether I was suitable, and by the afternoon I was offered the job. It was really great news! What was horrible was telling my school goodbye. I thought about telling them a white lie to save face, but in the end I went with the truth, and told them how I love the students, and how the teachers really have been fantastic, but that I was lonely and craving a new challenge. They didn’t like it but I quit, and on sunday my new boss picked me and all my luggage up. Teacher Wa and Mummy Jai came to say goodbye, giving me hugs and making me cry, but Madam was super angry and didn’t say bye to me at all. I felt really bad letting them down, but I decided to be selfish and do this for me…Then I moved into my new apartment in Hat Yai!!

I’m now living on the fourth floor in a place called Bansuan, off of Pekasem road. I’m quite close to most things, and my school is only 15 mins drive on a scooter. I’ve rented a scooter but I’m still a bit nervous on it.. after driving round empty roads, driving on main roads in a city with lights and a tonn of other traffic all beeping and weaving in and out is pretty scary, plus I have no idea where I am going alot! I guess I will learn soon enough though!

Now a bit about my new school. Its called Sriswangvong school, and its a private primary school in the centre. Its very different to Tesaban Khaochaison. For a start the kids are really quite clever. They’ve also been assessed and put into classes relating to their level which helps a lot. The best of the year are put into one class, called Kings class, and these kids are super bright. I asked a Year 5 student yesterday “What do you prefer? Sunshine or Rain?” And his reply was “I prefer sunshine because when it rains there is mud, and I don’t like mud.” I was astounded, think I stood there in shock for a few seconds too long. Wish I could take credit for it, but I’d only just met him..

These clever kids are going to keep me on my toes! Other differences are that there are other foreign teachers, yay! I also have my own Thai assistant, called Ya, who is fab and helps with translating in class. I’m also teaching a lot more. I teach all of Pratom 4,5 and 6. There’s 4 classes in each so 12 classes, but I teach them twice a week so 24 hours. Yes, my workload has doubled! This week was tiring but it’s actually less time at work as once I’ve taught I don’t have to hang around in school, though I will be lesson planning! The last week of every month is also Science week. So I will soon be teaching 6 different science classes. If anyone knows of any good experiments kids will love that don’t blow the classroom up please tell me! I’m looking forward to getting to the know the children properly and having fun with the lessons. I’ve got a curriculum to follow and already have some ideas, now just got to put them in place and get organised. The only thing I’m missing about KCS at the moment are the babies. I never said goodbye, and I wished I could have hugged them (my new kids don’t hug me!) but I know that probably would be more upsetting! I think I will return before I leave Thailand.

On Thursday, after being at the school only 3 days, there was a long assembly for Teachers Day. (Think its Kun Crue in Thai.) Where the students all give flowers to their fave teachers. I wasn’t expecting much, but I actually received some flowers from my students which was cute!

On another note, playing the same “What do you prefer?” game in another class today, I asked a boy if he preferred girls or boys and why. He’s 10 years old and the question mortified him and made the whole class cheer and scream quite enthusiastically in Thai. So that it didn’t mean who they “fancied” I said that I prefer girls because they have pretty hair as an example but that didn’t help this kid. Ya later told me that he’s already beginning his transition into a ladyboy, and because of that if he said girls, the class would call him a liar, but if he said boys the class would go crazy at him admitting the truth anyway. I eventually clicked on to the situation and changed the question, but he later told me when it wasn’t in front of the class that he prefers korean popstars as opposed to Thai ones because they are more handsome, bless him!! I’m sorry for embarrassing you!

I’ve also been busy outside of school! On monday i attended Thai Class, and I’ve been to the cinema with my colleagues to watch Fast and Furious 6, and met my next door neighbour  who is also a teacher, and went shopping with her, and even met new people out at the local thai restaurant!

The babies

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This is what happens when children are told to hold flowers for 3 hours or so.. they get everywhere!

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A Monk blessing us

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P4 students

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P4 students grinning at me! Sky and Kon Kaen

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Categories: Exploring Thailand, Teaching Thailand- Government School, Teaching Thailand- Private School | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New School Year

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So, the reason I had so long off (6 weeks) and didn’t blog as much was because it was the summer holidays here in Thailand (From end of March to middle of May.) I used that time to travel the North of Thailand (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai) and experience Thai new Year- Songkran, as well as return to the UK for 3 weeks.

Now I’m back and school classes started again on Wednesday 15th May. Everyone was excited for the new school year (I guess the kids didn’t really do much in the holidays, I don’t think most of them are wealthy enough to have a holiday away from town, so they were probably bored by now of holidays!) And excitement was in the air for all the new students starting Pratom 1. Most of these students has been going to nursery but none had attended “school” before, and had never gone through the whole process that is assembly, so all the parents watched on with concerned faces to make sure their children behaved and didn’t get too upset.

I started school at 7am at the gates, welcoming the students back with “Good Morning” and Wai-ing at them all. The school had prepared a gold archway and a banner that also welcomed the students to the Tesaban Khaochaison School. Assembly took place for over 40 minutes, where the students have to stand in lines according to classes, split boy/girl. For the babies to stand in a straight line seemed difficult, but all the nursery teachers were there to guide them.

After assembly, where it was so hot, and so long, a few of the children actually fainted (3) I went upstairs to receive my new teaching timetable. I was expecting more hours because the old year 6 class was only 1, as we only had 12 students in Pratom 6, but we had 3 classes worth of newbies coming up!

However I actually have less hours. I now only have 12 hours a week teaching time (before it was 13 – this doesn’t sound a lot I know, but I still have to prepare lessons and be in school from 7.30-4ish every day.) The school had decided to shake things up a little, and I’m not convinced its for the best. I’ll explain..

 

In my school there are 12 normal sized classrooms and 1 smaller classroom. Last term that worked perfectly as there were 12 classes with 40ish pupils and 1 class of 12 pupils. Everyone fit. During last term a new building was being erected in the playground, but this building is still not finished, it doesn’t even have walls yet, so all the new students (3 classes worth) had nowhere to move to. Last term I was told they would have rooms that are spare in the secondary school, (which is just behind our school) so it would just be a short walk to teach the newbies!

However over the summer they came up with a new plan. In year 3,2 and 1 there were 3 classes in each year. They’ve decided to split the 3rd class and merge the students with classes 1 and 2. This means there are now about 60 kids in both classes of years 1,2, and 3.

To me that seems crazy. They also don’t seem to have taken into account students grade levels, and have been mixed randomly (before class 3 were the lower ability, whereas 1 were the highest, so I now have mixed highest and lowest in one class which to me makes no sense at all.) Just to make it more fun they’ve changed the students round in years 4 and 5 too, though no-one has told me why.

 

Due to all these changes, the year 3 and 2 classes were really hard to teach this week. On one hand I had my fave students (class 2/2, now 3/2) doing brilliantly, filling out the worksheet, and then trying to tell me about their holidays. They wanted my attention so they could tell me about the animals in Songkhla Zoo, which made me smile so much they were so eager, but unfortunately i didn’t have time. With over 60 students, some very low ability, I had to show them how to do each tiny part of the worksheet, where getting them to write their name is an effort, as well as all the students calling “Teacher Teacher” at me to check they are doing it right. Luckily theres no naughty kids in that class, just some people that struggle.

 

In the other class where there are naughty kids however the whole class was a nightmare. When it came to worksheet time the boys were running around, shouting, ripping other peoples worksheets up etc. The girls really wanted to learn and I felt like such a crap teacher, as i was spending all my time trying to get the boys to sit down and write something, then over the other side someone else would misbehave, then a girl would cry because a boy ripped her work. When theres only 1 teacher to 60 kids its impossible to control them when they’re all hyped up, or give the right amount of attention to the students who deserve it. I tried shouting over the noise but you couldn’t even hear me. I did have some students who persevered and finished, but most had empty screwed up sheets by the end of the lesson. I realise I cannot cope or continue with a class like that, so on Monday morning I will be asking for help. If anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment!

 

Luckily my newbies are a joy to teach. Theres 60odd in each class, but both were so well behaved. I think because they had never had a foreign teacher before, or even an English lesson, they were super intrigued by it all. It also helped I had an assistant, and was given a microphone. I feel a bit silly with a microphone i have to say, and I didn’t end up using it as they were so well behaved i didn’t need to raise my voice etc. We played catch with the ball and when they caught it, they stood up and said “My name is…” Such a simple game that was really effective. They all giggle because their throwing skills are not the best, and people miscatch or the ball hits someone by accident (its a soft ball, so no-one gets hurt, it’s just funny.) I then had them do an alphabet worksheet. When they completed this they came up to my desk and received a shiny coloured star sticker. The first girl who finished had the star on her work and literally sat for a full 5 minutes at her desk turning her paper from side to side so the sticker caught the light, with the hugest grin on her face. It was so cute, and this is why I love teaching!

 

Towards the end of the lessons the littlest students were just standing next to my desk with their stickered worksheets just so they can grin at me, i think they just wanted to be close to me so i practised them telling me their nicknames again in the hope i remember some soon (eek.)

Director Panida and I

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Assistant head Teacher Wa

 

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Newbies all behaving and filling in the worksheet

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New building not finished and the students doing aerobics during assembly

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Categories: Exploring Thailand, Teaching Thailand- Government School, Teaching Thailand- Private School | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six months

So for half a year now I’ve been living in Thailand! Eek 🙂

I celebrated yesterday by going out to a Sports evening with all the teachers in my school and workers in the Tesaban (Council) Offices. We left at 4pm and arrived by 5pm at Phattalung, where all the nearby district offices had spent the day and weeks before competing in Volleyball, Football and most importantly tug of war. Tug of war was the most important for Tesaban Khaochaison because we won! Every team paraded around the sports field and track, which took over an hour because some teams had live bands and dancing (some of the dancers were ladyboys, some students.) Then the Mayor of each town was invited to pose for photos with all the teams and introduced. With the opening ceremony finished, it was the final football match, to see who would be the winner. During half time there was a tug of war again, and the women from Khaochaison came first! (Well done girls!) The guys from Khaochaison came second.  Everyone was really excited we won so we all went running on the field to congratulate the team.

 

This week at school is my second to last! Though I’m not actually teaching, as its exam week for all the students. Yesterday I watched films in the office and re-tested a few students during lunch break that failed their English exam. I’ve been told to retest them, and if they fail, I will have to retest them again. And again. And again. Until they miraculously understand and pass! That’s right, in Thailand you can’t fail a student, and they are allowed as many attempts as possible to pass. Needless to say everyone “passed” yesterday. I was pretty much told to let them pass even if they’re not very good, to save me having to keep testing them. So I lowered my expectations and they earned good grades. Even the ones that can’t tell me their names without a lot of prompting and asking in Thai! It’s ridiculous but that’s how it works here.

It is the students’ last week in school too, so I’ve been receiving lots of hugs, and now can’t walk anywhere without at least 5 children trying to hold on my 2 hands. They manage it somehow. Next week I am still in school but just “marking” exams. My exams are speaking so I decide there and then the grades but hey, I’m getting paid so have to be in school, even if it is just to sit in the office and watch movies.

 

Two weeks ago I escaped the small town with Lee and went to Hat Yai to party! We went straight after school on Friday evening, had a western meal out, then got ready. We found ourselves in a really nice bar called The Pubb, where Thai people were singing live English songs. The women were amazing, singing covers of Adele. We drank alot and towards the end were dancing and singing too, but no one else in the place was that animated so the singers were singing mainly at us. When Gangnam came on, the male singer pulled me up on stage to dance. Slightly embarrassing as Lee chose that moment to go to the Bathroom so I was on my own, and drunk, so I knocked the pole over with the music on. Whoops. Thanks to teaching I’m not a stranger to being on stage in front of lots of people and dancing! When there was a chance I ran back to my seat though. Since we had drunk alot we decided to have a break from ordering more drinks, but the waitress kept coming over with new ones, and we realised someone was buying them for us. It was two malaysian guys who spoke English and no Thai, who thought we looked crazy and they joined us at the next club, Bix where we danced and drank some more! The night was really good and ended up in McDonalds at 4am in the morning trying to soak up the alcohol.

Lee, myself and Ishak

The next day after a fry up we went shopping round town, and I purchased a big travelling back pack for my adventure to Chiang Mai. Also managed to catch up with Kylie, who I did my training with, and her boyfriend Tom, who moved over here recently to also be a TEFL teacher. Spoke to them for ages, and was great to see them. They are staying next term so hope to see more of them! Late Saturday we got a mini van back to Khaochaison.

My visa runs out next week so I also had to go extend it this week. This meant another 2 hour journey to Satun immigration office, where it clearly states in English that the whole process takes only 15 minutes, all over the walls. I was there for 2 hours. This is because not only did I have to get a new visa, but I needed a re-entry permit too, so that I can leave for the UK and come back and still work. Also because I’m leaving soon, I had to get another piece of paper stating to the Government that I will actually be gone before 90 days. After all this was finally completed they gave me back my passport with all the relevant stamps, and I asked them where is my work permit. Cue lots of talking in Thai and nobody telling me what is going on. Eventually I asked them to speak in English and tell me whats happening, I guess they had lost it. Not only did they lose it, but they had given it to a previous customer, a filipino lady by accident. The organisation in these places needs to improve. They apologised and after ringing my agency, came to an arrangement that meant I would receive my work permit back eventually. It arrived yesterday in the post.

 

At the start of the month my school hosted its Open Exhibition day, where students had the day off lessons and a huge marquee was set up with different subjects and activities. It was a really fun day and I think everyone enjoyed it. During the morning students went to each subject and took part in the activities. I found myself making bookmarks and throwing darts at balloons as well as painting statues (of an elephant, obviously!) In the afternoon there was a competition for best dances, and best “sing a song” (Karaoke) I videoed the best performances but wordpress won’t let me upload the file unless I pay so you’ll have to look it up on facebook!

Some Pratom 4 students Kow Hon, nursery student Pratom 5/2 with Thai Puppets! Checkers played with bottle caps Tapteem posing! Exhibition day!

 

I also made another video for my Mums 50th Birthday. It was hard being here this week knowing everything was going on at home. It was Mothers day, Mums birthday and her party. I just wanted to be there, I’m ready to go back now. Luckily just over 4 weeks and I will be there. I’m definitely counting down the days! My Year 5/2 class helped me for the birthday message and they were great, and were excited to know the video was being sent to England.

Pratom 5/2 Happy Bday

 

I’m currently at school writing this and I think the other teachers know I’m just going to be watching movies today, they just bought me a bag of popcorn! Ha, even though I miss home, I still love Thailand.

Categories: Exploring Thailand, Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four months – Teaching and Temples

Another month, another blog! Not much has been happening recently, after spending far too much money at New Year I’m trying to save up now for the 6 week unpaid holidays in April, so I’ve spent lots of time just relaxing in Khaochaison.

These past few weeks a few random things happened. Madam called me and invited me to go to Tescos in the city so I could go shopping. She picked me up then told me she had to go pay someone some money, and that I would go to.

We ended up going to a Temple about an hours drive away, to an old mans funeral. I was wearing a top with skulls on, skull earrings and bright red trousers. Even over here you’re meant to wear black to a funeral so I stuck out even more than usual. I’m not sure why Madam thought I would want to go to a funeral, or why she didn’t tell me on the phone to be dressed appropriately and especially to pay respects to someone I had never met nor heard of. We spoke to the widow, who looked too young to be a widow, and Madam gave her some money and then we ate dinner there. The food was good and people were friendly but I was a bit bemused by it all.

Also this week (I still didn’t do a whole weeks teaching!) the year 4s, 5s and 6s went on a school trip to Buddha camp in Lampam for 3 days. I was originally invited to go on Wednesday and stay overnight with them, then on Tuesday it was decided I shouldn’t go for some reason, and I was told to have the day off (as my classes were at the camp, I had no students to teach.) Finally Tuesday evening I was told to come in Wednesday afternoon to cover someone else’s lesson as they were low on teachers as everyone was at the camp.

I tried to find out what Buddha camp was and I was told the students learn how to pray, for 3 days! Last night the teachers and Madam took me out for dinner in the city and then we went to the camp, so I was able to see what they were up to there! For the 2 hours I was there, the students were all dressed in white, sat in the same position, listening to the Monks talk to them, and I guess tell them of Buddhist teachings? I asked if thats what they had been doing every day and the teachers said yes, its to teach them discipline and keep them silent (if only it were that easy in class….)

The only time the students moved or spoke was when I arrived, a few shouted “Teacher Zo!” and waved when they realised I was visiting, but I didn’t actually get a chance to talk to them, and I quickly grew bored listening to a Monk, who I didn’t understand. An older Monk came over to say hello to me, and question what a Farang was doing there, and the teachers explained I was the English teacher, and then he smiled at me and seemed happy I was visiting his temple.

Monks at Buddha Camp & students          Girls at Buddha camp, Lampam

Also I have to include this in my blog, not to scare people, but just because its so out of the ordinary… On Monday after school I opened my front door and a long skinny black snake fell in my face, from the ceiling. I screamed and got it off of me, but I definitely freaked out, and my landlady Nanny heard me and came running over to find out why I was screaming. Whilst the snake literally slithered across the decking and jumped into the tree she saw a butterfly and thought I was screaming about that, even though I was telling her a snake had fallen on me and was pointing at the tree. She didn’t understand what a snake was so had to take her into my house and draw a snake on the paper. Then she started to freak out too. The builders came over and between them all the hunted for the snake, and hopefully its now gone. Thai people are really scared of snakes over here, as a few are poisonous. Understandable when I’ve seen one of the nursery students with a black hole in her hand, from a snake that bit her whilst she was sleeping.

Today I came home to a frog outside my front door, and one on my window too. And I managed to catch a baby gecko thats been living in my house for a while. When I get bored in my house I chase geckos around the room… this was the first one I’d managed to catch!

Baby Gecko        Baby Gecko      Frog on my window      Cards for Teacher Zo!

Teaching is still going well, my Pratom 2/2 students have decided that every day one of them is going to give me a card or drawing. Today’s one had I love you Teacher Zo on the front and an elephant inside (they know i love elephants.) I also covered 2/2 today as their teacher was at Buddha camp. I didn’thave anything planned and the teacher didn’t leave me any notes so I took them outside and taught them the Okey Cokey. They enjoyed it, especially the “oooooh the okey cokey” where everyone holds hands and runs to the middle. After first fighting over who got to hold my hand, they got a little too into it and lots fell over, and the boys gotviolent letting go of hands and shoving into each other. After telling them not to do that, or they wont play, they were good. This class is my best behaved class, and they always remember the things I’ve taught them, so since it wasn’t my proper teaching time afterwards I let them play on my laptop (supervised) and they showed me their moves to Gangnam style, played with their yoyo’s (do you remember them?) and took photos on my webcam, which made them very excited!

Best behaved class!          Pratom 2/2 students   

It’s a simple life here.

Categories: Exploring Thailand, Festivals, Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Childrens Day and Teachers Day

Yay, yet more days off. I just worked out that this will be the 7th consecutive week that I haven’t had to teach the whole week (holidays, visa runs, bank holidays, students performing, all mean no lessons!) What am I going to do when next week all the days off are over?

On Saturday 12th January it’s Childrens Day in Thailand. If this fell on a Friday then it would be another bank holiday (and some schools even did give Friday off too!) but my school celebrated it on Saturday. At the market, where all the festivals are held there was a huge marquee all day, with lots of little ones and the actual market. In the huge marquee there was a stage and children won awards and money, and also performed dances (the same as New Years party.) In the smaller tents there were exhibits of children’s work, photos of Christmas and New Years and lots of different activities the children could do. The day wasn’t just for my school, but the surrounding areas too. However most of the children I saw were my students! I started by painting a figurine, and guess what, mine was an elephant. He turned out blue and is very cute. The most popular ones were Angry birds. There was also puppet making, a games room, and a room for sweets and ice-cream. Also the Fire Brigade lit a huge fire and then put it out. Also there were army guys there, showing off, and playing a game where the boys were blindfolded and then put boxing gloves and headgear on and were let loose. Really very funny to watch, as they run straight past each other and start attacking whoever they can hear nearby, so a few audience member got hit.

I ended the day trying to learn how to play a thai game that involves a wooden boat with cups in it, where you put marbles. I had Oke, the Mayors son and one of my favourite students Namfon, and Teacher Pen all try and explain how to play. I played, I didn’t win. I don’t know how you win because to me its just picking up marbles and moving them around. Not so successful, but will try and master it one day!

Pratom 4s in red!

Today, Wednesday, is Teachers Day. I don’t think there are any celebrations, but it does mean another day off! I’ve celebrated by lying in bed all morning, and then going out on the moped to get lunch. Now I’m off to relax some more with a massage at the hot springs, then go to the Wednesday market with the South Africans. Perfect.

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We’re all going on a summer holiday – Paul and James visit Thailand!!!

So this post is parallel time wise to the New year one below. I met James and Paul on Saturday 29th December 2012, and it was evening time by the time I got to the Green Hotel, Koh Samui. It was really nice to return to Koh Samui, as thats where I did my TEFL training for 3 weeks so I knew Chaweng beach quite well. The green hotel was situated right on the main walkway which was good as when I arrived we were able to go straight out for dinner. We went to a local Thai place that I had eaten at many times before. Its plastic chairs and tables on the side street but the food is always good. The restaurant is called Big Mamas and the owners recognised me and asked how I was etc. We ordered a mixture of thai food so everyone could share and try it all. Chicken Paneng curry, Shrimp Pad Thai, Canna moo crop (fried pork) and Tom Yam soup (seafood.) I think Paul and James enjoyed it and were full afterwards.

We went for a walk along the beach, and it was wierd to see so many places open and full. When I had been to Samui previously it was low season, so hardly anywhere on the beach was open, but now they were full of tourists. When we returned to the hotel room it was my Christmas! Paul and James had brought with them presents from home. Thank You Mum and Dad for my kindle and other nice gifts, thanks Prawn for my Kitkats and diary and Auntie Jane for my watch and Cris for chocolate and Louise for the tea and makeup and Paul for the kindle case and bringing it all with you! I was spoiled 🙂

The next day we went to Ark bar for a big English breakfast (theres only so long you can survive on rice, I craved western food!) and then took a tuk tuk to Lamai beach, which I think is prettier. We rented sun loungers on the beach and relaxed all day, swimming when the waves weren’t too big and reading books, and ended up back in Chaweng for dinner at Ninjas, another simple thai place that also does western food.

Posing the same as the buddhaMaking a wish on the tiles of the new temple RAWR DSCN6098 DSCN0180 DSCN0182

The following day we booked a half day tour around Samui, to see some of the sights including, the big buddha, a temple, grandmother and grandfather rock and the waterfall. I’d already climbed the waterfall so while James did that, Paul and I posed with a tiger and went and visited the elephants that were giving tours. We didn’t actually ride an elephant then, was just saying hello to them. That evening was NYE, so after the tour we ended up eating again in Big Mamas and then heading to Ark Bar for celebrations and partying.

The whole of the tuesday was spent getting back to my town, Khaochaison. We were picked up at midday in Samui and made it to my house at 9pm.. following bus rides, boat rides, bus rides and more bus rides and then a ride in an old fire engine, as you do.

The rest of the week was spent with Paul and James at my school during the day, seeing me teach and meeting my kids! The students were so excited there were two male falangs, and many of the female teachers called them handsome. In the evening we went out with Madam and the teachers one night, and the South Africans another night, and during one day the guys visited Hat Yai, the city nearbyish, but got soaked seeing temples and going in the cable car.

On Friday we were able to leave school early and got on another minibus that took us to Krabi, form there another tuktuk to Ao Nang beach. In the evening we went back to an italian restaurant that i had been to before with Tara, and they remembered me. Even though it was high season they gave us the same offers on food and cocktails as before so we all had mojitos and pizza/lasagna. Saturday was Pauls birthday so we booked to go elephant trekking. The trek itself was okay, we went through a rubber plantation, and it was  obviously the same track the elephants did every day as it was very muddy and there were big elephant feet sized holes along the way. Paul and I shared an elephant, and James had one to himself. Ours was called Nada, it was a boy who had half his trunk missing, and was 30 years old. Our mahout seemed happy enough with him keep stopping and eating food along the way, and James was naughty and went off the track several times, but his mahout didn’t seem to mind either. Next we saw a baby elephant show, with just one baby performing “tricks” I was worried they would be really cruel to the babies, but he seemed happy. The only trick i didn’t like was him doing a handstand, as theres no need for them to do that in the wild! The best part was the baby putting hats on the audience and playing a harmonica (ok they don’t do that in the wild, but they use their trunk to make noises.) Later on we were also able to go bathe the elephant. This time it was a female one called Ya who was 35. It was a really amazing experience because the other couple got scared so it was literally just Paul, james and I, playing with the elephant, splashing and scrubbing her. We were also able to ride her, but had to climb on her first in deep water, which was really difficult!

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The rest of the day was spent right at the end of Ao Nang beach, near the mountain where all the monkeys hang out. Despite the “Do not feed Monkeys” sign, everyone fed the monkeys so they were playing with us quite a bit. In the evening we went for dinner to a Thai restaurant overlooking the beach called Thai Thai, and shared lots of food.

Sunday was a nice relaxing day at Raleigh beach, got a longtail boat over there for 200bht each and it’s still my favourite! Did nothing but read and swim and relax and make sandcastles (well james made a mermaid, me and paul made her family friendly by collecting shells to make a top for her!) Dinner was back in Ao Nang in the italian restaurant again and we all got tipsy drinking wine.

The following day we booked a tour called “7 island sunset tour” advertised for 1000bht, but paid 800. We were picked up from the hotel and met an australian couple and an indian couple who were both on their honeymoons. They were our friends for the day as we went to 7 different islands on the longtail boats. Some of the islands were more like rocks, but they had great coral underneath, so snorkelling was really good. There were also huge pink jellyfish. We asked the tour guide if they would sting and he said no, but they did. It made you itch and left marks on your body! It was worth being stung though as got to go around one island, through another and then swim under another into a cave. We saw lots of different types of fish including a clownfish (nemo!) For dinner we had a BBQ on a private island (Tub island) and watched the sunset. It was really cool! At nighttime we headed back to Ao Nang but stopped along the way for another snorkel in the dark, where there was bio luminescent stuff. For those people who are not geeks it means that when you move in the water the plankton (?) lights up! It looks like you’re swimming in lots of shooting stars, and looked amazing. James described it like being in Avatar when everything lights up, but water instead. Was a great end to our little holiday!

After getting used to sharing with smelly boys its now too quiet in my hut, missing them already!

A memory form the trip; singing this verse in the morning so that James would pick it up and hum it all day long 😛

“Everywhere  I go, Every smile I see, I know you are there, SMILING back at me…”

Categories: Exploring Thailand, Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas Day

Santa and carol singers Falangs in Khaochaison Performers Surrounded by nursery kids

Christmas Day in Thailand, it was always going to be different, celebrating something that the people in my town didn’t really understand, nor get the importance of! Considering I was away from home and had to work, the day went okay. In the morning my 20 or so good kids performed “Santa claus is coming to town” in assembly to the rest of the school. Then i was called to the front and put on stage to say a Merry Christmas speech. After assembly i travelled round the classes with the 20 kids performing in every class and giving out chocolate and biscuits. One student also dressed as Father Christmas. After that the day went quite normally, i had lessons to teach so taught them (Snowman movie – it was xmas day, i wasn’t going to stretch myself or the kids! lol) and i spent the day rounding up groups of children to record messages to my family at home, with them all saying Merry Christmas and putting it in a video. Lunch was soup.. with a chicken foot in. It was at this point I missed home and mums yummy Christmas dinner. It would certainly be better than a chicken foot soup.

The evening was spent at the South Africans house, drinking, listening to xmas songs, and generally reminiscing about what we would be doing if we were at home. Their neighbour also cooked for us and it was really good fried chicken. I got to skype home, Mum cried, which made me cry and homesickness hit hard. I really wanted to go home, just for that day! It was inevitable that missing home would hit soon, but I was glad I was with people who felt the same way and at least celebrated xmas too!

The thai neighbours friends also came over and joined us in drinking, but i returned home about 11pm as still had to be up at 6.30am for school the next day. Definitely no boxing day here!

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3 months – Visas, preparing for Christmas and relaxing in Paradise!

I arrived in Thailand over three months ago! Time is flying by now, especially because its nearing Christmas and my lessons now consist of “British Christmas culture” Ie) explaining to the children how to make a snow man and then how it melts in the snow, lots of diagrams and actions needed but then showing them The Snowman movie for the rest of the lesson so that they understand! That’s for the little ones. For the older ones, they’ve been learning the whole song of “We wish you a Merry Christmas.” Yesterday lunchtime they had a competition in teams of 4 and they had to sing the song and the winner will be announced on Christmas day. Also for Christmas day I’ve been holding a club every evening for an hour, teaching 20 of the Pratom 4s and 5s the words and dance to “Santa Claus is coming to town.” They will be performing on Christmas day to the whole school and I can’t believe how quick they pick it up!

Pratom 2/2 performing in xmas singing competition

Other things that have been happening is my visa! For a while I was worried I would have to go to Malaysia to sort it. I notice in Thailand that they never get something done early. Instead they like to make you wait on the edge of the seat until the last possible minute when it needs to be done, making you panic all the time! My visa ran out Tuesday 18th December. On Tuesday at 2pm I got a phone call saying the paper work was done and I could now get to Satun (2 hour drive away) to get the visa sorted, but that the office there closed at 4pm so to hurry hurry hurry. I made it in time thanks to Teacher Kom driving like a mad man, whereby some of the paperwork I still didn’t have, had to be faxed over! However now my visa is valid until 31st March 2013, when my contract ends. So I’m about halfway through my time here already!

At the beginning of December there was a bank holiday and I was able to spend the weekend catching up with Tara, a fellow TEFLheaven trainee, at Ao Nang beach, Krabi. I hadn’t been to that part of the country before and I was seriously impressed! The islands there are beautiful, my favourite being Raleigh beach. We relaxed lots, caught up, sunbathed, swam, ate lots of western food and drank many cocktails! I urge everyone to go there, its paradise! I like it so much I will be returning in 2 weeks, as I want to show it to Paul and James when they visit! Its about a 4 hour bus journey, so bit tight to do it on a normal weekend, but school have given me the monday and tuesday off too, as they know my friends are visiting. I have to catch up on the missed lessons throughout the following week though!

View from Poda IslandSunset at Ao Nang beachLong tail boats at Raleigh beach

Jumping at Raleigh beach

I’m very excited for the week ahead- Christmas day on tuesday so party day for the children! Then Friday is when the school is celebrating New Year with a party and performances by the children during the day, teacher party in the evening. On Saturday I make my way to Koh Samui, to meet and Paul and James for New years eve at the full moon party on Koh Phangan. Life is good 😀

Who knew it was so competitive!

Who knew it was so competitive!

Categories: Exploring Thailand, Festivals, Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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