Sunday, June 15, 2008

Teaching English in Pitsanulok

Upon fleeing by train, hot smoggy Bangkok only one day after I arrived in Thailand, I disembarked some six hours later, in the cool, mountainous central Thailand city of Pitsanulok to stay with John, an American Peace Corps Volunteer and his wife Huay, an English teacher at the Nakhonbangyang Pittayakom High School.

Huay and I discussed the Thai English curriculum and some teaching strategies to help make her lessons more student focused as well as participatory. Because the Thai have their own equivalent of the California State Standards, the Thai curriculum is heavy on English grammar and light on conversation.

My classroom demonstration lessons, in contrast to the typical Thai lesson, are VERY participatory, with my trying to get the students to do most of the talking! Thai students are very shy when it comes to speaking English.... so I try and make my lessons engaging and fun. Here a group of seven "volunteers," all hand selected by me.... were asked to say the phrase.. "My favorite food is......" The trick, however, was that they had to repeat what the previous students had named as their favorite food before they could state their own. By the time the seventh student could state their favorite food, they had to repeat the favorite foods of each of the previous six students.... a real challenge to rememberso much and to say it all in English!

When pronunciation proved to be a problem, a mini one-on-one power lesson seemed to do the trick!

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