(Pictures at the Bottom)
As I mentioned before, my time here in Thailand is winding down. The end of classes a week and a half ago was a frightening wake-up call to how little time I actually have left here in South East Asia (about 2 months).
If you can remember when the last semester ended I tried to sum up some of the lessons I learned in a list of bullet points- some I took to heart, other mistakes I’m sure I repeated. But instead of making a list again (way to much pressure to think of good and witty things) I figure I’ll just type out some of my overall thought and feelings about the life as a teacher. Mostly ramblings.
Teaching is not easy. Teaching English is even harder (than some things- keep your pants on for any teachers/professors out there). I learned quickly that in order to teach English, all of those things I was taught in the 3rd grade (subjects, objects, continuous verbs, blah blah blah…) I had to remember. I think in my time teaching I’ve learned more about English grammar than possibly my students have. I thought I considered myself a grammar Nazi before, even belonging to silly Facebook groups like “I judge you when you use poor grammar,” but now I don’t even know what to call myself. A grammar super Nazi? Although, you probly wuldn’t gues it sinsce I rarly profread my bloggs pots.
Either way, it’s easy to take knowing English for granted by growing up with it, because it is so ridiculously confusing that I am in awe on how well some of my students can grasp it. And no matter what you feelings are on globalization, cultural diffusion, or what have you, the truth I’ve learned here is that knowing English can be serious advantage for success in life (depending how you measure that of course).
If you are wondering at all if I can speak Thai now, after living here for a 9 months, the answer is a sad “not really.” I know a handful of phrases, how to count, directions for a taxi driver, etc…. but I probably should have tried a little harder to learn it, it’s actually a pretty simple language believe it or not (to speak that is, writing/reading is a different story).
My second semester seemed to be much better than the first for the most part. Of course it is always hard to get students to speak and participate in class. Many of my students assure me that this is the case in all classes, not just English- and no matter how much I assure them that it’s OK to speak, they just must not believe me. However, I felt far more comfortable from the first day of the second semester compared to the first. Before I ever started teaching all I heard were horror stories of students taking advantage of the teacher and causing all sorts of trouble. After teaching a bit, I realized most of these stories rarely happen. Although the girls still think if I allow one to go to the bathroom it’s “OK” to have a mass exodus of all the girls at the same time. After learning all the little things from the first semester I realized I could be myself while still maintaining control of the classroom (I still enjoyed having my more “social” students singing for the class and I, from time to time).
But for now, I’m finished teaching and off to search for other pastures. While teaching isn’t exactly in my near future plans (like I actually have any), I have to admit that one day I may come back around to it. I think its the interaction and satisfaction you get when at least one students gets what you’re talking about (cliché I know, get over it). However, I don’t think I’ll ever have the desire to teach English as a second language again, as much fun as it was, the material isn’t exactly thrilling (mind you I’m not talking about English Literature). No, I think I’d have to teach something I get excited about and is constantly shifting, like photography, design, or communications stuff in general. So maybe one day after I make it huge I’ll go to some swanky private university or school and say “Hey, I’m kind of a big deal now. I want a job……with health insurance.”
Speaking of healthcare, I get it for free here from the government. I went to the hospital a week ago and didn’t pay a thing (free is more like for $25 a month out of my paycheck). Sadly, while I look for a permanent job once I get back I figure I’ll be living on the edge for a awhile with out it. That should be exciting. I have a partial job lined up for this summer when I return, taking video and photos at a summer camp, but I pretty much have no permanent plans after that. So keep your eyes out for anyone who needs a photographer/designer/public relations/advertising/communications goofball. I pay a generous finders fee in the form of fine, custom bedazzled t-shirts and Wendy’s junior bacon cheeseburgers.
That is all for now, I’m leaving for Bali in less than 12 hours, and I will hang out there for about 2 weeks and attempt to surf. I did it once in New Zealand and I think there was promise. After that I’m headed northwest to Malaysia, where I will go to the Cameron Highlands and check out Kula Lumpur for about a week. And then back to Bangkok of course. Not that I’m particularly good about updating this blog, but you won’t hear from me until then. I promise to bring back good photographs and stories, one which will probably involve me being dragged by my surfboard across the ocean floor. However, I’ll probably be able to update my twitter account via my iPod, so you can check in there while I’m away.
Below are the photographs of all my lovely (and crazy) students with their debonair teacher. I also realized I never showed anyone where I worked this semester, so I’ve included some photographs of the campus. My 45 minute daily commute by bus wasn’t exactly fun, but the campus pretty ridiculous to tell you the truth, with rumors saying it was partially funded by the Vatican. While I’m 99% sure that’s not true (who knows)- I think it’s actually funded by the bazillions of students they admit even when admission deadlines are finished, a cool 42,000 baht a year ($1,200 USD). Anyway, I’m off. See you in 3 weeks.