Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Teaching English in Ayutthaya Thailand

Last week I came back from Thailand. My university has an exchange program with a secondary school (Grades 7 - 12) in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Two times a year some of our students will go to the school and teach English for a period of approximately 10 days. This time, I came along as an observer and watched Eri and Ayu do a fantastic job teaching their classes with the rest of their team.
I also had the opportunity to teach two classes and it was a lot of fun! The first class (pictured above) was a presentation in which I talked about Iwate and our freezing cold winters while showing pictures of the university on the projector. I was nervous because I thought that me speaking in a foreign language for an extended period of time would bore the Thai adolescents to death. I was surprised that most of the students listened attentively and some actually asked questions.
In the second class (pictured to the left) I taught pronunciation. The students were in their third year (9th grade US, chuugakkou 3 nensei Japan) and their energy and enthusiasm for practicing pronunciation was infectious.
In my experience teaching at Japanese Junior High Schools I had much more difficulty keeping the students' interests. The more the students lost interest, the more elaborate my lesson plans would become to win back their interest. These elaborate lesson plans had new activities and much more materials involved. This might have had a negative effect; overwhelming the students with the unfamiliar. In Ayutthaya, the themes of my classes were simple and the lesson plans were very basic. It was the chemistry between me and the students that made the class enjoyable. I should have worked on the chemistry more when I was teaching at a Japanese junior high school.
I have a lot more to write about my experience. I will do so later.


aaron said...

Wow! What a great experience that must have been. I often wonder about the cultural differences between classrooms in different parts of Asia. I know you don't normally teach middle school students in Japan, but did you notice anything interesting?

JH said...

Yes, I did. Maybe Eri and Ayu can talk about what they noticed and then I will add my two cents.