Our first week at our new school is completed and now we more or less know something about the school itself, out English lessons and the pupils. In Thailand, pupils aren’t divided in ‘studierichtingen’ but they are put in groups according to ability, 1 being strongest and 8 the weakest classes. To get in a 1-class (or special class as its being called), parents pay extra money. These special classes get English Camps, extra guidance and so on. Hardly fair is it?
The English lessons aren’t organized at all. The teachers don’t communicate, even if they teach in the same class, so every teacher decides what she (all female English teachers) will do without consulting the other English teacher. They don’t follow the curriculum and if they want to pas their exams to go to a university they have to pass their O-net tests. One week before those tests, pupils are tutored in the big hall. The tutors drill the content and pupils sit down and take notes for an entire day.
During the first week of ‘training’ I got to work with several English teachers. I teach in a second, third and fifth year. Some teachers prepare one lesson for all of their classes (doesn’t matter if its in the same year) and use this preparation for an entire week. An overview of an English lesson:
- 1 certain pupil: ‘Stand up; please!’
- All together: ‘Good morning teacher!’
- Teacher: ‘Good morning, you may sit down now’
- All pupils: ‘Thank you teacher!’
It really is funny to hear this conversation every lesson, especially because those are in most cases the only full sentences they can produce. Why is that? Because they are all very shy. Whenever someone has to speak in front of the classroom they start to giggle, when someone succeeds in producing a good sentence they all start hooting and clapping, ah well, at least Thai pupils are enthusiastic when they do a good job.
In Thailand children first start with English classes at the age of 8 or 9. With that knowledge, it’s frustrating to know that pupils in their fifth year of high school don’t even know the difference between ‘When’ and ‘What’. That’s why during a lesson I have to repeat myself at least a dozen times before I get an incorrect answer…
If you are reading this, you are probably wondering why we haven’t fled the country. To be honest, you’re frustrated for 1 minute, you see a pupil lighten up when you tell him he did a good job and your frustration is gone. You really can’t blame the pupils for the flaws of their teachers. The English of some of the English teachers is so bad; we can’t even have a conversation exceeding 3 sentences. That’s why the pupils hear 80% Thai and 20% English in the English lessons.
Luckily, everyone is super enthusiastic when they spot us. They greet us with a Wai and say: ‘Good morning teacher!’ Getting this much respect from pupils is hard to get used to, but we’ll manage.
For a detailed description of the school architecture, daily schedule and much more, check Nele’s blog: http://nele-in-thailand.blogspot.com/