Saturday, January 28, 2012

English Camp and Teacher Training

Few PCVs complete service (at least in Thailand) without attending and/or giving a camp of some sort. It is a big request from the local schools and communities. Reality is you can’t really teach that much English in a day or two and that is not the point. You do teach some English, but you also have a lot of fun, provide massive amounts of encouragement, and confidence that in fact the participants can learn to speak English.
Some come in knowing at least a bit of English, after all it is taught in schools every year. When you consider that fact it seems kind of amazing how little English Thais speak. And that is the crux of the problem – so much English education, so little English taught. I think it is one of the reasons many adults have so little confidence in their ability to speak English. Not being a TCCO PCV (teacher) I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience, but I have seen the work expected of the students and know how little English the English teachers actually speak. What is taught primarily is reading and writing English and typically if a student is having a hard time, which most are as the workbooks are really really hard, the teachers give them the answers. My library volunteers, who are educated government workers kind of know the ABCs and can kind of read some of the simpler books, but really struggle beyond that level.
For me, the best part was having 5 PCVs and Mimi (Bobby’s Thai girlfriend) come stay with me to help with the camp (I know, I know, it should be the teaching!). We ate and drank and chatted and worked – it was great to connect for at least a little while and they did an amazing job. Day 1 was at my office. We had about 50 government officials and the preschool teachers. Day 2 was at the secondary school to provide teacher training for about 50 teachers. We were invited to help them cope with what I call Monday Madness! Government offices and schools are now required by the national government to speak English on Mondays – a daunting mandate. Our goal was to provide some basic vocabulary and conversation in which ever setting they worked in.
There was lots of laughter and hopefully a little English got taught. Thais love to have fun and I have found that that trait makes Thai adults easy and fun to teach. We’ll see how these Mondays go!!!

Slumber party at my house! A couple of friends brought over pads and blankets.

The tessabaan hosted a dinner for us at the nicest (one of two) restaurant in town.

The really important stuff - Bobby, Jacob, and Luke playing soccer on Bobby's ipad.

As important guests, my group was greeted with pacamas, sashes typically given to dignitaries (usually men) before a big event.

Luke engaging his group.



Bobby and Mimi

Zerina, a PCV 122 heading home in a month. Will miss her!

Gifts are given at the conclusion of the camp. The tessabaan gave us beautiful handmade blankets. The school gave us very cool handmade reclining pads.

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