We finished week two of teaching and classroom work in our TEFL Course in Thailand. This week was a little more hectic than last week. It seems that the biggest issue we have had is the lack of time in preparation. Most teaching days are superseded by half of a day of instruction on our lesson plans, and given the context we need to use for our next teaching practical. We then have a half of a day and late into the night to make all of our materials, form lesson plans, and practice our lesson. It simply isn't enough time. We spend on average 12 hours preparing our lessons and hardly ever get to bed before 1am the night before teaching. We then have to leave the UniTEFL office at 7:45am.
This week, we taught on Tuesday at a school called The MettaSuksa School . Apparently this is a school that is for poorer children. It was a great space where we taught. One big room with ample board space to get our ideas across. The new lesson plan we learned this week was PPP. Present, Practice, Produce. The basic framework is that we need to present the information much in the way we did with the "Flash Card Lesson" we learned last week, by eliciting responses to pictures drawn or displayed. We are learning so much at UniTEFL and our TEFL Course in Thailand.
The PPP Lesson at Metta Suksa School
The PPP Lesson at MettaSuska School
My lesson was about body parts. I chose to do the 5 senses. Smell, hear, see, touch and taste. I then had nose, ear, eye, hand, and tongue. Shelly did a lesson on the Olympics. She had 6 sports and the countries that were the best at these individual sports. She did fantastic in her lesson as did I. We are finding out more and more that we are really good at this. Shelly is a bit better than I am, but we are both two of the best in the class. The boys we taught were great! Well behaved and attentive, they really made the lesson enjoyable to teach. I ended up getting a 1.75 and Shelly a 1.5. Most people are getting 2's and 3s. 4 being a fail, and 1 being excellent.
The lesson itself had a warmer as all of them do. The purpose of the warmer (icebreaker) is to get the students relaxed and ready to learn. The Thai people have very long names. In order to make it easier, when they are very young, they are given one syllable nicknames. I had asked the students their nicknames and then threw up a piece of paper in the air and called out 1-3 of their names. They had to run in the middle and grab the piece of paper before it hit the ground. Shelly did a ball toss where she would say something she liked and then toss the ball to student where they would then say what they like and so on. I "Presented"my simple dialogue with the students and then we had what was called a "Concept Check".
Controlled Practice and Endgame
The Controlled Practice and Endgame
This is a simply verbal quizzing that the students are getting the concept of the lesson. We then have "Controlled Practice". In this case it was a worksheet that we had to make the night before. It basically had the answers written on them. Example: What body part is this? This is a _____. Under the blank you would have the right word and a wrong word and next to the line a picture of the right word. Really simplistic and easy for the boys. We then had the boys verbalizing the dialogue one at a time or to each other to go over the worksheet.
We then handed out a second worksheet which was a bit harder. This worksheet had missing words and pictures. My boys did great on this, and in the area where they didn't have pictures they were actually drawing what the body part was and sense they corresponded to. My class really got the material well. After the guided practice we played an endgame. The endgame was again the piece of paper, but I cut out all the variables I taught, split them into teams, and then threw in the air one of the variables. Whoever caught it would have to say the dialogue for that variable.
Overall a great lesson. The next day, we went over grammar in class at UniTEFL. Nightmares of grade school came flooding back into my brain as I realized how much I hated it then. We were learning about objects, complements, adverbials, and of course all the prepositions, interjections, determiners, conjunctions, adverbs, adjectives, nouns, pronouns...etc... etc... Not only was I bored with this,I absolutely hated it. I understand the need to learn it, but wasn't expecting such in-depth instruction and testing on this subject. I was hoping to learn more teaching styles and not so much grammar. It got worse this week when the next day we learned verb tenses. Past participles, phrasals, gerunds, modals, continuous present, simple and perfect, continuous perfect and more of the blah blah blah...etc.etc... I would say we had a headache after this week, but that would be an understatement.
Bua Krok Noi School PPP Lesson
Teaching At The Bua Krok Noi School
We did teach again the PPP plan with prepositions at a school called the Bua Krok Noi School . Our lessons were prepositions of place. Shelly and I wanted this lesson to be awesome and came up with some great ideas. We were instructed to use only 1 worksheet and use activities for the rest of the teaching. Shelly used angry birds as her context, and I used a princess and a castle. We worked until 2am the night before on our materials. We made dice for a game where they roll dice with our variables on them. Shelly had a bowling game with half-filled water bottles and a stuffed angry bird, and I had a game of Concentration. We both did one worksheet as well. It was a lot of fun.
My class was small with only 5 students. It was hard for me as one girl was nearly fluent and had lived in Australia for 2 years, and 3 of the kids were terrible, one was average. So when you make a middle of the road lesson plan because you don't know what to expect and you have a small class of such diversity,things don't go as planned. It was still a good lesson, and the fluent girl helped me out by explaining things to the others in Thai. My overall score was my average of 1.75. Shelly however is getting even better than she has been with a 1.25. Awesome!!!! We had so much fun, but waaaaaay over planned this week for our lessons making awesome materials. Next week we teach on Tuesday and Wednesday. We are not going to spend so much time on materials this week and try to get to bed before midnight.
Change In Perspective
We are halfway done with our TEFL Course in Thailand and feel pretty confident that we will be able to get jobs. We are both really good at this, and feel that we were both kind of naturals at this kind of thing. We are getting more comfortable with the students and material as well. This next week we need to study for our final exam a week from tomorrow. I especially need to study my grammar. I guess it's good to learn this again, but not my favorite thing. Not much else happening this week to talk. We are still healthy and happy and doing well.
It's strange how I don't remember learning grammar in grade school. Sure I remember some things, but others like gerunds, articles and modals completely escape me. We have learned that by speaking English our whole lives, we have taken for granted the grammar aspect of it. To teach another this aspect of the language, brings on a whole new meaning to the language itself. We become this way in our lives as well. We just plug along doing what we do daily without much thought as to why we do it. I remember driving down the road one day in California and looking around at the trees and it dawned on me how beautiful it was there. How green the hills were that I had passed 1 million times before. It's almost numb yourself to your surroundings and just stay in a mental bubble all day without really looking around to realize what you are seeing and what you are doing is beautiful.
This is what we love about travel. Every day is one of new discovery and it's hard to just "plug along" numb to your surroundings. The humdrum of daily life when you are doing the same thing day in and day out, numbs you to life itself. Much like thinking about the grammar when you speak. It becomes commonplace, familiar, and in many ways automatic. Life shouldn't be this way. It should be exciting, we should look around and appreciate our surroundings and other people who are a part of them. Spend today appreciating your life and what you have in it. Don't take it for granted.