I've learned several things during my first week of work.
Firstly, it's that Thai students walk with their own agenda, and speak to each other as if they are deaf. In other words, things are slow and loud, leaving me utterly confused (and frustrated).
Lesson one was an opener: a beach ball with plenty of questions that require an intermediate amount of English to answer. Students are tossed the ball, and whatever question their thumb lands on is the one they answer. Allows me to gage who they are as ESL speakers (informally assess) and creates the type of environment I need (as an educator) to essentially reach my students.
Easy enough, yes? Simple enough... yes. In America, this was a success. In Thailand, this was a struggle. I wish they would run to class the way they ran from this perfectly plush, harmless object. Screaming, laughing, and inconsolable fear. Yet, they came to realize this sort of stress was as unrequired as it was self-inflected, thus returning to complacency. It wasn't too long before it became an enjoyable activity, yielding the success it deserved.
Lesson two was a tad bit different. Still interactive, I held the standard of getting to know my students very high. I challenged them with a heated game of pictionary, full of more laughter, more unnecessary screaming, and more English. The game, although quite simple in its concept, was created to test thier knowledge of American culture (fitting, for their American studies unit). Words like "bird," and "pizza" were easily grasped and communicated. Girls went wild when I included objects central to their world (i.e.: MRT, BTS, pad thai). They found this sort of learning to be playtime, aligning much with Thai "land of smiles" culture.
But there's a point to everything I do (shocker!). As a closer, My students were instructed to write about the easiest parts of this game and the most challenging (and why they found it most challenging). Once again, I was informally assessing their ability to write full sentences and summarize concepts in English. Phrases like "doing your nails," or "land of the free" proved rather difficult, which many discussed in their exit ticket. What I found most comical was the overwhleming submissions that labeled "burrito" as their biggest issue. As an avid tex-mex cusine consumer, this was something Chipotle could not stop me from ordering. In my classroom, about 1% of the girls knew what it was, and 3% able to recognize the picture, but not muster the correct word to label it.
Of course, we spent the remaining five minutes watching Chipotle videos, so I could correct what the girls have been deprived of. Students left intrigued, and very hungry.
Til next time! I'm off to find a burrito in Asia.