2018-2019 Articles

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  • Finding the Right Words

    by: Caitlin Ashworth

    Moving to to Thailand is a big change. Learning how to drive motorbike through hectic traffic takes time, as well as getting the tongue (and stomach) adjusted to spicy Thai food. But for some people, like myself, teaching is also completely new.On the first day of class, I had no idea what to expect from my students, or what the their level of English would be.

    Super English teachers are involved in two programs at Thidamaepra: The Intensive English Program (IEP) and the Mini English Program (MEP). For the MEP, I teach math, science and English for about three hours everyday along with a club of my choice once a week. IEP is only 50 minutes each day.

    In all the classes I teach, the level of English is across the board. And as an English teacher in Thailand, I am challenged everyday to explain assignments and instructions to both the students and Thai co-teachers. For the weekly club, I decided to do “Art Club.” I had so many ideas: Watercolors, oil pastels, Roy Lichtenstein-inspired pop art and self portraits.

    I started out with simpler assignments such as ink techniques using lines and dots to create value. But all assignments needed detailed instructions, which many students didn’t follow. I decided to do a long-term project, spending about six weeks on one-point perspective. For the project, the students draw a horizon line and vanishing point, then draw a road and buildings that get smaller the closer they are to the vanishing point. The drawing creates the illusion of being three-dimensional.

    I passed out step-by-step instructions. I drew examples on the board. I repeated key instructions numerous times. “Draw lightly so you can erase” and “Connect lines to the point.” It was still confusing, and frustrating. I helped some students one-on-one draw their buildings, but with 30 kids in the class, it was difficult to make sure everyone had understood how to do the assignment.

    Although many of their drawings weren’t proportional, once they adding color, their drawings came to life. The project taught me a few things about being an English teacher abroad: Talk slow, be clear and have fun.