Thursday, January 21, 2010

To learn English

Tonight was the second night of the informal English classes Sarah and I just started for the nursing students. Getting to know students in our dorm has proven somewhat difficult because relationships are very hierarchical in Thai culture and many students are much too shy to speak English to "farang," or foreigners. When we first arrived students would burst into giggles when we said hello to them in the hallways, but it has steadily gotten better; sometimes they say it first to us now. We wanted to start informal English classes to get to know them better and to help them feel more comfortable speaking English. Most Thai students have studied English in school for years, but seldom speak it as they study. Sarah and I each teach groups of ten for two nights a week.

For our first week we did a few simple exercises having to do with greetings and small talk. We also played some games including a smaller version of Scattergories. Parts of the first class didn't go the way I had hoped...I forgot that a teacher cannot sit on the floor if students sit on the couch, so when I sat down they all immediately slid to the floor. I also mispronounced one student's name and they all froze. I am still not sure what I said. They spoke Thai to each other some of the time. But some parts of tonight were great: they were laughing and feeling comfortable talking a little, they tried the banana bread we made for them, and I think they felt like we cared about them as people. I am convinced that our nursing students are the cutest women in the world.

In teaching long term goals are important. There are always things about every lesson to pull out: different wording for explanations, timing, almost anything could be better. I am learning to try to fix the small things that I can, but to be grateful when the long term goals are still in place. A few of the games or exercises might not really work, but they are still speaking English a little and getting more used to being with foreigners. I long to really know these women, to have them deeply know that we are all the same on some level.

1 comment:

  1. I am so proud of you lovelies.

    I agree that those women are stunning.

    you are doing a good job. It is good to think about the little things that are getting better, their responses and interactions with you. your teaching.... I just feel like you are doing wonderful things.

    I am sure that they know that you care about them.

    you are wonderful.

    good work ladies.