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Thailand Service Corps Welfare School  - Providing a service projects abroad in education with focuses on educational administration for the poor and the children short of educational oppportunity. Thailand Service Corps Schedule and Fees Page - Providing service projects abroad in education, healthcare and buddhism as volunteer work, internship, HIV-AIDs education, tax free vacations, or to teach english.

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Thailand Service Corps Homestays Page - Part of the TSC focus on cultural awareness and experience comes from living with a Thai host for your volunteer project abroad in education, healthcare and buddhism as volunteer work, internship, HIV-AIDs education or to teach english.

Thailand Service Corps Thai Host Reflections Page - A Thai Host reflects on her experiences with volunteers she has hosted through the years with TSC

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Thailand Service Corps Accreditation Page - TSC is a licensed organization by the Govermnent of Thailand and has received the official certification for the Preseident's Volunteer Award for volunteer projects abroad in education, healthcare, buddhism or to teach english.

Thailand Service Corps Projects Page - Providing service projects abroad in education, healthcare and buddhism as volunteer work, internship, HIV-AIDs education, tax free vacations, or to teach english.

Thailand Service Corps Volunteer's Experience Page - But better way to tell about the volunteer experience than from someone who already has taken that journey with TSC abroad in Thailand.

 

 

Report

Melissa Taavola

Kinesiology 699

Teaching English in a Variety of Situations

 

 

            As an English teacher in Thailand, it is important for me to think of myself as an ambassador of America and the world as a whole.  Teaching English does not mean drilling students with grammar and vocabulary; instead, it means leading discussions, asking inquisitive questions, and introducing students to life in America and the world.  When I first started teaching, I was frustrated because the students did not want to pay attention or participate.  Basically, I was not using the correct methods or material to teach effectively.  Now, I have learned from interacting with different types of students and have definitely developed methods for introducing new ideas and topics.  I have taught five distinct groups of individuals: 13 – 15 year old students at Wat Chaichumpol, 9 – 15 year old novice monks at Wat Kaopurang, 8 – 12 year old students at an English camp, 12 – 16 year old students at my home during their summer break, and medical staff members at Pahon Hospital. 

            Wat Chaichumpol (Wat Thai) is a government run school and consists of a primary school and a middle school.  P. Att, my host mother, is an English teacher at Wat Thai.  During the month of February and early March, I helped to teach her English classes.  There were five classes at most to teach each day: three classes of M/3 (grade 8) and two classes of M/2 (grade 7).  Each class lasted at the most one hour; however, sometimes, class only lasted 30 minutes.  Some classes had approximately 30 students, but other classes had only 15 students.  The students were finishing the end of the school year, and the last week of classes was at the beginning of March.  Some students were preparing to apply to high school or technical/vocational programs.  I taught at Wat Thai approximately seven times, a short time period.  Since I was also working at Pahon Hospital, I only went to Wat Thai on Wednesdays and Fridays.  On my first day of teaching, I did a short introduction of myself and started with basic concepts of English, such as “How are you?”, days of the week, and numbers.  On the subsequent teaching days, I led conversations about ordering food, exercises about sentence structure, an activity to interview classmates, a simple dance to learn for fun, and basic reviews from the first few classes.  I consulted P. Att before the classes in order to plan some activities.  She always encouraged me to do grammar and sentence structure activities so that the students could practice writing and reading.  Teaching at Wat Thai was my first experience teaching English.  I definitely thought in my mind that I should be teaching grammar and sentence structure.  However, numerous times I felt frustrated with myself because I could not get the students to participate or pay attention.  Rather than focusing on learning about America and the world through fun activities, I was trying to push them to learn about English grammar.  I realize now that I should have been teaching different material so that the students could learn about my country and other parts of the world.  The basic idea of just getting the students to use English can be done with activities, such as interactive games, sports, and activities dealing with group cooperation.  I definitely learned from my experience at Wat Thai; in fact, all of my teaching experiences after Wat Thai have been very positive and rewarding.

I had the opportunity to teach novice monks at Wat Kaopurang on only one occasion in February.  The class consisted of nine novice monks and lasted for two hours.  The small class size enabled me to enlist full participation and attention from each student.  Also, it was very easy to complete activities in an efficient manner.  The novice monks were very well behaved compared to the students at Wat Thai.  They did not have cell phones to play with and did not try to have conversations with their friends during class.  The English director at Wat Kaopurang, Dewey, stayed with the class and helped with directions during it.  Activity topics included the following: basic conversation, days of the week, months, birthdays, directions, drawing, numbers, spelling, adjectives, and a few more.  I really enjoyed teaching the novice monks because of their excellent behavior, good listening skills, and willingness to participate.

            English camp can be described as a day full of fun and excitement.  The camp took place at a school close to Kanchanaburi on March 9th.  A total of four schools were involved in the camp, and about 85 – 90 students participated in the event.  The students were divided into four color groups and rotated between the following camps throughout the day: English, mathematics, Thai, and science.  Karen (another volunteer) and I were in charge of the English camp.  During the four one-hour long sessions, we introduced ourselves, learned songs, played games, practiced names of animals and their sounds, and had tons of fun.  Since the students came from a wide range of age groups and varying English proficiency levels, it was difficult to focus on strict English activities.  Karen and I varied the activities depending on the response and participation of the groups.  Some of the specific activities we led included the following: “Peel Bananas” (song and dance), “Hocky Pocky” (song and dance), Simon Says, What time is it Mr. Wolf? (game of tag), I want to be Your Friend (hand clap game), and Cat and Mouse (game of tag).  Our camp was held outside, so Karen and I definitely had a good exposure to the sun and heat.  All of the students were so energetic and fun, that by the end of the day, Karen and I were very tired and exhausted.  I loved working at the camp because I was able to show students how people from other countries interact, have fun, and act goofy.  The teachers appreciated our help and sometimes even participated in our activities. 

Starting on April1 10th, I began to teach a group of six students during their summer break.  P. Att’s friend has two sons who want to practice English, so along with their friends, they come to my house and practice nearly everyday for one and a half to two hours.  Our last class will be held on May 10th, a total of 22 classes in all.  The schedule is very flexible; specifically, the students want to meet on days that I am free and always leave it up to me to decide when we have class.  The group of six is an interesting mix of personalities, and each class is always filled with laughter and jokes.  Since they all know each other very well, the students feel comfortable speaking and participating.  I focus on activities where the students can share their opinions, express thoughts through writing and speech, learn about America and the world, and learn new vocabulary and phrases.  I’ve even labeled certain classes with names, such as Sports Day or Team Challenge Day, so that the students get more excited as a certain class approaches.  I want the students to be active during class, so I make sure to keep my directions or information time to a minimum.  The students want to practice speaking and not spend a lot of time listening to me, even though this is a component of learning as well.  Each student possesses different characteristics, so I try to use different techniques for each student during the class.  For example, one student is very shy at times.  I speak slowly with him and try to get him to respond with as many words as possible.  Another student is rather talkative and enjoys explaining ideas and concepts.  I ask him leading questions so that he has a chance to explain and describe his thoughts in greater detail.  On most days, I usually assign a small homework task, such as looking up some vocabulary, writing two short paragraphs, correcting the paragraphs, or gathering supplies for an activity.  Even though the students are not graded during our classes, they come well prepared on almost every occasion.  It is great to see that the students are interested in learning even during their summer break.  I really enjoy working with this group of students because I am able to get to know them and see how they grow with their English skills.  I am glad that I have enough time to teach them.  I always have a positive attitude going into each class because I know that we will have fun and learn a lot from each other.  Even though I teach them after working at either of the hospitals, I never dread the class or feel exhausted during it.  It is a wonderful opportunity because I can learn from them too.  During classes, it is interesting to compare the American culture and the Thai culture.  We always come up with a number of differences and a few similarities.  Aside from my work in the hospitals, teaching these students is one of the best things I’ve done in Thailand.

            Lastly, I have been teaching a few English classes at Pahon Hospital.  I was unaware (until April) that my program called for me to teach an official English class (lasting one hour) as well.  I normally just practiced English with staff members during the day by asking questions and listening to their English.  In April, Dr. Kung asked me to teach a class for her nurses.  I prepared basic information about conversation and some activities involving photos from America.  When the class day came, I also invited the student nurses working at Pahon Hospital and informed numerous doctors about the class as well.  I am really glad that I invited the student nurses, since they were the only people that came to the class.  Currently, I post a sign for the English class in the doctor break room in hopes that more people will be able to attend the class.  I have held class for three weeks now.  The only person who comes is Dr. Jern, an anesthesiologist.  She is very interested in practicing English and has good English skills to start with.  We usually talk about vocabulary words and discuss American and Thai cultures.  It is really interesting to have discussions about our cultures because we can learn from each other.  Some of our discussions focused on the following: government, financial issues, family relationships, and education.  Dr. Jern is an easy going person, and I really enjoy talking with her about medicine and life in general.

            In closing, teaching English in Thailand is definitely a different experience than I expected.  Even though my first teaching experience at Wat Thai did not proceed as expected, I have learned from it and can apply my knowledge and skills to new teaching experiences.  I look forward to my last month of teaching the students at my house and practicing English with the medical staff at Pahon Hospital.       

 

Karen McDonald, Buddhist Immersion

Hello!
            Well finally I am writing a few posts about my time in Thailand, and some other of my travels!
             I am Karen, 19 years old, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I decided to do this program after I finished my high school education because I had a desire to travel with some volunteer program. I wanted to see the world very badly, but not just travel, spend money and do the tourist thing, I really wanted to experience the place i went to, meet people, and maybe help out someone in a less fortunate situation than myself. I really did want to help the world, as cliche as that sounds! But it is a very hard thing to figure out how in the world to do it! Starting out was the hardest part.
             I started by asking some friends of mine wanting the do the same things as me, but we were all in the same boat, we knew the amount of opportunities out there but had no idea how to grab them! So i turned to the internet, and finally came upon the Thailand Service Corps. The program looked smaller than some, and maybe with not as many participants, but the Buddhist Immersion course really interested me. I am not really buddhist, but had a great desire to learn, so I thought this program might be the one for me. It also allowed me to choose the amount of time I wanted to be there, and was very easy going and personal! I talked to Bruce Houser and after that my parents as well as myself were assured of the safety and quality of this endevour! I was given as much information as I asked for as well as the Thailand Survival Guide which had many helpful tips for teaching as well as for conduct! Payment and talking to my family was all easy and accomplished quickly, as well as fedexing my visa to Texas and recieving it very quickly. It all fell into place and I was ready to go! I was assured of my safety and plenty of amusement and distraction in Bangkok from touring to meeting everyone in the program!
             Even so I felt very unprepared, having never really travelled anywhere outside Canada, and certainly not to the other side of the world all by myslef! It was a leap, but one I would gladly do again! I also was concerned with my lack of teaching qualifications and training, and I did not really prepare myslef or my lesson plans very well for teaching. I think I just didn't really know what I was in for! I do wish I would have prepared more, but don't worry! I was given more than enough help and support to work it out and hopefully teach the kids a useful thing or two! (or more!)
            My welcome was certainly warm! I felt very welcomed and taken care of, after a dizzying and jet lagging 23 hour flight, by a cheerful Naree. As dazzled as I was by Bangkok's city lights, I managed to understand that a fellow volunteer would be coming and then we would go touring the city! It was all very exciting, I could not sleep! But managed to sort my sleep cycle out by the next night when I met Melissa, a medical volunteer from Wisconsin!
            Touring was amazing, overwhelming, and unforgettable being the children we were to this new culture. And we were even taken for some shopping because I needed a few more cooler peices of clothing!! I could not imagine in Canada how hot it would actually be! wow! And we were taken to eat tons of delicious food! Then off to Kanchanaburi to meet our families!
            P'oi, my mother, Pie and Beam, my sisters and Melissa's host family were waiting for us! Along with Bruce, Tong and Pumin! I was nervous, but comforted right away by their wonderfully kind nature and assurances of all my favorite things, good food, good company, shopping and travelling! What a wonderful family they are! I was so happy to present them with a gift of books on my country and show pictures of friends and family.
            A few days later I started teaching! I seriously felt like a movie star, or like an endangoured animal, the kids watched me so much! But how adorable they were! And once one wroked up the courage to say hello, or shake your hand, then they all could do it! Although I scared some off by asking "how are you?" and the teachers encouraging them to answer more than "fine". But overall they are so wonderful, and once interested, they think english is the most fun thing in the world! Music, games, songs, rhymes and pictures are BIG aids! Use them liberally! And remember a little kindess goes a long way, a smile encourages the kids so much more than any scheme or clever game! Hope this all has been helpful to any future volunteers, you don't know what an amazing journey awaits you! And I hope it has proven amusing to fellow volunteers and wonderful coordinators! Happy trails!
Karen (back to canada!)

 

 

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