No Way to Prepare Your Lesson
Believe it or not, people often get very excited when I come to their town. I feel like Santa Claus (A lady, less old Santa). People will hear I’m in town from a friend of a friend and before you know it they are on my doorstep bribing me to teach their class. Sometimes I’m even dumped off by a friend, who is trying to make a good impression on a more influential friend. Either way, I end up the bartering tool.
One example is a tiny village I visited in Surin, Thailand. It was a beautiful village with only one home-stay. My friends and I sat with a buffalo guardian and enjoyed the tiny town with no store, cell tower or stress. The owner of the home-stay made us a beautiful breakfast and invited us to take a tour of the city with him. He pointed out the mayors home (which looked like all the other huts) and took us to his friend’s house that made gorgeous paper flowers. On our way back to the home-stay he took us by another home that happened to have an English class going on at that moment.
The teacher taught English to 5 students every Saturday. The kids varied in ages from 7-10 and they were all so excited to see a foreigner. The teacher wanted each student to show off their skills, but the kids became nervous and clammed up. While teaching in Thailand, I only taught for about 20 minutes and I was paid in high quality rice berry from the teacher’s farm. Of course, I didn’t expect payment, but he did it out of gratitude.
Face the Unknown
The next time, this happened I was visiting an eco-village and the kids all yelled that there was a new foreigner visiting. I didn’t hold a class but the children and their parents took turns practicing English, “Do you like strawberries?” “Nice to meet you.” “Are you wearing underwear?” All of which I made a funny response and tried to give a new vocabulary word for them to think about. Those scenarios are much less stressful and quite enjoyable.
You Just Go With the Flow
The most recent city I visited was in Kalasin, Thailand. My friend took me to visit her friend who happened to own a private primary school. It was only 10 minutes before I was being shoved out of a car and thrown into a class with 30 kids. I had no idea what to do as I was told to just “do anything you want for about 2 hours.” I was so nervous and thought of a lesson my students liked in the previous semester.
First we sang the Chaquita Banana song. They all had heard that before (I was stalling). But then I decided to teach them, “in, on, behind, in front of, next to.” These are words they don’t use a lot but are pretty simple. Also, I could make it fun by demonstrating on chairs, which is something they never get to do. Their favorite part was standing on the chairs. We did this drill several times, then I put the class in 2 parts and created a contest to see which group could get every person doing the correct action. It was mayhem, and they loved it. I loved it, the teachers loved it, everyone was happy. The time flew by and pretty soon I was taking pictures with the classes as proof to their parents that they spoke to a westerner today (a real feather in the school’s cap).
So far, I have taught classes for money, rice, collagen, McDonald’s and sushi. It was all worth it; although it is completely nerve wracking, I vote to say yes to teaching impromptu classes. Life is an adventure while you are teaching English in Thailand. You will end up getting way more out of it than you give, I promise.