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Week 3 What a difference a year makes

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

WOW!! It’s hard to believe that a year ago around this time I was in an Antigua Guatemala studying Spanish, one-on-one in the the school courtyard where the weather was perfect & the classes relatively easy. Spanish verbs conjugate the same as their French counterpart, conversation was coming along & could get the gist of a story in the local paper. The odd day the lesson would  be incorporated in a shopping trip in town or a chicken bus ride to a neighboring pueblo. It was pretty cool & was even offered a job when I returned.

Now a year & 23 countries later I find myself in a different classroom halfway around the world, in Bangkok Thailand where it’s HOT, studying, of all things English grammar a necessity in a TEFL course. I can assure you that learning Spanish was a walk in the park compared to learning proper English grammar. If it’s hard for me, a native English speaker, I can only imagine the work an Asian speaker will have to do to become proficient in it. However that’s why I am taking the course, to teach English to others in a place where it never snows.

“The best laid plans of mice & men—“ can’t remember who said it or the exact ending but my weekend study plans went all awry as just couldn’t get in study mode on Saturday so spent it researching the continuation of my trip through Borneo, Indonesia & onto Oz. Then procrastinated Sunday morning away going out for breakfast as I  needed change for the washer & dryer but couldn’t go to early as wanted to pickup a 6pack  & can’t buy take away alcohol here before 11.

Finally picked up a book while waiting for the laundry to wash & dry. By 7 I had the module on the problems in teaching English to Asians read & a rough plan for my presentation drawn up, finding information in 3 different books but was too tired to think straight so had a cool one & rested to midnight when I got up all bright eyed & bushy tailed, to put the finishing touches on the presentation, then rewrite my TP lesson plan for Wednesday evening’s class. Did however have to use a section of the grammar book to complete my presentation so the weekend’s plans weren’t a total loss!

Updating Thurs. morning, hump day for the week has passed & actually we are now on the downhill slope of the course. The worst of this week from hell has past rather smoothly with a C grade on Monday’s presentation, Wednesdays exam went well as did the TP lesson in the evening, some helpful constructive criticism on the lesson but that’s to be expected on a first try, haven’t received grades yet but confident of a pass. That only leaves the grammar exam tomorrow to finish off the week so we shall survive.

Received marks, apparently the normal mark on a first TP usually falls between 6 & 7 so my 6 1/2 is there, however the B (that’s 3 in a row) on the Thai culture & teaching exam made up for it.

Lost a classmate yesterday as after looking over the exam questions he asked the trainer if he could try the course again in the next session & left. No surprise at 19 he wasn’t mature enough to handle the intense workload + a new live-in girlfriend, same thing will likely happen again but such is life.

Next week is shaping up to be a tad busy with a final presentation Monday morning, a TP in the evening, an exam Wed. morning followed by a TP in the evening, another exam Friday & at this point in time 2 TP’s with children’s classes on Sat.

The dreaded grammar exam actually went not that badly with probably a C or possibly a B.

So went week 3, a prelude to the week 4 the “real” week from “Hell” where T & T owns our soul in exchange for a TEFL Certificate!

Week 2 Dusting off the old Brain

Friday, March 19th, 2010

So last Thursday, as class ends for the day, our trainer says don’t forget the exam tomorrow also the grammar exercises are due & your presentation for next Tuesday will be  8-10 min. interactive lesson geared towards beginning nonnative English speakers on the words; for/since.


Shelve that task until the weekend (have to do it then as sitting in on a lesson being taught by one of the students from 6 week class Mon. evening + the week is so busy that can’t let things build up to the last minute or will be swamped).

During the next couple days nagging little thoughts come & go on how to accomplish the impossible until while doing laundry Sun. morning they start to come together in a somewhat cohesive plan. Jotting these ideas down over the course of the morning then letting them to marinate over a walk down the street for a 35 Baht lunch with a stop at Tops for some munchies & a floor mop, helps to get the cobwebs out of the brain so it can do some logical thinking.

To cut to the chase once I started to realize that yes this was a teaching course & he was looking for a presentation in the form of a lesson using my fellow classmates as students & keeping to simple words, it all came together.

Tuesday; The presentation went well, even ran a couple minutes overtime, trainer will be letting us know tomorrow what our grades are on it. The lesson I was supposed to sit in on Monday was cancelled due to the Red Shirt demonstrations in Bangkok closing the street in front of the school for a couple hours, so it has been rescheduled for tomorrow.

Received the date, next Wednesday, for our first practice teaching class. Have to make a lesson plan for a dry run on Friday & the next exam is Thursday so no rest this week.

C grade on my presentation along with the rest of the class except the one guy who hadn’t prepared his, apparently a normal grade for the first interactive one. Have to make better use of the white board in future, another chance next Monday when I have one on; There is/are/have, discussing the problems encountered in teaching the use of them to Thais, another interesting challenge.

Sat in on the lesson given by a 6 week course student where I found he had an easier time with this class of language school students (a group of Burmese nuns in training, same class I will be teaching next Wed.) than we do in presentations to our fellow students who tend to give each other a bit of a hard time (all in fun though).

With Thursday’s exam out of the way & the dry run TP (Teaching Practice) lesson done then another lesson on Thai culture we have survived week 2 no problems. This according to others who have taken the course means we are pretty well assured of graduating providing we keep our noses to the grindstone.

If I thought this past week was busy that’s because it was preparing us for the next 2 weeks which ARE going to be busy we have a class presentation, 1 or 2 evening TP’s & 2 exams in each week, of course new material to study presented daily. OUCH!!!!

So all I have to do this weekend is prepare my presentation for Monday, make some changes in my TP lesson plan & study for the Wed. exam & study, study & study some more for the GRAMMAR exam!!

Friday’s exam is on grammar which will be (for me anyway) a B***h considering this statement taken from one of our course modules “Third, and finally, from the undeniably extra demands made on EFL/ESL teachers by Asian learners comes the magnificent reward – a greater knowledge about their own language than possessed by people in any other profession in the world, bar none – –“

A bit of trivia, the movie The King and I, about an English governess hired by the King of Siam to teach the children of his harem, is banned in Thailand.

Also as due, either coincidence, fate or whatever the day we (hopefully) graduate & receive our TEFL certificates falls on the day of my mothers 90th birthday.

results from Thursday’s exam, another B.

School Days

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Anyone thinking that taking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course is a walk in the park where as long as your warm body is present is a guaranteed pass is sadly mistaken!

At least that’s the ... [Continue reading this entry]

Google Maps

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Just stumbled across a really cool feature on Google Maps.

When you click on directions there will be a dropdown window that that says car but you can scroll to either transit or walk also.

With transit just ... [Continue reading this entry]