Teaching and "Our Street"

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January 24th 2009
Published: January 24th 2009
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Notice that females and males are not mixed but occupy each side of the classroom. Also, the boys are much more animated, boisterous, challenging, etc. while the females are more subdued and must be encouraged to try a phrase or two in English. However, they are often more proficient when trying. The approach used is to ask the students to come before the class and state what they believe a word or phrase on the board means. They must speak the phrase out load to the class. While daunting, teacher gives five extra points if they try, regardless if they get it right.
We are about 2 hours south of Bangkok and about 15 minutes by scooter to the Gulf of Thailand. On a map, this would be about 45 minutes from Rayong, and about 13 kilometers from the small town of Ben Phe, which is the jumping off harbor to the touristy island of Kho Samet. While 13k in Canada is not far to travel, here in rural Thailand there is much to see and experience even in this small distance.

We have been volunteering some time to teach English at a local school by the name of BonSongSalung. Basically, we are helping a local Thai English teacher with English speech. Students here are often very well versed in English grammar/reading, etc. However, with little chance to hear spoken English there is little opportunity to learn what words in English actually sound like. Consequently, students are very reluctant to talk and when they decide to do so it is normally ventured, bravely, but in a barely audible whisper. These classes are immensely enjoyable and satisfying to me. The approach is very informal and the students seem to get a kick out of them as well. I have gathered that normally the ambiance

Ready for class! I teach only for two hours (one class each hour), after the lunch break.
is more structured and somber. It is about a half hour drive to the school.

The area that I am living is rural and the "Our Street" section of this blog entry gives some indication of what an early morning walk will turn up.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


Staff and UsStaff and Us
Staff and Us

Here we are all together in the staff room. None of the staff speak English, although the English teacher is able, with some difficulty, to make herself understood. Most of these people can understand some English

Sawadee Cup Sawadee means "hello" basically, while "cup" follows most sentences spoken by males and is a sign of respect. Females say "Caw", (think of a crow cawing), and spoken softly. Thai society is built on respect and showing it. This fellow always has a enormous smile it seems; and, like the world over, he has his job to do each day. In this case fixing/making a chicken cage.
Thonk, ThonkThonk, Thonk
Thonk, Thonk

When appoaching this lady on the road we heard the rythmic "thonk" of her heavy, wooden pole smacking the round reeds she had gathered earlier. She will be using the flattened reeds to make fine, delicate baskets.

These ladies stopped for a chat one morning as we took our walk. There are no "farang" i.e. foreigners where I live except myself. However, with a "sawadee cup "greeting and a smile they are warm and welcoming. Scooters are used to transport everything and everyone it seems. I've seen five people on a scooter, from the very young to grandparents.
Flower LadyFlower Lady
Flower Lady

This lady, just down the road from us, has created a thriving business in flower arrangements. She sells these at the local market. As is the case for many of these small, local businesses people work incredibly hard and diligently each day. Failure to do so means the loss of the stall at the market. There is no unemployment compensation.

Just walking along down the road
Howla Bowl Howla Bowl
Howla Bowl

Monks come down the street at about 7:00am with howla bowls in hand. Residents greet them at the entrance to their homes and give a little food. A blessing is given by the monks to the residents. Regardless of religious belief, there is something comforting about souls with nothing to eat, asking and receiving food simply by appearing. Both parties are bonded by a common belief system of course based on merit and obligation

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