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  1. #1
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    Anyone Teach Without a Thai Teacher?

    My school is short on money/personnel so this year I'm stuck teaching P-2 to P-4 without a Thai teacher to act as a referee. It's been a nightmare so far, yesterday had to call in a Thai teacher because a girl got punched in the face by a boy, and on Friday one child bit another. Too much of a circus for meaningful classes, I can't even keep them seated.
    Any ideas would be appreciated please.

    The Thai teacher's disciplinary system is hitting them (yea I know its illegal) and obviously I'm not doing that.

  2. #2
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    A solid prerequisite for teaching properly here would require a decent understanding of Thai....

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by thaimeme View Post
    A solid prerequisite for teaching properly here would require a decent understanding of Thai....
    And a hip flask full of chloroform ...... either for them or yourself.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by thaimeme View Post
    A solid prerequisite for teaching properly here would require a decent understanding of Thai....
    Shows what you know Jeff.

  5. #5
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    I taught Science/English to P1 - P6 kids at a Catholic school in Korat (without a TA).

    I speak Thai fluently (that was crucial). In my experience, you face these major cultural challenges.

    1. "English is fun", is the ethos teaching in Thai schools - so it's expected you perform as much as an entertainer as a teacher.

    2. Thai kids know you can't discipline them - hence they are not scared of any repercussions when being unruly.

    3. Thais want to learn in the easiest manner possible, without any real effort.

    4. They put too much emphasis on listening, rather than on reading and phonics *which is the key to language acquisition. They have the mistaken belief that by merely listening to us speak - given enough time they will suddenly become proficient in our language. When in fact, listening is the slowest and weakest method of learning L2.

    For exapmple:- Farangs that have been in Thailand 10 + years listening to Thai every day - but are still only able to say a few phrases. Or Thais with 15 years of daily English tuition, not being able to say much more than "hello, how are you?"...

    In my humble opinion, teaching (especially in Thailand) is the hardest, most thankless profession on planet earth. Don't get me wrong, I loved my students, I put my heart and soul into doing the very best job I possibly could given the circumstances *and cultural obstacles I've listed above lol.

    I applaud your efforts. Best tip I could give you is this. If you truly care about your students, they will sense that and respond positively. Encourage them! get them on your side - enforce the idea that English is important to their futures, if they want a good jobs $$ then they must make an effort.
    Lead by example!

    *Sorry for the jumbled ideas, I am exhausted today. Ganbatte! がんばって!

  6. #6
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    Nice post, green owed.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NZdick1983 View Post

    4. They put too much emphasis on listening, rather than on reading and phonics *which is the key to language acquisition.

    *Rant mode on*
    And I would really, really like to know the reason that my sons school teaches TWO f*cking phonetic languages, without any, even a cursory nod in that direction.

    It has taken bloody years of remedial, fairly expensive private intensive teaching to get the bloody basics of English into him - and this is a boy whose spoken English is fluent!

    What ever f*cker (here and elsewhere) thought that the way that the Chinese teach the Chinese language was a good idea for phonetic languages should be taken out and hung. Then dug up and hung again.

    The concept of "picture words" for teaching English makes me so f*cking angry.

    I remember one of his first homework assignments. learn the words:

    Rope
    Umbrella
    Ambulance
    Dog
    ..and so on.

    F*ck me.

    Early days, me trying : what sound does this letter make? Boy: No idea. and so on.

    At which point I went to find the best English language school in the area, who then drummed the basic of phonetics into him and went on from there.

    Really steams my chaps even today.

    *rant mode off*

  8. #8
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    All my P1 students could sound out any 3- 6 letter word... granted, they may not know the meaning of every combination of letters, but at least they could sound out the words. (which is the foundation of English)..

    C-A-T
    F-A-T
    S-A-T

    etc, etc..

    Much better than looking at the word "dog" for instance, and just remembering it as a whole word... reason being, there are over a million words in the vast vocabulary of English... it's a tad hard to remember them all.

    Once they understand that each letter denotes a specific sound it's like breaking the Enigma code. I swear they advance much, much more swiftly.

    Then we get into blending.. Remember that some sounds (digraphs) are represented by two letters, such as sh. Children should sound out the digraph (sh), not the individual letters (s-h). With practice they will be able to blend the digraph as one sound in a word. So, a word like rain should be sounded as r-a-i-n, and feet as f-e-e-t.

    Anyway, from teaching, to selling cosmetics in Thailand - back to plastering in NZ lol

    *Gib-Stopping/plastering is much, much easier (believe it not) lol

  9. #9
    Maker of tiny warriors
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    Im totally untrained in teaching but taught English for a while at my local country schools and my experience was very rewarding, the kids were mostly great apart a few boys who were totally uninterested but not disruptive so I let them get on with it, you seem to have had it a bit harsh Bob

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NZdick1983 View Post
    All my P1 students could sound out any 3- 6 letter word... granted, they may not know the meaning of every combination of letters, but at least they could sound out the words. (which is the foundation of English)..

    C-A-T
    F-A-T
    S-A-T

    etc, etc..

    Much better than looking at the word "dog" for instance, and just remembering it as a whole word... reason being, there are over a million words in the vast vocabulary of English... it's a tad hard to remember them all.

    Once they understand that each letter denotes a specific sound it's like breaking the Enigma code. I swear they advance much, much more swiftly.

    Then we get into blending.. Remember that some sounds (digraphs) are represented by two letters, such as sh. Children should sound out the digraph (sh), not the individual letters (s-h). With practice they will be able to blend the digraph as one sound in a word. So, a word like rain should be sounded as r-a-i-n, and feet as f-e-e-t.

    Anyway, from teaching, to selling cosmetics in Thailand - back to plastering in NZ lol

    *Gib-Stopping/plastering is much, much easier (believe it not) lol
    cat fat rat - indeed. The way to go.

    sadly, in this case, not my area, and needed to hand over to the professionals, Thais, but they knew what they were doing.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by thaimeme
    A solid prerequisite for teaching properly here would require a decent understanding of Thai....
    It would, if you're teaching Thai.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    I'm stuck teaching P-2 to P-4 without a Thai teacher to act as a referee.
    What size class? What's the environment (government school, private school)? What resources do you have (CD player, overhead projector, internet, whiteboard, etc, etc)?

  13. #13
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    ^ It's funny, in Japan/China (for example) they realize the value of a teacher who can speak the native tongue of their students as being potentially a much more effective teacher ***especially for beginner students***

    Where did the nonsensical notion come from, that it's detrimental for Thais to
    have any translation in their L1 from their teacher?

    I have heard the common retorts 100 times:-

    Oh, but if they know you can speak Thai, they will be less willing to speak/try
    in English.. (not if you enforce strict class rules)

    Oh, but you can use TPR or draw pictures on the board to explain your point (sure, for simple commands open your book, sit down etc... not possible for abstract ideas though)

    Oh, but we pay you to speak English, not Thai! zzzzzz

    I studied Japanese in high school - if she had come into our Kiwi classroom on the first day of class, speaking only Japanese without any translation into English, I imagine she would have been fired within the first week lol...

    Listen, I know this is a touchy subject and I know you can be an effective teacher without speaking their L1... I get it, I really do.

    In my experience/opinion, it depends on the teacher and how he/she uses (or abuses) that skill. I have tried both, 1 full year teaching without the use of any Thai whatsoever... following year (after requesting permission from Sister of my Catholic school) using Thai (only when needed).. then comparing the results...

    Needless to say, the 2nd year was light years ahead of the 1st in terms of their advancement/comprehension and exam results. I was awarded a much higher salary and now they will only accept a bilingual teacher.

    Go figure... That being said, I would only use it when necessary i.e. quite heavy usage for beginner students, medium usage for intermediate, no usage of Thai for advanced students (of course).

    I honestly believe, if used carefully when needed (not just to show off) it can be a powerful tool in the classroom to expedite the learning process much more quickly/efficiently.

    *Now, let the flaming of my bilingual ass begin lol

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by NZdick1983
    If you truly care about your students, they will sense that and respond positively. Encourage them! get them on your side - enforce the idea that English is important to their futures, if they want a good jobs $$ then they must make an effort.
    That's the sad part, some of them really want to learn, and the riot in the room makes that impossible. I do an extra optional class after school from 3:40 to 4:40 on Mondays and they're the ones who show up. That class runs perfectly without a Thai teacher.
    Thank you for the great response. Funny you mentioned the "English is Fun" thing, they put a big banner outside my class that says that about 5 years ago. I'd need a latter to take it down.

    I was thinking about asking for a P-6 student (volunteers who are good students) to be drafted to be in the room (each 1 hour a week) and help me with the small P-2 and P-3 children. Maybe that would help?

    I might add that the reason the school is short on money is that many parents can not pay the book fees, or make it a last priority and the school bosses do not want to humiliate or suspend the children of parents that don't pay. Can't fault them for that.

    My Principal understands the problem and has even apologized for it, but said he simply cannot fill the spots or afford to pay teachers without classes extra to sit in the room during the problem hours. I've worked for the man 8 years, he is a good boss.
    Last edited by BobR; 16-07-2015 at 06:44 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly View Post
    Nice post, green owed.
    It's been done.

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    Having a senior student there to help could be a great idea, but you would need to chose them very carefully in order that they help rather than join in the play. (And you would need a student that has the younger kids respect rather than a nerd that might try to mimic the bad thai teachers habits of hitting to gain control...)

    Try it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by NZdick1983 View Post
    ^ It's funny, in Japan/China (for example) they realize the value of a teacher who can speak the native tongue of their students as being potentially a much more effective teacher ***especially for beginner students***

    Where did the nonsensical notion come from, that it's detrimental for Thais to
    have any translation in their L1 from their teacher?

    I have heard the common retorts 100 times:-

    Oh, but if they know you can speak Thai, they will be less willing to speak/try
    in English.. (not if you enforce strict class rules)

    Oh, but you can use TPR or draw pictures on the board to explain your point (sure, for simple commands open your book, sit down etc... not possible for abstract ideas though)

    Oh, but we pay you to speak English, not Thai! zzzzzz

    I studied Japanese in high school - if she had come into our Kiwi classroom on the first day of class, speaking only Japanese without any translation into English, I imagine she would have been fired within the first week lol...

    Listen, I know this is a touchy subject and I know you can be an effective teacher without speaking their L1... I get it, I really do.

    In my experience/opinion, it depends on the teacher and how he/she uses (or abuses) that skill. I have tried both, 1 full year teaching without the use of any Thai whatsoever... following year (after requesting permission from Sister of my Catholic school) using Thai (only when needed).. then comparing the results...

    Needless to say, the 2nd year was light years ahead of the 1st in terms of their advancement/comprehension and exam results. I was awarded a much higher salary and now they will only accept a bilingual teacher.

    Go figure... That being said, I would only use it when necessary i.e. quite heavy usage for beginner students, medium usage for intermediate, no usage of Thai for advanced students (of course).

    I honestly believe, if used carefully when needed (not just to show off) it can be a powerful tool in the classroom to expedite the learning process much more quickly/efficiently.

    *Now, let the flaming of my bilingual ass begin lol
    No flaming, I'm embarrassed about my failure to learn more than the most basic Thai.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingwilly View Post
    Having a senior student there to help could be a great idea, but you would need to chose them very carefully in order that they help rather than join in the play. (And you would need a student that has the younger kids respect rather than a nerd that might try to mimic the bad thai teachers habits of hitting to gain control...)

    Try it.
    Thank you

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSFFan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    I'm stuck teaching P-2 to P-4 without a Thai teacher to act as a referee.
    What size class? What's the environment (government school, private school)? What resources do you have (CD player, overhead projector, internet, whiteboard, etc, etc)?
    Government school, have a nice classroom that I furnished with all the above. Even put in 6 industrial fans to cool it, it's by far the most comfortable classroom in the school. I don't believe children can learn when they are hot and miserable.

  20. #20
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    Correct, Maslow's hierarchy of needs told us that 70 years ago. And further research on learning environments confirm that over and over again. It's a shame many schools ignore it. (Or decide that improving the learning space is too costly or difficult).

  21. #21
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    ^ Hey mate, what is this mysterious 'green' you've kindly sent me?

    Hope it's not plant based, as I've quit smoking the waky dacky haha...

    Yes, getting some of the brightest kids on your side to act as helpers is a good idea. They want to learn - so will help to quieten the less focused kids.

    Also, I found a reward system is invaluable as well. It could be something as simple as stickers for their books, or candy for good behavior.
    Teacher praise is one tool that can be a powerful motivator for students.
    Encouragement is key - especially for the weaker students, praise them for even the most minor improvement.

    Be super positive. Your students are lucky to have you mate, at least you care about them enough to ask for help/advice.

    Good on you bro!

  22. #22
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    Why on earth would you need to speak Thai? How does a child/student learn to speak any language. By mimicking it's parent/teacher/sibling/peer. Start with 5 words, then another, then .........

    Pictures, sounds, simple words.

    Translate them into Thai and the student remembers Thai, duh.

    ^As you say, there will always be one or two students which can assist already within the class. They will be one or two steps in front of the rest, that's all that's needed.

    If you are just teaching the students "acceptable phrases" rote, to pass an exam, walk away.
    A tray full of GOLD is not worth a moment in time.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by NZdick1983
    In my experience/opinion, it depends on the teacher and how he/she uses (or abuses) that skill. I have tried both, 1 full year teaching without the use of any Thai whatsoever... following year (after requesting permission from Sister of my Catholic school) using Thai (only when needed).. then comparing the results...
    Seems about right to me...

    Quote Originally Posted by BobR
    Government school, have a nice classroom that I furnished with all the above. Even put in 6 industrial fans to cool it, it's by far the most comfortable classroom in the school. I don't believe children can learn when they are hot and miserable.
    A game that I've adapted is the stair game:

    Divide the class into two teams. I use an antique katana for the purpose.

    A student on team one writes a word on the board: ex: rat

    A student on team two writes a word on the board using the last letter of word above: ex: tiger

    If students can't come up with a word, then it's game on for you! You can ask students "What word starts with the "ruh" sound?" You can use flashcards as hints for the lower levels and verbal prompts for the older.

    Works a treat.

    Picture Dictation:
    Draw yourself a picture, then read a description of the picture to the students. Make sure they have colors and a piece o' paper to draw on.

    P2: There is a small girl. She is playing with a big, brown dog. The girl has a pink dress. She is fat but very pretty.

    From there increase the content, position and details...

    There is a small girl sitting under an umbrella. She is drinking orange juice. She is reading her math book. Behind her is a vampire about to drink her blood.

    Afterwards, explain your description and show the pictures that match the parts of your explanation. This is where the learning happens, students want to understand what you said and what it means so they'll get it right the next time.

    Spelling Death Match:

    Print out two copies of the vowels and two copies of the consonants for a team. Give each team a "pack o' letters" and then ask them to spell a word. You can use this with phonics as well. "Spell a word that has the "sk" starting sound.

    You can also use these packs to start sentence building.

    Lastly, keep a "star sheet" or some such thing of the students activities so they can see their progress.

    Powerpoint Games:
    There's tons to download. I've got several that I edit to use as review material prior to test time to make reviewing less boring for the students.
    Last edited by CSFFan; 16-07-2015 at 09:53 PM.

  24. #24
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    Still think it's amusing that a lot of bar girls speak better English than the Thai English teachers.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by the dogcatcher View Post
    Still think it's amusing that a lot of bar girls speak better English than the Thai English teachers.

    You are incorrect. In my experience " all bar girls speak better English than the Thai English teachers. "

    The ones I worked with were dreadfully poor.

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