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Volunthai’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 01 May 2018

MapIan and Yolanda, USA/Australia

On arrival in Nan Province, Mr Patiwat assigned us to help school children at Keungngammongkol Primary School, a villlage close to town. The school had 240 school children, from pre-school, Kindergarten to Grade 6. Each grade was a class of 30 students.

Ian was assigned to class/grades 4 - 6, and I was assigned to class/grades 1 - 3. We taught each class everyday for about 1 hour, a total of 3 hours/day, and preschool/kindergarten were taught once a week. For the rest of the day, we prepared lesson plans and researched for materials on the Internet. Ian used the school's course books as a guide for the lessons, adding his own worksheets, flashcards, games etc. I used more materials from YouTube.

After a few days of being in the classes, I noticed that the children enjoyed singing and exercises. I engaged the students by introducing new words to their vocabulary. Every day, I practically played the same songs ("Head, shoulders, knees and toes", "If you're Happy and you Know It", ringing in my ears! Lol) then checked on their memory of the new words they were supposed to learn from the songs. I noticed that the children had difficulty in reading and speaking English, and therefore practiced by reading lyrics of songs, practiced speaking by encouraging them to speak speak speak, pronouncing the words from the songs, and engaging them in simple conversation.

We committed to helping for one month, and as much as we would have wanted to extend our stay, we had already booked our flights out. I left the teaching materials I used to a couple teachers and asked them to continue to play the videos, with the hopes that the children retain the English words that they have put into memory, and engage in simple English conversations.

As to our homestay, we were hosted by the school deputy principal, Mr. Teerawat Kiddee, who spoke some English. We had a very spacious room, with a mattress set on the floor, and we were okay "Japanese style". We were also assigned our own Western toilet/wet bath. Mr. Kiddee did most of the cooking, if not buying prepared food. He and his son, Mark took turns on giving us a tour to the mountains and nearby places of interest on weekends, introducing us to local food and traditions, introducing us to neighbors who are actually relatives.

All the school teachers and staff were so accommodating and friendly, our stay for one month was an experience of mutual friendship and everyday joys and laughter. There was so much to learn from everyone including the children.