Teaching young learners in Thailand
By Abbey Brinklow
So there I was, sat in a kindergarten class with thirty little faces staring at me. This was my first time teaching young learners in Thailand and probably their first official English lesson too. I had no clue how they would respond to me. Would they laugh, cry, be frightened or produce any English at all?
Naturally, the first thing I said was “Hello”, hoping and indicating that they should repeat “Hello” back to me; nope, no response, just thirty little faces looking at me curiously. I repeated this many times but no luck. My brain was rattling with ideas before I finally started to clap my hands. Sure enough they started to clap with me. Their faces lit up, giggling and smiling thinking this was the best thing ever. I slipped in a “Hello!” whilst clapping and eureka: they repeated that golden word. The rest is history, they are now like parrots and repeat everything. There’s much more to do but this is a good start.
A kindergarten teacher might be a student’s first experience with a foreigner who is teaching young learners in Thailand. This is an extremely important stage which I feel privileged to be a part of. In addition to good lessons, generating fun and laughter will hopefully bring about the enthusiasm required for learning English–something I feel most Thai students desperately need. Making a difference, even if it’s just a small one, is what keeps me motivated to teach English in Thailand.
It’s now the end of my first week and I am now greeted with my students waving ‘Hello’ with massive smiles on their tiny faces.