The dogs are getting braver. I awoke and opened the schoolhouse door today to find one of them sleeping on the steps leading down from my room, which made it slightly more difficult to leave for fears of setting off a fit of barking. Still, I’m going to choose to see this as an indication that they’re starting to get used to me, and I’d like to think that they’ve all formed a little security team to guard my stuff from getting stolen. I bet he just fell asleep at the end of his nightshift.
After yesterday I think I’ve gained the reputation as ‘that English guy who can play guitar’, and I’ve ended up playing for various amounts of time in all of my lessons today. We played a game earlier that I can only describe as a ‘live’ pass the parcel, where I played guitar in the middle of our meeting hall whilst the kids passed flashcards to each other around a circle. these flashcards had simple words on them, and whenever I stopped playing guitar the student holding a card at the time had to read out to everyone what it meant.
Aside from that, Bubpha has been bribing her classes by saying that I’ll play something for them if they finish all of their work in the lesson today, which of course put me under some more pressure into working out what to play on the spot. After reverting back to The Beatles again the teachers praised me for my ‘beautiful’ singing voice (their words, guys) but also asked me what the song was about as they understood none of the lyrics. I figured “it’s open to interpretation” wouldn’t be an answer they’d understand either, so i just said ‘love’ and left it at that. And let’s be honest, that’s correct, because it always is.
Also successful was the performance of Heads, Shoulders Knees and Toes that I pulled out this afternoon, as it turned out that most of the kids actually knew it, which meant they could dance and sing along. Finally, a success! I think I’ve found a song that I’ll be playing on heavy rotation in with all the different classes here.
Well, except maybe the Kindergartners, who had trouble picking all the actions up during my last lessons of the day. Instead I moved on to playing through Alphabet songs with them and simple nursery rhymes like Wheels On The Bus, which they also probably didn’t understand but at least they didn’t have to do anything other than clap along. More perplexing, however, was that one of the Kindergarten teachers stopped me in order to put on a Christmas CD so that the class could show me their dance moves to a VERY long rendition of Jingle Bells. I’m not sure whether I should be more confused by; the fact that these dance moves consisted mostly of hopping on one leg and clapping, or that we were listening to Christmas songs during July in an extraordinarily hot classroom with no one giving any sort of indication that they found it a bit weird.
I had dinner round Bubpha’s again and she gave me my first proper lesson in learning the Thai language. So far I’ve picked up how to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Thankyou’ which has got me through a lot, but I don’t feel right addressing most of the teachers in the school with English since most of them have little knowledge of. So that alone is enough motivation to try and learn Thai.
My only other experience with learning a second language has been getting a B in GCSE Spanish, but if you asked me to recite any today I could probably tell you that my favourite food is pizza, a bunch of dirty phrases that I learnt from a phrasebook I found on holiday once, and nothing else. With that in mind, I feel like I covered enough Thai basics to make me feel more confident on them – we practised for half an hour, and although it was mostly just Bubpha telling me key words and phrases whilst I wrote them down in a notebook I got a better grasp of day-to-day phrases and Thai numbers. Pronunciation seems a lot more difficult though. Thai words are all over the place when it comes to sounds and syllables, and it feels like I have to strain my voice to say even the most basic of words. I think if I can hold a longish conversation with someone by the end of my time here I’ll chalk it up as an achievement, even if it ends up being about how much I like pizza.