“I played badminton yesterday. I like badminton.”
Since that was the only thing my still-not-quite-awake brain could think of saying for my morning speech, I left it at that today. Pilot the headmaster took over from there and according to Bubpha’s translation made a few comments about how good my Thai handwriting was during yesterday’s Thai Language Day events. Apparently he’s now set all the students a competition to write more fluently than I can by next week. I feel like he’s exaggerating my talents a bit.
My morning involved a lot of dancing. I think the one, and probably only, thing that anyone misses from English Camp is the songbook that we recited from for about half an hour in each section, which included tunes ranging from how English Camp gave us “joy to be together” to a song pondering why elephants are big and chickens are small. These appear to have been moved to class lessons instead now, so in both Prathom 3 and 6 today I was standing at the front of the class for a good deal of time, attempting to remember each song’s dance moves but mostly just throwing myself around and hoping my actions looked passable.
I think the fact that I’m now fine with dancing like an idiot in front of the kids, as well as uploading photos to this blog showing myself dancing like an idiot in front of the kids, shows that I’m gaining a lot more confidence in standing in front of a class. But the differences between my afternoon and evening showed that being more comfortable in the school plays a large part of that as well.
We were back in the hall for Prathom 2 and 5 this afternoon, where with the former we played some more games involving throwing basketballs and asking questions. Our subject today was about how they were feeling, and although there were still some shyer kids who couldn’t answer questions as there often is, in general the class seemed to be a lot more enthusiastic. When I play football or hang out with the kids after school it’s generally with the older ones from Prathom 6, but I’m still getting to recognise most of the younger classes and, although I shouldn’t be saying it, I totally have favourites.
With Prathom 5 we split the kids into groups and I interviewed them about what food they liked before they played a traditional Thai game that involved two kids catching another from a circle of students and then asking if they would like to live with either their mother or their father (it was a bit confusing.) I also learnt a bit of Thai at the same time, so now I can at least remember that Shrimp Soup is Tom Yum Kung and that Pizza is… Well, the same, but that still counts.
In the evening I was picked up by Wirot again and we drove over to a nearby city for another English night class. This time it was with three university students, and it took place in the slightly odd location of the back of a phone shop, so I was occasionally distracted by customers walking in and out. The students ranged from 19 to 23 years old and had apparently been taking these classes for only a month, so I shouldn’t have really expected any fluent language skills, but it did surprise me a bit how much less confident they seemed than the students at Watphachi. I asked them a few basic questions that Wirot translated, which is when I found out that the 23 year old student had apparently been learning English since elementary school, which made the subjects they were learning about seem a lot more basic. I also asked them about their favourite food, and felt far too proud of myself for understanding Tom Yung Kum as Shrimp Soup when one of them started talking about it. I’ve memorised some more Thai, and it’s only taken me just over a month!
After our initial discussions we started on some workbook related things, and I realised that in general their pronunciation was a lot better than the majority of the Watphachi students. Still, whilst at school I think both mine and the students’ confidence is improved by playing off of each other, something that I’d like to think makes them want to better themselves in their English, here I obviously didn’t know these students well enough for that to happen, which meant that my role felt a bit limited. It certainly didn’t make me want to dance, at least.
At least the class meant that I got to see some more interesting sources of food. Wirot took me to the local market before the session which was swarming with various Thai sweets as well as buckets full of live turtles and eels, and afterwards we went to a restaurant on the outskirts of Phachi where I had Som Tam for the first time. I still can’t get over the generosity of everyone here, to the extent that I’m beginning to worry that I’m being a bit ungrateful since the teachers spend so much on me. I’ve just been paid for the month though, and coupling that with my growing cooking skills, I’m sure I can conjure up some food-based repayment soon.