Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teaching English Vs. Learning Thai

A "sneaky peek".  This will be posted over at the ZOE blog too.  But I wanted to share it here with you because it has been such a cause for celebration this week!

A few months ago a new student started in my English class.  Hesitant to participate and having never learnt English before, she quickly withdrew and decided that it was just too hard.  Given the circumstances of her past and remembering my own tearful experiences of learning Thai when we first moved here, I didn’t push the issue, instead agreeing to just let her sit in the room and listen.
About a month ago, she starting bringing her English book to class and wanting to join in.  It has been so challenging for her.  To pronounce the words is extremely difficult for her and to remember the vocabulary, seemingly impossible.

Recently, one of the ZOE volunteer staff organized a Thai tutor to come and teach the Thai language at ZOE.  It has given all of us 'non-Thai speakers' the opportunity to learn to read and write Thai at our workplace.
It has been fairly challenging so far.  For some of us, to remember the Thai vocabulary and symbols seems (equally) impossible!

And so I find myself between these two worlds.

Teaching English, where the progress is slow and sometimes leaves me questioning what was actually achieved, and being a learner myself and seeing how gradual my own progress is – causing me to wonder whether I’m ever going to “get it.”
This morning, I went to teach my first English class as usual.
But something was different.  Very different.
The girl I mentioned earlier was actually smiling as she recited her reading list with the rest of the class.  The boys, who just a few months ago were hiding under the desk, were practicing their words too… and then they all did handwriting and… participated in the game I’d prepared… and they even came and wrote some answers (in English) on the board.  I nearly had to pinch myself.  Was this the same class?
Just when I was asking “Is it all worth it?” I realize again that it is!  It is!
These children are totally worth the waiting for.
It was the breakthrough that I had been praying for.  Where their trust begins and their determination takes off… the start of a new season!
And, with my Thai study, I can only hope that I too find that level of determination.  That one day my Thai teacher will go home with a sigh of relief and quietly exclaim, “It was all worth it.  She finally ‘got it!’”
Thank you for your interest and support of all our ZOE children… they are totally WORTH IT!!


Chaplain's e-Corner said...

Oh the joys (and the frustrations) of teaching! Thanks Andrea for sharing.
Dad xo

Cross Family said...

Thanks Dad. Another great class today! It's so amazing to see all the personal achievements amongst the group.
From one very-excited-teacher!