Can you imagine teaching someone who can’t understand your language whatsoever and you also don’t have any idea of language they use? What will the class be like? Do you think it is a big problem or just a challenge?
First, let me tell you a little story that you may find beneficial. Thailand was not in my country list to visit to when I become a teacher. In fact, I think Indonesian students have much better English proficiency than Thai students. But, as people say that chance does not come twice, I am really interested to join the program to broaden my insight. Opening one gate can trigger other gates to open. This is what I thought when accepting this chance to teach abroad in Southern Thailand.
To start with, let me tell you about Southern Thailand. It is a unique place with interesting culture, language and people. We can find that Islam is the majority religion here. It is different from the northern part of Thailand. People here speak Thai influenced by Malay. Thai, Malay, and Chinese people live together in this region. In some places, even you feel it was not in Thailand.
At the first time, it was very difficult to teach them. Explanation was just wasting time. Even though I sometimes used Malay, it was not too helpful because the difference of Malay language here and Malay language we know. So, I decided to use vivid materials, repetitive instructions, abundant examples and analogies, and non-verbal communication in my class. So, it’s true that language is universal as I studied it in my university.
Pronunciation and spelling were two aspects I highlight as the most difficult to teach. Really, Thai people find it difficult to pronounce some sounds. Also, their spelling isn’t too good because their first written language is Thai which has different characters than Latin alphabets. Mostly, English teachers in Thailand don’t use English as their medium of instruction. Excessive grammar practice is a habitual activity for the students here. Students seem reluctant and afraid to speak English. Sometimes you need to plod to get your message across.
The school I teach in is a private school. It is not directly under the authority of The Ministry of Education of Thailand. Teaching language isn’t just like in other schools. We have international teachers and some subject teachers even use English as their medium of instruction. Exposing English to the students during the school time is recommended. My co-English teachers were from Guinea and Russia. They highly expose English as the only one medium in the classroom. Looking at their teaching style, it is really awesome. Some teachers were really good in English language, tough they are not English subject teachers. Our principal insists us to use English as much as possible regarding to the objective to be a leading International school. Our school is developed with the help of Turkish Foundations such as Diyanet Vakfi and Insani Yardim Vakfi. So, it is not surprising to see many Turkish people visit our school. Once in a year, they come to make gathering and students show some performances involving all students.
Overall, this joyful experience really pleases me. “Connecting the dots” lending a popular quote from Steve Jobs, our life contains experience once we can see and hear. Discovering a novelty from a place, food or culture is very exciting. If you are someone who has high curiosity, this will be something pleasant. One of my favorite things is learning new language. Learning Thai language is somewhat difficult, learning a written and spoken are equally different. That’s why Thai Language is to be said as one of the hardest language to learn.
Last but not least, I would like to thank University of Muhammadiyah Purwokerto who takes me to learn many things here. I wish many advancement and progress continuously take place in the university. I am also really delighted to see that English Education Department is rapidly stepping forward in producing apt English teachers to be ready for the most challenging job that is teaching!