Sawaddee ka (hello)
During my second year of university I decided to join the camp Thailand experience where I worked with children in schools and summer schools in Thailand. This involved teaching children any topic but in my language, English, to then develop their knowledge and use of the language. From this, I also gained a Teaching English as a foreign language certificate (TEFL)
My first week I was in a summer school with children aged 7 to 10 and 11 to 14. Both groups had limited English and it was difficult for me to teach the planned session. The children understood basic English and some children were further developed than others in English. I quickly understood when working with children who have EAL you need to be extremely patient and also use communication in other forms, such as face expressions and a lot of hand gestures. As well as this it supported my teaching to ensure I was clear in my speech as well as repetitive.
The session we taught in summer school was about bodies. We ensured our activities were fun and active so the children did not become bored. The children in this school spoke little English and the activities needed to be altered for the children’s needs. For example we planned to teacher the children the game of ‘Simon says’.
This was very difficult due to the language barrier so we decided to spend more time on the fun games such as the sticky note game. This involves all children having a sticky note and they had to stick it on the part of the body we said. This was fun for the children and helped us assess which children knew which body part.
In the summer school is was very informal and the teaching consisted of a lot of games to create a bond and create conversation.
During our time at Camp we learn some basic Thai language to help us live in Thailand as well as teach. I learnt how to count to 50 in Thai. I learnt how to say thank you, hello and simple commands for the class room such as make a circle or listen please.
The second week I was in a private Summer school with ages 6 to 9 on one day and ages 4 and 5 the next. The children in this establishment were a lot more advanced with their English. Again we had to teach using a lot of gestures and clear voices but the children understood a lot more. With the first group we used the body activity from the previous week and adapted them to the children’s needs. As their English was better we made the games more complex in terms of English. The children caught on really well and through assessment, of questions at the end, we were able to see they understood body part names in English. The next activity we did was related to animals. The children were shown different animals on cards and then we played guess who, where the children where shown an animal card at random and had to act it out to their group, who guess the animal. The children really enjoyed these activities and it gave me an opportunity to assess their knowledge of animals.
The final day was the EYFS age. I loved this age as this is my minor specialism so experiencing this age with EAL was a great opportunity. The children’s English was good for their age as they could have a simple conversation with you. The activities we did were all based around colours and we planned to carry out games with the children and adapting them in terms of colours. The children lived twister and this game supported our assessment of their English knowledge. The children also really enjoyed singing English nursery rhythms and all knew them very well.
When visiting the second school it was identified that there were children with SEN . It was nice to see the children being treated equally and seeing that one to one support was there for the children. Their English was not as strong so this was difficult for myself to support them however they were all eager to join in. The SEN ranged from down syndrome to autism.
This experience has gave me a great amount of experience with children who have EAL and also developed my knowledge and pedagogy when teaching children with a similar need. Also the experience gave me many lessons about culture and Thailand.
Of course I learnt parts of the language but I also learnt about the culture. Thai people are very proud and respectful of their religion and their King who sadly passed a year ago. Also I had to ensure I always bowed my head to monks or people older than me, as it was a sign of respect. I learnt that teachers are very respected in Thailand as the first teacher in Thailand was a Monk and now teachers are seen as the same importance as a monk.
When I was in Thailand I visited many Temples. They were all extremely beautiful. I also had fun bamboo rafting and visiting waterfalls.
I visited an elephant sanctuary which shown me the devastation tourists and trade can do to the beautiful animals. This was one of my favourite days as I was able to look after the animals and support their journey to recovery.
Finally the most heartbreaking moment of the trip was visiting a local orphanage. This night will be one to remember for a long time as it shown me how little some children can have but how happy and thankful they can be when they receive something you or I wouldn’t see as a luxury. We raised over £600 for this orphanage and donated toys and pizza that night as well as love and time spending with the children. Their happy faces when they received colouring pens or a teddy bear was a memorable image in my head for many years to come. I have added the link to their Facebook if anyone would like find out more information.
From this experience I have set myself a target to work with a child in the UK who has the need of EAL and compare the experiences and use this experience to help me with the child’s learning.
Another target I would like to do it to use my learnt Thai vocabulary on my next placement as a shared experience will benefit the children.
Karb koon ka (Thank you).