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teaching English

First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016

Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

Class 1: Introductory English

GPS waypoint: 14°33'25.4"N 101°31'45.0"E
Location: 174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand

Day 1 English Class
Finally, after 11 days at Thai Plum Village, I got to teach my first English class. It was for 8 monks who would soon be going to Germany and needed a crash course in English. 3 monks had to work on their visa and couldn't make it to class but we were joined by a nun who also wanted to sharpen her English skills.

peoplescape

Measured Introduction
I first introduced myself, talking about where I come from, how old I am, my hobbies and my reason for coming over to Thailand. It was a measured introduction. After, I asked them to raise their hand if they understood what I said. It was my way of determining their English comprehension.

Pronunciation
I had to make them introduce themselves the same way I did in front of the class - just to build that confidence in them that it's ok to talk English in front of people. While listening to them talk, the glaring need was for them to pronounce the words right and connect those words properly using the right articles, prepositions and conjunctions. I would stop them at every sentence to show them how the sentence could be made better and how the words should be pronounced. That was the scope of the first class.

2000 Mistakes
A French chef who once was the pastry chef to the Sultan of Brunei once told me that he got to be a good chef after making 2000 mistakes. That gave me an idea. If Vietnamese people don't speak up English for fear of making a face-losing mistake, why not re-orient them that making mistakes is actually the coolest thing to learning? That they cannot be good English speakers until they make 2000 mistakes! The benchmark for learning then would be the number of mistakes. The more mistakes, the more they would have learned. They have to keep talking English in order to rack up 2000 mistakes. Being shy was not an option.

Phonemic vs Long/Short Vowels
I was urged to teach them pronunciation using phonemics. After scrutinizing its methods, I concluded that using phonemics to teach English is adding a needless layer of difficulty. For instance, "car", "ball" and "about" all have 'short A' but they are represented by 3 different phonemic symbols. Why not just use 'short A'? English is not a phonetic language like Vietnamese. I taught them the long and short vowels - and this significantly simplified the process for them.

Teaching Objectives
I told them that my 2 primary objectives in teaching the class was to dispel the fear of mistakes and to get them to talk. Of course I would teach them grammar and spelling, but my focus was in getting them to talk. Vietnamese people learn English in school - they already have English inside their heads but they can't express it verbally. The Vietnamese teachers themselves don't have a good command of English, and that inefficiency is inherited down the line. The students are afraid to speak up because they don't know how to put the words together to convey their thoughts. First, I had to assure them that it's ok to make mistakes and second, I had to get them to speak up.

The Students
What I noticed was that my students were all smart, assertive and highly educated - at least the few I had a chance to interact with. I teach them something new and they easily pick it up. When I ask them to write something on the board, the penmanship is university grade. Even on their notebooks, the handwriting is impeccable. Unlike students from the Philippines who are essentially docile (tough-talking activists who turn into sheep in the presence of a teacher), these Vietnamese are respectful but speak their minds, even suggesting to me how things can be run better. I value their input and implement the sound ones accordingly.

Expanding Horizon
I had an afternoon class as well, attended to by the nuns. The following day, my morning class ballooned to 11 monastics and my afternoon class grew to 5 nuns. It was overwhelming and exhausting talking for 2 straight hours during my morning class, but at the same time, fulfilling. I will teach four days a week. The rest of the days together with my free time will be devoted to teaching yoga at 4pm daily and monastic practices - morning meditation, walking meditation, evening meditation and chanting. As good fortune would have it, I'm also learning Tai Chi from one of the monks who is attending my English class. Life doesn't get any better than this.

--- TheLoneRider

Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

with direction coming from Bangkok

GPS waypoint: 14°33'25.4"N 101°31'45.0"E
174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand



Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

Location: 174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand
Tel: +66(0)2-885-5980
Email:visitus@thaiplumvillage.org

Blogs on Thai Plum Village

  1. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  2. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  3. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  4. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  5. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  6. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  7. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  8. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  9. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  10. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  11. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  12. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016

How to Get to Plum Village from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport

You are encouraged to arrive at the Center Friday afternoon between 2-4 pm
  1. Suvarnabhumi Airport to BTS Train Line by TRAIN
    there is already a direct train from the airport that goes all the way to Bangkok with a final stop at Phaya Thai. Upon airport arrival, go down to Basement and take the Airport Link train to Phaya Thai Station. Get off and walk (.8km) to the Phaya Thai BTS Station | 35 mins | Baht 45
  2. Phaya Thai Station (N2) - Victory Monument Station (N3) by TRAIN
    board the BTS train heading to Mo Chit. This takes you north but get off at Victory Monument Station (N3) which is just one stop away
  3. Victory Monument Station - Plum Village by VAN
    upon arriving at Victory Monument, take Exit 4 and go down to the basement and walk 100 meters towards the Suzuki Showroom. Across is a pool of vans. Line up at ticket counter No.18, "Jamnong tour" for the trip all the way to Plum Village, Pak Chong. (Baht 500), 3.5 to 4 hours. Take the 11am or 12 noon van to ensure you arrive at the center before 4pm.

How to Get to Pak Chong (Proper) from Bangkok by train

ignore this if you plan to go to Plum Village. Take the direction above instead
  • If you are arriving Bangkok and would like to proceed directly to Pak Chong without spending a night in Bangkok, best to take a plane that will land in Don Mueang Airport in time for the #71 Train (Bangkok to Si Sa Ket) to stop at the MRT Train Station, Bang Sue, which is only a short walk from the airport. Train schedule at Bang Sue Station: Fri 10:27am, arriving Pak Chong 1:30pm. Express aircon car (Baht 289), non aircon (Baht 198). Duration is 3 hours, stopping right in the heart of Pak Chong. From Pak Chong.

    You can also take the train from the main terminal near the center of Bangkok at the MRT Station, Hua Lampong Railway Station. Departure, Friday 10:00am.

Plum Village Cost Index

(US$1 = Thailand Baht 35.77 = Php 47.52 as of Feb 28, 2016)
  • Baht 500 van from Victory Monument to Plum Village
  • Baht 289 Express train from Bang Sue MRT Station (Bangkok) to Pak Chong Train Station, aircon (non aircon, Baht 189)
  • Baht 500 taxi from Pak Chong to Plum Village (call this taxi number, Mr. Khun Paisan: 085 772.4519 for the trip to Plum Village)

Things to bring if staying overnight

  1. mosquito repellent
  2. hat/umbrella
  3. flashlight
  4. not a requirement, but it helps if you bring clothing in the dark brown color in order to blend-in
Adventure Hostel Bangkok

Adventure Hostel Bangkok

Location: 1541 Phahonyothin Rd., Payathai, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: 062 527 2581
Hours: open 24 hours
Features: central location by the N7 Saphan Khwai BTS train station, clean aircon rooms, fast and reliable internet, staff who will go the extra distance for you, reasonable rate
Nawa Sheeva Hotel Chiangmai

Nawa Sheeva Hotel Chiangmai

Location: 184/2 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, 50200 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Tel: 061.272.8008 / 053.326.583
Features: salt-water swimming pool, expansive space, big luxurious rooms, great hotel cafe using top-of-the-line espresso brewer
Nawa Saraan Hotel Chiangmai

Nawa Saraan Hotel Chiangmai

Location: 37/1 Singharat Lane 2, T.Sriphum, Muang Chiangmai, 50200 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Tel:
Features: upscale container-themed, luxury appointments, central location

Thailand Blogs by TheLoneRider

    Bangkok
  1. Loving Bangkok All Over Again Feb 22-26, 2016
  2. Adventure Hostel Review Feb 22-26, 2016
  3. Hotel Review: Riva Surya Bangkok Oct. 20, 2014
  4. The Shopping Malls of Bangkok Oct 6-20, 2014
  5. Bangkok's Street Food Delight Oct 6-20, 2014
  6. Bangkok Revisited 3 Oct 6-20, 2014
  7. Bangkok Dec 31, 2005


  8. Chiang Khong
  9. Ten Days in Chiang Khong, Thailand Apr 30 - May 9, 2016


  10. Chiang Mai
  11. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  12. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  13. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  14. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Chiangmai (Thailand) April 9-10, 2016


  15. Chiang Rai
  16. Exploring Chiang Rai, Thailand May 11-16, 2016
  17. Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun) May 15, 2016


  18. Chiang Saen
  19. Exploring Chiang Saen, Thailand Apr 28-30, 2016


  20. Mae Sai
  21. 4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand Apr 25-28, 2016
  22. Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016


  23. Pai
  24. Exploring Pai, Thailand May 19-24, 2016
  25. Visiting the Land Split in Pai, Thailand May 23, 2016
  26. Trekking the Ridges of Pai Canyon May 23, 2016
  27. Climbing up the White Buddha (Wat Phra That Mae Yen) May 21, 2016


  28. Pak Chong
  29. Pak Chong (Thailand) En Route to Siem Reap (Cambodia) Mar 20-21, 2016
  30. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  31. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  32. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  33. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  34. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  35. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  36. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  37. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  38. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  39. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  40. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  41. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016


  42. Phan District, Chiang Rai Province
  43. Yoga with Amm Prajna Pitchaya and the Sivananda yoga community of Phan May 16-18, 2016
  44. Visiting the Nam Lot and the Pha Khong Caves of Phan District May 18, 2016

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Reader Comments:

Jim WardJim
(Mar 11, 2016) 'Our' (Plum Village Sanghas/Philippines) first volunteer teacher GIGIT...gets started in Pak Chong, Thailand. Metta Gigit Sulit!

Mar 8, 2016

»» next story: Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics
»» next Teaching story: Sentence Expansion
»» back to Meditation
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