Thursday, December 22, 2011

Go East, Old Man

We have talked about moving to Thailand for the last five years.  Nee came here six years ago, giving up a career she had loved for 20 years.  I had made the assumption that she would be able to jump back into her work here and we would move forward from there.  A word of caution to any of you who have fallen madly in love with a foreigner.  Be aware that whatever he or she had at home probably won't be available here.  Nee ran into people who were rude to her just because she had an accent.  I had never been aware of such stupidity until I married her.  Despite the fact that most Americans are speaking with worse grammar each new generation, people here, as a group, think foreigners should speak like English professors.  Too bad. 

In Thailand it is the opposite.  Any attempt by me to speak the language with locals is welcomed and encouraged.  Thai is a difficult language with its five tones, but mostly phonetic once you learn to read it.  I do get funny looks when I mispronounce things but generally people are far more forgiving.

Teachers in America are also a downtrodden class.  Even the IRS has rules directed at them to prevent them from being able to buy much-needed supplies for their classes.  If that same teacher worked for a corporation as a trainer, he could buy whatever he could dream of, so long as management is ok with it.  Teachers get very little respect from students or parents.  Despite that, teachers here are dedicated to their work and can't imagine doing anything else. 

I have been studying a website,, for several years now.  It is a site dedicated to teaching in Thailand.  An Ajarn is a teacher or professor.  I have gotten the straight talk from many teachers there.  Some have many complaints about working for schools while others speak very highly.  From what I can tell, the good and bad are determined by the quality of the school and the quality of the teacher.  As a rule, students respect teachers, provided the teachers act their age and understand the role they are in.  Similar to our politicians.

From reading the website, I have gotten a pretty good idea of what I will be up against and I am excited about it.  I have taught classes to both adults and children and learned more than the students as I put the lessons together.  I tutored a couple of people in Colorado at a literacy program there.  I was humbled by how much effort one has to make to speak clearly here.  I learned how to teach someone to make L and R sounds, another how to read and how to make letters into words.  Each time, when I saw their eyes light up, I knew I had reached them.  That is what I am aiming to do in Thailand.

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