Each morning starts the same.
Student - Good morning, Teacher Roy.
Teacher - Good morning. How are you?
Student - I am fine and you?
Teacher - I am fine. Where is the assembly today?
Student - Silence
Teacher - Where.....is.....the......assembly.......today?
Student, smiling - Yes.
Teacher - Where?
Student - Yes.
Many conversations seem to go that way. Otherwise, they giggle and run away.
Today we had an assembly. Depending on which teacher I ask, I either had some or no classes today. Though I was prepared, I also thought that my classes were tied up in an assembly learning all about AIDS. I was also required to attend one hour of one only to sit in the back, listening to it all in Thai. As I was leaving the assembly hall, I was told that I had a class to teach. I was already 10 minutes late when I arrived.
With a class of 50 or so, you need to have a microphone. I had forgotten mine and had to run down to the first floor from the third to get it. When I got back, I plugged it in only to find that the plug was dead. Often I have to twist the wire and mike base in varying directions to get it to work. Sometimes I am successful though not today. Yesterday, I was trying a technique I learned about where I make a statement and then have the students answer me, standing and yelling the answer. The theory is that by giving simple statements and asking simple related questions, they will be able to improve their conversation skills. My voice was already shot from yesterday where I had a mike. Today, I had to do it alone...in my class of 50.
Some days I feel a bit like a Baptist preacher, walking up and down the aisles of the classroom, getting the audience excited and yelling. It gets my heart beating and covered in sweat. As it was a new technique, they were a bit shy at first. Then I had a breakthrough and they seemed to get it. I only spoke for a few minutes and then concluded to say I would continue the practice in all the future classes. My goal is to teach them conversation skills.
In the meantime, during much of the day, a young lady in my freshmen class kept running up to me with her prepared speech for a contest she will be attending in Bangkok tomorrow. I cleaned up her grammar and helped her with pronunciation. The speech had, unfortunately, been written by another teacher who didn't have as good a command of English as my student and she was frustrated with it. I said, "just speak from your heart. You know the subject and you speak very well."
With that, she went off to practice for another hour and then came back to practice. Later I saw her walking out to the parking lot, almost skipping, in her anticipation to go to Bangkok.
That is a typical day for me of communication. My dream would be to get at least 10 % of the students to speak even half as well as my Freshman girl. I just hope my voice can hold out.