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GeoVisions Blog

Participant Stories

Teach In Thailand With Students Aged 11 To 60

Posted by Randy LeGrant | Sep 24, 2012 5:00:00 PM

Each week, GeoVisions posts an actual email from a Conversation Corps tutor, a Conversation Partner or a full time teacher abroad on a GeoVisions program.  We call the series, Help Me Teach Abroad.

Our Help Me Teach desk is manned by Betsy Bruneau, a full time ESL teacher here.  She gives teaching assistance to GeoVisions' participants by phone, email and Skype.  It is a FREE service that GeoVisions provides to all of our participants and they can have access to Betsy before they depart and during the program.  If we can help you be an amazing teacher or tutor, you will be happy, your students or host family will be happy, you will tell people they should try this out and we will have a repeat family and school.  And that's how we want to roll.

Browse By Tag BoxYou can find a lot of these posts by clicking on the Help Me Teach tag.  You can find that over on the right side of this screen.  The tag box looks like this one.  We put all of our Help Me Teach posts right there.  And who knows...one of these days we'll have enough to make up our own E-Book, which of course we'll give away for FREE.

Hi Betsy,

I've just arrived in Thailand to teach a mother, grandmother, and her young grandson .... Ages 11 to 60....there might be some other people coming too.

I have no idea where to start and looking at the resources. It doesn't seem to help me to assist with people who speak zero English and me no Thai. They really have no English so I can't even rely on one to translate or to lead...they look to me...I have an iPad and am using Google Translate which has been my saviour...so far we are concentrating on greetings and body parts...I've also shown them YouTube videos of Australia. They are all absolute beginners with no confidence and no English.

I'd appreciate any kind of suggestions, assistance, resources, anything you can suggest....

Kind regards

Kieran

Teach in Thailand with GeoVisionsWow, Kieran, you are really brave.  I think there is a lot you can do so please don't worry so much.  I am an ESL teacher in Connecticut where I also teach high school social studies and special education.  I have worked with children of every age and have taught a few years of night school.  Every age group has something to offer and I found the adults one of the most fun groups with which to work.

You will find out very early what each member of your group is capable of.  Many new speakers of English know some words but feel funny speaking.  Many can read or understand, but not speak.  You will probably find that there will be a leader, of sorts, in your group for which you can rely to translate or give you an indication of what the others are capable of or willing to do.

Since you are teaching adults, you need to assure that your lessons are high interest.  So begin by talking about the culture from which you come.  What do people do there for fun?  Where do you live?  What is the geography like?  Share pictures, magazines, photographs, postcards, etc. Show them pictures of your family and friends (if you are comfortable with this).  Show them what an 11 year old might be doing or what school is like.  Write key words on a board or piece of paper.  Use maps to find distance from Thailand to your hometown.  Take note of what countries you would travel over or through.  YOu can include other things like oceans, rivers, mountains, etc.  This will undoubtedly spark some discussion from which you can glean who your stronger English students are.   Do this kind of thing for more than one day.  You can ask them to write about what they like about Thailand or where they have traveled.  If they can't write it in English tell them to write in Thai or to draw a picture.  Trust me, this is not babyish.  Your subject matter is not juvenile, that's what makes the difference.

Next, bring in pictures and photographs of famous people and places around the world.  Ask them to name them and then write them on the board.  This also should spark some interest.  They can be pictures of current leaders of the world, pop stars, athletes, musicians, dead presidents, whatever.  Do the same with the land marks.  Then give a brief written description of each person or place.  When you are finished ask them to choose which person they would like to most meet or which place they would like to visit.  Ask them to explain why they made this choice and to write a brief explanation.  Focus on the conversational piece of it.

Text used with Conversation CorpsYou should focus on their interests even though they are different ages.  Google Translate is lovely and so is YouTube.  Are you from Australia?  Why not show them pictures of your family and friends and introduce titles at the same time.  Then ask them to introduce their family and friends through titles.

You can provide a writing prompt every day.  There are many on the internet.  Make sure they each have a Thai/English dictionary.  Tell them that they can answer first in Thai and then translate it.  Writing prompts are high interest and usually involve their own opinions about something.

Find articles in the newspaper and use google translate to develop questions for you to give to them.  I think you are on the right track.  Play simple games together, like card games.  Remember every time you talk to them you are using English and displaying proper usage.  Do jigsaw puzzles together to talk about colors or landforms.  Have them create books of geographical land forms by looking for them in National Geographic or on line.  My students love this activity.  You can do it at the same time, using Thai. 

You can also focus on what they would need to know if they were to travel to an English-speaking country.  They would need to be able to ask for directions, order food, follow directions, take a bus, etc.  Ask them what they would like to know how to do and role play.

I have lots more ideas, Kieran.  Write me when you know more about the members of your group and the levels of English.  I can't wait to hear.

Betsy

If you have comments for this tutor on Conversation Corps-Spain, feel free to use the Comments section below.  This is an open community and we're all eager to learn.

Written by Randy LeGrant

Randy is the Executive Director of the GeoVisions Foundation. He has spent the last 44 years managing organizations that send people abroad on cultural and educational exchanges.

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