A Few of My Favorite Videos

As promised, here are a few of my favorite videos to use with teaching English to little kids. I teach Anuban 3, equivalent to kindergarten back home, and I’d say most of these videos are targeted to kids ages 4-6 years old.

“The Busy Beavers Prepostions song” – I’m not usually a fan of most of the “Busy Beavers” videos, but this one has a really catchy chorus that my students LOVE. This song and the hand motions I’ve added have really helped my students remember the prepositions.


“Big, Big, Big” – This is another one that the kids really like to act out and it’s great to use when learning about adjectives.


“Can an Elephant Jump?” – This song teaches all about what animals can and can’t do. My students love acting it out and it’s a good way to help the kids get some energy out.

 

Motorcycle talents

For most of the teachers who come to Thailand, they’ve had little to no experience driving a motorcycle/scooter. Eventually you find yourself being so used to it that it’s nearly 2nd nature. And, seeing as the motorcycle is your only real form of transportation, you get pretty skillful at carrying just about everything you have to move.

 

It’s not uncommon, at all, to see people riding around with their bikes completely overloaded to unsafe levels. If Thailand is your first stop in S.E. Asia, you’ll be pretty amazed at what the locals can carry on their bikes. Once you’re out of Thailand and you visit Vietnam or Cambodia, it’s even more amazing.

 

I found myself thinking about this yesterday as I had myself, Tom, my school bag, his school bag, and 2 gigantic bags of laundry. That doesn’t sound all that impressive  once you’ve seen what the locals can do, but it was something I wouldn’t have tried to do a couple of years ago. You’ll get pretty good at doing this once you’ve been here for awhile. Every time you go shopping or pick up your laundry, you’ll have bags hanging off the side of your bike. If you’re here long enough, you’ll learn how to carry crates of ducks and chickens, and possibly a monkey or 2.

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Art/Posters

I love decorating, but being in Thailand only temporarily makes me wary of purchasing anything too big or too heavy. If it’s your walls, however, that are telling you that they are lonely, I may have a solution for you.

The Mathus crew (khrū, hehe) calls the Pier, the “Beer Pier.” I think we all know where it is, but if not, just sniff out the beer. Alright, Alright, just for the newcomers… Heading away from the bridge on Nam Muang, make a left when the road becomes a one way, aka you cannot go straight without darting in between traffic more than the pros we’ve come to watch out for. At the next intersection, make a right. The pier is on the left past a few fruit stands.

So across the street from this pier, on the right side of Sweet Kitchen if you’re looking at it, there’s a great book store that has a large selection of posters. They also sell school and art supplies. From academic posters to the royal family and more, there is surely something in there that would look handsome in your home. Since mailing substantial weight is expensive, consider mailing your friends or family a fun Thai poster describing all of the Thai herbs… in Thai!

I haven’t been inside, but there is another book store on the corner of Rajutid and Chom Kasem. It would be on the left if you were travelling down Rajutid towards Chon Kasem.

I spotted another gem of a store on Talad Mai, shortly past Wat Pho on the left. They sell real paintings, in a plethora of subjects, advertised for 600 baht. Not sure if that was a sale, or a price for a specific piece or size, but it’s worth a peek!

 

Christmas Break!

This is the last week of school at Thida before our Christmas break begins. Actually, it’s not even a full week. There are no classes on Friday, and there will be plenty of parties and canceled classes throughout this week. December is a pretty easy month at Thida, what with there not even being 1 full 5 day work week.

 

Our classrooms have been decorated by our students with tinsel and Christmas cards written in English and some classes are learning Christmas songs. It’s all pretty interesting considering that almost none of the students or teachers actually celebrate Christmas. My class will be having a Christmas party with a gift exchange on Thursday. We’ll probably watch Home Alone and I’ll most likely bring in some sort of food for them. I considered pizza, but the logistics present a problem. I have the sneaking suspicion that my Thai teacher is going to buy me a shirt because my kids were trying to sneakily find out what size shirt I wear last week. Today they were asking me what my favorite color is.

 

Friday night we’ll be having a Christmas party at Thida, which we unfortunately have to perform at. We’ll be dancing to “What does the Fox say?” but with a twist. “What does the Farang say?” That’s what we’ll be doing and if it goes well it should be good for a laugh or two.

 

I’m looking forward to getting out of Surat for a couple of weeks since I haven’t left town since our October break. I’ve got a bit 4 day liveaboard diving trip planned in the Similan islands. I’m excited to try out my new dive watch. Once we’re back from our 2 week break the semester will nearly be over!

Noisy Neighbors

A couple months ago, we moved out into “The Container” – a home constructed of two built-out shipping containers that’s been passed down through SE teachers for a few years now. It’s surrounded by jungle overtaking a coconut plantation. There’s all sorts of vegetation everywhere and it’s a peaceful place to sit and listen to the sounds of birds, insects, and the wind in the trees. It’s especially relaxing during a heavy storm when the rain pounds the tin roof and wall.

Our landlords and neighbors right next to us are all also very friendly and pretty quiet. However, once every couple of days, some other nearby neighbors crank up their car audio system to obscene levels. They blare random combinations of Thai and American pop music, with both throbbing bass and piercing tenors. It usually only lasts 5-10 minutes, but for those few minutes all the peace of the jungle is consumed by their sound system. Birds are replaced by Bird. And then suddenly, it stops. The sounds of the jungle start back up and all is at peace again.

Tonight, instead of blaring pop music, these neighbors decided 10:30 pm is the best time to start using a power saw. Fortunately, this doesn’t make the container thump, but it’s yet another one of those times you just have to smile, shake your head, and say “This is Thailand.”

Using Videos in Class

One of my favorite things to use in class is sing-a-long videos. If you teach Anuban, P1, or P2 you will find LOADS of great videos on YouTube for this age group, specifically sing-a-longs. You can find lots of great videos for older kids too, it’s just that there is an abundance of great videos for the younger ones, about almost anything you could imagine.

In class, I usually introduce a new video once the kids are at least a little familiar with the vocabulary. I would suggest always watching any video you want to use in class all the way through and then thinking about how you want to present it to the kids, what questions you want to ask, what you need to pre-teach before they watch it, and if you want to add any hand motions.

The first time I show a video in class, I play the whole thing and tell the students, “No talking or singing the first time.” Then, we watch it one more time. This time I pause the video, stopping to ask questions, have conversations about what is happening, and to let the kids make comments. Then, I play it one more time and let them sing along. Some of the videos and songs are really catchy and it only takes a few times before the students start singing along. I’ve gotten my students to learn some pretty difficult vocabulary a lot faster by using these songs. They are really a great tool for helping the students learn about a new topic. Also, I always overhear students singing the songs to themselves outside of class, which is great!

(Side note: I use the projector in my MEP class to show these videos. IEP and regular classes don’t have a projector, but that’s okay because you can still use your laptop or iPad. I use my iPad all the time to show flashcards and sing-a-long videos in my IEP and regular Anuban classes).

Stay tuned for my next post about my favorite sing-a-long videos for young kids!

Up To Brew!

Thai food is renowned as one of the best cuisines in the world. Thai beer… not so much. It would certainly be an understatement to say Thai beer isn’t that great. To be fair, when it’s frigid, it’s drinkable. But Singha, Leo, and worst of all, Chang, are not exactly fantastic lagers to indulge in. So what to do when you need a beer fix?…

You could always take a trip out to Tops at Central and pick up some Weinstephaner brews, a dark Beer Lao, or a Cooper’s Pale Ale. Even a Heineken or a Tiger will be a big step up from the national beers here. The import selection is not actually that bad. But there’s another, even better alternative.

Make your own.

Jade, Dave, and I recently acquired a full set of brewing equipment along with some supplies to get started, thus unofficially establishing the Up To Brew Co. We bought the equipment off another teacher in town who has a wealth of beer knowledge and brewing advice he’s also shared with us. A few months in, and we’ve brewed up a hoppy brown ale, a spiced pumpkin ale, and a peach wheat beer, and we’ve got a recently finished honey chestnut brew ready to drink as well. The wheat beer is the best we’ve brewed up so far, actually a quite fantastic beer. But even the others have been a huge improvement over drinking the Thai stuff. We’re learning quickly and mastering the process, and I fully expect our beers to continue getting even better. Next up we’ll likely brew up a hefeweizen, an Oktoberfest marzen, a pale ale, and/or a coffee porter.

My mouth started watering just typing that. Now I’ve gotta go savor a Peach Wheat and order some ingredients to keep the good stuff flowing.

Stuff Thai People Like: Nickname Nicknames

Every Thai person has a nickname. For some students it’s an English word, often referring to an inanimate object. For others it’s a Thai name, probably referencing something similar. And then there are the absolute classic Thai nicknames. Donut. Gun. Big C. Fourmost. Jedi. Shogun. Pee. Poo. Fluke. Meow. These are all amazing, and hearing new funny nicknames never seems to get old. But I’ve noticed a new phenomenon among my students recently.

The girls in my P4 MEP class have begun giving themselves nicknames for their nicknames. There are two girls named Cream in my class. Yes, that alone is funny. But to distinguish one from the other, they’ve announced they are now going by “Creamy” and either “Creamberry” or “Creamberly”, depending on the day. I always get a good chuckle when I call on Cream and the class replies, “Creamberly or Creamy?”
Another student is no longer content to be called BamBam. She is now Bambie.
Bell now goes by Bella.
Beauty is Bew.
Yok is Tanyok.
Guitar is Gaty.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. I love the goofiness of Thai culture. Why the need for a nickname nickname? I have no idea, but I’m definitely appreciating the daily humor my students provide, often without even knowing.

Bye Bye Rainy Season

Since the month of June, the south of Thailand has seen a lot of rain. June starts out the rainy season pretty heavily but it wanes slightly throughout July and August. It picks back up a little in September but by mid-October and throughout November it pours nearly every day and the sky is a constant grey. The canal that runs along the side of my bungalow has been flooding into my neighbor’s yard and the pond in our backyard is higher than ever. Not to mention, the grass in our yard turned to a mud pit over the last few weeks and the whole ground feels like a sopping sponge.

Luckily, rainy season is on its way out. We’ve had some lovely weather showing up for more than a day at a time, which seems like a real rarity these days. I’m looking forward to breezy blue afternoons that don’t involve me getting soaked every time I sit on my motorcycle.

I think everyone is really looking forward to the next couple of months.