Thursday, September 30, 2004

Thai Schools, Parents & Films

I was in a cinema down on Sukhimwit last week with a friend watching a Japanese movie called Azumi. Its basically a samurai movie with lots of sword slashings, blood spurtings and general mayhem and killings. Apparently it was based on a Managa comic of the same name. Obviously I enjoyed it. If it was back in farangland i would probably be only for 15 years or 18 years old and up. When the lights came up at the end I was surprised to see a young boy maybe about 7 or 8 years old lying across a couple of seats fast asleep and the parents sitting next to him

Now the question is - what where the parents thinking when they brought the kid to see the film? Did they know about the bloody content? Could they not find a baby sitter? Did they want to see it and didnt care if the kid got nightmares? Did the kid want to see it? Who knows but I have noticed that it is actually quite common to see young kids in movies that are plainly not suitable for them. Back home of course, there would be letters to the papers demanding that the kid be taken into care and out of the hands of the unfeeling parents because of innapropriate behaviour. But in a way Thailand is actually quite grown up and infact more so because it says do what you want, we the government are not a nanny to look afer you and hold your hand.

Another example is this school. There is a large audio visual room with tapes and videos to borrow and show the kids. There is the usual range of Disney and animals videos but there are also some surprising ones. A few weeks ago a teacher went down to get a video and asked about a particular title - she didnt know what the film was about - and the thai staff said yes its ok its a martial arts movie with jet Li and Bridget Fonda. She showed the film to the kids who were actually quite bored apart from the action bits but she was surprised about the content. Its about a policeman framed by a corrupt policeman and he then has to tie up with a prostitute and kill various people to clear himself. This film was actually classed as only for over 18 year at home. Let me repeat, the thai staff said it was ok to show this film to 8 year olds.

Unreal, but then if this was the same as home, we would still be there!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

End Of Term Report Cards

Here we are, now stuck in the staffroom for another ten days before we have those wonderful training thoughts. At the moment - well, ok all the time, its fairly dull and tedious writing out the names, class details, sticking the little pictures of the kids to the insides of the report cards and then writing the same bloody commments for 140 kids.

The end result is that there is actually very little to write about. Supposedly we are here for the normal full teaching day but in reality - as I am writing this there are 4 teachers in the building and the two FUDs - everyone else has gone home at some point throught the morning. I suspect the first one went home about 1 hour after coming in. In a way its a little annoying from the "well he gets away with it so why do I need to do it" point of view but if I wanted / want to I could actually do much the same. Then the question is what would I do with the extra time? Read, listen to music, go on the internet? Well, in school the internet is free and a lot faster than most internet cafes. I have a little walkman with me to listen to music to and I can always watch tv later. I can read in an air con office or on the rooftop terrace beside the pool with a fresh beeze.... hang on that actually sounds quite good. I'm off. Ta Ta.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

End of Term Reward Certificates

Well, this is the day when I start to see the last of my little darlings as the timetable winds down and they head on to their Thai exams next week and I head off to a week of writing report cards and then trainzzzzzzzz. Ooops, I mean very interesting and vital training by our curriculum manager who has never taught in Thailand and incidentaly has still not given me feedback on an observation he did on me about 3 weeks ago now.

Supposedly the agency is going to give prizes to the student we nominate for student of the semester or whatever. I really think this is not going to happen - again. The students were supposed to get something from the Mid term exams in July but they never bothered their arses. So to make sure the good kids got something I made up a little certificate and awarded them to the best student - not always the one with the best scores but one that combined good scores, attitude and behaviour through the semester. The first class I gave it to, the rest of them crowded round the guy clicking imaginary cameras and gave him a round of appluase which was nice to see. The 2nd class were a bit more blase about it with a minorr ripple of interest and that was it. They are also getting a little prize as well - a sort of lucky dip. I have put all sorts of free gifts or confiscated toys in a bag and they make a blind grab at something. So far no complaints !

This means its also the last week for the teachers leaving us. The lady teacher in the room next to me is a bit of a laugh, I dont always agree with her style of teaching but at the end of the day she gets the message across which is the main thing. But her room is normally a bit more boisterous than mine so today I got my own back. Today, towards the end of the lesson I heard the wall banging again. So I go the four boys in the last row to hit the wall in time - 1 2 3 Bang!, 1 2 3 Bang! But of course the rest wanted to join in so I let them as it will be the last time I see them until November. She said her whiteboard was almost jumping off the wall and her kids went silent as they hadnt a clue what was going on! Heehee!!!!

The next room down is the more mature american guy who is going to Costa Rica. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there are lots of available little boys. But he is really losing the plot. This week, he found a new angle. Some kids were misbehaving and he got them to take their shoes off and throw the shoes into the corridor!!!!!!! I suppose it makes a change from him just shouting " You will respect your teacher ! "

Youve got to laugh havent you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Thai Nicknames

Ok, the posts here have been a little downbeat in nature I agree. So here is something a little more lighthearted.

Nicknames - As most people know, thais have their name and a nickname. The nickname was originally given to "hide" the baby from eveil spirits, the reasonaing being that if the spirit didnt know the persons real name they couldnt do any harm. It seems to be the case know that the majority are given icknames simply because it is easier to say Apple rather than Praem-Thud or Pongsakorn all the time. Some of the nicknames are numbers - Neung, Song 1,2, colours Daeng, Dam, red, black, animals gob, pla, frog, fish or sizes Lek, Nit, Little.

It seems to have become the fashion now that more modern names are used and some seemingly grabbed out of thin air, making you wonder if the parents know what they are doing and what the word means. AMongst the kids I have taught are Beer, Benz, Golf, Earth, Kenneth, More, Big, Grand, Oil, Max, Guide, Best, Popeye, Mick, Most, Farm, Hopper, Oat, Bell, Park, Ball, Fred, Jame ( no this is not a mistype), James, Sea, Win and so on.

But the best one todate, is a kid I teach this year. Ladies and gents, I give you JAR JAR!

I dont know if this is after Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars but how else could he have go this name?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Computer Hogging and other Monday Moans

Yes, well the biggest moan is that after I had been typing it for 15 minutes the f@cking thing disappeared on me, so thats why there was an empty post for a while until I went back in to edit it.

Anyway. I finally managed to get onto a pc. The fat yank, I think I will call him Cleric from now on, decided yet again to hog one of the pcs from as soon as he got in to the moment he had to go and teach and then at every break. Even then that wasnt good enough for him. After the day had ended he came back into the staffroom and had the audacity to sit behind the ones who were using the pcs to "force" them off. He really has a very bad habit of doing this. He didnt even have the courtesy to speak to anyone, he just sat there.

He hardly comes into the staffroom now apart from to use the pc. Almost every morning you can set your schedule, come in, check who is on the pc - yup its Cleric and his little pal Mini Cleric. One is almost as bad as the other for hogging the pcs in the mornings. It doesnt matter if they have the first teaching period free or not. They are there until they have to go and teach - which reserves 2 of the 4 pcs we can use in the staffroom. Cleric also manages to reserve the pc in various ways - he leaves his email logged in and then goes to make coffee or photocopies or just chat to the others at the pcs or go and collect a book. And not forgetting to speak to his girlfriend on the phone every ( what seems like ) 15 minutes. ( she is one of those helpless females that seemingly cant do anything by herself and has to ask his opinion on how to do it - "How do I open the door baby? Well baby what you do is... " Eeuuuggghhhh! Thats what he treats her like, a baby and he calls her that all the time, pass the bucket. Please! He keeps on saying she is useless but he loves it, he loves the fact that he is there, charging in on his white horse, a shining knight to the rescue. I wonder if she is really that stupid sometimes and its all just an act and further down the line she will finanacially screw him for everything he has. Time will tell. Some of these methods reserve the pc up to 10 minutes! I would really love to say something but I know it would be taken as a personal attack on him - which it actually would to a certain extent.

This guy really has no sense of others - the surrounding world. He is so self centred and selfish that he doesn't think about what impact he has on the rest of the world. The concept of others appears alien to him - unless he can tell them how to do things of course!

Anyway, rant over for the day. Until next time. :)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Fridays' Staff Meeting

Well here we are again after yet another fun packed week. We had a special staff meeting today to reassure everyone that the agency isnt ruthless, insolvent, unscrupulous and otherwise out to screw its employees. Well, one out of four is pretty good I suppose.

The chief FUD ( remember the Fully Undynamic Duo ?) came out with one of his rousing flag rallying speeches. Well, umm, umm, remember, umm, that , umm, it is a ummm, hard ummm, time to be ummm specific ummm Prat, he even had the audacity to mention that we were viewed as the chief competitor to Inlingua in many area and he knew that by speaking to the marketing managers there. Err, yes you did, probably when you got interviewed or see them when you go in to pick up new course details because you work for them doing corporate work! A few of us raised our eyebrows but made no mention. I wonder what he would have said? Probably nothing and wormed his way out of it as usual.

Hey ho, Ryder cup weekend. Come on Europe!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Speaking Tests and Workbook Frolics

Here we are again and into a new week. Still, at least I finished the speaking tests. Its still amazing how after them saying good morning teacher how are you, I'm fine thank you and you every school day of their lives that they still sometimes find it impossible to answer that question on their own. "How are you?" "I am 8 years old" DOH !

So another couple of days of getting them to practice their reading and writing in the class by catching up with their workbooks - boring I know but a lot are way WAY behind on doing that type of work and it gives me the chance to catch up on marking the workbooks as well.

"Finish page 1, finish page 2, finish page 3 ....., finish page 48. OK?"
5 minutes later, "Passawich! Why are you on page 75? AARRGGGHHH!! "

I tried again to load a picture from Picasa last night - the program Google want you to use to add pictures to their blogs - and again it didn't bloody work. Grrr. Why cant they allow you to use Photobucket? Stupid.

I will try to get some pictures on here to make it more interesting for my loyal reader - whoever that sad bugger may be.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Thai Speaking Tests & Students Intelligence

Where did Wednesdays post go then? Hey ho, another post disappeared into the ether.

I tried putting up a picture as well from home using the Picasa software and it is horrible to use, it is not user friendly at all. Its also not helped by the fact that the connection at home is lousy - the highest I have ever got is 24kbps - even then I think that was wildly over stated.

Well, another batch of speaking tests done today and its much as I feared, they are dreadful - ahem - would be dreadful if we used the proper scripts. As usual the word came down that if we unhappy with the exam in any way we could change it. Which of course everyone has and the result is, it is no longer the prestigious Cambridge exams but some hotchpotch of things thrown together, subjective marking and some teachers aren't even doing speaking tests at all. They are giving a mark based on the performance through the year. Which sort of makes sense but again makes a mockery of the whole fact that the agency tells the world that we are doing the Cambridge exam. End result is, the average score is going to be much higher than I previously predicted. I have been so lenient, everyone has been given at least 1 mark.

In the school grounds there are some roads for all the cars to get to car parks etc etc. Yesterday we were leading classes from their play break lineups to their classes rooms. To get there we had to cross one aforementioned road across a pedestrian crossing. As it happens, one of the school minibuses comes along the road at the same time. One class hadn't fully crossed the road and was still partially on the crossing. Instead of the kids moving up or out of the way, they just sort of pointed at the van coming towards them and laughing. OOHHH! Look at that, a van is driving towards me, isn't that funny! Not, oh there is a van coming towards me, I will get out of the way. Oh no, that would be far to clever and require some sort of free thought. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Was sitting beside the big fat yank yesterday just at the end of lunchtime at one of the pcs. As I had a free period after lunch I stayed on but I suddenly realised that he probably shouldnt have been there. i looked over at a timetable for the group someone had pinned up above their desk and sure enough, he was supposed to be teaching. Although I was dieing to say something, I knew he would just take it as a personal attack - which to be honest it sort of would have been. I waited to see how long he would be there as he and Scruffy Doo have got a very bad habit of nt leaving until the very last moment or even later for their classes. The period started at 12.55 and eventually he wandered off about 1.30pm, not because he suddenly went Oh SHIT! I am late, but a very casual I suppose I had better go now. WTF?!?! The really, really sad part about it was he was speaking to the two FUDs ( Fully Undynamic Due aka the Project Manager and the Assistant Project Manager ) during the time he should have been teaching!!!!! :(

At the moment, as you know we are doing exams, now the thing is, his teaching group can do the exams as a group and sensibly do so, it is far easier than doing them all by themselves. But he should still be there, I mean surely he hasnt got it all sorted out so he doesnt have to be there and everyone else does the work? Surely? Hmm, unfortunately maybe he has. After all this is the guy who within a month of starting his first ever teaching job was telling a 3 year veteren who taught in Thailand and Japan how do do everything and how he had created this material and so on. The only thing is, a lot of it was created by me and the teaching group I was in the previous year. To my knowledge he hasnt actually contributed anything knew to the material bank - he just uses it and discards it! Whats the point of that? Selfishness, arrogance, lack of thought, not a team player..... Just about sums him up.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Terminal Tuesday

As you can probably tell the link between the title and the actual content of the blog entries are becoming more and more tenuous.

Today its reached the point of termination, there is no link, it just merely sounds better than yet another boring Tuesday doing tests hoping that they will actually colour the spider on the floor black after saying it 5 times and not colour the box on the desk black or colour things in randomly.

I haven't spoken too much yet about the work permit situation mainly because its too ongoing and the pissing me off scale is beyond comprehension. But needless to say I am having to jump hoops to get one. Its not so much the Ministry of Education wont think outside the box, its that they don't think. Its apparently too much for them to realise that the initials on the transcript are the full words on the certificate from the college.

Ah well, I start the speaking tests tomorrow.

"What is this?"
"No, what is this"
"What is this? Is it an apple, an orange or a tomato?"


"What is this?"
nod of the head
"What is this?"
shake of the head
"What is this? Is it an apple, an orange or a tomato?"

Some of the conversations with other teachers are great :)

Since starting this blog, I have noticed quite a few problems with it. It is quite inflexible. In order to load pictures, I have to use a special program, Picasso. It doesn't allow you to hot link from photobucket for example which is really bad.

And talking of really bad, the spell check is a lot of pants as well. I don't know where they got the vocabulary database from but its really very limited. It doesn't offer a reasonable amount of alternatives ie if I mistype "a mount", it doesn't recognise I have put in a space by mistake and tries to offer a whole load of unnecessary alternatives. PANTS! BIG GIRLS PANTS

Monday, September 06, 2004

Madhouse Monday

The first day of the tests started today and it's the usual chaos and reigning confusion.

You get the kids lined up outside their classrooms and you tell them get colours ( coloured pencils ), pencils, rubbers and a ruler, they disappear for 5 minutes and the next conversation goes like this.
" have you got colours?"
"where are they?"
"in the (class)room"
"get them "
and so on down the line so you end up repeating the same conversation 12 times out of 20 kids. Its definitely not good for your health. So after that, you go up to your classroom.
"OK, get your colours out"
"teacher, teacher"
"colours in the room!"
"what? you told me you had them, you waste of good pork on a stick - or in your case a good waste of a piglet or 3 on a stick"

Thus resulting in a quick decision, are they intelligent enough to understand when you tell them to write the colour next to the thing ie writing red next to the ball, when you say "colour the ball red" or should you le them run back down to the class to get the colours or just leave them to wallow in the swamp of stupity that they made for themselves. Difficult.

Exams are an easy and difficult time because you don't need to think too much, just pass out the papers and let them get on with it. But then you have the listening and speaking tests where you end up saying "Colour the ball red" in your sleep. It really is a case of repetition - twice the first time around and twice the 2nd time.

Its still amazing the lack of response sometimes and the lack of thought too. "Colour the whale grey" brings an amazing amount of replies - grey, black, red, green, purple or nothing at all." Two test sentences contain "we had a picnic" and immediately they go to the first picnic they see - which is usually the one in the forest. Unfortunately, the sentence continues ".. at the beach" And when you read the 2nd sentence out, its a wild scramble for the rubber as some of them realise what has happened and try and change it.

Of course, some don't even try and listen. You tell them right at the beginning it is a listening test and to write their name etc on the front, you look up a minute later to see at least two people drawing random lines over one of the storyboard pictures. DOH!

Friday, September 03, 2004

Fridays Fun

And it was reasonably painless today, no real terrors except the last class who decided to act like a bunch of 2 year olds during the kings song. I really would like to know why they do it. Surely they dont do it in front of there parents? With some of these kids, who knows. Maybe they do!

As you can see or maybe not, I have added a little counter to see just how few people actually bother to come on here. Probably very very few. Even fewer than my web site. Never mind, this wasnt really intended for such a large audience anyway and was more of a self help cleanse the spirit and vent the spleen exercise.

The big fat yank has signed up for which is the main site for teachers in thailand under the name of "poolpisser" I wonder if he actually does that in fact as well as figuratively. As he certainly has pissed in this teachers pool and a few others in the staff room. I think its fair to say he defeinately has pissed off more than a few. I am tempted to create a new persona and haunt him on there but its just not worth the extra effort and time and no doubt I would get found out anyway.

But talking of and the discussion board I have been spending a lot of time reading in disbelief about one poster who thinks that it is his sacred duty to slag off all TEFLers, thailand and anyone who disagrees with him. Its quite funny and sad at the same time. Read this interview with him last year. The sad thing is some of the stuff he talks about just about makes sense but is lost in the other 98% absolute drivel, hatred and self lothing that he spouts. See what you think. He is now called Smyth.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Terminally Ill Thursday part 2

Well, what else can I say? Its got to the stage where every teacher in my group is tearing their hair out or going grey or both. And I cant really blame them.

Again, I really believe a lot of it is down to who taught them last year and those 3 fuckwit teachers who didnt give a toss but were more interested in having an easy life and showing movies at least one period every week for the semester are to blame. Can I prove it? No. But then when you can pick a kid out by his behaviour and correctly name the previous teacher 90% of the time then something has to be wrong.

As the semester has gone on, I have become less and less tolerant both towards other teachers and the students. I suppose I aught to apologise at some point but thats not really in my nature - more of a forget and move on person me. It really tells me a couple of things, I need a break and a change of environment either temporarily or permanently or a change of level. I dont think a change of level will be possible next semester as 2 teachers from my current group are leaving for pastures new outside Thailand and no doubt the boss will go " I dont want any more changes..."

Will see what happens.

Terminally Ill Thursday

Ok, not quite but since the start of the rainy season is seems that the coughs and splutters are almost a permanent part of my life here.

I get rid of one and a few days later another one starts. Whether its because of the relative cool temperature I am not sure sure - after all 24 degrees would be a nice balmy day back home. Its is the difference in temperature between day and night ? Maybe. Is is the Bangkok pollution lowering my resistance to everything? Maybe Is it because i am around kids who do the usual kids stuff with their hands and dont wash? Maybe. But whatever it is, its a complete nightmare. I started taking these multi vitamin pills about 2 months ago and they dont seem to be making much of a difference - so there goes the vitamin theories. It seems fated that I get a cough about Tuesday/Wednesday just in enough time for the weekend. Its actually meant I have totally stayed in the flat about 4/5 weekends in the last 6 months. In one way, I suppose its quite good as its meant I actually saved a bit of money but its been BORING!

Just saw the first accident in the school for quite a while - how there arent more of them I will never know. Its the usual story, two small kids running full pelt all over the palce then WHAP!! round a corner and into each other. In a way it was actually quite funny as the smaller of the two actually did a cartoon bounce off the other one back onto the floor. Of course it wasnt funny for the kids as they mainly got a big shock and after a telling off for running the big one walked away. The smaller one was crying a bit as he seemed to bite his lip a bit in the collision but was ok after a few minutes.

The day itself as was yesterday was just a complete and total fucking nightmare. I have been trying to help the kids for the exams by giving them mock listening tests - they are bad at everythign but especially so in listening and the frustration levels have just boiled over for me. The ironic thing is that they will not listen to the instructions for the test so they dont know what to do when I start dictating. Its not rocket science english - its what colour is her hair, is Tom dancing, what is her name and so on from a very short paragraph. In one class of 17 kids I had 4 actually write something down. The others just sort of looked around or talked or the usual bs they do. Then they look surprised when I started giving the answers as if to say "when was the test?"

I predict out of 60 kids in my P2s around 10% will get 0%. Very, very sad but true.