Friday, October 24, 2008

A friend?

One of the gals at work, Key, has started offering to take me to dinner & home after work. I’ve taken her up on it a few times, and I have to say that it’s nice to have someone to eat with… even if our conversations are limited at best. Her English is pretty good actually, but we’re still at the small talk stage. One thing I’ve noticed is that she’s hesitant to voice a strong opinion on anything (“it’s up to you” is as popular saying as “it doesn’t matter”) , and at the same time I don’t really want to offend her by asking any personal questions… so we generally end up talking about the food.

We’ve gone to my regular market, and we’ve gone to a restaurant. Today her boyfriend met her at work and the three of us went to a big outdoor market… this one was all food vendors. I asked her what she wanted - thinking I’d just have what she was having, but when I do that, she out-polites me by insisting that I order something and then she orders from the same place. We walked by the different vendors – pad thai, sea-food, soup, Thai omelets, etc etc. We came to a place that had ‘steak’ and that was too tempting to pass up. It ended up being a pork steak… but there was gravy, and there were french fries, so I was pretty happy.

Her boyfriend, let’s just call him Boy, used to be a student at the school... but he’s not taking classes at the moment. Key and Boy were talking (in Thai) and somehow I picked up enough to guess that they were talking about how I don’t speak Thai. When I asked “are you teasing me because I can’t speak Thai?” Key replied that she was telling him that I was trying to learn. Boy commented that he could teach me some Thai if I would teach him some English. I told him I thought would be an excellent idea! After finding out how much formal lessons cost, I’ve been worried about how I would ever learn the language. I mean, I’ve been picking up a word here or there, but it’s slow going without the structure of a formal class. We’ll have to figure out when and where and all that… and see if it actually happens. I only have one day off a week, and I’m reluctant to schedule anything at all on that day… but I do really want to learn. So we’ll see. In any case it’s nice to feel like I’m starting to make a friend.

I’m dreading tomorrow’s classes, not only do I have my two kid classes, I have to cover someone else’s class while one of the office staff gives a test to one of the classes I gave last week. And I have another class after my two kid classes. I brought the books home so I could plan tonight… but nope, I’m just hanging out playing computer games. I’m not sure what exactly is wrong with me. I know that I feel shitty when I go into a class under prepared, but at the same time it’s hard for me to stay motivated.

I’ve been told that language institutes are the fast-food of language learning, and I think that’s accurate. I do a little prep work (an hour or so per class) so I at least know what I’m supposed to be teaching, then get to class & go through the book highlighting and clarifying what I can. With as many different classes, and as many students as I have, it’s hard to be as invested in any particular class as I’d like to be. I’m still having problems remembering the names of all the students in my bigger classes. I can’t really think much beyond what I’m teaching that day or the next, and I haven’t had the brain power to think of any particularly interesting activities. I guess I’m still in survival mode. I think about this a lot… I want to be a good teacher. I just don’t think I’m willing or able to put in the work that it’ll take to be a really good teacher. I’m going to have to settle for being an okay teacher… or at least not a horrible one for a while. Which doesn’t feel great, but I’m just going to have to make peace with that idea.

Back to my budding social life though… I’ve invited the girls from the office and some of the other teachers to go out to a club tomorrow night. I’m still not sure exactly who is going to go, or how exactly I’m going to get there (I need to set something up with the motorcycle taxi guys… not sure how late they work). But it should be fun… you know, if anyone else shows up. If it just ends up being me, it’ll be a sad sad day.

TAG - Code Pineapple again... no idea why my tummy refuses to stay settled. I was fine all day until I got home. =/


Exuberant Color said...

I think you need to relate your teaching to anything else new to you. If you didn't know how to sew would you be making a mariners compass or double wedding ring quilt? You have to learn methods as you go, and with the variety of students that you have, the same thing isn't going to work for everyone. I had the same experience teaching quilting, some students were advanced, some were needy, some eager to learn everything put in front of them. The fact that you show up every day and try your best is GOOD. Be kind to yourself, pat yourself on the back for what you have accomplished so far.
I hope the Thai lessons work out with BOY.

marissa said...

yay! you're going to have a language buddy (or a tandem exchange parner, or whatever elizabeth gilbert called it)!

dude, i would SO go out to a club in thailand with you. got some sort of teleportation device? beam me up, rebel?