This is the first post in a four part series comparing the volunteer experience in Nong Khai and Krabi, our two main bases in Thailand, written by Andy from the UK. He attended the Volunteer & Cross Cultural Training in Nong Khai and then stayed for around six weeks teaching at Hat Kam School. He then headed down south, where he has now spent twelve weeks so far, teaching at Ban Nong Kok School among others. He starts by discussing the difference between the teaching experiences in each place.
In Nong Khai, I taught at Hat Kam school for a number of weeks. The teachers and students were a joy to work with and could not have made me feel more welcome. However, none of the teachers in the school were fluent in English and the English-speaking ability of the students was very basic - even the oldest students. The experience was really interesting and challenging for me, as I had to find ways to help the students strengthen their foundation of English skills, while also trying to move them onto some more complex grammar. I often found that I was spending a lot of time introducing and practising vocabulary and only a little time on structuring sentences.
In contrast, the level of English in the schools that I've worked in around Krabi Town has been more advanced. There is obviously still a considerable challenge to make the students fluent, but the impact that the exposure to tourism has had in increasing the level of English is apparent. I have worked in three types of school here; nursery, primary and a temple school for novice monks. Again, all three schools have been extremely welcoming and, particularly with the older kids, I have been able to concentrate more on sentence structure, rather than just vocabulary. The increased level of English-speaking ability in the Krabi schools has made it easier to develop a team-teaching approach with the Thai teachers here.