While enjoying myself for a couple of nights in Bangkok lately i was asked a couple of times by some ex-pat on what i was doing in Thailand. As usual i saw in their eyes some kind of pitiful look when advising them that i was a teacher. Most ex-pats hasten to think that working as a teacher must be a gruesomely boring job here in the Land of Smiles. Personally i believe the opposite.
Let me tell you about the funnier side of teaching and the students i have had.
I remember teaching in Bangkok Noi for a couple of years at one of the High Schools there and lived in Pinklao just a short trip away. On one day of the new term one of my grade seven girls came up to me at the end of class and said “Ajarn Kha, last night i saw you at the restaurant near my house” (and my house too) and i replied “Oh really” trying to be as nice as possible! She next said out loud “Yes, i saw you drinking beer and fighting with your girlfriend!” after that i had to improve my image and my goings-on in public thanks to her.
At the same school i remember the day of the new school year and there was a brand new face in my class, her name was Somying. So i had Somying stand up and have her answer a few questions from my sheet. So one student asked her “What does you father do” With tears in her eyes, she replied “My daddy run away”, very quickly i changed the question to “What does your mother do” Somying then burst into tears and said “My mummy still hasn’t found a job” and run out of the room! From that day onward i have decided to refrain from asking such personal things again.
Khanaratbumroong-Pathumthani High School
Then, before Bangkok Noi i taught in Pathumthani provincial town in an all girls high school. It was one of my other duties to help improve one of the girl’s skills for the provincial Speech contest. She won that and went through to partcipate in Bangkok at a speech contest where the winner was to receive a small scholarship to study in England for one month. One of the regulations of such contests is that the participant has never studied abroad or speaks English at home etc… ie he/she has learnt the language only at her school. But my God, was i to meet some right cheating students (and their teacher who took them of course). The winner was a Thai/Indian from Samut Prakan,who, when i asked about her studies gave me a right lecture for ten minutes. Blimey, she spoke the language as well as myself! The cheating git must speak English at home. You can imagine the injustice that i felt.
After i had been in Pathumthani for a just a coule of months a couple of Farang friends of mine invited me out to a disco on Rangsit. I thought “Well, i might as well go as im single now”. Next to our table i noticed a very pretty girl who continually looked over at me smiling. Thinking i had a chance going on here, invited her to dance, which she enthuastically agreed to. After bopping away together for a while i decided to strike up conversation before asking for her phone no. When i asked her whether she was a student or had a job she looked back at me in bewilderment and replid “Ajarn kha, its me Nitnoi from your 6/6 class! How embarrassing! She was one of my grade 12 students. Thank God that we didnt have a slow dance, i would never of lived that down!
AnubanSuphanburi Primary School
After the trials and tribulations of teaching High school for a few years i decided that change was called for and so here i am teaching at a primary school. Well, it certainly wasnt mentioned in the job advertisement about the other duties that often arise. I cant remember now, how many times this year while teaching grade one that one of the kiddies has shouted “Khru kha, so and so has done a pee pee” What am i supposed to do? Mop it up?! Then just a few weeks ago when having a coffe at information one morning i noticed that one of the kiddies was spending an unusual amount of time in the teachers toilet around the back. So, i went over and shouted out something to which he opened the door and in tears said “Khru, i poo-pooed my pants!”
At the end of the day though, i do miss teaching my privates and the in-company work in Bangkok. It would take weeks to write up a complete list of my funny stories, so here are just a few of the funniest.
I remember the time when i was asked by some pretty lady to teach her one-on-one at her condo in the centre of time. Well, i said “All right just as long as you pay for twenty hours up front” to which she agreed. It didnt take her long to tell me about her Taiwanese husband who according to her, was a right ‘playboy’. I soon realised that the only reason she was learning English was to be able to scold her hubbie. So, there i was teaching her phrases such as “I know you are such a cheat, dont you lie to me” and the likes of “Did you have fun last night darling, with one of those ugly massage girls?”. If that wasnt enough, she soon advised me that she was taking medicine for her depression. I didnt realise what kind of medicine it was until she invited me to ‘smoke ganja’ during the break!! She didnt learn for long though after her hubbie refused to pay for any more lessons!
Then there was this funny Thai-Indian man who called me up for some lessons after he read my ad. on Pantip.com. His flat was on Soi Nana and asked if his wife could learn too, to which i replied was absolutely no problem. What a funny couple! When i asked his wife “Pls tell me about your husband” she replied “He is such a loser and on top of that has bad breath and picks his nose” angered by this, her husband went on to say “My wife is so lazy, all she ever does is sit around all day on her big fat bum” I remember one time when he asked me to leave early so that he could just finish off arguing with his wife.
Then was the time that an agent of mine asked me to go and teach in house on Lard Prao. Before i was about to go she called me up and said “Steve, i forgot to tell you something, what ever you do, dont chat up the mother!” (as she was some famous actress before, married to this stinkingly rich old guy)the kid i had to teach was a pathetic two years of age! throwing me lesson plans out the window, just played games instead, to the likes of ‘tease the dog’ and ‘throw the cookie’. Then on a couple of visits granny informed me that he was sleeping and it was best not to wake the poor boy up! Excellent for me, just spent the next hour and a half listening to granny’s stories about the stinginess of her son-in-law.
Talking about stinginess, one day just last year in Bangkok a very posh looking woman came in to see me at school and asked me to teach her at home. Straight away she informed me that she was a former Minister of Parliament in the area and wanted to learn English to pass an interview at the British Embassy so as to win a FREE scholarship to study in England. What lies did i have to help her speak! “My father is a middle-class merchant” (in fact her father is a super rich Chinaman who employs a thousand workers). “As an MP I used to visit the local people very regularly” (the motorbike taxi driver told me that one reason she was voted out was that the local people only ever saw her riding past in her Benz). Then every morning i arrived, i had to wait at the entrance of her factory for half an hour cause she had just got out of bed and one of the staff had to lock up her dog before i could go into her garden. What a ferocious monster! It scared the living daylights out of me! I asked the security guard one day about whether the dog bites. To this he replied “Too right it does, just last year it attacked and killed one of the workers!”. She didnt learn for too long though as she said that she just didnt have enough money to learn anymore.
Then, there are my fave kinda students, the darned lazy ones that only learn cause their bog boss has forced them too. For two years i had a dream job at a small but well-known co. on Ruam Rudee. Every evening after work my student(s) would wait for the boss to go home then say “Ok teacher Steve let’s go for a beer” or “Sod this! let’s go home”. Then on occassions when the boss was absent my student(s) would call me up and say “The boss is away today so dont bother coming in, but just claim anyway as we dont want him to know we bunked off” -excellent, freebie beer money.
HQ – 2nd Army Area Nakhorn Ratchasima
A few years ago while teaching in Nakhorn Ratchasima i had the privilige of teaching at the HQ of the Second Army Area to relatively high ranking officers. You could imagine that i was pretty nervous having to face thirty of them. So, i took the class rather seriously and played up a posh accent to impress them. Then, after a few classes, when the numbers had died down one of the officers made a complaint to my face. “Mr Steve Sir your lesson plans arent very interesting we would like to learn some serious every day English” so i asked “And what kind of things do you have in mind?” The class started off by asking “How do you say, ‘I like girls with a big pair of b*#$%*?” and “Hey darling, what’s your phone no?” In the end my students there were a bunch of the nicest guys ive ever taught. They too put on a show for their boss. On a couple of occassions when we were discussing Karaoke bars the big boss would come in to inspect their studies. Just as we were laughing away the big sturdy scary-looking Lt General Canniethinkaessname came in and the class went completely silent. The big boss asked me for a quick chat and instructed me to ‘getting them talking’!
Next, i picked up this extremely well paid job in the evenings teaching the Japanese staff of a co. in Nava Nakhorn. They too had a fixation about learning the naughtier side to the English language and on a couple of occassions said “We dont want to learn today, we want YOU to take us to one of the a-go-go bars down Patpong!”
Back to Nakhorn Ratchasima, i remember one of my students, an F16 pilot, asked me to teach him outside for a hour in the evenings paying my salary in Heineken beers. When i asked where he would learn he took me to one of the naughty massage parlours with a big fish tank inside full of scad-looking girls watching TV and doing their make-up. So, there we were learning with the Bangkok Post with all the girls bewidered with what we were doing in such an establishment.