Saturday, April 11, 2015

On the Eve of Thingkran

The cultures of Southeast Asia are diverse, but there's an underlying regional spirit that unites this place. I've been to six of the ten nations of ASEAN and lived in three of them. When I walk around Myanmar, I see Indonesia. I see Bangkok. Tomorrow, I'm off on a six week adventure in northern Thailand. Although I've recently re-injured my back, and I know I have to take it easy (no repeat of my Indonesian fiasco), I can't wait to explore this next corner of a new, yet somewhat familiar, place. It's going to be different, but not overwhelmingly so.

It's funny feeling like a veteran here. I wrote a couple blogs ago about cultivating novelty, and I don't want to downplay the importance of that. That said, in my day to day to life here, even though my language skills still aren't what what they will be, I've gotten used to this place. I know what I'm doing here.

Whilst I'm gone, the cockroaches are going to have
a major party in my aprartment.
Of course, the one thing that will dominate my six weeks will be the four weeks of my CELTA training right in the middle of it. I'm going to go do training to teach me how to do the job I've been doing for the last two years. I'm going to repeat training I received two years ago, but on a marginally higher level. If my employer wasn't paying for this, there's no way I'd be doing it. The only allowance for overconfidence I grant myself is that I know I'm going to pass the class. The thing is, there's different levels of 'passing' the CELTA. There's the 'pass' (the lowest), the 'pass B' and the 'pass A'. 70% of participants earn a 'pass'. 15% percent get a 'pass B' and 5% get a 'pass A' (add those up and you'll find the fail percentage – tuition not returned). I endeavor to get a 'pass B'. I know this stuff. I've already done a similar course. With a couple exceptions, I've always been really good in any classroom learning situation. Check with me again in six weeks and whether or not I get that 'pass B'.

What I do know is that one obstacle to getting that higher score might be my very familiarity with the material. One thing I definitely have to guard against is being cocky. I can't let an attitude of yeah, yeah, I already know this shit creep into my interactions with my trainers and fellow students. That would be a mistake. I don't know if I'm going to feel that way or not, but I am prepared for it and won't let it influence my role as the humble trainee who humbly appreciates the wisdom of his more experienced teachers.

We'll see what Chiang Mai is going to be like. I'm arriving on the first day of Songkran, the biggest, wildest, holiest festival of the Thai (and also Myanmar) year. I'm going to get a lot of water thrown on me; I know that for sure. Will it match what I experienced last year here in my neighborhood here in Yangon? I hope not. I don't want matching. I want different.

Here's last year's Songkran... called Thingyan here in Myanmar.


  1. Water yea....sometimes naw........still though looks like good fun...)
    " I don't want matching. I want different ".
    Isn't that just who you are J.,I kinda think so.......Now I wouldn't worry about complacency creeping into your life....since your obviously aware of that possibility it becomes a moot point aye......good luck on the'll be fine.....have a great Thai vacation.......:)

  2. I think with your experience you should aim to be in the top 5%. Don't look at this as part of your vacation time. Don't go out drinking with the others. Be the best you ca be. I know you can be at the top of your class! Investing six weeks of intense study now will bring you greater rewards. Many of your costudents will be there because they want an adventure for a few years. Let them play. Their parents are probably paying for the course. What you want is to leave with the highest level you can to impress your present employer and open the door to higher level management. Think of teaching the teachers in Puket. Is that nicer than living with the roaches?
    i believe in your talents, but you are the only one who can bring them out with hard work.

  3. Thanks Joko, been following you for (a very quick) 2 years now and greatly seeing how everything proceeded.

    Almost did the same CELTA (at IH Bangkok) until I discovered online tutoring and found it is possible to make a living at that. It seemed like a good program from the online reviews, they did say that experienced ESL professionals tended to do not as well as motivated rookies, since CELTA expects people to follow their model of doing things. Good luck and look forward to seeing how everything unfolds.



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