Four days of teaching completed of the 16 I’m spending up here in the small town of Hinthada, Myanmar. The days are long. The pace has been intense, but all in all, I think the learning goals are being achieved and everything is going swimmingly.
This is mostly due to the students themselves. They’re very attentive. They seem quite motivated to learn, and although they’ve never been taught by a native English speaker before, requiring me to be very clear and deliberate in my instructions, they take direction well and are very willing to be active participants in their own learning. Too often, students come into an English class and expect to learn just by being there. They expect to be taught, that magically they’re going to emerge as better English speakers without having to work at it. Not these ladies. Near the end of the video, you’ll see a scene with the ladies chattering away (in English) in pairs after I had assigned them a speaking task. The sound of students enthusiastically speaking to each other is music to an English teacher’s ears.
Yes, ladies. I’ve got 14 women in my class. It worked out that all of the male students, except one, tested into the lower level class which is being taught] by my friend and colleague Jack. The one who tested into the higher group I had to demote. Yeah, he just wasn’t getting it; he was in the wrong group. It was an awkward moment when I had to tell him he was being ‘sent down’, but it’s for the best.
As for the town of Hinthada itself, it’s like no place else I’ve ever stayed. I think that word spreads quickly in a tight knit community like this, and wherever we go, Jack and I run into people who know who we are and know what we’re doing here. Still, I’m sure many of the people we encounter have never seen an actual Westerner before face to face, and again wherever we go, people stop and stare. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, when someone is gawking at you, it’s an immediate excuse to say hello and strike up a conversation. Mind you, my Burmese language skills remain so poor that that conversation is very brief and simple, but there we are.
Another thing that stands out about this place is the bugs. They’re everywhere. From tiny little ants that seem to enjoy running across my laptop screen, to swarms of grasshoppers, to weird jumping spiders that look like scorpions, to giant katydids the size of a finger, this place is insect central! Last night, we wanted to enjoy the night before our day off out on the balcony of the hotel. Couldn’t do it due to a new infestation of billions of bugs.
The video below shows you sort of a day-in-the-life here. From breakfast at the tea shop to my morning commute to scenes of me actually teaching! Enjoy.