When I decided to try teaching English in Thailand, I thought I would be working in a resort, or perhaps a small school in the south. I didn't expect to get a job teaching music, and I didn't expect to be at the largest school in the country. The school has an international section where I teach classroom music, and a bilingual section where the choir and music department are housed. It is very well resourced, the rooms are all air-conditioned and have video players, I teach keyboard in a fully equipped keyboard laboratory with 20 synthesisers, and there are 2 rooms with grand pianos for choir work.
Good resources do not, however, teach the students. I'm grateful for what I learned from Kathryn, because my teaching skills are in good shape. Music is a great way to teach English. The students respond well to backchaining in rhythm, and the repetition in the singing helps to ingrain the right habits. In the everyday classes the actual music I teach is very basic, the focus in on the students' use of English.
The school choir is where the students want to learn more. I've brought many complimentary music skills to their Thai choirmaster (Am), so we work very well together. He is also happy to have me ensure their English pronounciation is correct. I'm a better conductor than Am, so he has already handed me that role, which is a gracious thing for him to do.
My first priority in this phase of my life is to enjoy the experience. I notice some of the other teachers have some negative attitudes to unavoidable irks about teaching. I'm making sure I keep a positive optimism in place. Similarly, when the students behave poorly or show a lack of interest I've promised myself to find a positive response at all time. One task I have set myself to help achieve this is to re-invent the classroom music curriculum, to make it more interesting and fun for me as well as the students. The students like singing songs by artists they know, and these songs are just as valuable for improving their English. That is more interesting for me too, so I will to do more of this. Other good ideas will come over time, and the students and other teachers make good suggestions.
I'm very happy, I've had a good start to a new adventure. Plenty of good times in Bangkok at the weekends, and quieter weeks here in Bangbon at the school. A nice work/life balance :-)
Samui TEFL Blog