Cuatro.4: Yesterday morning I had a meeting so I wasn’t able to go to my class as usual, which is not the Good Thing. It did mean, however, that the first time I went to my class was yesterday afternoon, not long after the kids woke up from their nap. If you’ve ever known any four to five year olds, then you also know that after an unexpectedly long absence, they are ecstatic to see you.
The result? I was nearly trampled over by children whose heads barely reach my waist.
“Teacher Donna! Teacher Donna!” I felt like Caesar.
“Teacher, I’m sad!” <cute little cry face> This has become their favorite joke with me since I taught them simple feeling words. They say they’re sad, mime tears… and grin the whole time.
“Teacher, X is sad!” And then they like to get me to comfort anyone who actually is sad. (In case you didn’t notice, names have been changed to protect the wee little innocent ones.)
“Teacher, high five!” “Teacher, high ten!” “Teacher, high one!” I’ve already discussed how awesome high fives are, but after awhile they become slightly less entertaining, for both me and the kids. So of course I upgraded them to high tens, and then at some point I needed to be quiet and thus introduced high one. But read on to Dos to discover how one of my students used high fingers to prove she’s smarter than I am.
They were just sitting there staring at me. Not five minutes before, all thirty of them had agreed that they understood their instructions and were ready to get started. I’d split them into their groups, and… then they just sat there. Silently.
And stared at me.
At that moment, I seriously contemplated walking out of the classroom and down to the English Program office, gathering up everything I owned, and leaving. I wasn’t even just thinking of going back to my house to have a good cry and pity party over my absolute failure as a teacher; I was honestly considering packing up all my belongings and preparing to leave Thailand to head back to the US within a week.
Perhaps I was being a bit melodramatic, but I’d already had a really long week and it’s only hump day.
Now, to anyone who works with kids in the English-speaking world, you know just how powerful the high five is. Kids love high fives. “Slap my hand; it’s so fun!” And you know, it is all feel good and shit.
However, teaching “high five” to Thai kids promises even more enjoyment. For those not familiar with the Thai language, pronouncing “high five” presents Thais with a couple of tiny little problems:
1) They don’t have the “v” sound in their language. They also don’t have “z”, “th”, and a host of other English sounds.
2) They don’t pronounce the final consonant of words.
So, I’m teaching “high five” to my kindergarteners randomly, just to get them geared up and excited. By focusing on those two minor little problems in pronunciation with them, I now have an interesting mix of students all clamoring for high fives, half of whom are yelling, “High fie, high fie!” and the other half of whom are screaming, “High fi-VUH! High fi-VUH!”