You see, we only teach 3 days a week. Teacher training is intensive. The best lessons are those which have been planned for hours. Currently planning takes around 6 hours for every 1.5 hour lesson. The more simple, the more natural and easy a lesson seems to the student, the more planning has happened behind the scenes. Training in a second language is harder still. I’m sure the monk thinks that my trainee is using me for his own personal benefit on the 4 non-teaching days. That instead of slaving over context and concepts we sit round sipping tea and improving the English of one member of the village. I mean, of course, his English is improving. Naturally. All I do is talk about grammar and lesson planning. His vocabulary is increasing, albeit in a very specific lexical field!
We had a meeting with the volunteer teachers to go through this new plan with them. My trainee refused to translate and told me that I should talk to the monk because he couldn’t really face it. Monks run their village and more often than not it's difficult to implement new ideas.
Two of the potential candidates are government school teachers who are home for the summer. One has a good level of English while the other is very weak. It will severely hamper the progress of the monk to have this hugely split level class. As it is at the moment, the other student is far above the level of the monk but because there’s only two of them it’s manageable. It’s like when you play your opponent in badminton; you want them to be better than you so that you can learn and improve your game-play.
I find that I don’t mind telling the head monk what I feel is best; I have evidence and experience which supports my point of view. However, I do have the impression that the monk thinks what I say is questionable. It is such a different way of thinking and learning that it is understandable for him to be concerned and show doubt in the methodology. I keep reminding myself of this fact.
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer