June 9, 2009

Vietnam: Goodbye Robot Voice

Four weeks ago I was hired at the American International School (AIS) for their summer English program and my life for 8 weeks has changed drastically. I now work almost every waking moment (not waking up naturally but by my alarm clock, which I have hardly had to use since living here, unless to wake up from my afternoon nap) of every day of the week. I work 40 hours at AIS, 25 at VUS and I have two private students. I no longer have time to compare my life to a hooker because I work 70 hours a week, which for an English teacher, is unheard of.

AIS has changed my opinion about teaching English. I teach the same soon-to-be 3rd graders all day, five days a weeks and it is... fun! I work at the elementary school with a close friend of mine here, Kate, and we really seem to be enjoying ourselves. Kate has recently begun to dream about AIS at night, waking up singing "Vowels Have Two Sounds." The school has engrossed us and we seem to be okay with it or even better happy and excited about it.

The freedom we have with our class is so refreshing it makes teaching exciting. Kate and I find ourselves spending extra time at school planning lessons, preparing for library time and our classroom activities just because we enjoy the satisfaction of putting on a good "show" the next day in class. My students are all at a medium comprehension level so I don't have to talk in a slow robot voice and therefore the classroom activities are endless. I have a desk, a computer (where Kate and I Skype chat each other about almost everything which is personally amusing) and an overhead projector which is connected to the computer. We also have library time where Kate and I get to hang out in the library together while our two classes have free reading time. Life is good.

My students ask questions if they don't understand the classroom assignment, which is awesome because at VUS I have to use my super human mind reading skills to figure out if the students are understanding the material. AIS has changed my mind about teaching. Hmm... maybe a life changing moment that is leading to a new career?

Through all the wonders though there are some black holes in the system. For example, the supervisor for the English teachers during summer school, Vera (a Vietnamese who went to University in Hawaii) is completely incapable at having a conversation in English that both parties can understand or even worse she can hardly put a sentence together that makes any sense to the current topic. Why is it that the only person at AIS who doesn't speak English the supervisor for the native English speakers?

Anyways, overall AIS is great. My soon-to-be 3rd graders make my day... they can even be hilarious. One of my favorite students, Aly came up to Kate and I holding a children's TIME book about Eleanor Roosevelt- The First Lady. As Aly points to the  photo of Eleanor Roosevelt on the front cover she says, "First Lady? but same same man." Kate and I could not stop laughing but then pulled the teacher inside of us out and said "Yes, we see the confusion but she was an amazing women who made a huge impact during her time."