Message from past volunteer teachers:
During July 2019, I spent two weeks as a volunteer English teacher at the Ban Nai Soi Community Learning Center. In my relatively short time spent at the school, my perspective was widened significantly. I was inspired by the students’ strong desire to learn English, both inside and outside of the classroom, and by their genuine curiosity in US culture. Working around the language barrier only strengthened both the volunteer teachers’ and students’ critical thinking skills, and helped everyone learn to communicate more creatively when needed (although most of the students’ English speaking skills were impressive). The only welcoming atmosphere at the Learning Center was amazing, from Principal Rosie and her father, to the students who taught us about their respective cultures. I was thrilled to learn traditional dances, new Burmese words, and the history of Myanmar from the students. The warmth I felt from the community at the school will resonate with me for many years to come.
As for my own teaching skills, I underestimated the value that the time at BNS CLC teaching would have for me. My creativity was strengthened, as myself and my fellow teachers designed our own curriculum. Plus, due to the unique structure of the class schedule, we were allowed flexibility to teach what the students wanted to learn about, and what they were most engaged in. I learned the value of a strong and resourceful teacher, especially one who uses place-based learning.
For prospective volunteers, I would fully recommend taking part in this program. It will push you to grow as an individual, as you navigate the language barrier and being in a foreign country. I would advise leaving behind most amenities from home, apart from your preferred sleeping set up, in order to fully immerse yourself in the environment around you. To get the most out of your time at the Learning Center and in the Mae Hong Son area, I would encourage you to explore the surrounding province to further understand the rich beauty and history of the area. The experiences you will have, the values you will learn, and the connections you will make will certainly have a lasting and likely life changing impact.
My name is Rosie Caouette. This past summer, my friend and I decided to venture to BNSCLC to pursue a volunteer opportunity my aunt set up. Before teaching English at the school, I had no experience teaching English let alone teaching English as a second language. I did do some research by looking at a few online sites that gave tips on how to teach English as a second language, which were definitely helpful looking back. In addition I had brainstormed a few games that we could try and play with the students, but I did not fully plan out how to explain the games in English to the students. In hindsight I would have liked to have printed out a simple translation of how to play the game in Burmese. I found that the most successful activities or lessons we taught were the ones involving speaking and writing. Over the two weeks we had the students spend time completing a few short writing prompts such as: Why are you learning English? What are your future goals? What is your family like? What is your favorite memory? After we would have everyone share in front of the class. At the end of each person’s turn we would write a few of the words they may have struggled pronouncing on the board and go over the correct pronunciation of the word. We also did a lot of practice giving a word and then the students giving us synonyms and antonyms for that word. This helped expand their vocabulary and learn how words were related. The students were also very eager to learn Englsih idioms, such as, “the early bird gets the worm”, “break a leg”, “that was a piece of cake”, etc. My biggest piece of advice is not moving forward or on from a topic just because the students say they understand. Since they are so polite and seem to not want to create an issue it seems no matter what they will say they understand. Really making sure they understand is important. Trying to give everyone’s attention by walking around and check in with students seemed to really help students fully comprehend the topic. I also recommend coming a bit more prepared than I was. Going in I didn’t realize we wouldn’t have any lesson plans or textbooks to follow off of, so that is a good thing to be aware of. Overall, the experience was incredibly inspiring. All the students were so hardworking, respectful, and determined to learn as much as they possibly could. Seeing their eagerness for knowledge gave me a new outlook on privilege. For these students an education is not handed to them. It was clear that they saw this extra education they were receiving is a gift, and seemed to take full advantage of it. I am privileged enough that education has been handed to me my whole life. To see how students treat education when it is not handed to them, inspired me to better acknowledge and appreciate all my privileges. Without a good night’s sleep teaching becomes a drag. Besides that just coming a bit more prepared maybe by planning out lessons, bringing my own textbook, translating games, etc. would have definitely helped. Just relax, have fun, and try and make the most out of the incredible opportunity.
Thanks again for the amazing experience, I hope to be back soon!
One of the best experiences of my life! If asked about the Ban Nai Soi Learning Center,that is the first comments I would say. I was a little bit nervous before I traveled to Mae Hong Son to live at the learning center. I had never taught English to classrooms. I arrived at a beautiful area of town and was immediately enchanted by the students and staff. Their beautiful smiles were the first thing I noticed. Everyone was so happy to see me. They wanted to make sure everything was taken care of for me. I was served 3 generously, varietal, delicious meals every day. If I ever needed anything all I had to do was ask. I was provided lodging, restroom,
meals, and weekend trips around Mae Hong Son to see all of the touristy sights. My students were so excited and eager to learn everything I had to teach them. They soaked up all of my teachings like sponges. We loved to play word games and learn new terms. That was the most fun for me, teaching the students new synonyms, antonyms, slang, and idioms. Everyone made me feel like family and were not shy to tell me their past experiences. I made lasting connections that I will never forget and in the future I will return to the learning center so I can meet new students and staff. I love the Ban Nai Soi Learning Center and I can not wait to return
In order to teach at the BNSCLC you will need a positive attitude, an open mind, and the patience required to understand and work within a different culture.
While we don’t have any specific requirements regarding your qualifications we are hoping to attract qualified teachers of ESL. Even if you don’t have any experience teaching ,we still strongly encourage you to apply. In it’s first year the Ban Nai Soi Communtiy Learning Center was lucky enough to have several volunteers that had very limited prior teaching experience but still proved to be great instructors.
We need any help that we can get from future volunteers and donors. Thank you so much for visiting our website!