Today I went for a walk around the STTC (Savannakhet Teacher Training College) campus, which is much bigger than I realised. At first the office, admin, toilets and classrooms were enough – but venturing out further I discovered all sorts of gems!
The greenhouse is full of carefully tended bushes and trees kept ready for planting by students.
Another café that looks very clean and serves delicious smelling soup (pho style).
Some more slightly bewildering signs.
The big stadium/hall.
The cute looking kindergarten.
And the on-campus primary school.
Even though I’m working with pre-service primary school teachers, this is the first time I have visited the school on campus and I was pleasantly surprised. It looks great, the kids are very happy and playful (it was lunchtime) and all said ‘hello’ to me in English. I went into a classroom – English/Lao work on the board, lots of lovely flowers and decorations on the walls. I went into the library where I was greeted by a teacher (in Lao). There were picture books on the shelves, mostly in Lao language and the kids were pulling them out and showing me. I sat down with a group of them and one pulled out a picture dictionary. We pointed to the pictures and said the words in English – again, I was pleasantly surprised at how many English words they knew! No doubt, being ‘city kids’, they have much more exposure to English than the students from the provinces that I am working with. But the contrast is stark, and these students will be qualified as primary teachers but many are still at a very basic elementary level of English, and most lack any confidence to speak up or to come up with a creative response to a question. They are used to English classes in Lao, and copying everything from the blackboard. This is not ‘learning’! But we are starting to get somewhere…
This course is called 9+3 – students have reached year 9 in provincial schools and now finish their education at the teacher training college to prepare them to teach back in their village schools. Most of them are around 15 years old. Their standard and exposure to English is very low.
The other students my colleagues work with are in the 12+4 program – they have completed year 12 and do a 4 year teacher training course to become qualified as secondary school teachers – most of these are ‘city kids’ in their late teens, early 20s. We (the Foreign Languages Office) work with the English (and Vietnamese) language majors.
The difficult thing with using WordPress that I find is finding the photos that ‘fit’ the post – especially an older post such as this. I like to illustrate my words, and often have a photo in mind – but finding it, uploading it, and giving it some sense means that over time, things get lost or harder to find. So I guess this is my ‘memory recording’, and although the scenes and photos remain in my mind, the sharing can be different matter! But at least back here in Melbourne, at least I have unlimited data, and faster, more dependable connections – so I’ll share this ‘old’ memory just for my reference to an incredible time and place. (7 April 2022)