Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog July 2nd, 2011

That’s My Boy

Over the years I have had quite a few private language students; most of them have come and gone like the fitful breezes off of Koh Samet. But occasionally a student follows me, groupie-like, because he or she likes my style and philosophy of teaching English.

Such was the case with Somsuk (not his real name). I first met him when I was teaching at a technical college up in Bangkok, where he was in one of my classes and asked me to tutor him after hours, as he had great hopes of working in the travel industry and wanted his English to be clear and correct.

I was happy to take him on; he seemed to be one of those rare and cherished Thai men who are both humble and yet determined to make their mark in the world.

He made good progress in our private lessons. I couldn’t call him inspired or brilliant. Rather, he was dogged and determined. His accent was atrocious and his grasp of grammar was tenuous at best. But he never gave up, and took each criticism I gave him to heart – practicing for hours those English vowels and diphthongs that are verbal Waterloos for the Thais.

During the next 2 years I moved to several different schools, and Somsuk followed me to each one, continuing his after-hour lessons. I never charged him much – I knew he couldn’t afford it, and, besides, it felt good to have a protégé. Teaching ESL is a real pleasure, when you have a student like Somsuk; you almost, almost, want to do it for free.

We finally parted ways about 7 years ago, and I lost track of him . . . until a few months ago, when I ran into him while up in Bangkok. He looked prosperous and happy. He had a thick gold necklace hanging from his well-manicured neck, and some gorgeous Thai eye candy languidly hanging on to his arm. He gave me a warm embrace and a deep wai of gratitude for all I had taught him. He told me he had single-handedly built up a travel bureau that was the envy of all his competitors. He was especially proud of his website, and took pains to make me understand that he had written every single word of it himself, in flawless English. He handed me his business card, which indicated that he had, indeed, made a success of himself in the travel industry. We agreed to have lunch the next time I was up in Bangkok – his treat. As I waited at the Ekamai station for my bus back to Ban Phe I couldn’t help feeling just a wee bit proud and satisfied with myself. After all these years, it looked as if I had actually accomplished something with my teaching skills, had actually helped another human being to prosper and find happiness. You don’t get that too often as an ESL teacher in Thailand, so I basked in that sublime feeling all the way back home.

It was not until just the other day that, out of curiosity, I finally went to the website on his business card. I wanted to see how “my boy” was presenting himself to the world.

Here is the opening paragraph:

It isn’t easy picking Thailand’s special beaches. First, the been finished before. Second, the sum damn seashore is a many appropriate beaches prominence reel. So here’s at slightest a small cream of a fender crop, to be squabbled and huzzahed over.

Further down was this gem:

Off Thailand’s Andaman coast, in waters eminent for bizarre creatures and dull horizons, Koh Lanta has turn a renouned stadium for Europeans seeking to get over the backpacker scene. The incomparable of the dual islands that share the name Koh Lanta is where the immeasurable infancy of visitors conduct to take value of extended white silt beaches, glorious diving and a lifelike seashore dotted with mangrove timberland and corroborated by waves of forested hills. Visitors here can additionally declare the Sea Gypsy communities that still maintain usually off the coast.

And it ends like this:

Near the legal holiday core of Krabi, the overwhelming Phra Nang beach is presided over by the vast limestone karst that stands in the shoal blue H2O usually offshore. Because it is usually permitted by boat, this brook stands out as a single of Thailand’s slightest swarming swimming spots. When not enjoying the beautiful view, ramble over and revisit the Tham Phra Nang Nok or “Princess Cave,” that internal fisherman explain the cavern houses, well, a sea princess. Makes sense.

Getting There: For those entrance from the USA, book a moody from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Krabi Airport, afterwards bound upon a internal convey train to Ao Nang. The float takes about dual hours.

I guess he makes his real living smuggling something or other . . .