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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Voice of Esa

Photo from www.goodwillnmi.org
Esa (not her real name) was one of my students during my first year of teaching in Thailand. She was under my Grade 1 English as Foreign Language (EFL) class when I first taught at a government school. Like the other kids, Esa had a very little grasp of English language but her physical features, which are apparently different from the other children in the class, made me wonder why it's difficult for her to speak in English. At first glance, you would notice that she's not Thai at all and I learned later that she's half British and half Thai.

She was still under my class when she was in Grade 2 that's why I was able to personally observe her progress in using English in communication although her being shy was still obvious. From her little grasp of English vocabulary, she gradually widened her skills as I have seen how her confidence in speaking in English in front of the class has improved the following year.

As part of our lesson in Grade 2, after having them master the basic vocabulary and simple sentence structures related to family, which was our focus that time, I asked them to draw a simple picture about their family. After that, I instructed them to use the vocabulary and basic structures learned in telling something about the picture they have drawn. Most of the students were eager to present their works in front and the feeling of fulfillment for being able to tell something in English about their family were evident in the faces of the innocents except for Esa.

When it was Esa's turn, she slowly walked towards the center of the platform in front but unlike the other children, she was hesitant to show her drawing. As her teacher, I approached her and sooner I noticed that her drawing had only two persons which is not a case of typical family. In her artwork, I saw a young girl which was obviously her and an old woman holding the young girl. That time, I knew what she was feeling deep within as I saw how gloomy her face had become. As her teacher, I still encouraged her to present her drawing by showing genuine appreciation to what she has done. She was convinced but when she started to show her drawing, mixed emotions started to conquer the learning-enhancing atmosphere of the classroom. To make Esa's presentation worthwhile like the previous presentations, I asked the children to pay attention to what Esa would present. However, before Esa could tell something about her drawing, tears started to fell into her cheeks. I knew what was happening so I immediately consoled her. Esa, with her demure look, slowly told me that the persons in her drawing were her self and her grandmother. I did not ask anymore where her parents were. Instead, with my broken Thai, I told her that she's so lucky to have a grandmother who loves her so much and she should be proud of it. I thought Esa got what I wanted to say as she threw back a fancy smile.

Later, I learned that Esa's parents left her to her grandmother since she was only four. I could not imagine how could they abandon a lovely and beautiful daughter like Esa. But still, Esa's very lucky to have a very caring grandmother who even asked me for an individualized English lesson with Esa after school hours.
Esa is just one of the learners who carries heavy loads in their hearts - they all need a caring teacher who would help them ascertain the best of themselves amidst their burdens. They need teachers who would inspire them and help them grow. I hope that many teachers would answer Esa's call. 

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