When I went to visit a Thai language school here in Denmark, the last thing I expected was to be ushered into a class full of Danes and asked to teach them Thai!
Although I am an English teacher, the general high level of English in Denmark means that there isn’t much demand for my skills here. So I’ve been looking into doing other work. My Danish language skills are still around the beginner/elementary stage, so I’ve had to be very creative with my job search.
Earlier this week I went into a Thai food store and explained – all in Thai – that I’d recently arrived in Denmark, I can’t speak Danish yet, and that I would be really grateful if they could help me find work. To my surprise I was invited to come to a local Thai language school, as it would be a great opportunity to network with the Thai community in Copenhagen and perhaps find work that way.
When I arrived in the school, a very curious Thai boy asked me in perfect Danish: “Hvor kommer du fra?” (where are you from?) and was very surprised when I replied “Jeg kommer fra England” (I’m from England). I haven’t had a Danish conversation with a Thai person before, so that was something of a novelty for me.
Very soon after that, it was clearly time for class as children neatly filed into their respective classrooms. I found the Thai person who had invited me along earlier in the week, and I was introduced as a teacher to a friendly Danish man. He explained that all the staff in the school are volunteers, and that Thai is taught to children and also to foreigners.
I think this is where a slight miscommunication happened, because although I am a teacher and I can speak Thai relatively well… I’ve never taught Thai language in a classroom before! It turned out that their regular teacher wasn’t able to make it that day, so I unwittingly found myself as their substitute Thai teacher!
With just some chalk, a blackboard and about 16 very patient and attentive students, I spent the afternoon teaching very basic Thai conversation to the local Danes here. From my experience of teaching English in Thailand, I was familiar with the format of introducing vocabulary, doing light drilling of phrases and then a short selection of short role play exercises and games. I found it to be lots of fun, and made lots of friends in the local community of Thais and Danes here when all the lessons had finished.
So today, I think it is safe to say that I’ve levelled up in both Thai and Danish. And also in classroom teaching skills!