A glimpse into the Hands English Program

12 Dec 2019

Margaret Grant had planned to take a 6-month break from her teaching job in Tipperary, to travel around Asia. Instead, she volunteered to be a Teacher Volunteer for the Hands English Program and has been placed at Baan Home Hug in Thailand. Margaret initially volunteered for 3 months and then agreed to stay for 5 months, so she will stay at BHH through to March 2020.

Margaret teaches just over 40 kids from 3 homes connected to Baan Home Hug - Yasothon, Surin and Baan Rai. The kids range from kinder age to late teens and, in her own words: "they can be a challenge but are a delightful bunch of kids". She loves how keen they are to come to classes and how hard they are trying to use English outside the classroom.

Margaret teaches more than 20 hours a week, with most classes on Saturdays and Sundays or in the evenings, as most of the kids go to regular Thai school as well. There are eight different groups and five of them are following a curriculum developed by Hands, specifically for the homes.

The Hands English way of teaching is to encourage speaking using lots of interesting visuals, movement, games and singing. As an example, the younger kids are currently doing English lessons with a transportation theme, so they are pretending to be flying planes, driving cars and so on and these lessons will lead to speaking about other things they are ‘doing,’ such as brushing their teeth and going to school. The older kids are currently talking about fashion and what teenagers like and dislike – so Margaret has them comparing types of music and discussing clothing from their favourite groups and artists.

For Margaret the social isolation is something she has had to grow to get used to, but living and working at Baan Home Hug is an incredibly rewarding experience because she knows she is making a positive difference to the lives of the kids. She appreciates what a privilege it is to be a guest in this very special community and is impressed by the strength and resilience of the staff and the kids as they battle against the difficulties life presents as a result of the HIV virus and poverty across the region.

Hands English needs more teacher volunteers. Teachers who can commit to living at one of the homes for at least 6 months are guaranteed an unforgettable personal and professional experience. Accommodation, meals and a small living allowance are provided, as well as professional support.

If this sounds like something you are interested in, please contact team@handsgroup.org.au or complete the application form.


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