FAQ — Answers
to Frequently Asked Questions
Thailand open to students from schools other than Cate?
Inside Thailand welcomes applications from motivated high school students across America
and around the world.
How much English
can I expect my students to already know?
their grade level, your Thai students' English skills will range from beginner
to intermediate. Elementary students can be expected to be familiar with
a few common nouns and action verbs. Most junior high students will understand
phrases such as: "Do you like American music?" A few will be able to form
sentences such as: "I write letter for you is difficult because I write
English little but I desire to write because I miss you very much. Do you
miss me too? Every holiday I and my friend go to swim we think of yesterday
you used to swim with us. I want you come to Thailand again."
What age students
will we teach?
Grades 4 through
12, with emphasis on grades 5 through 9.
How can I
teach English if I don't know any Thai?
generally agree that language acquisition occurs most efficiently when instructors
teach their lessons in the target language rather than in the students'
shown that even adult students can learn a new language in the same way
infants acquire their first language by associating physical objects,
actions, emotions and, eventually, abstract concepts directly with the new
words rather than with equivalent words in another language. Those of you
who are studying foreign languages probably have had some first-hand experience
with some of the challenges and benefits of this technique.
explain a target-language word in the target language, students acquire
much more than just that one word, since they also benefit from hearing
the vocabulary and grammar contained in the explanation. Bilingual language
instructors generally acknowledge that this target-language-only technique
makes their job considerably more difficult, yet most will agree that the
increased benefits more than justify the additional effort.
concepts in mind you may fairly view your lack of Thai language skills as
a plus. Also bear in mind that as native speakers you will have the ability
to interpret "close-enough" English. This is a luxury not shared by many
Thai English teachers, and you will quickly see your students' confidence
build as they realize that you, a native speaker, are actually understanding
their struggling efforts.
and his daughter Benyapa are both bilingual, and each has considerable experience
teaching relaxed and lively English classes in Thailand. Mac and Benyapa
will support and assist you in the preparation and presentation of your
lessons. And finally, do keep in mind that your and your students' enthusiasm
will fill in a lot of gaps!
Will I have
a chance to learn some Thai?
Naa-non! (แน่นอน – certainly!) Although Inside Thailand participants are not obliged to
learn any Thai, most will want to master at least a few simple phrases.
Some may plunge right into vocabulary and grammar and even the 76-character
Thai alphabet. Your Thai peers will be eager to help you, and Mac and Boosaba
are always pleased to teach as much Thai as anyone wants to learn, but there's
never any pressure.
What is kreng-jai?
Kreng-jai (เกรงใจ), usually translated as "consideration," is truly a Thai word with no precise English
equivalent. Much more than a polite attitude of deference and concern for
others, kreng-jai defines the essence of the Thai character. Courtesy
and consideration merged with reserve and respect are its essential qualities.
This gracious cultural ethic underlies all Thai relationships, no matter
how casual, and regardless of relative social status. The concept reflects
Buddhist philosophy that one should not be preoccupied with one's self but
should instead make sacrifices for the happiness of others. Kreng-jai infuses every aspect of etiquette in a society where it is a disgrace
to be seen as thoughtless, selfish, or unkind. It is the single most important
lesson every Thai mother strives to impart to her children, and adopting
a spirit of kreng-jai is key to an auspicious experience Inside
other cultural considerations should I be particularly sensitive to?
about Thailand always discuss the importance of removing one's shoes before
entering a temple or a home. They usually mention, too, the taboos against
pointing one's feet toward a Buddha image. Many books also describe the wai (ไหว้), the traditional Thai greeting where one's fingertips are joined
as in prayer at the level of one's heart. This lovely gesture is completed
with a gentle smile while slowly bowing one's head.
introductory lessons, Mac and Boosaba will explain many other subtle cultural
mores within their actual contexts. If ever any customs seem particularly
unfamiliar, you will find it helpful to remember that the Thais are an exceptionally
warm and understanding people. While they will deeply appreciate every attempt
to honor their culture especially the key concept of kreng-jai they will smile and quickly forgive any well-intentioned faux-pas.
it be possible to spend time with the monks at the village temple?
is a Buddhist country, and in Chiang Mai we will spend several hours discussing
the basics of this gentle religion with an English-speaking Thai monk. Phramaha Dr. Boonchuay Sirindharo (พระมหา ดร.บุญช่วย สิรินฺธโร) is an associate director of the Buddhist College, Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University, at Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai. He is as kind and wise man I have ever met, right up there with the Dalai Lama, and our meetings with him are always memories to cherish.
Every Thai village has its own temple, and although
language differences will make communication with the monks in Pah Leurat
a bit more challenging, Inside Thailand participants will be welcome to
join their morning and evening meditations, and Mac and
Boosaba will always be happy to facilitate conversations.
I learn more about Thailand, Thai culture, and Buddhism?
Here is a short list of recommended reading. These are all excellent books, and the first two are exceptional.
of a Thousand Lives: A Sojourn in Thailand
O'Reilly and Larry Habegger
the Buddha Never Taught
a Short History
of the above titles are available from Amazon.com
Can you recommend
any resources for learning Thai?
Learning Thai is not a requirement, but while we are in Thailand Boosaba, Mac, and Benyapa will be happy to teach you as much as you are motivated to learn. If you would like to begin exploring the language now here are three excellent and free online resources:
Thai Language Page
Women Learning Thai ... and some men too
A FEW THAI WORDS:
This familiar homily lists five key cultural priorities as "s" words:
สะอาด (sa-at - clean)
สุภาพ (suphap - polite)
สำรวม (samruam - quiet & peaceful)
สนุก (sanuk - fun)
และ (laa - and)
สะดวก (saduak - comfortable)
A feeling of contentment, implying a combination of all the above, is most often expressed by another very common "s" word:
สบาย (sa-bai - fine, comfortable, well, happy, copacetic)
To add emphasis, say it twice: สบายๆ (sa-bai sa-bai)
will the weather be like?
monsoon climate is divided into three seasons: the cool (November-February),
the hot (March-May), and the rainy (June-October). Rainy season weather
is usually warm and muggy, much like New England or the American Midwest
during the summer. Blue morning skies are often overtaken by welcome clouds
during the hot afternoons. Rain, when it comes, usually falls at night and
is often accompanied by dramatic thunder and lightning. The early rainy
season is rice planting time, and during your stay you can expect to see
farmers working a lush countryside of emerald-green rice paddies.
will we eat in the village?
world-renowned for its exquisite cuisine, and Boosaba's accomplished culinary
skills are a hallmark of the Inside Thailand experience. Boosaba will prepare
all of our meals in Pah Leurat with homegrown Jasmine rice, fish fresh from
the river, and with fruits, vegetables and spices straight from her garden.
Menus will include a broad array of authentic regional dishes. Some you
will recognize from Thai restaurants and some you may never have heard of.
Each meal will include rice with a variety of meat, fish and vegetable dishes
to share. For a glimpse of Boosaba's talents, please visit her website,
and to learn more about Thai food in general please see pages 4-5 of Boosaba's
Thai Cooking Brochure.
vegetarian. Will that be a problem?
Thai food generally includes very little animal protein, many dishes do
contain small amounts of fish, fowl, beef or pork. Boosaba, however, is
well accustomed to accommodating specific diets, and for vegetarians she
either prepares special dishes or uses a soy protein substitute. When we
are away from the village, vegetarians will always be able to find meat-free
versions of pad-Thai, fried rice, omelets, and soups.
will we sleep in the village?
Thailand girls will stay in a house directly across the road from Mac and
Boosaba's home. The boys will stay at the village temple, about two hundred
yards down the road and directly opposite the school. Accommodations for
each group include indoor bathrooms with running water, electric lights
and fans, and sleeping mats with mosquito nets, sheets, pillows and blankets.
Participants will be responsible for cleaning their own dwellings and are
welcome to invite their Thai peers to visit up to a reasonable hour each
night. All meals will be served at Mac and Boosaba's.
Will we do
always possible. Instead of pre-arranged homestays, Inside Thailand prefers
to allow visitors and villagers to form their own relationships. If you
are invited you will certainly be welcome to sleep over at a friend's house,
providing, of course, the host parents and Mac and Boosaba approve of the
vaccinations are required?
are required for entry to Thailand or return to the US. After we receive
your deposit we will send you an information packet. It will include detailed
notes on the immunization options you may want to discuss with your doctor.
I am allergic
to ______. Will that be a problem?
However, it is vitally important that you disclose any such medical conditions
on your application form.
emergency medical care in Thailand?
in Thailand is truly excellent. The facilities are modern and clean; the
instrumentation and technology are state of the art; many of the doctors
are trained overseas; and the nursing staff is as gracious as they are competent.
there is the very good Uttaradit
Public Hospital. In Chiangmai there is an outstanding private facility
called the Lanna
Hospital where Mac and Boosaba's daughter was born. And in Bangkok there
are numerous distinguished choices, including the world-class Bumrungrad
of clothes/shoes/rain gear/etc. should I bring?
After we have
received your deposit we will send you an information packet which will
include detailed information on what to bring.
I bring gifts for the Thai kids?
You may. The
ideal gifts will be small items to be used as rewards and prizes in the
classroom. These include, for instance, photos, postcards and stickers,
pens, pencils and erasers, and small party-favor toys.
May I bring iPod, CD's, tapes, videos, VCD's or DVD's?
VHS video (either PAL or NTSC), CD, cassette tape, and VCD players are all available in Pah Leurat. DVD players are less common, although we do have one at our home. Inside Thailand participants are welcome to bring iPods or other mp3 players, but are discouraged from zoning out in their own soundspace through earphones. The Thai way is to share the music, and we will be happy to plug your iPod into our speaker system.
often will we be able to e-Mail or phone home?
are not yet any Internet connections in Pah Leurat, e-Cafes are common in
Bangkok, Chiangmai, and Uttaradit, so you should be able to exchange
e-Mail at least once a week. Mac and Boosaba's cell phones are reserved
for emergencies. You will, however, be able to place overseas calls from
our hotels in Bangkok and Chiangmai.
How long do
airmail letters take between Thailand and North America?
About a week.
Your information packet will include the mailing address in Pah Leurat.
Inside Thailand been affected by the tsunami, bird flu, or the southern separatist
The short answer
is no. The tsunami struck Thailand's west coast, across the peninsula from
the island Inside Thailand visits in the Gulf of Siam. The separatist unrest
is confined to three predominately Mulsim provinces near Thailand's border
with Malaysia. The regions affected by the tsunami and the separatist unrest
are both hundreds of miles from the nearest Inside Thailand destination.
of avian influenza have occurred in several Thai provinces, but that disease
does not pose a risk to humans who are not intimate with infected chickens,
and there have never been any infected birds anywhere near our village in
For a detailed
discourse on these important concerns please see Perspectives
on the Tsunami, Bird Flu, and Pattani.
Home | Brochure | Application | Scrapbook | Village
library | Thai
Circle | Cate School | Tsunami | FAQ | Group