How I became an English teacher in Laos – Essays by Donekeo Keosiththivong and Souksakhone Sindavan
I would like to introduce my two outstanding English teacher students from Phan Heng Secondary School: Ms Donekeo Keosiththivong and Ms Souksakhone Sindavan. Both young women are gifted and highly motivated teachers who want to improve their English language skills. They have to try hard to improve their pronunciation since the English language is so different compared to the Lao one. Working together with them means having a good time repeating words that are difficult to pronounce, amongst all the other things.
In one of our teacher lessons, we practised their creative writing skills, and these short auto-biographical sketches are the result. (In the following lesson, we worked together on the original versions and corrected some of the grammatical mistakes they had made.)
Souk has only been a teacher at Ban Phang Heng Secondary School for a short time, but got on well with the students and the teachers from the very first day.
Donekeo has been an English teacher for more than four years at my school in Sikeud now and already worked a lot with the prior teams of the Angels for children foundation.
Teaching a foreign language as a professional is a hard thing to do in Laos because it encompasses many roles and tasks. Therefore, it makes me more than happy to support these two enthusiastic teacher students in improving their language proficiency. A good learning atmosphere is fortunately no problem thanks to their high interest in learning and their openness to laugh about their own mistakes. It makes me very happy to say that they are not only good students but also have become close friends of mine.
The creative writing task during our teacher lesson was to write an essay about “how I became an English teacher“. Here is what they wrote:
I was born on August 6th, 1994, in Kangsand village, in Naxaythong District, Vientiane Capital. There were 5 people in my family such as my parents, older brother, older sister and me. My house was small. My father was a teacher. He worked at Ilay high school and my mother was the housework. When I was 6, my father took me go to Ilay Primary School, but I cried a lot because I didn’t want to study. So my father told me: “You should study and you get to know new friends.“
When I was 10, my older brother finished study at high school, so he had to continue to study and he decided to become a soldier because he liked this job. And he left home to study at Xiengkhoun Province for 3 years. And I missed him so much. When I was 12, my older sister finished study at high school. She didn’t want continue to study. When I was 18, I finished at Ilay high School and my father told me:“ Do you want to study at National University of Laos?“, “Yes. I did“ I answered. And he was very proud of me because he wanted me to be a teacher.
So I decided to study an English teacher because I wanted to speak English very well and help students communicate with the foreigners. When I was 19, my father died because of the cancer. I was very sad and didn’t want to study, but my mother told me: “You should continue to study because your father wanted you to be a teacher“. So I had to study for 4 years. On September 24th, 2016 I got a certificate and my family was very happy and proud of me.
I was born on January 19th 1993, in Naxaythong District, Vientiane Capital. My family was poor. We didn´t have a car, a big house or cows. We have only chickens and ducks. My father Sukun worked in Sikeud Secondary school. My mother, Sengchun was a houswife. My brother, Subun was born on April 22th 1998. We lived in Phonesavanh Village in Naxaythong Disctrict, Vientiane Capital.
When I was five years old I started to study at primary school in my village. I walked to school with my friends every day. I got money from my parents. I got 500-1000 kip a day. I used to swim in the river near school. When I was eleven to thirteen years old I studied in the old Sikeud Secondary school. The school didn´t have enough materiall to learn, not many sports. I rode my bicycle to school with my friends every day, but I was happy very much. Me and my friends ran, walked, played in the field behind the school in the break.
When I was fourteen to eighteen years old I studied in Naxaythong High school in class five. In class six I got a motorbike. In High school I had extra lessons from 5:30pm to 8:00 pm. In the vacations I stopped the extra lessons. I worked in a clothes factory to earn money. I wanted to help my parents. Three months later I stopped to work and started to learn on September, and I was going to extra lesson again. When I finished to study in high school I wanted to examine the National University of Laos and medical, but I couldn´t pass my exam. I felt depressed and thought I couldn’t work with the government.
One week later my father asked me: “Do you want to be a teacher?“I said:“I worry to not pass my exam and I can´t be a teacher.“ One day later I decided to do the teaching exam, so I could pass my exam. I learned in Dongkhamxang Teacher Training college, English language for two years.
During the time when I was eighteen to twenty, I realised that I know a lot about many peoples life. I got many friends from different provinces to study at the college. The second term in year two on February from the 6th to the 9th of April in 2013 I had a training in the countryside. I got a lot of experience in teaching. I saw the student´s life and I know people lived in the mountain. They were very poor. They walked to school which was far away from their houses. The road was uncomfortable and I pitied them. These things made me know that English language is the gate and the students future and for the country. Now I wanted to be a teacher and changed my idea to help students everywhere. I want my students to know English well because the futures country. And Laos PDF became a member of ASAIN. We should know international languages to communicate with foreigners in the future. So they can develop our country to civilisation in the future and I love teaching students.
The teacher is bringing light to the students everywhere in the world. Then I finished the training. I went back to my collage and I got a certificate in teaching in 2013 from that time I am working at Sikeud Secondary School.
Text and photos by A. Broghammer, D. Keositthivong & S. Sindavan