Swim Session Facts
In just two weeks, 330 students have completed a swim beach session. But what does this mean?
The students showed interest in swimming and snorkeling and signed up to participate.
The students, whatever age, can write their English nickname. For the younger students, this is immensely important because they are learning the English alphabet simultaneously with the Thai alphabet. For some of the P1 (1st graders), they need help writing both their Thai and English names, but we see the association of English with swimming as an important motivator for the students to care about learning English. If they are keen on swimming and the marine world, they should know that English skills are connected to the marine tourism and conservation fields. It’s apparent that the kru farong (foreigner teachers, aka us) speak English, so the students should follow suit. For future ESL teachers, we hope this program provides measurable gains in students’ motivation levels in the classroom.
The students participated in some marine ecology game, also focused around English vocabulary: manta ray, jellyfish, octopus, turtle, trash, float, bubbles, etc. The older students listened to a presentation on the importance of pakarong (coral). Our aim is to inspire students to pursue careers in conservation or environmental stewardship, in addition to being local SCUBA guides. Even if a few students follow these paths, the program succeeds.
The students took a short bus ride to the beach entrance closest to the school. We take the school bus to ensure the students have the most possible time in the water and because riding in a bus is a privilege for students; they’re rarely allowed to leave campus and field trips don’t really exist here. The excitement in the bus (an open air, giant truck with benches in the back) is palpable.
The students have been taken into the Andaman Sea with one or two other students and one instructor. The instructor, either an ESL teacher or Wicked staff, tests the student on the following skills: blowing bubbles, floating face up, flutter kicking, proper freestyle form (for the skilled and older students) and breathing with a mask and snorkel. It means that at a minimum, for the scared students, they at least try to float on their backs and understand the importance of staying calm and continuing to breath as waves crash over them.
It means that the students raced into the surf in a raucously fun relay.
It means that the students played in a freshwater inlet, either splashing friends with water or practicing using a mask and snorkel or building sand castles.
It means the students picked up trash on the beach and indicated they understood they importance of not littering.
It means the students enjoyed a snack and the time away from campus and looked longingly at the ocean upon return to school. The ocean is no longer a mystery for these 330 students.
It means the students earthraged in their backyard.