Teach English in Thailand: My First Week in the Land of Smiles

Thailand TEFL Experience intern, Elena, tells us about her first week in the Land of Smiles!

I made it!

At this moment in time; I am sat inside my teacher accommodation, at a lovely school, in the beautiful province of Kanchanaburi. My roommate and I are definitely the lucky ones when it comes to where we are staying!

So far I have had an amazing week, unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Already I have made a massive group of friends for life and memories that I will treasure forever. Ayutthaya was an incredible place; jam packed with a wealth of history and golden temples or Wats– what?!

Temples in Thailand

My new home

Kanchanaburi is definitely not what I was expecting at all. Honestly, I pictured my time living in a wooden hut with beds on the floor, in a tiny village with not much to do; apart from teaching and hiding from big insects. I was so wrong.

The town I am staying in is called Tha Muang and it is nearly as lively as Kanchanaburi town itself! We are so lucky with our location- we have a great night market, so many shops and restaurants and plenty of places to eat street food. We’re also a 5 minute walk from some other interns, as well as a short bus ride to the next town- where we can spend time with more friends and practicing Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)!

TEFL intern doing Thai boxing

Meeting the locals

When people refer to Thailand as the Land of Smiles they aren’t exaggerating. The Thai people are the most friendly I have ever met and will go completely out of their way to help you! Our teacher Pare, has welcomed us into the school with open arms and has taken us to temples, markets, bike rides and out for food more times than I can count – just to help settle us in and make us feel welcome!

Smiling TEFL students in Thailand

A typical day of teaching

Our timetable for the school is incredible. We teach for no more than three hours a day (it doesn’t sound like much but in this heat you welcome the break).  The days are jam packed with activities and we are surrounded by fantastic children that are all desperate to know us.

My roommate and I are provided with a beautiful lunch and there is also a massive freezer of ice cream that we have unlimited access to- shh don’t tell the other interns!

TEFL teachers playing with the students

Time to explore

Every weekend we have out here is free for us to do as we want, so I’m definitely going to make the most out of being in this incredible country. Sun, sea, new friends and a load of memories to make- nothing can go wrong!

Has reading Elena’s blog made you want to teach English in Thailand? Our Thailand TEFL Experience runs throughout the year so why not sign up and experience it for yourself! Or if you fancy staying a little longer, check out our Paid Thailand TEFL Internship instead!

A Guide to Lesson Planning in Thailand

The proof is in the planning!

If you’re like me, before you leave you’re itching to know what to expect when it comes to lesson planning. I’ll give you my 2 Baht, but bear in mind that everyone has a unique perspective based on their classroom experience, and the expectations of their school.

As I teach at a private school, I am fortunate in the sense that there are plenty of resources and office supplies around. The other side of that is that there are certain expectations of how lessons will be executed, so that they fit with the style of the English department. At some of my friends’ temple schools, resources were not as robust, and they were the entire English department so anything they did was novel.

 

Lesson planning resources

Embrace the Thai way of life

In Thailand, things can be more fluid than we are accustomed to at home. Bus timetables, prices, lesson plans…even the spiciness of your favourite dish at a restaurant! Some of this can be attributed to cultural differences, and some is just a by-product of the very real language barrier. From the start, I was supposed to be at a different school in a more rural area, so my experience would have been very different. Not better, not worse, just completely different due to a last minute change.

Keep something in the back pocket!

Initially, we were asked to teach separately. After two weeks, they were pleased with what we were doing individually, they wanted us to teach more classes together. We did, but there were still occasions where we were split up for activities. These moments reinforced the importance of just going with the flow!

We were asked to do different topics each week by Kindergarten 1, 2 and 3, as well as grades 1 through 6. This turned out to be too much planning, so we chose broader topics and just adjusted the lesson material for each age group. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. So, we made sure to have plenty of visuals, songs, and simple question and answer topics for each class, in addition to some back up material. We learned quickly that having extra stuff prepared was useful for those lessons where you receive blank stares for the first sixty seconds.

Thai school timetable

Recycle – it helps the planet, and your lessons!

By the third week, we began reviewing previous material because the students’ familiarity helped keep up the pace of the lessons. We covered topics like fruit, professions, body parts, weather, emotions and family. The more energy we brought to our lessons, the more engaged the students were. Lesson planning is not something to stress about, most of the time we were able to convey the topics in English using excitement and visual aids. Just come in with an open mind and the students will learn!

Interview with teachers

Teacher Becca’s Pro Tips:

 

Go with the flow: Things *will* change, and they will be out of your control. However, your outlook in response to these unforeseen adjustments will largely determine your day to day.

• Be yourself! The students and teachers alike want to know you, so express that in any way you can. Sharing photos from home of your family and friends is always fun.

• Ok Google: Translate a few phrases, learn a few words, and use technology to bring you closer together with your Thai students and fellow teachers. And, of course, use it to your advantage when lesson planning, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

Until next time,
Teacher Becca

 

If you’ve enjoyed reading Teacher Becca’s tips on teaching English in Thailand, why not take a look at our Paid Thailand TEFL Internship!

TEFL in Thailand: What Our Interns Say!

The fully-supported Paid Thailand TEFL Internship gives you plenty of teaching experience whilst having an amazing time exploring your new home!  But don’t just take our word for it, have a look and see what our interns have to say about their experience!

 

John’s story

Jon in Thailand

Name: John Campbell-Wright

School: Chaiburi Pittaya High School in Chaiburi, Surat Thani, Thailand

Teaching Period: November 2014 – February 2015 (John is stayed for an additional term with Chaiburi Pittaya High School)

“When I first landed in Thailand on my birthday I was unsure what to expect. I had never flown so far by myself and had never been to Asia. The only certainty I knew was that after a week of training in Bangkok, I was going to be teaching. I was greeted by the in-country support team and taken to the hotel where I met my fellow teaching interns.

I thoroughly enjoyed my training week in Bangkok, the other interns were a truly fantastic group of people. But soon enough it was time to swap contact details and head off to our new homes.

I arrived in my new town of Chaiburi, to discover a stretch of road with little villages located along it. Chaiburi is small but I have come to love it massively. I’ve learnt that the local people are very friendly and I always get a smile and conversation in the local shops, occasionally by complete strangers. Because Chaiburi is small, the community knows who I am and as the days go by I’m slowly learning who everyone else is.

The teachers at school are fun to be around, and I play sports with them after school. The students are brilliant, they’re compassionate, fun and have a good sense of humour. I’ve learnt how to handle each class as they all respond to lessons differently. But they’re are all willing to learn when you get the hang of adapting the lessons. I can’t leave my home without being greeted by one of my students, they’re always happy to say hello when they see me out and about.

I have also been able to travel to some fantastic places during my time in Thailand, some places I’ve discovered alone and others with my fellow interns. I was lucky enough to spend one of the best New Year’s Eve of my life thanks to a local family who virtually adopted me!

The in-country support has been invaluable, providing me with good support, and helping me handle Thailand’s complicated bureaucracy, including my visa, work permit and everything else has all been handled by them.

Although my internship in Thailand has been short, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself and have come to love this country and the amphur Chaiburi. I love it so much I would be overjoyed to stay; there are still so many things to see and do!”

 

Kenisha’s story

kenisha thailand

Name: Kenisha Naomi Douglas-Taylor

School: Anuban Surin Primary School in Surin, Thailand

Teaching Period: October 2014 – March 2015

“Being in Thailand has opened so many doors for me. The Thai people are friendly and go above and beyond when it comes to accommodating me. I’ve found that as a culture they’re very respectful to people in a higher positions, such as teachers!

Working with children has pushed me, but when I’m able to have a conversation with my students it’s the only reward I need! Living in Surin has been amazing, plus living in a proper Thai city with VERY few tourists has been so nice!

Learning the language has been a great experience for me as I’ve always been fascinated with Asian languages. Your experience with Thailand is what you make of it. If you embrace the people and culture, you will enjoy it; but if you hide because you don’t know the language, you’ll have a very bland experience.”

 

Emma’s story

Emma in Thailand

Name: Emma Victoria Parker

School: Watsumaisuwan Primary School in Chaiburi, Surat Thani, Thailand

Teaching Period: November 2014 – March 2015

“Teaching and living in Thailand has been such a life-changing experience. In the past five months I have learnt, seen and done so many new things, and been to so many new places. I have learnt how to ride a moped, speak a bit of Thai and most importantly, teach children English.

Teaching English as a foreign language is such a fun and fulfilling thing to do. Nothing beats watching the students’ English develop thanks to my teaching, this has filled me with such pleasure and pride.

Thailand is a beautiful country, filled with warm, friendly people and amazing food. If you want to teach English, Thailand is definitely the place to do it!”

 

Will you be our next Thailand intern?

 

If you’ve been inspired to TEFL in Thailand, you can find out more information about the Thailand internship.  Alternatively, we also run internships in China and Vietnam that you may be interested in too!

 

TEFL interns