Thailand...The name alone conjures up the sensation of freedom, tropical nights, mouth-watering street food and breathtaking beaches. Caroline isn't the only English teacher to fall head over heels with this mystical land. Discover how she enjoyed a rewarding teaching career as well as enough free time to explore.
I landed in Thailand and felt the blast of warm air hit me as I left the airport, dizzy to be in the Asian tropics for a full six weeks. Little did I know it was only enough to whet my appetite. Nothing prepared me for the way this country embedded itself in my heart and soul.
Thailand reflected freedom, a desire that had been growing within me for some time. A desire to be free, free of the restraints of ‘normal’ living, free of working all hours, free of cold wet weather and the monotony of the life I had slipped into, free of whom I had become.
People talk of culture shock, for me, the real shock was reflecting on my own culture. We appeared so lacking in the freedom to ‘be’, so different from this new way of life I was resonating with. I had a fantastic holiday and arrived home with the strong belief, despite all odds, that I would be travelling and living in this gem of country within six months. I was right!
I travelled around Thailand for some time before I decided it was time to begin working. It is a country that has taken a grip on hundreds of thousands of others as well. I had a long held desire to spend some time with children living in orphanages and moved to Nong Khai, SE Thailand to set up home there for a while, so I could visit Sarnellie House, a group of wonderfully run homes for children with HIV.
I set about finding some paid work and it proved quite easy. The landlord of my new home was a school principal and he offered me a year’s contract teaching at a secondary school, which I did consider but it was not what I wanted at the time; remember freedom was still my driving force and I declined with thanks.
I had met some other expats who were teaching at this school and they enjoyed it and got a reasonable wage to live easily and with some western comforts. One told me of a little English school, ‘House of English’ where I could teach children and adults part-time. This was more up my street, so I rang the owner, a lovely lady and after a brief chat, began teaching that weekend. Things are done a lot differently in Thailand, it appears less professional but I think that is just an opinion of our western conditioning. I loved it!
It is quite easy to gain employment in schools and English centres whilst travelling in Thailand. It is also highly possible to get a teaching contract, even without a teaching degree, despite the information to the contrary on teaching websites.
I do possess teaching & training qualifications, a full TEFL certificate with many years teaching experience in varying aspects but I have met people in teaching positions who had neither qualifications nor experience. The schools need English-speaking teachers as in many areas; some of the native ‘English’ teachers have a very small English vocabulary. It is possible, almost certain, that those with qualifications and experience will get first preference but there is often a shortage of those and if English is your first language or you are a fluent speaker with a good personality and an aptitude towards teaching and learning, you will be certain to find a teaching job in Thailand.
There is multitude of teaching support online with generous TEFL teachers posting up lesson plans, worksheets, and grammar sheets, everything you need to begin teaching immediately if you take the time to read and adopt a teaching style that suits you.
This is truly a magical country, the students I encountered were a pleasure to teach, the kids a bit unruly in comparison to schools in the western world but it only added to the whole charm of an entirely different teaching experience. I recommend it!