So you have decided that Thailand is the destination for you and your career move as an English teacher. Hopefully you have made this decision for the right reasons and not based solely on the white sandy beaches of Phuket.
Here are a few suggestions to make sure that you get the most out of your experience:
Get Your Expectations Right
Thailand is an extremely popular tourist destination for people who want to travel and see some amazing natural beauty. These are generally the kinds of people who are taking a long holiday and hop from one tourist spot to the next. If you think teaching English in Thailand will be anything like this, think again.
Working in Thailand will be very different from holidaying there. If you have already been to Thailand then you’ll already have some idea of what the transport, living conditions, food, weather and currency is like and this will probably help you to settle in to your working role.
If you arrive in Thailand with no experience of Asia and naive assumptions you are going to experience some culture shock. Either way, you should do lots of research into the area of Thailand in which you’ll be staying, think hard about the conditions that you will be living in (Like the fact that it will be hot, all of the time). Read some blogs or journals of other foreign English teachers working in Thailand. Most importantly, try to get an understanding of the culture, especially within their education system.
Choose The Right School For You
You should have an idea of what sort of age group you would like to work with but this information alone isn’t enough to ensure you choose the right school for you as there are a lot of options.
If you want to work with the 3-5 age range, you could work in a very large school in Bangkok or Trang that actually caters for children up to the age of 14, or you could work in a small village school that provides for children up to 8years of age.
You’ll need to think about whether you want to work in a public school (government funded) or independent school, either charity run or fee-paying.
You could choose a vocational or academic based high school or a comprehensive one. These different options come with very different working environments and different values with regard to native English speakers. In public schools you might have to wear a strict uniform.
If you have a specific location in mind then you might be more limited in where you can work. Try not to limit yourself too much by your chosen location. Keep an open mind and see what positions become available.
It’s too easy to base your decision on your location and end up in the wrong school. After all, where are you going to be spending most of your time?
Embracing The Culture
Embarking on your teaching adventure can be quite daunting but try really hard to ‘get stuck in’ instead of falling into some of these pitfalls…
When you’ve finally arrived at your school you will probably make friends with fellow ex-pats and native English speaking teachers. Whilst this is absolutely fine, try to make friends with some of the Thai teachers too.
You don’t want to help create a segregation of teachers and staff because the English people are easier to talk too. You’ll probably learn a lot more about the culture and how you should be doing your job if you make friends with a mix of people.
Have An Open Mind
If you’ve had teaching experience in the UK or any other country you might be tempted to compare it with your experience of teaching in Thailand.
Every education system is different and you should try to embrace whatever is thrown at you so you can do your job to the best of your abilities instead of trying to teach in the same way you would in the UK. You will learn more about the culture and you will definitely be less frustrated.
Although you are there to teach English, try to be open minded about learning some Thai. You will find that you have to go far out of your way to do this as everyone will want to test out their English skills with you.
However, if you attempt to learn some Thai you will instantly gain more respect from your Thai co-teachers. You’ll also be submerging yourself into the culture more and it will be something valuable you can take away from your trip.
This guest post was written by Robert from ICAL TEFL, providers of quality online TEFL courses for people who want to embark on an exciting career.