If you’re anything like me, you’ve a thousand and one questions about what life will be like teaching in Thailand. Where will you live? How will you spend your weekends? What will the school be like? What will I teach? I’m currently 2 months into the semester and have had an amazing experience so far. Here’s a little insight into a typical day in Sakon Nakhon, North East Thailand at my school to hopefully ease some of the nerves and answer a few of those burning questions…!
A typical morning starts at 7:00 am with breakfast at my apartment and an iced coffee on the way to work. As my school is in quite a rural area in the North East of Thailand me and my hubbie rent a scooter and drive about 15 minutes to work each day (a far cry from my daily commute back in London, squeezing on overcrowded tubes!). After catching up with some of the other foreign teachers (3 British and 2 American) we head down to Assembly for the national anthem, flag ceremony and a morning talk (usually completely in Thai!), although every Friday one of the foreign teachers does a talk in English. As there’s over 4,000 students in our school the assembly usually cuts slightly into the first period and its always pretty hectic making your way to your classroom squeezing down the tiny corridors with so many students!
An average class would be 50 minutes long with approx 45 – 55 students. The classrooms have very few resources so you really do need lots of creativity to make learning fun for the students. The classes usually have a backboard (some may have a dry whiteboard) and usually the students have their own workbooks and pens. We are lucky in that our school has devised their own English curriculum so we have an outline for a lesson, with suggested resources that we can use. As I’m actually a qualified teacher in the UK I like creating my own resources and using lots of drama to really bring the lessons to life!
I currently teach English to the whole of M2 grade (so the children are 13 and 14 years old). The class sizes are huge compared to how many children I teach back in the UK, so lessons are rather noisy and can be quite hectic! However, with about 14 hours of teaching per week I get a good amount of non-teaching time to plan lessons, make fun resources and also mark and asses their units and exams.
Lunchtime at our school is a real highlight and a chance for all the foreign teachers to catch up on the morning’s antics! With over 4,000 hungry students to feed our canteen is the size of a small village with about 30 different food vendors to choose from. A favourite of mine is tom yum goong, or I might have an omlette or pad thai to mix things up! After lunch I usually catch up on some marking, or prepare my resources for the next lesson.
The school day finishes at approx 4:20 pm, but some classes finish slightly earlier. There’s always so much going on at our school to get involved in! We often enjoy watching the band practice for a concert, or even head over to the sports field to check out a football match.
After School its time to relax and unwind after a busy day… usually with a cup of tea and magazine in hand, whilst soaking up some last minute sun at the park! We’re really lucky in Sakon that there’s a great group of foreign teacher based here so we usually meet up for dinner at a local restaurant or head down to one of the night markets for some street food. Although we’re in quite a ‘rural’ location in the North East there’s usually lots happening to keep us entertained during the week. We recently went to a huge street party for the anniversary of the local temple and also partied the evening away at a Thai pop music festival. At weekends, we often chill in the park, go the gym and outdoor pool or even jump on a bus and head to the next cities such as Khon Kean or Udon Thani. There might not be as much on our doorstep as somewhere like Bangkok, but if you look hard enough you can find some great, undiscovered things to do that definitely won’t be listed in the Lonely Planet!
Hopefully you’ve got a brief insight to life as a Teacher in Thailand, and fancy giving it a go yourself. I can honestly say that its one of the best experiences of my life and will well and truly enhance my life, and my CV!
To read more about our experiences Teaching Abroad, Volunteering and travelling the world check out our blog, Lets Get Lost.