Advice from our Alumni for New Teachers in Thailand
As our teachers wrap our their semester teaching in Thailand, here is their advice for those just arriving or planning to teach ESL abroad in Thailand in the future.
Sometimes you can’t know the kind of lives that your students live outside of the classroom. Some have troubled homes and some may have no home. Try to look beyond the misbehavior and understand that you’re improving their lives every day in the classroom.” This was by far the most meaningful advice that one of my co-teachers gave to me that changed the way I looked at some of my problem students. – Michael Robinson
The educational standard is likely to be lower than what you are used to. Try to keep in mind that this is a systemic issue, rather than individual apathy. Use a variety of resources and materials (music, videos, games etc.) to engage your students. Furthermore, make an effort to get to know them outside of class. Whether it be a few minutes before or after the lesson, or getting involved with extracurricular activities, it will hugely benefit both you and your students. Teaching English is one thing, and clearly important, but the exchange that occurs outside of formal instruction is where cultural bridging really flourishes. – Adam Ruprecht
Your students deserve your best effort 100% of the time. No matter what you are dealing with outside of school (culture shock, homesickness, family problems, etc.), you need to walk into every class with your biggest smile. Whether you had an incredibly difficult class just before or you’ve exhausted all of your energy, you need to push through and treat each class like your first day of teaching. –Stephanie Carozza
The most meaningful advice I was given during my first semester was that students want to have fun.
At our school many of the students weren’t able to read or write in Thai, let alone English. Their English vocabulary consisted of “How are you?” and “I’m fine, thank you, and you?” As a result, it was a very challenging task to hold their attention for a one-hour lecture in a language they couldn’t comprehend. Within 5-10 minutes of a lecture, the students would start to get restless and talkative. The noise would build up and the cell phones would come out. It was very frustrating at first but then I remembered, “Students want to have fun.”
To hold the attention of a Thai classroom, the teacher and the lessons must be entertaining. Once you start to appeal to the students, they will start giving back effort in return. By using games, role-playing activities, and simple conversation I was able to see the students improve throughout the semester. As the students witnessed their own improvement, their interest increased and the semester became very enriching for all of us. If you can make your classroom a fun environment, the students will respond. – Carter Brown
The students are going to love you no matter who you are or where you came from. The students idolize you and take notice to everything you do, so try and set a good example. Always give 100%. It’s true that you get out what you put in. The kids really want to learn and it’s too easy to play games everyday. Putting effort (even just a little) into the class will help the teacher and students enjoy the class even more! Candy and stickers also help 😉 – Kelsey Garrett
There were a lot of moments during my semester teaching where I felt as if I wasn’t making true connections with my students. The language barrier seemed too high, the classes too large, and the schedule too sporadic. But as the year drew to a close, I found that with enough time, even these barriers could be surmounted. It is a great feeling to connect with someone who you can hardly speak to! – Peter Drews
These girls have taught me so many lessons about selflessness, friendship and community. They are 4 years old, but they always look out for each other and help each other if one of them is struggling. I was teaching them English, but they definitely taught me more than I could ever teach them. – Laura Lopez-Blasquez