Does Teaching English in Thailand Really Make a Difference?
by Michael Volpe, our partner for Greenheart Travel’s Teach English in Thailand Program
Learning a second language in countries like Thailand, where tourism is a major part of the economy, and where the country is developing quickly, is not a hobby like it is the United States. Most Thai people do not learn English for fun or to make their applications more attractive to universities. Learning English in these countries is a ticket to a better life.
If you can speak English at a competent level, you can move out of poverty and become firmly middle class, without needing the best education and opportunities. All you need to be able to do is speak English and you can get a job in one of many industries that support tourism or international business.
Countries like Thailand are very hierarchical and relationship based, and public schools in poor areas don’t teach so much as manage a large number of students. Both of these factors lead to a cycle of poverty. If you are born poor, you do not benefit from the right relationships and connections, you go to poor schools with low expectations, you do not get a good education, and you end up doing what your parents did: becoming push cart vendors, laborers, or domestic help.
One way to break out of that cycle is by learning English. English teachers in Thailand have an enormous opportunity to help break the cycle of poverty for millions of Thai children and give them a skill (one native speaking teachers often take for granted) that they can use to pick themselves up and provide better futures for their children. If you think about each teacher and the number of students he or she teachers, the impact is enormous.
One thing we also stress to teachers is that each is a national and cultural ambassador from their country, helping to build mutual understanding and appreciation and in the long run closer relationships between the teacher’s host country and home country. The teacher brings a bit of their culture into the classroom, breaks down stereotypes, and piques interest in the country and culture. We have seen this in Thailand over the past few years with the population being more open to people of different ethnic backgrounds, religions, and cultures as teachers.
While the teacher brings their culture into the classroom, they also soak up the Thai culture, which helps them understand and appreciate different cultural perspectives. Teachers take this deeper understanding of Thai culture back with them to their home countries and share it with their friends and family. These actions and experiences help to bridge cultures and build respect and better understanding.
Check out our Greenheart Travel alumni teachers’ photos below and get inspired to teach English in Thailand!
These 26 wild kiddos have taught me more than I could've imagined. They're proof that kindness, love, patience and fun are the most important languages in the world!! I'm going to miss my 8-year-old best friends so incredibly much 💕 not at all ready to leave them – they have such a special place in my heart!! Chan rak khun, kids. I love you!! #teachabroad #teachinthailand #xploreasia #greenhearttravel #whyItravel #teacherlife
Hey friends! You guessed it, it's Angela (@angeladnm) here taking over for Greenheart. As an English teacher in Thailand, there are many obstacles you face from the get go. From adjusting to sweating all of the time because your school doesn't have AC, to breaking up Muy Thai matches in the back of your classroom, teaching is a lot more than standing in front of a white board all day. One of my biggest obstacles was setting clear expectations and earning respect from my students while still being my easy-going self. I quickly learned that it takes time for your students to adjust to you, just as you must adjust to them. However, after just a few weeks of getting to know each other better, these P5 kiddos stole my heart. They're wild, energetic, and full of laughter. They've taught me more about patience, perseverance, and persistence than I ever could have imagined, and I am forever grateful for that. Please feel free to message me on my personal IG account if you would like any information about teaching abroad! #Greenhearttravel #IGtakeover #thailand #teachabroad #teachenglish #landofsmiles #followyourheart
At the end of testing I always let my kiddos have free time to unwind as a reward for working their brains so hard. Their favorite thing to do is steal "teecha Kreesta" phone and try to guess the passcode and use it to take random pictures and selfies. * * * * They always keep me on my toes, make me laugh until I cry, and fill my heart with so much joy and love. Thank you Cop for catching this moment while stealing my phone. Teacher Krysta adores all of you ❤❤ * * * #greenhearttravel #xploreasia #teachabroad #lovewhatyoudo #laughing
Can't believe today was my last day teaching these nuggets. They have filled my heart with so much love, joy, and happiness. I'm forever going to miss pig piling into pictures, their kind hearts, and adorable little smiles. ❤ • • • • • #teachabroad #greenhearttravel #travel #myheart #xploreasia #love #picoftheday
Because today is Children's Day in Thailand and I have the cutest kiddies ever! 🤓🇹🇭🙏 #เด็ก #บางเสน #ชลบุรี #อนุบาลนานาชาติต้นหลิว #childrensday #thailand #internationalkindergarten #preschoolteacher #travel #explore #discover #liveinthailand #teachinthailand #liveabroad #teachabroad #expatlife #expat #internationaleducation #dowhatyoulove #lovewhatyoudo #xploreasia #greenhearttravel #wanderlust #neverstopexploring #teacherlife
Hey there Greenheart Travel fans! My name is Angela (@angeladnm), and I'm currently participating in Greenheart Travel's Teach Abroad program in Thailand. I'll be taking over Greenheart's IG to give you a preview of what it's like living and teaching here! Be sure to check back throughout the week as I share more of this magical place with you. – This photo was taken during "Sports Day" at my school, which was really just an excuse to dress up the farang (foreigner) in traditional Thai clothing, take loads of pictures, and cancel classes to play team building games outside all day 🙂 #Greenhearttravel #IGtakeover #thailand #teachabroad #teachenglish #landofsmiles #followyourheart