First of All
“STAND UP PLEASE” says one student. The whole class stands up and says together, “GOOOOOOD MOOORRNNINGG TEAACHHER”. These are the first words you will hear when walking into your first class of around 30 students, all said in perfect unison. To which you respond, “Good morning students, how are you?” Again, in seamless harmony, they respond, “I AM FIINEE THANK YOU, ANDD YOUUU?” You would then answer and tell them to sit down.
This short little conversation with your students is one of the cutest and funniest things that you will grow to love about your time teaching abroad in Thailand. Every day, no matter what mood I am in, this rehearsed conversation from these students to the teacher can always bring a smile to my face. From this point on in the class, the experience will vary widely depending on the skill level of your class.
While all students know this short conversation, for some, that may be all they know. This is when teaching can get a little bit tricky. I have 19 different classes, and I may dare say it, with 19 different skill levels. This means that while I suppose to teach the same thing to all of the classes, I have to adjust for each class! HOW do you do this you might ask? Well, my friends, I am still figuring this one out. Basically, it’s something that comes intuitively and on the spot. You can plan and plan and plan for what you think might happen and what might work for a class but then you might get to the class and everything has changed.
Every day teaching here, I am learning just as much as my children are, if not more! In this way, teaching is tremendously rewarding. Not only because you feel like you are helping (at least some) of your students learn a very important skill, but because you are learning and growing so much as a person. Your patience will be tested. Your motivation, your energy, your enthusiasm. Essentially every socially defined “positive” characteristic of a personality will be tested and almost forced to be worked on. You WILL go back to wherever you are from a completely different person, whether you realize it or not and this is just talking about what you will be learning from teaching! Actually living in Thailand is a whole other blog post!
Teaching in Thailand is an amazing opportunity, but it’s also what you make of it. To come here, you must be mentally strong. I think a lot of people come out here thinking that they are going to live on a beach and get all of these awesome experiences, and eat awesome food, and meet awesome people, and just have a real awesome time (sarcastic tone if you couldn’t tell). While this can be realistic, you can’t forget that you are teaching children English. This is your job. You will get those awesome experiences, I promise.
Life here has been everything I can imagine and more, but it’s not always a cakewalk. Teaching can be draining, the language barrier can push you past your frustration point, and your bed might not be comfiest. You must be strong before you come out here and you must BE GRATEFUL for the experience you are getting. It’s an amazing thing to be in a position to even be contemplating teaching English in a foreign country. Teaching English in Thailand has been the best decision I have ever made in life. In my 22 years on Earth that is, and I say that with 100% certainty. Every challenge I have faced has made me a better person. And well the kids, they’re just the cutest.
And then, just as class began, they say, “THHANNKKK YOUU TEEEACHER. SEEE YOU AGAIN NEXT TIMEEE… BYEEE!”. I smile every time.