Teaching in Thailand
Teaching in Thailand is completely different than anything that I have ever experienced before. Coming from a western world and emerging myself in Thailand, I had no clue what to expect. I thought that teaching in any country would be somewhat similar but, I was wrong in so many ways.
There are numerous benefits and differences that you will notice once you start at your new school and my best advice is to not compare, even though this will be extremely challenging.
Thailand – A Lane of Smiles
First and foremost, know that you are a visitor here and part of that means you respect their culture and know that with that there will be things that you want to change but won’t be able to. As the Thais say “it’s not that serious.” This is a popular saying among them and is seen daily on how they live. They are very relaxed individuals that share the joy of being happy and is instilled in them as kids. You will notice this in your teaching time here. The kids are extremely vibrant and playful and when you think the academics are more important, this is when there will be an event, that again conflicts with attendance in the classroom.
They overall want their children to succeed, which is what we want too, therefore Thailand has set up a non-fail system when it comes to them learning. The kids all want to do well, which is why most of them will try to get an outstanding grade while, others will take advantage of the system and know that it is just not that serious.
This is one reason why as a teacher, you have to make their learning experience engaging and fun so, that it will come across not that but they will end up learning.
Innovative Teaching and Games
There are numerous resources that can help with ideas on creativity. My consultant agency provided a curriculum which, was decent but I found that most of the students were already aware of some of it. In this case, I expanded on what they provided me by doing research on Google.
To start off any new lesson, I would always introduce the vocabulary with flashcards and we would go over it by repeating it a few times and I would ask them questions. This helped me to determine their level of knowing what it is versus just saying it.
After that, in conjunction with the resources and curriculum I had, I would play a game because they are always entertaining. It also might be the fact that the students love playing and always scream “teacher game, teacher game.” The games that I found that worked the best with my government and private schools were hangman, running dictation, Pictionary, and charades, and my favorite hot potato. Hangman and running dictionary are easy to play and the instructions are pretty basis and easy to find. I found the most thrilling games were Pictionary, Charades, and Hot Potato.
With Pictionary and Charades, I first acted out the instructions so they understood. It helps for them to see an example. I then, broke the classroom up in two groups and made it a race. I would show them a flashcard with a picture and the word on it and they would have to race up to the front and either draw it out or act it out and the first team to yell out the right answer received the point. Make sure that you are prepared to watch all areas of the room for the right answer because it will get exciting. This created a very attentive class by allowing the students to yell versus raising their hand.
Even though those games are fun, my ultimate favorite game was one that I like to call “Hot Potato.” I did not play it the traditional way and my students that are ages 10-18 years old love it. I took a Takraw ball to class to play this game. I would start the class normally going over what needed to and then I would show them the Takraw ball. Thai students love this ball. The instructions are very simple for this game. You give them the subject. For example, countries and then throw the ball to any student, who then must name a country.
They must say it fast and throw the ball to another student. To make it interesting, you will eliminate students or they will get eliminated as the game continues. The rules are- they cannot hold the ball too long, they cannot drop the ball, they must throw the ball to a person, they cannot give it to the person next to them, they cannot copy a previous word stated, and they cannot hit anyone in the head. If any of this occurs, that student is out and goes to the front of the room and waits until the game ends to be put back in. This really shows you who was paying attention and what their vocabulary is. My students love playing this game because it creates a fun learning environment and competition to see who is going to win. I always announce the winner which they love. This is all a part of the fun environment that you get to help create.
Teaching in Thailand is fun and can also be challenging. It helps when you have an open mind and a big heart engaged in teaching. A smile, encouragement, and fun games always produce an exciting learning atmosphere that engages the students.