Graduation Day in Thailand

Graduating high school or secondary school in any country is a big deal for the students and the faculty that helped them get there. It is an accomplishment that they can all be proud of and help towards their future goals by educating oneself.  It’s celebration that illustrates their achievements and the teachers let them go wild for doing it.  Graduation in Thailand is seen in the same way but differs in who graduates.

Who Graduates and Who Pays

In 2009, the Thai government added an extension to their constitution that they will pay for kids to attend school up until matthayom 3 (M3) at the age of 15.  After they hit the age of 15, the financial responsibility falls on the parents of that student and it is then determined by them if the child can continue to M4, M5, and M6 or if they go to work with their family.  From what I was told, the fiscal amount that the family pays comes out to be 4,000 Baht a semester but, is more if they are in AP or IEP classes.  These classes cost more due to the resources that are used. The AP and IEP cost more due to the teacher’s time, better class facilities, and more advanced classes.

After passing the standard national test of ONET, the two graduating matthayoms (M) consist of M3 and M6. M3 consists of students that are 15 years old while, M6 is 18 years old.  I had the privilege of teaching M3 students in Thailand and constantly asked them if they were going to continue the education after M3. I was very pleased to find out that most of them were going to continue which, made me extremely proud and relieved that they still had the chance to learn more and possibly go on to attend a university later after they graduate M6.

Graduation Day in Thailand

Graduation Day

My Thai student graduationGraduation starts off with a morning assembly where there are speeches and performances by students while, the students being honored are decorated by either themselves or by other students with necklaces, cards, keychains, sashes, and flowers. After the morning performances, the graduating students follow the student band and take a walk around school grounds while, their fellow classmates from the other matthayoms give them presents in recognition of them moving on. This walk is quite memorable and leaves a lasting impression on all those that partake in it. I have never seen anything like this and it was truly an honor to be a part of it. The teachers can either walk with the students or stand on the sidelines and give presents to their likeable students. The walk leads the graduating members to their two separate class halls where a celebration and lunch is provided. Prior to the lunch being served, there is a blessing done by a monk with all teachers seated in a circle surrounding him and a rope is draped from teacher to teacher. After this blessing is completed, the students then line up in front of the teachers and we tie a piece of the rope around the student’s wrist while, stating what we hope for their future. Some of the blessings I offered, included long happy and healthy life full of education and peace from within. This is a part of their culture that leaves your heart thumping full of the love surrounding these kids.

Graduation Celebration

Subsequently, when the blessing is completed, all students are seated around the individual where they are then fed symbolic dishes of delicacies such as pig nostrils, soup, papaya salad, and seafood. While this occurs, a live band takes the stage and students can then dance. I took part in dancing with my students to celebrate their accomplishment and the year we had together. These activities continue until midday and are remembered with school photos and smiles being shown. I encourage all those that teach in Thailand to take part in this accomplishment that occurs at the end of February. It will leave you speechless and touched in numerous ways. I am beyond proud of all of my students.

Apply English teaching jobs

Impromptu Teaching

No Way to Prepare Your Lesson

Believe it or not, people often get very excited when I come to their town. I feel like Santa Claus (A lady, less old Santa). People will hear I’m in town from a friend of a friend and before you know it they are on my doorstep bribing me to teach their class. Sometimes I’m even dumped off by a friend, who is trying to make a good impression on a more influential friend.  Either way, I end up the bartering tool.

Teaching in Thailand

One example is a tiny village I visited in Surin, Thailand. It was a beautiful village with only one home-stay. My friends and I sat with a buffalo guardian and enjoyed the tiny town with no store, cell tower or stress. The owner of the home-stay made us a beautiful breakfast and invited us to take a tour of the city with him. He pointed out the mayors home (which looked like all the other huts) and took us to his friend’s house that made gorgeous paper flowers. On our way back to the home-stay he took us by another home that happened to have an English class going on at that moment.

The teacher taught English to 5 students every Saturday. The kids varied in ages from 7-10 and they were all so excited to see a foreigner. The teacher wanted each student to show off their skills, but the kids became nervous and clammed up. While teaching in Thailand, I only taught for about 20 minutes and I was paid in high quality rice berry from the teacher’s farm.  Of course, I didn’t expect payment, but he did it out of gratitude.

Face the Unknown

The next time, this happened I was visiting an eco-village and the kids all yelled that there was a new foreigner visiting. I didn’t hold a class but the children and their parents took turns practicing English, “Do you like strawberries?” “Nice to meet you.” “Are you wearing underwear?” All of which I made a funny response and tried to give a new vocabulary word for them to think about. Those scenarios are much less stressful and quite enjoyable.

You Just Go With the Flow

Teaching in Thailand village

The most recent city I visited was in Kalasin, Thailand. My friend took me to visit her friend who happened to own a private primary school. It was only 10 minutes before I was being shoved out of a car and thrown into a class with 30 kids. I had no idea what to do as I was told to just “do anything you want for about 2 hours.” I was so nervous and thought of a lesson my students liked in the previous semester. 

First we sang the Chaquita Banana song. They all had heard that before (I was stalling). But then I decided to teach them, “in, on, behind, in front of, next to.” These are words they don’t use a lot but are pretty simple. Also, I could make it fun by demonstrating on chairs, which is something they never get to do. Their favorite part was standing on the chairs. We did this drill several times, then I put the class in 2 parts and created a contest to see which group could get every person doing the correct action. It was mayhem, and they loved it. I loved it, the teachers loved it, everyone was happy. The time flew by and pretty soon I was taking pictures with the classes as proof to their parents that they spoke to a westerner today (a real feather in the school’s cap).

So far, I have taught classes for money, rice, collagen, McDonald’s and sushi. It was all worth it; although it is completely nerve wracking, I vote to say yes to teaching impromptu classes. Life is an adventure while you are teaching English in Thailand.  You will end up getting way more out of it than you give, I promise.

Apply English teaching jobs