My First Teaching in Thailand
How Teaching in Thailand Taught Me So Much
The night before my first ever teaching day in rural Thailand I remember feeling 49% excited and 51% nervous. I never in a million years thought I would end up teaching English to Thai children aged from 4-9 years old. My experience with children before this was very limited. I am an only child so hadn’t even had brothers and sisters to deal with and the idea of being confronted with up to 40 at a time in 30 + degree heat was terrifying. I turned to teaching mostly because I didn’t want my travels to end and this was a way of extending them. I really was the last person you would expect to choose to go teaching and yet here we are. It’s safe to say over the past four months the students completely melted my heart.
My first day of teaching in Thailand was the first day I’d been in a classroom since I left school myself and the second time I’d ever been on a scooter. The first thing I realized was that my co Thai teachers didn’t understand much English and I knew next to no useful Thai. The rest of the day was filled with elaborate hand gestures and nervous giggles from both parties. The first challenge was figuring out the level of English that my students had which didn’t take too long. It was next to none. The youngest ones were four-years-old after all. They could barely speak Thai let alone understand the concept of English.
In the first week I didn’t have a co-Thai teacher for any of my Prathom classes which made it quite difficult in regards to classroom management since they didn’t understand what I was saying. However I realised that if I didn’t sort that out soon then we wouldn’t be learning anything this semester. The school was really great and sent a very competent teacher to all my Prathom (ages 6-9 years old) classes. It seemed that her simply being there was enough to make a huge difference to their behaviour.
I also found the lessons that I was most excited about teaching became the ones that the students seemed to enjoy the most and if they were having fun they were behaving. This became the way I managed every lesson plan from then on. If I wasn’t excited to teach the lesson then I couldn’t expect the students to be excited either. The Thai teachers were very welcoming towards me. Even though we couldn’t really use language to communicate they offered me food and smiles and I would do the same back and that was enough.
Over the course of the months I realized that this was the first job I’d had that I didn’t have any trouble getting out of bed for. Getting to know the students was genuinely a lot of fun and they always greeted me with so much enthusiasm. Every day also started with an assembly at the kindergarten which involved a daily dance. This is something I think all workplaces should instigate. You can’t have a bad day when each day starts with a fun dance. As the months went on things got so much easier. I learnt what the students enjoyed and what they didn’t. They loved any activity that got them out of their seats and being silly so it was my task to try to slip some learning into any game we played.
By the end of the four months I was really impressed by how much they had managed to remember and had formed close bonds with many of the students. To anyone still trying to decide if teaching is for them I would highly recommend to this program through On the Mark Education. You learn so much, not only about yourself, but people in general. You’ll form bonds with the students that you’ll never forget and the entire experience is one you’ll never regret. If I can do it, so can you!