Tag Archives: TEFL teachers

Finding School Supplies in Thailand

When you start at your new school you may find that you will have to go shopping for supplies for your classroom. Not all jobs will provide you with all the essential materials for your classroom. Depending on your school and situation, all of the teaching materials may be provided, or possibly none at all. I cannot speak for other schools, but thankfully my school provides me with a monthly allowance to spend on teaching materials for my lessons, crafts, and activities. I am grateful that On the Mark Education found me a English teaching job in Thailand. Beijing in Bangkok makes finding school supplies in Thailand easier.

Finding School Supplies in Thailand

Planning It Out

I find it extremely helpful to plan out the majority of my lessons, activities and crafts the week before so I know what material I will have to buy over the week or weekend. I make sure to keep in mind what materials I already have in my classroom so that I don’t accidentally buy more of what I already have. I also try to keep the majority of my activities and crafts very simple so that I do not have to buy expensive materials. It’s good to keep in mind how many kids you have in your class, and to always buy a little extra just in case something goes wrong. I also make sure that the materials needed for my activities and crafts are age appropriate and safe for my students to handle, you don’t want any choking hazards.

Where To Shop

I was very surprised at how both easy and difficult it can be to find supplies for my classroom. Many of the supplies that are easily available back home can be non-existent in Bangkok, while other materials that you never knew existed are everywhere. When buying supplies for my classroom, I shop at a handful of different stores. Tesco and Big C are two of the main places that I find it easy to shop at, they don’t always have the most diverse selection, but they provide high quality materials for a moderate price. I also shop at some smaller local shops, such as Mr. DIY, where I tend to find the best prices. A store that many of my colleagues shop at is B2S, a major craft store where you can find basically anything you can think of, though I tend to think shopping there is a bit too expensive. Another great place to find materials are the many local markets around Bangkok, such as Chatuchak and China Town. Some of these markets have more than you could ever imagine, though if your school requires receipts for tax purposes, you may want to stick with the more established stores.

Finding School Supplies in Thailand

Be Creative, Use Resources, Save Money

Sometimes being creative about your materials can save you a lot of money and time. Use recyclable materials from your house for crafts. Try and save a lot of your cardboard, toilet paper and paper towel roles, anything that can be used for future crafts. Try and keep a lot of scraps and un-used materials from previous activities and crafts, they can definitely serve a purpose in the future. Use the Internet! Google and Pinterest are your best friends when finding fun, cheap, and creative crafts. Finding School Supplies in Thailand shouldn’t be too troublesome if you know where to look.

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My first day teaching in Hong Kong

Exciting but Nerve Wrecking First Day at Work

Like any new job, the first day can meet you with a mixed bag of emotions.  It can be a little daunting and nerve wrecking but exciting at the same time. My first day at my school in Hong Kong was no different. I was looking forward to starting this new journey as an English teacher in Hong Kong but there were so many things to digest and people to meet, I had no idea what to expect.

Let me tell you about my first day teaching English in Hong Kong. When I first arrived at the center, I was greeted by my warm and friendly manager (known as the Head Teacher). He had a kind smile and after introducing himself, he asked me a few questions about myself. Once we were acquainted, he gave me a tour of the center and introduced me to my fellow teacher colleagues. I felt lucky to be placed at such a big and well-furnished center. From the painting to the furniture, everything looked modern and spacious and every classroom had big windows.

I felt comforted that there were many expats at the center especially because I was new and didn’t know anyone well enough at this point. All Teachers and admin staff were friendly and I would soon learn that I would find some really good friends to share memories with amongst them. At our center, there were Teachers from the Philippines, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. There were also some Teachers from Hong Kong and who were very fluent in English so getting to know my peers was easy.

Teach English in Hong Kong

Observation is Important

On my first day teaching English in Hong Kong, I didn’t have to teach much but rather observe and co-teach with the other teachers. It involved more training and getting familiar with the shared drive and how to access teaching material. Trust me, getting all of this information can make you feel like a sponge where no amount of information is enough. I wondered if I would remember everything. How would I remember how to access the books, the worksheets, the audio and videos for the various levels? How would I remember my student’s names and what the different classes mean? How would I remember the structure of all the different classes with their very own course codes? Every organization has their own structure and way of doing things and it’s important to respect their way even if you’re used to another.  My notebook became my best friend at this point.

I decided to just focus on the classes that I would be teaching and master what I needed to know for those. Once I got familiar with that, I realized that figuring out what was needed for classes you had to cover for other Teachers for example, would be easier. Through my career trajectory I have learned that it is also best to ask as many questions as needed and not be afraid to mention if there is something you need to be clarified. I wasn’t too hard on myself because I knew it would take a couple of weeks to get familiar with all the course content, class structure and students of course!

It Takes Time but It Will Be Worth It

My students are very young and it would take at least a full week before they got comfortable and adjusted to their new Teacher. I took my time with them and tried to create a fun, safe and comfortable environment for them. We also decided to re-decorate our classroom and I got them involved which allowed us to bond and create some classroom rules together. Now, we look forward to seeing each other and I get a warm welcome back whenever I return from my short vacations. My students know all the rules, what’s expected in terms of their class performance and behavior and together we enjoy fun classes.

With 3 hour breaks within our work day (1 hour lunch break and 2 hour planning time that run consecutively), there was enough time and opportunity to get to know my colleagues-turned-friends and familiarize myself with whatever I needed to ensure that the classes that followed were planned and ran smoothly.

I would have to say that my first day was very smooth with the most challenging part being getting acquainted with the kids and figuring the best way to communicate with them and actually garner a response. Kids can be intimidating because they are so innocent and honest. They want to know that they can trust you and will test you so give them and yourself time to adjust. Navigating my way through the lessons, follow the lesson plan and manage a classroom with kids who could not sit still was overwhelming at first; But there were other elements that ran smoothly and I feel grateful to be at a big Center with friendly and helpful colleagues. Any new job will have its moments where you need to adjust and it can certainly feel overwhelming at the beginning. It is important to give ourselves time to get acquainted with everything, to give our students time to get comfortable with us and vice versa and it’s up to us to create an environment that works for us. I am also enjoying learning many lessons and how to enjoy simple pleasures from my little students!

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How to Talk to Preschoolers?

For the last year, I have been teaching a class of two and three-year-olds at an international kindergarten in Bangkok. The students in my class come from a variety of backgrounds: Korean, Japanese, Nepalese, Thai, British, Vietnamese, Chinese, German, American, and Indian. I feel that the best thing I did to help my students develop was to TALK!

It can be challenging to keep their attention at times, so here are a few ways to talk to your preschoolers in school so that they will listen.

Teach in an International kindergarten in Bangkok

Make Eye Contact

When disciplining your children, get down to their level, look them in the eyes (not too intensely!), and say what you need to say (you can even get them to repeat it). I find that yelling, especially from afar, is very ineffective and can become a bad habit because your students might also model this behavior.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Use positive reinforcement rather than just saying “No, no, no.” First of all, saying “no” all the time is just exhausting! I found that giving praise and small rewards such as stickers or being first in line for snack are much better motivators. Using positive reinforcement for good behavior will encourage them to do more of the good behavior and less of the bad. You could also say things like “We use our walking feet inside. You can use your running feet outside, okay?”

Keep Instructions Short, Simple, and Direct

To help your students follow directions, keep it short, simple, and direct. Children are more likely to follow instructions if they have a sense of control. Try using one or two-step directions such as “First take off your shoes then go wash your hands.”

Use an Appropriate Tone of Voice

My verbal tone was key when teaching the two and three-year-olds in my class. Whenever I welcomed a new student, I found that a calm, soft, gentle, and affectionate tone to be most effective in helping the child feel comfortable. However, it did NOT work when trying to guide or discipline my students—Instead, a firm tone worked much better. Try to match your facial expressions to your tone- children are more sensitive to nonverbal cues than you think!

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!

Did you know it takes 21 days to create a habit? Repetition is key for learning and mastery of new skills to take place. I like to repeat explanations so that my students know what will happen next. For example, I say “In 10 minutes, we are going to tidy up for lunch!” then “5 minutes until clean up!” This also provides them with a sense of time. As well, I’m a strong believer in kids having manners so I get my students to repeat words such as “please,” “thank you,” “sorry,” and “excuse me.” The more you repeat instructions or general rules of behavior, the more your children will accept them. Don’t give up!

While it is challenging to teach a bunch of 1 to 3 year old kids, it is very rewarding and such a learning experience for me as a nursery teaching in an international kindergarten in Bangkok.

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“Weird” is Just a Matter of Perspective

A Matter of Perspective

Thailand is country that is full of many weird and strange things, but it’s good to remember that “weird” and “strange” are a matter of perspective. These things may seem different to you, and may make you think “What in the world? That’s something you don’t see every day!” However, these things are completely normal to Thai people. I can’t even count how many times something has turned my head, made me take a second glance, and made my jaw drop, but that’s the fun of it. These weird things are part of the culture shock- some are exciting and entertaining, while others can make your stomach turn. I got a chance to experience it while teaching English in Thailand.

Surprisingly Delicious
deep fried frogs in Thailand

One of the most enjoyable and interesting things that you will not only see in Thailand but eat as well, is the food. This is the case in most foreign and exotic places you travel to, but for me Thailand and all of South East Asia has definitely taken the cake. Since I’ve been here I have seen all types of insects that you can eat, from grasshoppers to scorpions, with stingers, pincers and all. On a daily basis, I walk by markets where they sell live toads, eels, and even turtles, all for the purpose of consumption. The driver for the school I work at offered me some of his deep fried frogs for a snack at lunch, which to my surprise was very delicious. However, there are still many things here that I haven’t gotten around to trying. Next on my list… rat?

It’s Not Always Easy

Though many things in Thailand are exciting and unique, not everything has been easy to look at. This is partially due to my personal background and morals, which I understand are not the same across the world. It can be difficult sometimes to see something you don’t ethically agree with on a personal level, but have to understand the different cultural norms. One day we were riding in the back of a tuk-tuk when I looked to my left, and to my disbelief I saw around twenty-five live chickens tied down to the back of a moped. It took me by surprise that they weren’t in at least a cage of some sorts, but tied down in a heaping pile of feathers. As I looked in aw, taking out my phone to try and capture this bizarre moment, I realized that everyone around me was staring as if I was the strange one!

Weird food in Thailand

Sometimes I forget that “weird” is a matter of perspective, that here in Thailand I am the one who stands out as strange and different. That is the beauty of the world we live in! It is full of so many diverse and unique cultures and no matter how far you travel, I guarantee you will find unique and beautiful things (Thailand will not disappoint!)

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My First Few Months As A Cover Teacher in Hong Kong

Dream Came True as an English Teacher in Hong Kong

I finally arrived in Hong Kong from Thailand and was eagerly ready to start a new adventure as an English teacher in Hong Kong. I had a few days to settle in before starting and I booked into the hotel in Sai Ying Pun for the first few days as I did not know much about the areas around Hong Kong. I then went into head office for all the necessary admin. Everyone was extremely helpful.

Firstly, they tried to help me look for an apartment or studio, everything was way too expensive, really tiny or not available for the next few months. I went exploring for a bit around the area and went to purchase a Octopus card that would help me get around Hong Kong transport.  The next day I then met the general manager, and was told the centre I was going to be based in was in the Kowloon area so we took a ferry across from the island side, which was only 6 minutes across.

Teach English in Hong Kong

Being a Cover Teacher in Hong Kong

I was going to be a cover teacher for the first few months before being assigned my own classes. I would go through training and co- teach or assist other teachers so as to learn the different methods and the way everything operated.

Even though I had taught before, this was a big eye opener, I came to know how different countries education worked, things were different here in Hong Kong compared to Thailand and back in my home country. The different systems and the level of English was higher and it was easier to communicate with everyone. More seemed to want to learn and were interested in English. We had an admin team that helped in dealing with parents and assisting you where needed.

Being a cover teacher meant that I would cover teachers that were on sick leave or annual leave and co- teach or assist the main teacher when needed. In turn I ended up being able to see other parts of Hong Kong whilst going to the other schools to teach.

Whilst covering I got to meet the other teachers, from all over the world. Learn from the more experienced teachers in how they run their classes. Whilst doing this I attended training over a few days which covered everything from phonics, classroom management, and general teaching tips. These were a great help as the extra knowledge definitely helped me run a class. I gained experience within a range of different ages from 1.5 years old to about 12, 13 years old and a few classes in high school as well.

Buses in Hong Kong

Being a cover teacher also meant you had to be ready if they needed you in another school in the morning or during the school day if another teacher called in sick, you would sometimes only get the lesson plan as you walked into the class as you had to take into account travel time. I learnt to be able to navigate the different transport systems as well, the subway, the red buses and the green mini-buses.

This taught me to be able to teach on the spot which at first I was very nervous to do but now with some practice I am able to walk into a classroom and pick up the books, and carry on where the class teacher left off and engage with the students.  I now have my own classroom, ready to be decorated and filled with eager students waiting to be taught!

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My First Grocery Shopping Experience in Japan

Three weeks since I started teaching English in Japan, I spent three weeks living off of Bento Boxes, Family Mart snacks and donuts. Then it finally hit me- I need to cook! I was avoiding the inevitable- buying groceries. Or as I call it, The 2 hour Grocery Game. Because that’s what it felt like, a game. I knew what I wanted to buy, but because I’m a level zero in the Japanese language. Well, you can imagine what that was like! The easiest milk to spot was almond milk because it had a big almond on the cover. I still don’t know any Japanese cow milk products!

Here’ some advice I have for first time grocery shopping in Japan!

Find a supermarket withing walking distance of where you live!

This doesn’t apply to you if you have a car. The rest of us train commuters on the other hand. Unless you are Hulk 2.0, there’s no way you can station hop with all your grocery bags. It’s much easier to shop close to home. I also highly recommend not doing all your shopping at once! Or else you’ll have painful arms (like me) for a week. There’s no fun in carrying 5 bags full of food alone, on a 10 minute walk home!

The price you see isn’t the price you pay

Now, as a South African, we only have one price on our price tags. In Japan there’s two. Ignore the one in big writing and focus on the tiny one- because it include taxes!!! If you’re like me and shop with a calculator at hand you’ll get a bit of a shock at the till when the numbers seem to not add up!

Try know some Japanese words for the foods you want

I guarantee you, first trip will be awesome until you spend 30 mins trying to figure out which black bottle is soy sauce. I stood hopelessly, trying to summon the Asian Master within, trying so hard to read the Kanji with zero luck. Eventually I googled soy sauce. Knowing some of your favourite foods in Japanese will seriously cut down your shopping time.

Grocery shopping in Japan is quite an experience, but can be quite daunting. People are very friendly and always keen to help- don’t be afraid to ask! Translator apps like Google Translate can be life savers, especially the camera function- it does wonders while shopping! With translating at your finger tips, and well rested arms, you should be okay! Also, take the time to get yourself a treat every now and then and by now and then I mean every day!

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