Meet Laura Cunningham! Laura, originally from Ireland, has taken a twisty-turny path (which included randomly meeting MK in his tent at a music festival!) to teaching English abroad. Today, she’s teaching abroad in Thailand at Nongbuadaengwittiya high school (say that three times fast!).
We caught up with Laura about her time in Nongbuadaeng and are happy to share her best advice for aspiring English teachers in Thailand.
What inspired you to teach abroad?
Travelling is my passion and being able to experience foreign cultures and living in unique circumstances gives me a lease for life that I’m willing to take full advantage of. Working as an English teacher sounded perfect for me because I’m combing my passion for adventure and teaching foreigners.
What three things make teaching abroad in Thailand particularly awesome for future TEFL teachers?
- Thailand has an easy-going work-life balance.
- Meeting fellow TEFL teachers is invaluable.
- The nature in Thailand is superb. It is like being on holiday mode whilst being here to teach English.
What are your go-to lesson plans or activities for your classes?
Pictionary, Charades, hot potato—or anything that involves music. The more interactive the better!
How have your past experiences helped you in your current role?
Working in Social care is a very sociable job and working as an English teacher it is important to be able to work as a team with fellow staff and also to be able to engage with your students.
It is important to have the confidence to stand in front of a classroom and meet the needs of the students by being socially aware because I can’t speak Thai and the students have very limited English in mot circumstances.
What differences do you find in teaching younger children from older learners?
Any tips to share or things to look out for? Younger learners need to be lead far more than older students. The older students will be able to tunnel their focus to you, unlike younger students. As a teacher, you will need to work harder to teach younger students.
Tell us about your TEFL course experience, plus the most helpful thing that you learned during it?
I started my TEFL course at the start of June 2018 and completed the modules in 11 weeks. I dedicated 2 hours every morning for about 5 mornings a week. I went at a gradual pace and enjoyed it more than any other course I have enrolled in. I learned many helpful things but most importantly was when I participated in a 10 hours teaching module.
The module was held in the Radisson in Cork and Michelle was the instructor. Talking to Michelle was the most valuable for me because I had the chance to talk to someone that has been living abroad for 9 years in a few different countries. Michelle shared simple warmers and lesson plans which really are encouraging when you are at the beginning of your teaching journey.
What advice would you give other individuals considering teaching English abroad in Southeast Asia?
I would say be open-minded, up for immersing yourself in a new language, culture and work environment.