Martijn is originally from the Netherlands met the love of his life online at the young age of 14 but was too young to travel to meet her. When the two lovebirds finally met five years later in Thailand, it was love at first sight. Not wanting to be away from each other any longer, Martijn packed his bags and moved to Thailand, and enrolled in a university in Thailand to study Industrial Engineering. Combining TEFL with his studies, Martijn couldn’t be happier about his decision to leave The Netherlands to teach English in Thailand.
Tell us about yourself, Martijn! We’d love to know about your background, what drew you to teaching in the first place?
My name is Martijn de Water, born and raised in Rosmalen, The Netherlands. To be completely honest, when I was young, I never really liked school. It was later in life that I realized that school was not the problem; it was the teachers that were teaching there. While they did a good job and taught me the necessary things, I needed to know, they did not actively inspire children. I wanted to change that, show children and people of all ages that learning can be fun. Not just that, learning in a fun way makes children learn faster and more efficiently. It was for this reason that I chose Premier TEFL, as they have the same vision.
Can you tell us what inspired you to move to Thailand? What are your three favorite things about living in Thailand?
This might be an unconventional story (I will try to keep it as short as possible), as I did not initially come to Thailand for the country or its culture. When I was 14, I met a girl online, it was what you would call love at first type (sorry for the cheesy pun). I was still in secondary school and thus unable to meet her. At 19 we decided to meet each other, in Thailand. Upon returning to The Netherlands, I attended university to study electrical engineering. Quickly I realized that this was not the right path for me, that a long-distance relationship cannot remain distanced forever. I quit university after half a year and moved to Thailand to be with her. It is quite funny, as she did not believe I would actually do it, I guess I proved her wrong. I decided to attend university in Thailand and went to a well-respected international university, SIIT at Thammasat University. Not only did I switch university, but my major as well. I was now studying Industrial Engineering.
It has been nearly 6 years now and I am happily married to that same girl that drew me here. So, while Thailand was not the reason for me moving here, it WAS the reason for staying. Thailand has a rich culture, the food is to die for, and most importantly the hospitality of the people is heartwarming. Coming here will certainly change a person’s perspective on life.
You mentioned that you were teaching physics at an international school, what inspired you to change subjects to teach English in Thailand?
That is right after graduating from university, I decided to work at an international school. I taught physics, science, and ICT because those were closest in line with what I have studied. While I still teach these subjects on the side, I decided to become an English teacher. Being an English teacher in South-East Asia has a much greater job opportunity than anything else. It does not matter where you live, there is always a need for English teachers. This was the biggest reason for me. The second biggest reason was the joy of teaching. Physics is straightforward, it is either correct or incorrect. In my lessons I always tried to make children enjoy the subject, however, there is only so much you can do. English lessons have a completely different structure, it is not A to Z, in fact, you can adjust your lessons to each individual. This was something that I missed when teaching science-based subjects, so I decided to study at Premier TEFL.
We first checked in with you back in August when you were starting your TEFL certification. Now it’s November and you have your own tutoring business! Wow. Can you tell us more about that?
That is right, I am in the middle of starting up my own online tutoring business on Facebook, called Kru Matin. Like I said earlier, there is always a need for English teachers, especially in South-East Asia. Now that people are more and more at home, the need for online tutors is increasingly popular. Schools were closed, people were not going outside anymore, but education does not standstill. Online teaching to teach English in Thailand and beyond was the perfect solution. Teaching children one-on-one or in groups, but without the risk of spreading diseases.
What is your experience of teaching English online? Has the global pandemic impacted your business?
Online lessons. Initially, I wanted to teach in person, but with COVID-19 being a more serious threat, online was the solution. It is a bit sad for me as a teacher, as I miss human interaction, but that is how the world works. If something happens, you need to adapt to it. The world will not change for you, you need to change for the world.
How do you feel the 120 Hour Advanced TEFL Course has helped your teaching skills and career?
The 120 Hour Advanced TEFL Course has helped me immensely. The only regret I have is not starting sooner. I learned more in the weeks that I studied than from my actual job as a teacher. For those that are still hesitant, I would like to say that you will not regret it. Whether you are an experienced teacher, or someone who wants to start teaching, the advantages are incredible. I had to make lesson plans at my old school, not knowing exactly how to do it. Premier TEFL explained everything in detail, this kind of knowledge (together with all the other things I’ve learned throughout the course) will stay with me for the rest of my life.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to set up their own tutoring business and/or moving abroad to teach English in Thailand?
Do not give up. It is not going to be easy doing either of these things, but if you are committed, stay true to yourself. The process is hard, leaving family and friends behind, or your old job for that matter. But once you are over that hill, that initial climb, things are starting to look up for you. When I was about to move to teach English Thailand, as well as when I was setting up my online tutoring business, I wanted to give up so many times. I could not see the future clearly, because during those times a lot comes at you. It is after having conquered those battles that I am glad I persevered. If I had quit during the process, I would not be where I am at today.
Can you share with us a favorite story or two from your time teaching English?
Unfortunately, I cannot. There is not just one moment, one story, that stands out to me. Teaching English abroad is an experience in and of itself. Every day is different and unique in its own way. Every lesson you see how kids enjoy the class. The sparkle in their eyes, when they are able to express their feelings and thoughts in a different language, is indescribable. Personally, I put all my energy into each lesson, so at the end of the day, I am exhausted every single time. But you know what? It is all worth it in the end. For those that want to get rich, teaching might not be the best option. But I value happiness above all, and when I see kids and their parents glow with joy over what new things they’ve learned, that is all that matters.
What’s your favorite word or phrase of the English language?
My favorite phrase, by far, is: “Children are our future”. I think the phrase speaks for itself (the first time I give a relatively short answer). Children will grow up to be the next doctor, teacher, or even president. The way we teach our children today affects how the world will look tomorrow. That is why I value teaching so much; I would like to be a positive influence in their lives.
Now finally, the last question. What does the future hold for Martijn?
That is another great question. Do any of us really know what the future holds for us? If you would have asked me at 12 years old, where I would be in 10 years, I would have never guessed teaching in Thailand. That is the amazing thing about life, we go wherever it takes us. Having said that, one thing is for sure is that I will get settled down married with kids. About job opportunities? Whether or not I will still be a teacher, only time will tell. Rest assured, my Premier TEFL certificate will be put to good use. Premier TEFL was an investment for life, and I am grateful for this opportunity.