Aneeqa, our amazing intern, is sharing with us one day in her life as a Tefl teacher in Thailand!
A Little Bit About Me
Hi everyone! My name is Aneeqa Munir and I am currently a Tefl teacher in Chiang Mai in Thailand. I have been teaching in Thailand for about 5 months now and I have had such an amazing experience so far. Some of my favourite things about Thailand so far have definitely been the delicious food, the lovely people and how beautiful everything is over here. I started my journey as a TEFL teacher with Premier TEFL a while back when I completed a course and chose to take on an internship in Vietnam.
How My Mornings Begin
I haven’t quite built up the confidence to drive a moped yet, so mornings before work usually consist of walking to the nearby 7-Eleven to buy a banana chocolate chip muffin and to meet my fellow intern to get a taxi to school. The way to school takes around 10 minutes, and after a quick debrief on whatever we did the evening before with my colleague, we’ll get to school in time for the start of the working day.
The school asks us to wear a black skirt and a white shirt on most days, but on a Friday they like us to wear traditional Northern Thai clothing – so getting reading in the morning doesn’t require too much decision or time.
Every morning we’ll stand for the Thai national anthem, which is played over loudspeaker. Students will stand and salute, sometimes singing along. Two students are also selected every day to raise the flag in the center of the school courtyard. After this, as I work at a Catholic school, a bible verse is read out in Thai and students will sit and pray.
Then, we’ll sign in and head to the staff room. The first period of the day is usually free, whilst students are in their homeroom classes. I’ll usually use this time to prepare for the day, print or drop off worksheets to be photocopied at the on-site photocopying office.
English teachers at my school have their own staffroom, and that allows us to get help and guidance from more senior teachers. It really helped me get settled and navigate the school system and build friendships with the other teachers.
How I Spend My Lunch
Lunch time varies, but often I will go to the staff canteen with the other teachers or to the small Thai restaurant across the road and eat fried rice for 40 Baht (around £1). The restaurant is run by an old couple who speak a small amount of English (“chicken or vegetable?” “where are you from?”) and are always faultlessly cheerful. Then, I’ll usually get a coffee from a coffee shop nearby before returning back to campus for my afternoon lessons.
In addition to on-site teaching, due to the ongoing pandemic I’ve taught extended periods of time virtually. It’s been great being able to meet the students in person, but a brilliant benefit of this was that I managed to do a lot of travel in my first few months of the semester. I would be able to fly all over Thailand and teach a few hours next to the beach.
One week, I flew to Phuket and woke up early to go for an ATV tour before getting back to my hotel to teach in the afternoon with plenty of time to spare. I went to Bangkok and stayed in a hostel with a co-working space and met lots of interesting people working virtually in all sorts of interesting fields – talking with them in between virtual classes and learning about their time in Thailand and getting recommendations of where to eat and see.
A Bit of Background About My School
I teach at an all girls’ school, with a beautiful idyllic campus and one of the best bakeries in the city. The students will be walking around eating pasta de natas, wearing different styles of uniforms every day, and hair always braided with bows. After a long time away from campus, the students are grateful to be able to see their friends and play and it’s really heartening to see.
Thai schools are also very big on celebrating every occasion. On Christmas eve, the school was a sea of tiny red Santas. On Valentine’s day, students will bring sheets of heart shaped stickers with them to stick onto each other and onto other students; in return, teachers give students little sweets as gifts. Our school also gifted us 8 tins of mackerel, some noodles and soy sauce. At the time, this seemed like a bit of a strange present – but on further investigation, Thai people often give each other food related presents and joyfully receive them also.
What I Teach
I teach Mathematics for English Integrated Studies, so this is a mixture of being a Maths and English TEFL teacher. The students learn Maths in Thai, alongside this I teach them the same topics in English. This has a surprising amount of vocabulary, we go through key vocabulary for the lesson and they practice the mathematical concepts at the same time. All Thai students will have nicknames in addition to their given names, and these can vary from common Thai nicknames to names like Cheese, iPhone and Whipped Cream.
The varying levels of English between the students can be challenging whilst focusing on math vocabulary. A few students will speak almost indistinguishable from native level, and some will not even have a basic set of vocabulary. This also can lead to some really nice moments. Last week I gave students in my classes 20 minutes of free time after completing an exam.
Whilst most students will use this precious time to make TikToks and take selfies, usually at least two or three students will gather around my desk to have a chat and practice their conversational English. One student in a class acted out word for word an episode of her favorite cartoon, complete with an exaggerated British accent.
A student in a slightly older class came and sat with me to ask about my life and tell me about what she wants to achieve in the future, and how she learned English by watching YouTube so she’d be able to talk with her English teachers. One group of five girls who weren’t as advanced in their English crowded around me in a class still managed to ask me if I had a boyfriend, and were devastated when I said no.
I teach four different grades, which consists of four classes with around 30-40 students in each. Teachers are respected in Thailand and the students are excitable but well-behaved, so needing to instill discipline in the classroom is rarely an issue. Students will often sneakily draw you in between lessons and give it to you after as a keepsake.
The End of the School Day
I will usually finish school around 3:30pm and head back to my apartment, go to the gym or chill by the pool inside my condo complex or get ready for evening plans. Living in a smaller city like Chiang Mai has a lot of benefits, and one of the best is spontaneity. You can get anywhere within the city in 15 minutes, there’s a whole array of affordable and delicious restaurants and street food markets and rarely a day would go by where I don’t get together with a group of other teachers in the city to eat and talk in the evenings.
If You Are Considering an Internship in Thailand:
If you are thinking of doing a TEFL course and heading on an internship in Thailand, or anywhere really, I highly recommend. From my own experience, I know it can be daunting. I was a bit tentative about whether I should quit my job and move abroad. Now, looking back, I am so glad I did it, and I encourage anyone who is having doubts to just go for it. I’ve gotten the opportunity to do so many things that I could never have done at home or on a holiday, so I really do recommend that you take that jump and go for it!
If you enjoyed this blog, head over to my friend Kyla’s blog where she talks about her daily routine as a TEFL teacher in Thailand! Read HERE.