What made you decide to pursue TEFL? Was it difficult to leave the US to go to Thailand?
I decided to pursue TEFL because it was something that once I got the idea in my head, I couldn’t shake. I had first heard of TEFL around my second year of college and I remember thinking to myself how awesome it would be to do something like that. Several years later, I still found myself thinking about it time and time again. One day I decided that I wasn’t getting any younger, so why not! That same day, I applied for the course and haven’t looked back since!
The majority of the time leading up to leaving was not difficult but extremely exciting. As the time came closer to leaving, I did begin to get very nervous and anxious about the whole thing. It was hard to say goodbye to family and friends but myself and everyone else was also very excited for where this journey would lead me.
How did you find Premier TEFL’s support and contact throughout the process? ?
Premier TEFL’s support was awesome!! First of all, not only do they provide you with all the resources that you need to get your TEFL, they also make placements and put you in contact with companies or school’s where you want to teach.
They take all the stress of finding a job out by doing it for you and getting you in contact with companies they trust. Without them, I would have been lost. Premier TEFL’s contact throughout the process was also amazing. If anything regarding placement or paperwork every changed, they would be there with an email or phone call to check in and help out.
It was great to have someone to answer questions or clarify anything if needed! Not only were they helpful via emails and calls, but also in person! During my orientation in Bangkok, Sarah was there to help out. One of our nights at orientation they had a dinner for everyone who went through Premier TEFL and it was super fun to meet some new friends and sing some karaoke!
Had you ever travelled far from home before? Did you suffer much culture shock? If so, how did you overcome it?
I have done a decent amount of traveling before (Europe and Central America) but this is the farthest I have ever been from home. Honestly, I haven’t really felt any crazy culture shock.
Obviously, things are far different here than they are at home, but nothing out of the ordinary. I think the main thing was how loud everything is. In Bangkok particularly, the streets are very noisy and people are yelling trying to get your attention to buy tours or souvenirs. Aside from that, there hasn’t been a whole lot of shock to get used to.
Thai people are by far the friendliest humans I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, everyone is always smiling and willing to help out, making the whole adjustment a lot easier.
What was the most exciting/interesting thing you noticed when you first moved to Thailand?
The most exciting/interesting thing I noticed when I first moved here was how friendly and helpful everyone is. It’s amazing! In the town I live in, I have experienced so much kindness and helpfulness from the people who live here.
For example, a few of us were riding our motorbikes to the grocery store one day. When we got there, one of my friends realized that their wallet had bounced out of their pocket along the way. We decided to walk back from where we cam to look for it.
Along the way, several people from a shop came outside, we thought they had found the wallet but it turns out they just wanted to say hello. During this whole time, another man had found the wallet and tried to follow us to the grocery store to give it back but we had just missed him.
He found us outside the little shop and raised the wallet in the air cheering. My friend was so thankful and everyone was so excited and cheering. They were so excited that they all wanted pictures. It’s events like these that are really exciting to me.
Everyone looks out for each other here. That man went out of his way to make sure the wallet ended up back in the hands of who it belonged to. I have heard so many similar stories from others here too.
Describe a typical day in the classroom for Brittany! ?
A typical day for me begins with welcoming in the class, attendance, and some fun quick activity. After that, I usually have a mini lesson on new material. I try to allow students to work together and talk as much as possible rather than lecturing them. So I will give them various activities (role play, talking activities, writing, etc.).
I try to end my classes with a quick game to end on a high note. Then, I say my goodbyes and excuse them. The classes at my school are only 50 minutes long so it’s a lot to get done in a short amount of time!
What are the Top Three Tips you’d give a future teacher in Thailand, and why?
1.) Go with the flow. Things are always changing here. Maybe there is an unexpected assembly that you didn’t know about, or half your class is out setting up for an event, there is always something unexpected happening. This is something that you need to get used to.
Nothing to stress about, but just be prepared that sometimes you may need to adjust your lesson at the very last minute based on what’s happening in the school that day.
2.) Don’t plan too far ahead. This is kind of similar to the first piece of advice. I know some people are planners, I fall under that category often times myself. While it’s good to plan ahead, don’t feel the need to plan weeks in advance.
Again, this are always changing. You may plan tests or activities and have a class cancelled that throws off your entire schedule. Just take it one week at a time. If things don’t go as planned, just remember the Thai phrase “mai pen rai”.
3.) Don’t forget to have fun- both in and out of the classroom.Teaching can be stressful and challenging at times, just remember to take a moment and a few deep breaths if you need and get back to it.
Something that might have upset you during school will most likely be something that will make you laugh later. Have fun during your time outside of school too! There are always new places to explore and so many fun things to try!
Describe what you get up to outside of the classroom? What do you have you travelled around much?
During the weeks, I spend my time outside of the classroom in a variety of different ways. There are a lot of other English teachers in the town I am in so often times we spend our afternoons together.
We will go to the local night market, check out cafes and restaurants we haven’t tried, kick around a soccer ball, go for drives around town on our motorbikes and have game nights! I also tutor several younger students a few afternoons out of each week. This is not mandatory but a fun way to meet other students in different grades.
I have been fortunate that I have had the chance to travel on the weekends quite a bit. So far I have been to several national parks nearby where I live, Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Vientiane and Vang Vieng Laos, Pak Chong and Koh Chang and have several more places I’d like to visit!
What is the number one thing everyone has to see/do when in Thailand and why?
I don’t think there is just one thing that I can narrow down to. Thailand is extremely diverse, so I think everyone who visits should try and see several places. Northern Thailand is far different from Southern Thailand, but they are both equally beautiful in different ways.
Even more different yet is Northeastern Thailand, which is full of rich cultural experiences. Each place offers their own array of things to do and see and they are all worth it!
What are your plans for the future? Stay in Thailand? Travel? Teach in another country?…. What’s next for Brittany?
As much as I would love to stay in Thailand, I will not be doing so. After my contract ends, I plan on traveling for about two months to see more of Thailand and Southeast Asia. After traveling I will head home to Colorado to pursue my career in outdoor education. The thought of leaving here, though, is extremely sad.