Chloe White is an Aussie who was looking for a more culturally-rich experience in Southeast Asia than many of her island lovin’, Chang beer chuggin’, fish massage ticklin’ counterparts.
Not to knock on full moon parties and relaxing with friends, but signing up for the two week TEFL Cambodia program meant she was going deeper — deeper into a world full of kind, caring people, astonishingly beautiful Buddhist temples, colorful kramas, and aromatic dishes laced with star anise.
So, what’s all the amok about? Read on to learn more about becoming an ESL teacher in Cambodia.
Cambodia is not the first destination that comes to mind for many people who want to teach abroad. What three things attracted you most to this country and culture?
For me, Cambodia was such a distant land with mystery and a challenge.
I think the three main reasons I chose Cambodia is that firstly, it is so different to Australia; I had been looking for somewhere to challenge my comfort zones, so I wanted to live in a culture that I knew would do this.
I have lived in England before, which for me did not challenge my comfort zones at all.
Secondly, I have heard of a lot of Australians going to Thailand and Vietnam to teach English, but I wanted to do something a bit different; the chance to go to Cambodia with my TEFL certificate was a perfect reason to go against the status quo.
Lastly, I would have to say that I have a passion for history and with a country that has such an unbelievable history, I had to find out more.
The two week Siem Reap program is an unpaid, experiential model for mastering your TEFL skills. What types of future teachers would you recommend this type of program to?
I do not think that there is a particular type of teacher that I would recommend. I think that if you are willing to push yourself, immerse yourself in a culture different to your own, and to adapt to a new lifestyle without complaining, then you are the perfect candidate.
What most surprised you when standing in front of a classroom of eager young learners?
Standing in front of a class of children, I expected there to be a lot of unrest and rude students, but what I got was a class of eager, smiling Cambodian children looking at “Teacher Chloe.”
Coming from a country where children are spoilt and teachers do not always receive the respect they deserve, it was amazing to see this coming from the students in Cambodia. So my biggest surprise would have to be the level of respect students have for their teachers in Cambodia.
What do you wish you knew before becoming an international TEFL teacher?
I wish I knew that it is not as scary as you think it is going to be. Moving to another country that does not speak English is so daunting, but it is the best thing that I have done.
If I could go back in time, I would of told myself “You are stronger than you think, you are about to have the time of your life.”
What made the Premier TEFL program stand out as an awesome option for your goals for English teaching jobs abroad?
This Premier TEFL program stood out to me because I have always wanted to travel and teach English, but I was not sure if I was going to like it.
I have always been in love with the idea, but never knew if I would love the reality of it. Premier TEFL allowed me to achieve my goals, and this particular program was perfect because it was two weeks — a short time but long enough to realize if I wanted to turn my dreams into a reality. Which, it has!
I loved every moment of Cambodia and would recommend it to anyone whose goals are English teaching.
How would you describe a typical day in the life of an ESL teacher in Cambodia?
A typical day in the life of an ESL teacher is set out different to what Australia is like. We wake up at 7am and eat breakfast before heading to our first class at 8am. We teach english for two hours to a group of students aged 4-7. These kids have a very basic level of english so learning your ABCs is common.
Then, we have a break from 10-2, which we use to keep cool because it is so hot. All of the students go home to cool off as well. Then the next class is from 2-4pm. These students are between the ages of 9-13.
Lastly, the 7pm class. These students are older and have a lot of knowledge of the English language. As a teacher, it is easy to have a conversation with them. Then at 8pm, classes are over and it’s time to get ready for the next exciting day!
Now that you’re armed with a 240-hour TEFL certification, what are your future teaching-related goals?
The future at the moment is Hong Kong, one year of teaching English in Hong Kong and then I guess the world is my oyster, I am going to teach for as long as I can in as many countries that will take me.
Was Angkor Wat as cool as it seems?!
Angkor Waaaat? It is definitely as cool as it seems, I would definitely recommend this.
Thanks Chloe! Oi oi oi! Have fun as your teach abroad world tour continues.