UK native and superstar TEFL teacher Beth has been loving her life in Thailand and traveling around Asia for the past two years!
She first signed on for a Premier TEFL Internship in Thailand that sent her to Chonburi for a year. Now, she’s a homeroom teacher in Phuket and soaking in the sun rays at every chance.
Wanderlust runs through her veins, and she plans on taking her TEFL certificate to far beyond places! Read on to discover about her daily adventures as a TEFL teacher in Thailand…
What made you decide to pursue TEFL? Was it difficult to leave the UK to go to Thailand?
I had just completed my degree in International Relations and Politics when I began to ponder what I should do next. The thought of a boring 9-5 job in rainy England did not appeal to me at all, so I decided to do some research about TEFL and the different opportunities it can give you.
I have always been interested in traveling somewhere new and experiencing a different culture. Thailand had always been at the top of my bucket list. During this time, I came across Premier TEFL. They had a great offer of both a TEFL course and job opportunity at the end of it, so I signed up! ?
In total, I did 5 courses through Premier TEFL including the 120-Hour course, Teaching Business English, Teaching Young Learners, IELTS and TOEIC. These courses helped to prepare me for teaching abroad and provided me with lots of information—especially since I had no prior teaching experience.
When I found out I had secured my job in Thailand, I experienced a variety of emotions which included excitement but also had me thinking “What the hell are you doing Beth?”
I’m extremely close to both my parents, so prior to leaving I had several emotional breakdowns. But my family was always there to assure me I was making the right decision! Saying goodbye was really difficult but I was completely put at ease when I arrived and met all the new people around me.
What was the move from the UK to Thailand like? Had you ever traveled far from home before? Did you suffer much culture shock?
I had initially done a lot of traveling prior to moving to Thailand. When I finished university, I went backpacking with three friends in South East Asia! We traveled through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore—it was an awesome experience and prepared me for life could be like in Asia. ?
The trip itself was amazing and I did things I never thought would be possible. Through exploring these countries, especially Thailand, I was excited about the move.
Having been to Bangkok before, I knew how amazing my orientation was going to be with all the other first-time teachers! Although Bangkok can be quite an overwhelming city, I love it there and was very lucky to be placed just an hour away for 6 months. ?
What was the most exciting/interesting thing you noticed when you first moved to Thailand?
I’m quite the foodie, so trying all sorts of crazy food was amazing. It’s not every day that you get to eat scorpions, definitely not on the streets of Manchester anyway!
I love browsing in all the markets which are famous in Thailand! They have such a unique atmosphere that really heighten the senses. You’re stimulated with all these new aromas and tastes—it’s fantastic! Listening to the hustle and bustle of the stall owners bartering is exhilarating. ?
I also noticed how warm and welcoming Thai people are as a whole, I quickly learned that they treat you as one of their own and will fall over themselves to help you. It definitely is the Land of Smiles.
Describe a typical day in the TEFL classroom for Beth! ?
So far in Thailand, I’ve had two very different experiences. I started off as just an English Teacher in a high school in Chonburi, which is about six hours from Bangkok. At this school, I only taught speaking and listening.
My normal day would consist of me arriving at school at 7:30AM. I had 24 classes in total with different children in each one. Also, I would only see them once a week so our time together was very precious.
Teaching teenagers can be challenging as they are always distracted by phones. Engaging them is key! In a lot of my lessons, I would use games and videos to interact with the students. My day would normally finish around 4PM.
In my current job, I am a Homeroom Teacher in Phuket, which is in the south part of Thailand. I am in charge of twenty-two 6-year-old hooligans. I teach them Language Arts, Maths, and Science. This job is completely different as I now have my own class rather than several different ones.
A normal day for me is a mixture of all three subjects. At the moment, we are learning about landforms in Language Arts, and the children get to build their own 3-D maps which have things such as volcanoes, mountains, and caves on them. ?
In Maths, my students are learning about numbers between 1-20. In Science, we are learning about different types of animals (vertebrate and invertebrate). ? My day normally starts at 7.30AM and ends around 5PM as I teach extra English every evening.
What are the Top Three Tips you’d give a future teacher in Thailand, and why?
Tip 1. Be aware of your accent.
I remember that my high school kids had trouble with my accent at first because they were used to American English.
Tip 2. Be conscious of how fast you speak.
It can be easy to forget that they are second language learners.
Tip 3. Be ready for the unexpected.
A day of teaching in Thailand can be unpredictable, and you deal with lots of different personalities at one time. At any given time, you need to adapt and adjust according to what’s happened during the day.
Describe the fun you have outside the classroom? What is the number one thing everyone has to see/do when in Thailand?
I have enjoyed traveling to many different parts of Thailand! Every place has its own unique landscape and cultural sights to see. ? I’ve also been lucky to travel to other Asian countries too, and I plan on seeing more soon. ✈️
I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a party animal so the Asian nightlife has kept me entertained! ?
Living on a tropical island has also given me the opportunity to explore some of the different beaches which the island has to offer. Most people only see these places through social media, so it’s amazing to witness the beauty of this country first hand! ?
I think one of my most unforgettable experiences was visiting the Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai. Elephants are beautiful creatures and are also the national animal of Thailand, so this was definitely the country to see them. ?
You were planning on doing one semester in Thailand, right? What have you been up to since you finished the TEFL internship and what made you decide to do it?
I actually always planned on doing this for a while. When I first came to Thailand, I was based in Chonburi and enjoyed it immensely. Now I’m living and working in Phuket. I absolutely love it here so far! I’ve been so lucky to live and work in such incredible spots, each one different from the next.
The internship has also benefited me enormously in a professional sense. I’ve learned that in order to succeed in this profession, I need bundles of patience and need to put in a lot of hard work. But teaching in Thailand has also taught me that it is one of the most rewarding jobs out there. ??
What are your plans for the future? Move countries? Teach in another country?… What’s next for Beth?
I will be in Thailand until at least March 2019, when my contract ends. From that point on, I’ll either renew my contract or look into teaching in Japan or South Korea. Following that, I’m hoping to save enough to travel over to Australia. Then perhaps I’ll head back home to the UK. ?
I really embrace the unpredictable lifestyle that having a TEFL certificate can offer. I plan on keeping this lifestyle for as long as I can. It’s rare that a normal 9-5 can allow you to do this much travel! ?