Katie is a 21 year old Irish woman, fresh out of university at Maynooth. She’s always loved spending time with people, traveling, and seeing the world, so it’s no surprise that she has found herself teaching English in Thailand!
What was your path to teaching English in Thailand?
As the end of college neared, I began thinking about what I wanted to do when I was finished. When I was in school, I’d always wanted to be a primary school teacher, but never would have gotten the points for the course, so I decided to go into social science—a nice broad degree.
I was in college, near the end of my final year scrolling Instagram and saw Premier TEFL. I then went onto their website and saw opportunities to teach in so many different places like Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, etc. I’ve always wanted to do something along these lines since I was about 15/16, and I kind of thought finding this was a bit of a sign. I thought 12 months was too much of a commitment which is why I opted for the four month contract with an opportunity of renewal if I want.
What are your go-to lesson plans for when you have unexpected extra time in the classroom?
Unexpected free time is actually unbelievably common for me; my go-to really depends on the classes. Some of them love music and listening to my favourite songs; I also let them play theirs! Other classes love games. My go-to ESL games have to be board race, hangman, or hot seat! Of course, there are team games because the kids love competition over here.
We love that you sing with your students! Tell us about how that improves your students’ learning experience and your overall experience as a TEFL teacher.
I think the reason I love getting the kids up to sing is because they’re all so supportive of each other, so no one is ever embarrassed by it. They get to express themselves! I, myself, am not a great singer, so I love to listen to people who can sing. I try to get them to sing English songs for me as so many students can sing along to English songs, but are just a little too shy to speak in class. It turns into a little extra practice through fun. I also think it builds a little bond between me and the students, my class is a fun place to learn, I want English to be fun for them and as easy as possible as this works for so many students.
What TEFL course(s) did you decide to complete? What were the three most helpful things that you learned/practiced throughout your TEFL training?
I completed the 120-Hour TEFL course, this was an online course that came hand in hand with my Thailand internship, so I was also given a Thailand Orientation as well as a 30-hour Teaching English Online course.
The most important part had to be the different games to help children learn English, my class is a fun space for the students and Premier TEFL really helped with game ideas so that I can make every class a little different and I’m not constantly repeating myself, which in turn keeps the students engaged. I also learned the different programs of teaching, from ECD (which is the program I teach) that focuses on Conversational English, to MEP that teaches students different subjects through English.
What are some challenges that you have faced and how have you overcome them? What have you learned for future similar situations?
One of the main challenges I’ve faced is the language barrier in my town, it’s such a small rural area that none of the older people speak English. The students are great; if they are in the same restaurant or shop, they will translate for you—no problem! I’ve overcome this by learning some Thai… very little Thai, just simple things like chicken, noodles, and especially ‘only a little spice.’
I know it sounds obvious, but if I was to go anywhere else to teach, I’d learn the language before I go. I definitely overestimated the level of English in rural Thailand!
Can you share with us a favorite story or two from your time teaching English in Thailand?
My first favourite would have to be orientation in Bangkok, although this isn’t a specific story, it was some of the best days ever. I’ve made friends for life during our orientation; afterwards, we stayed in Bangkok for three nights and then all traveled to Pattaya and rented a villa for four nights before going our separate ways to teach. It’s so great hearing all the different stories of how people ended up applying to teach abroad and why they’ve chosen to do something like this. Everybody is so different!
Thankfully, I’ve had quite a smooth time teaching English in Thailand so far, no crazy mishaps, the school I work in is amazing, as are all the Thai teachers and students. Everyone is so welcoming.
Thank you for taking the time to share your magnificent story with the Premier TEFL community. Happy travels!