Foreign Teacher Daily Life
Foreign teacher daily life – One day in the life of a foreign teacher in Thailand. Here is a taste of what daily life is like teaching English in Thai schools. Did you know that every morning at 8 o’clock sharp you will have to attend the morning flag ceremony to pay homage to the King of Thailand? Every morning, at precisely 8 o’clock, every school in Thailand will raise the Thai flag and stand to attention whilst the Thai national anthem plays. If you are not at the flag ceremony in time then you should stop wherever you are or whatever you are doing. Stand up and stand still with your hands by your side. Never talk or laugh during the national anthem, be quiet and patient. Learning the national anthem will mean a lot to the students and your Thai colleagues. When the song comes to an end you should bow your head and stand patiently and respectfully until the morning prayers are finished. After the ceremony you sign in for the day and head to the teachers room for final preparations.
Depending on the kind of school you are working in there are on average 30 – 50 students in each class. This can be a very daunting prospect for any new teacher who hasn’t been properly prepared for this kind of teaching environment.
How the classes start can really set the tone for the entire term. It is crucial that certain classroom management techniques are deployed immediately to ensure you get their attention, keeping it is another matter! One hour can feel like an eternity if you aren’t fully prepared and ready to teach!
Did you know that there is a class monitor in every class that should initiate and call out to the whole class to “satand up plead”! Yes (satand up plead – or translated – stand up please) Thai students have real problems blending consonants but why would you know that! If you miss this or the monitor isn’t there, it will become very clear to your students that you don’t know about this very basic and important daily ritual which usually leads to the students taking advantage of the trainee teacher which in simple terms means making your life really difficult. Once they are on their feet they should wai the teacher and a short two way greeting commences. Your students have been doing this since kindergarten; the new teacher is doing it for the first time! Once again a small part of a very big picture but it is crucial the trainee teacher fully understands what is expected at this stage of the class to ensure the first class starts well and the process of effective classroom management can begin. This may seem like a small point but it is one of many very important elements of what is expected and what happens on a daily basis. Thai kids love to have fun but they can also be really tough to deal with if they are not properly managed.
A classroom of 50 students is often compared to an audience. There is a fine line between the classroom entertainer and the effective educator. A subtle mix of the two is going to be the perfect TEFL teacher. This is a very large group of young people who don’t speak your language. You will be meeting with these guys and girls either once a week or every day, again depending on the kind of school you are teaching in. At TEACHbeach TEFL we want to make sure you are feeling 100% ready and confident, the small details are not forgotten, in fact we believe it is the details that will help you to stand out from the rest and guarantee that you will be successful in the classroom.
Thai students range from extremely shy to overly confident depending on how much exposure they have previously had with foreign teachers. On the whole Thai students are very polite and respectful but of course how you manage and interact with your new students in the first few weeks will set the tone for the term ahead. We can’t stress enough the importance of good class room management techniques and clearly demonstrating the rules and boundaries that your students must understand and follow. In theory you would think this is easy. We have told you to set rules and boundaries, but in reality it is not! When you are standing in front of a large group of boisterous teenagers or a bunch of noisy 7 year olds there must be a very detailed step by step process to ensure your students (who don’t usually speak English) understand exactly what you want from them and for them to realize this is how it is going to be for the next 8 months or so! The TEACHbeach TEFL trainers will help you to understand and practice this process which will greatly increase your chances of starting off on the right foot and creating a relaxed and respectful learning environment.
So now the students are once again sitting down and your class can begin. “What do I do next?” I think most people would have thought about what to do and would come up with a whole list of topics to teach their new students. We all know what language we want or need to learn when we visit a foreign country. Well same rule applies in your class room. We call this the “what” or the “what to teach”. Although we focus very hard on the “what” at TEACHbeach TEFL we believe the “how” or “how to teach” is our number one priority. However, the “how” isn’t taught purely through lectured theory, we prepare you for the “how”, using practical training methods to make sure that after your students have settled down you can start, middle and end your class confidently and successfully. Let us show the “what, why and how”. We guarantee once you have successfully completed the TEACHbeach TEFL program you will be ready.
A foreign teacher or “farang teacher” in Thailand will usually have between 4 and 6 contact teaching hours per day. The average weekly schedule should ideally be between 20 and 24 contact hours per week. Once again depending on which school you are placed in. Your classes will be 50, 55 or 60 minutes long. Sometimes the schedule changes to 40 minutes, this will be due to sports events or a whole host of other reason that usually we haven’t been told about! Every day at your new school you will need to practice the “mai pen rai” or translated “no problem” state of mind. Communication is generally pretty awful; everything takes three times longer than it does in the west, so remember “mai pen rai!” Actually, 40 minutes! That means less work! Bad communication can be a wonderful thing.
So you have taught your morning schedule and you are ready to eat. Most school canteens offer a huge range of freshly cooked Thai and western food. Usually there are individual booths selling different types of food at a really good price. You can fill your belly for around 40 Baht. Most schools have a room where the teachers can sit and eat quietly, however if you choose to sit with the students that is also fine. I don’t think I have ever seen a foreign or Thai teacher eating with the students, those precious minutes in a quiet (sometimes air-conditioned) sanctuary is an ideal time to relax and recharge for the afternoon classes.
In the west we nod our heads and shake hands. In Thailand people “wai”. This graceful gesture is something we all need to learn understand. The TEACHbeach TEFL cultural training course will prepare you fully so you can avoid any social faux pars. As a teacher in Thailand you are held in very high regard, but remember respect is also earned. It is not unusual for your elders and betters to wai you. This could be a greeting or just a polite and respectful acknowledgement. It is absolutely crucial that you reciprocate the gesture in an appropriate and polite manner. But we don’t wai students! Doesn’t mean we ignore the gesture, it is polite and respectful to accept the wai with a nod, a smile and a greeting.
So your afternoon classes have finished. The buzzer has sounded, and it is the end of the school day. Jump on your scooter and carefully navigate your way through the swarms of students. Don’t forget to wear your crash helmet!
The above merely scratches the surface of what it is like to teach English in Thailand. If it’s done right this job is without doubt the most fun you will have in a working day. Well managed and engaged Thai students will make you laugh until you cry and warm your heart to its core. If you want to know how to do it right then get in touch with the TEACHbeach TEFL team.
How much can you earn in Thailand?
In Southern Thailand the magic number is 30. The average monthly income of a foreign teacher is around 30,000 Thai Baht depending on qualifications and experience. There seems to be two kinds of people coming to teach in Thailand, those who are teaching to travel and those who are travelling to teach. Again the ideal candidate is the person who is somewhere in between. If you want to see Thailand but you are prepared to work hard then it is possible to make much more than 30,000 Baht per month. In fact 40,000 plus is easily achievable if you are prepared to work hard. Don’t forget TEACHbeach TEFL guarantee you a job so you will recoup your course fees within the first 2 months of work or before.
We would be delighted to set up a Skype meeting with you to discuss your requirements and answer any questions you may have.
Thank you so much for taking the time to make contact, we truly hope that you can join us at TEACHbeach TEFL on your journey to being a first class English teacher. Contact us today!