So I ended up teaching in Thailand but not online, nor on Koh Phangan. I felt that I wanted to get some experience in a classroom setting first and KP doesn’t offer many opportunities for that. I was first thinking of Vietnam but it turned out to be too much of a hassle because I’m not a native speaker. I started to panic a bit and wasn’t sure if I would get any work at all! But then I ended up having multiple offers here in Thailand and I think I made a good choice. I know Thai culture and people and don’t have to worry about taking Chase overseas. The school year here starts in May and many schools were in a rush to get teaching positions filled. Lucky me!
Some challenges on the way, yes, we are in Thailand after all. I ordered a police clearance from Finland but Thailand Post hasn’t got the most reliable reputation when it comes to delivering mail. No sign of the letter, even though it was registered mail. Hence I rushed to Bangkok hoping the Royal Thai Police would do the clearance if I explained my situation. They did but I won’t be getting the paper before a week or 2. Which is minorly inconvenient since my visa runs out in a week. This paper is vital as they cannot make my non-b visa before I have it (which is basically working visa). So I probably need to do a border run to Cambodia to extend my current visa and after that -permitting I have received the police clearance- I need to leave the country and fly out to one of the neighbouring countries where they will prepare my non-b visa. Sounds complicated? It bloody is and at times it’s making me irritated as well. Welcome to Thailand!
Teaching Social Studies
I didn’t actually end up teaching English but Social Studies in an English speaking programme at Rayongwittayakhom, in Rayong. It’s a big public school with 3700 students or so. The English progamme is well-resourced and it’s a bit like teaching in a private school. So I consider myself very lucky. Classrooms have air-con and I have only 27-30 students. I heard that there are often 40-50 on the public side and no air-con. It can get quite hot here and you can guess what that does to your attention span. Kids are nice but they can be quite noisy as well (yes, my patience has been tested at times). My colleagues are super nice and friendly, as is my head of studies. We have both Thai teachers and farangs (Thai name for foreign people) here. This is actually a very good way to learn more about Thai people and their culture so I am very grateful for this opportunity. Furthermore, there are not too many farangs in Rayong so the locals don’t speak much English. I am practically forced to practice my Thai and I have to say I have made some progress in just a few weeks. Anyway, after more or less chilling 6 months on KP now it’s the time to work, study, evolve, practice yoga and Thai. Concentrate on making a better version of me, and less socialising and partying.
I teach mostly M1 and M2 groups (12-13 years) but I also have one group of older students, M6 (17 years). In Finland we haven’t got a subject called Social Studies but here it includes for example History, Economics, Civics, Geography and Religion. It feels really funny that I’m teaching them Buddhism and things about Thai society because I am not an expert on those. Then again, I’m really happy that I get to learn all these interesting things while I’m getting paid. My South African colleague is struggling with these topics and he’s not so keen on teaching religion that he is not very familiar with. I have always been inquisitive when it comes to different religions so I don’t mind at all. In addition to that, since Buddhism is connected to Hinduism I am also learning about Hinduism which then again is linked to yoga philosophy. At the moment it feels that everything is connected. Or maybe it’s just because I’m in Asia.
With the older students we are able to compare the differences in Thai and Finnish society and I think that makes the lessons all the more interesting. At least that’s how I feel. Sometimes it’s hard to know if the students share the same enthusiasm: some of them enjoy the Thai national hobby which is meticulously checking their face in case of pimples (and squeezing them if any are too be found).
Obviously I need to spend a good amount of time researching and learning the topic before teaching it but luckily my schedule is not too full and I have plenty of time to prepare the lessons. My head of studies told me that it’s not so easy to find Social Studies teachers for the reason above: it means more work for the teacher when he/she doesn’t know the topic. I think I may have found my niche if I want to continue working as a teacher here in Thailand! Ok, I would have so much to write about but I think this is enough to start with. More next time!