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Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Culture, Feature, Guest Post, Teach Abroad, Travel, Travel Planning, Work Abroad |

Making the Most of Teaching English in Thailand

This is a guest post by Robert Oakden. See his profile below!

Congratulations on deciding to explore the world! Thailand is a truly stunning country, with a fascinating culture and friendly population – not to mention the weather. In fact, we’re starting to get a little jealous of your adventure – can we come too?

Spending a year teaching abroad isn’t the same simply traveling. There are similar perks, but being a TEFL teacher is a job and possibly the start of a career. So before you pack us into your suitcase, here are some tips on how to make the most of your time teaching abroad.

Thailand by McKay Savage via Wikimedia Commons

Get qualified

Strictly speaking, it is possible to get a teaching job without a certification, however, a TEFL qualification is a fantastic way to learn the trade and it will certainly make getting a position easier. There are plenty of online courses to choose from that you can complete in your own time over the course of around six months, or you can opt to complete an intensive face-to-face course.

Another option is to complete an internship where you learn on the job – this can offer great security and support, as well as accommodation. Plus, it means that you can go straight to the job site and start doing what you want to do, instead of staying at home to prepare. Having the right qualifications and some experience in advance will increase your chances of getting a good job.

Boats in Thailand by Christopher Michel via Wikimedia Commons

Be adventurous

If you’ve alway longed to be a little more daring, now is your chance! You’re going to a country where it’s likely nobody knows who you are, so it’s a chance to modify your reputation as a quiet person. Being a teacher will force you to be more outgoing and you will gain confidence quickly; you will also spend a lot of time outside of your comfort zone. The key to success is to be whoever you want to be! Now is your time to try new experiences, and if you pass up on something you really want to do due to shyness, you may regret it later.

Photo by Christopher P. Michel in ThailandMaking Friends

One of the key differences between teaching and travelling is that you will spend a lot of time working with local teachers. It is important to try and make friends and bridge the culture gap as your time will be much richer for it and you may make some lifelong friendships.

  • Beaches: Head to Ko Samet and Ko Chang archipelago for white sands and gorgeous views. If you fancy diving, the Andaman coasts offer spectacular coral reefs.
  • Jungle: Khao Sok National Park offers dense rain forests with an abundance of wildlife. Meanwhile, for night safari, try Khao Yai National Park. Thailand’s jungles are beautiful and you should make the most of the opportunity to explore during your time off.
  • Culture: Don’t miss the Grand Palace in Bangkok, have a look around some temples (Wats) and try your hand at cookery classes in Chiang Mai. Above all else though make the effort to get to know a bit about Thailand’s rich culture. Don’t make the mistake of spending all your time socialising with other westerners.
  • Relaxation: The Thai Massage might have a brutal reputation – which is somewhat deserved – but it’s definitely worth a go. That niggle you’ve got in your back might just disappear forever…

Thai Beach by McKay Savage

Don’t forget your webcam

Believe it or not, amongst all of this adventure and fun you are going to miss the folks back home – and they will no doubt miss you, too! Make a point of arranging times when you can chat with them every couple of weeks or so, then if you do get homesick you’ll be able to look forward to the next Skype session.

Bankoks Khao San Road via Wikimedia Commons

Take Thailand home with you

As much as you’d probably like to, it’s doubtful that you’ll fit the entire country in your suitcase. However, you can take home more than just physical souvenirs of your time in Thailand – what have you learned about yourself as a person?

  • Have you discovered a new perspective about certain things?
  • Have you practiced a new skill, such as cooking?

These things can often be more valuable than the items you take home. Keep a journal while you are away so that you can always remember what you learned, and how different experiences felt. Though you will probably come home with tons of photos, you may forget exactly how you felt at each moment or why a particular view was important to you at the time.

Record these moments and treasure them.

This guest post was written by Robert from Robert is an avid traveller and has spent a lot of time travelling and teaching in Asia. Robert now helps other people to attain their TEFL certificates and writes about travel and teaching. Click here to learn more about ICAL’s online TEFL courses or find them on Twitter @icaltefl.