Please excuse my blogging hiatus as I’ve come down with nasty cold, and I’ve spent the last week held up in my apartment, binge-watching the soap opera, Jane the Virgin. I may need an intervention. 😛
Current status: Seriously though, the show is a mega spicy drama. If for the eye candy alone, ya’ll better check it out! 😉Anyway, today I thought I’d write a no-nonsense article, answering 5 common questions, about what it’s been like teaching and living in Thailand.
1. How did I get this job?
I found the job on ajarn.com. This job website specifically posts teaching positions in Thailand.
My qualifications to get the job were a bachelor’s degree, a CELTA certificate, and over one year of experience teaching English abroad.
Side note: CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, and the course is managed by Cambridge in England. Overall, I think it plays a crucial role in landing a quality teaching job abroad. It’s the most internationally recognized qualification, and it’s the next best thing to being a licensed teacher back home. The course lasts only one month, and is offered worldwide. Click here to find a center near you.
The job application process was simple. I submitted my resume with references. I had a brief Skype interview with the director, and within one week I was offered the position.
2. What is my teaching contract like in Bangkok?
As a full-time employee, I teach 14 classes each week. These lessons are 50 minutes long, which comes out to about 12 hours of actual teaching per week. Since I’m required to be on campus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, I spend the rest of my time lesson-planning or doing whatever I’d like. 🙂
The school provides transportation to and from campus, plus daily school lunch. They reimburse a one-way flight, cover all visa expenses, and provide one month of free accommodation, in order to look for an apartment. During my one year contract, I also received about 9 weeks of paid vacation, and as an employee, I’m entitled to free health insurance through Bupa.
Salary wise, based on the qualifications listed above, a teacher can expect to make 1,500 to 2,000 USD per month. My school even set up my Thai bank account for an easy transfer of funds.
3. How is it teaching in Thailand?
Since I teach at a private institution, the school follows a curriculum set by the Thai Ministry of Education. The grading system relies heavily on benchmark testing as a means of evaluating the students. This is in contrast to my own American education, and my experience teaching in Mexico, where the student’s grades are based more on weekly assignments, daily note-taking, hands-on projects, and also taken into consideration is their behavior both inside and outside the classroom. There are obvious pros and cons to both types of education.
The school is also bilingual, where the Thai students study Thai, Chinese, and English. Additionally, the students take math and science in English, although this is obviously not their native tongue. That is why the school has partnered with Bell Cambridge, my employer. My role is to help these non-native speakers improve their comprehension of the language.
Behaviorally, the students are a joy. They greet me each day with a bow, as a sign of respect, and they seem to want to please both their parents and teachers. For the most part, they are motivated to accomplish the tasks in each lesson, and respond well to positive reinforcement. Each lesson, I give the class a grade from 1 to 10, based on their behavior. The students are also given a ✓ for good behavior (i.e. participated well in class) or X for bad behavior (i.e. talking when the teaching is talking). The students get rewards for good points, like a pizza party, and a time-out for bad behavior.
The biggest hurdle I’ve encountered here is inspiring the student’s creativity. Since the curriculum is traditional, the students prefer assignments where there are clear-cut answers to each question, as opposed to being asked to express their opinion on a topic, or use their imagination. Thinking positively, I think this has helped me to develop new teaching techniques, which is always the goal. 😀
I did film a short clip of a typical day at work: getting to my office, teaching a few classes, stopping at 7-Eleven by school for some snacks, taking a break at the school coffee shop, and heading home on the school van. Just some day-to-day stuff, but I thought you might enjoy it. 🙂
4. How is it living in Thailand?
I will sum up the lifestyle in three words: comfortable, cheap, and entertaining.
Cheap: Getting settled in Bangkok is easy. I had an agent find me a condo, and since it’s a buyer’s market, she negotiated 140 USD off my rent. I pay about 450 USD/month, and about 25 USD for utilities, including water, electric, and internet.
Here’s a little condo tour for you to enjoy. 🙂
Meals are usually 3-4 USD, an hour-long massage is about 6 USD, an hour-long taxi ride is 8 USD, and most non-name brand clothing is 5 to 10 USD. Love! ❤
Entertaining: There are tons of expats in Bangkok. Expats is a nice term for Western immigrants, like myself. In my school alone, there are 60 expats, from countries like Canada, Australia, England, and South Africa. It’s easy to make friends at work, and outside of work, it’s easy to be social, using sites like meetup.com.
It’s also easy to find an event almost every night of the week: live music, art galleries, night markets, and restaurant openings. BK Magazine is a great resource for finding current events and attractions.
Comfortable: Overall, the city really accommodates well to foreigners, and it’s easy to find any Western convenience you may want. For example, here’s a quick clip of my weekly grocery shop. Pretty standard to what you’d see back home. 🙂
The only hurdle, I may add, is dating as a single woman in Bangkok. 😛No, really though, it is an easy place to meet young people and go on dates, but it’s not a great place if you’re looking to find a quality partner long-term. Thinking positively, it’s been a fun year, and I’ll have some great stories for when I’m older. 😉
5. Why am I leaving Thailand?
Although I love many things about living in Thailand, there is still so much of the world to see. I want to continue traveling, so I will have to say goodbye to Bangkok for now.
As well, I miss my family dearly and it has been too long since I’ve seen them last. I’m looking forward to an exciting travel break, and a lot of warm reunions with my family and friends back home. ❤
Well, that’s all for now folks. Next weekend is my last weekend in Bangkok and I have a friend visiting from France. I’m hoping to go out with a bang! Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then. Take care and enjoy your week. 😀