Making The Most of Your Year of Teaching English in Thailand

by Robert Oakden

Thailand is an incredibly popular destination for travelers, and it's not hard to see why. The gorgeous scenery, incredible food, fascinating culture, and friendly people make for a wonderful way to spend a year. Of course, traveling on a whim is fine, but many people choose to spend their time in Thailand teaching English. Becoming an English teachers in Thailand is a great way to fund your travel, but if you are invested in the experience it can be very rewarding in its own right.

A Temple in Thailand during Roberts Most Recent Visit
A Temple in Thailand during Robert’s Most Recent Visit. Photo by Robert Oakden

A year teaching English in Thailand may well be the best year you have ever spent. Even if you don't go on to pursue a career in ESL teaching, you can get a lot out of it. To make sure it is extra memorable, you should understand how to make the most of your time.

Complete a TEFL course

A TEFL qualification will be invaluable to your international ESL teaching career, whether you teach English in Thailand or elsewhere abroad. Courses are often flexible and can even be done online at your own pace or through face-to-face sessions. TEFL training programs will provide you with some fantastic tips on making your lessons fun and engaging, as well as what to do if your class is acting up or how to control 50 children at once. It is possible to get a teaching job in Thailand without a TEFL certification, but having the qualification will make you more employable as well as more confident in the classroom.

Remember that being an ESL teacher is a job and without the right training you might struggle. TEFL courses are designed to give you the skills and confidence you need to do that job effectively, and investing in yourself will make a huge difference in how much you enjoy your year teaching English in Thailand.

Be Prepared To Grow

Teaching English in Thailand for the first time will be nothing like anything you have ever done before, and you will find yourself outside of your comfort zone often. If you fight against it you might spend a year feeling frustrated and miserable. Instead, embrace the experience and allow yourself to grow as a person. You stand to gain a lot of confidence, cultural awareness, and appreciation of the world, as well as many transferable skills which will help you in the future.

Keep In Touch With Home

At some point, all travelers get home sick. There will be a quiet moment when you realise that you haven't spoken to anyone back home for weeks and you may feel out of touch with your “real” life. Avoid this by taking a webcam with you and arranging dates and times in advance so that you can keep in regular contact with folks back home.

Take Thailand home

I'm not talking about physical souvenirs here, but rather the skills, experiences, and growth as a person that you will gain from your year teaching English in Thailand. Keep a diary so that you can record your experiences as they happen, and that way you'll remember them much better. Photos are great, but they can't always capture what's in your head. Treasure any special moments forever, and start planning your next adventure!

Try To Make Friends

First of all, being that far from home can be lonely, and secondly teaching English can be tough anyway. Making friends with both local teachers and fellow westerners is a great way to build a feeling of community. Being able to share your experiences will give you a better understanding of the Thai culture. It is often very easy for cliques to form between locals and foreigners, particularly due to the obvious language barriers, so it is important to make an effort to talk and communicate with your local teacher co-workers rather than isolating yourself.

Must Do & See

Finally, don't forget to enjoy yourself outside of your teaching job too. Make the most of being in a beautiful part of the world and travel whenever you can. Here are a few ideas to get your imagination going:

Beaches & Jungles: Ko Samet and Ko Chang archipelago offers white sands and divers will love the fantastic coral reefs off the Andaman coasts. Head to Khao Sok National Park for dense rainforests, or try Khao Yai National Park to go on a night safari.

Learn Some Culture: The Grand Palace is a must, and the cooking classes in Chiang Mai will please folks back home when you return!  Learn a bit about the culture and religion of Thailand in order to better understand your new home.

Sports & Relaxation: Thai massages are famously rigorous, but actually also rather pleasant. It's certainly worth trying an authentic massage. For a more exciting pastime, try rock climbing in Ko Phi Phi and enjoy some views that are truly second to none.

Now that you know how to make the most of your time, it is time to find the perfect way for you to teach English in Thailand this year! Search for available English teaching jobs in Thailand on GoAbroad.