Amanda Langtry - 2015 Program Participant
Amanda making friends at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai
Why did you choose to become a teacher abroad?
To be completely honest, I chose to be a teacher abroad because it was a way to spend a year or more living somewhere else. I had graduated from university and was not ready to commit to the office life. I wanted a year to figure things out for myself, and I was most familiar with teaching abroad as a way to live and work abroad for an extended period of time. What started out as simply a means to live abroad, ended up being the biggest surprise of all. I completely fell in love with the students and my role as a teacher. Teaching overseas comes with a lot of work, but the payoff at the end of the day is worth it, and then some.
Why did you choose Thailand?
I chose to apply to teach in Thailand for a handful of reasons. Firstly, it has been at the top of my travel bucket list for years; I have always wanted to explore Thailand and experience its culture and cuisine. Secondly, I knew that there was a high demand for teachers and that it would be fairly easy to find a job. There were many programs online that offered training courses and job placement opportunities in Thailand, so I knew that I would have support during my time in the country.
What were your housing arrangements like in Ranong?
I lucked out big time when it came to housing arrangements! I live in a long-term stay resort with the majority of the other foreign teachers in the city (10 to be exact.) The resort has all of the comforts and amenities of home, including hot water, air conditioning, a small kitchen, a pool, a gym, and laundry facilities. The landlords are fantastic as well and have helped all of the foreign teachers get settled, including renting us motorbikes.
What is a normal day like as a teacher in Thailand with Geovisions?
Frankly, a normal day as a teacher does not exist, especially in Thailand! Every day comes with its fair share of surprises and curve balls. In a perfect world, a normal day of teaching would look like this: welcome students, assembly, homeroom, periods one, two, and three, lunch, periods four and five, snack break, period six, homeroom, and students go home. Throughout all of this, marking and lesson planning need to be done. If at any point during the day there is some down time, I also act as an entertainer and human jungle gym.
Amanda feeling small next to the White Temple in Chiang Rai
What was the most memorable experience you had while abroad?
My most memorable experience I have had thus far won’t be very interesting to anyone else, but to me it was a game changer. My most memorable experience was the first time I had my entire class laughing all at once. This may not seem like much to the average person, but if anyone has taught a class of non-native English speakers, they know that it is next to impossible to have 100 percent of the kids’ attention.
About two months into my first semester I finally had this happen when I was being silly at the front of the class. Every single student in the room was laughing, and it was the coolest feeling. I was teaching the kids something new and they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. It made me look at my lessons in a different way, and I was able to incorporate a lot more fun in the classroom. It made my teaching life a lot more enjoyable and the effects were definitely felt by the students.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as a teacher abroad?
I will be the first person to admit that I am a control freak. I love to be in charge of planning, and I need to know everything that is going on ahead of time. The lack of organization and communication that goes on in this country has definitely been the biggest challenge for me. I have learned to be more flexible and easy going when it comes to last minute changes, but it was a struggle to get to where I am now.
Classroom hugs from some of the girls
What advice would you give to others interested in teaching in Asia?
My biggest regret about coming here was not learning the native language first. I’m not saying that everyone should be fluent in Thai before coming to Asia, but learning the basics would be a huge help. There is a good chance that people could be placed in areas where there are not English speakers and knowing the local language will be a huge help. Also, being able to speak some Thai shows the locals that you are committed to the local culture and are showing your respect for it.
What are the top reasons you'd want to go back to Thailand and teach again?
If I were in a position in my life to go back and teach in Thailand I would do it again in a heartbeat! The country is absolutely stunning and the food is phenomenal, but the main thing that would bring me back is the people. I have never in my life met such generous and kind-hearted people. They may not have a lot, but they will open up their homes to you without hesitation. They live a laidback lifestyle, but work hard and always have a smile on their face. The overall sense of happiness is totally contagious and a fascinating thing to experience.
How has teaching abroad impacted your life?
My experience as a teacher abroad has impacted my life in more ways than I thought possible, but the biggest impact has definitely been regarding children. I started this journey being quite intimidated by children. I had not had a lot of experience around kids, and frankly, I didn’t think I was that good with them, or that fun. Coming to the end of my contract here, I realize that I’m actually pretty great with kids; U have a ton of fun with the kids. I have realized a new level of patience that I possess, as well as an ability to keep kids engaged and entertained that I never knew existed before. This experience has given me the confidence in myself that I am good with kids, and this realization will definitely affect some major decisions in my future.
Amanda on top of the world at the Koh Phi Phi viewpoint
Would you recommend your Geovisions program to others?
I would recommend the Geovisions program to others and I already have. The program was very straightforward and it took care of everything for me. I felt like sufficient information was sent to me ahead of time and that I was taken care of even after I had landed in Thailand. I had regular communication with members of the organization during my teaching term, and it was great to have that support.