Bernie Savage - 2015 Program Participant
Why did you decide to apply for an international TEFL program?
It was something I was always interested in, and after a year of working in Australia I knew I wasn't ready to go back to the UK to the same old job; I wanted to do something I would enjoy and that would allow me to travel and gain skills and knowledge.
Why did you choose Go TEFL Thailand?
After reviewing a few different companies, checking feedback, what was included, locations, costs, etc., Go TEFL Thailand was by far the best option. The training was subsidised and allowed you to gain a genuine recognised qualification, it included a full month of teaching practice, they answered all of my questions and concerns, and they were very professional throughout the entire process. There was a guaranteed paid placement after training and support throughout as needed.
What was the hardest part about seeking TEFL certification abroad?
Finding professional companies that offered recognised TEFL certification and job placements. Also, finding a company that was knowledgeable and professional, and did not seem like a scam or like the training would be insufficient. I did a lot of research and interviewed for two companies before making my choice.
What was your favorite part about Chiang Mai?
The training in Chiang Mai was very central and near to our accommodation. The centre was modern, with wifi, computers, aircon, learning materials, etc. Chiang Mai is very vibrant with lots of things to see and do. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, transport is good, and it is inexpensive to eat and travel. There is also a good level of English, and it is safe too.
What surprised you most about Thailand?
The Mai ben Rai attitude; getting used to having little or no communication about events, activities, holidays, or work. Also Thai time and the lack of urgency to get things done surprised me.
Temple tours and amazing views
What made your experience in Thailand unique?
The programme is subsidised, offers a paid placement, and gives full training and practice, rather than a brief introduction and no face to face practice. It is not a company simply out there to take money from people wanting to study TEFL, they give genuine training and support.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
They helped with setting up bank accounts, mobile phones, sim cards, school placements, lesson plans, and provided teaching ideas and techniques. They helped with visa info, travel arrangements, and accommodation, and they are still in contact now.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
It depends on the area and who you speak to. In the bigger cities, it was usually fine, and there would be someone to help and translate if need be. In more rural towns, I found a lot of smiling and hand gestures helped. Also, some of the locals would surprise me with their English.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I had come sooner.
Describe a day in the life of your program.
Start the day with a warmer or ice breaker, recap on the previous lesson, learn some teaching techniques through activities and games, and then have a coffee break. Learn some more activities and skills to use while teaching, practice in groups, and then have lunch. Finally, we’d have Thai role play games, set homework assignments, and finish for the day.
What did you enjoy doing on your free time?
The tours the company arranged to the temples and waterfalls and the elephant day were amazing; they really helped our group to bond outside of the training centre. They showed us some great sites and allowed us to unwind from the week. I also enjoyed working with the other TEFL teachers on lesson plans, game ideas, and trying to learn Thai.
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
I had my own room in a hotel/serviced apartment; I had my own bedroom, bathroom, and balcony. There was wifi, a fridge, and a TV. The hotel also had a pool and roof area, and it was near to bars, restaurants, and transport. It could sometimes be a little noisy, but it was clean, the staff were friendly, and the location was good.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before traveling to Thailand?
I wish I had been more prepared for the lack of communication in the schools; it can be very frustrating and difficult at times to maintain your cool and adapt to the "oh no worries" attitude. I also wish that I had learned a little Thai before coming to Thailand.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Thailand?
Bring a reliable travel plug and chargers and pack some heavier clothing because it gets deceivingly cold some nights. Mini speakers for teaching and activities in class are helpful too.
How has your time abroad impacted your life?
I am still in my first semester of teaching. I am enjoying it, and still speak and see the people from my TEFL group. The techniques and skills I learned during my course have proved very useful. I have made new friends in my new town, there is good food, lots to do, and my accommodation is good.
I am happy I made the decision to come and do a TEFL in Thailand, and relieved I chose such a great company, that is still supporting me now and is always on hand.
Would you recommend Go TEFL Thailand to other aspiring English teachers?
Without a doubt, they are the best company out there. I have met many other teachers on my travels and heard some real horror stories; no one seems to offer the same level of training, support, and value for your money.
If you could earn TEFL certification abroad all over again, where would you go?
Maybe Europe, Japan, Singapore, India, or the Philippines.