Sarah is in her twenties and a college graduate from Virginia with a degree in Business Management. She recently completed a 5-month teaching contract through the Bridge Teach in Thailand Program. In the program, she was placed into a paid teaching position and provided with housing and in-country support while abroad.
Sarah’s placement was in the province of Chonburi, in Eastern Thailand, where she taught at the Eastern College of Technology (E.Tech). The city is located about an hour north of Chonburi’s popular beach town of Pattaya, and an hour southeast of Bangkok. I had the chance to interview Sarah and ask her about her experience in Thailand.
Sarah, how did you pick Thailand as a teaching destination?
I honestly couldn’t tell you why I chose Thailand other than the fact that my heart was telling me to go there. I love the beach and I’d heard about how friendly the people were, so there was something calling me there.
Was the TEFLOnline.com course you took before you arrived in Thailand good preparation for teaching?
The course provided me with a wonderful refresher of grammar knowledge, but also gave me great insight to games and different ways to teach to a diverse classroom.
What are some of the things you like best about living and teaching in Thailand?
I loved teaching in Thailand because the students and faculty were so friendly. I was also in a smaller town close to several markets, so I was able to buy fresh produce and fruit from local shop keeps. It is also pretty amazing when you get to hang out with wonderful kids during the week and then go to some of the most beautiful beaches or lush jungles in the world on the weekend.
Did you know any Thai when you arrived, and if not, was it hard to manage without speaking the language?
No, I didn’t know any Thai, but boy do I wish I had learned some! I managed to get by because I was in a town that had worked with several international teachers before, so most people could at least understand gestures. At the same time though, I picked up on the numbers and food groups, and definitely the phrase “Mai Ped”-no spicy!!!!
Can you walk us through a typical workday at your school, E.Tech?
E.Tech was only about a 5 min walk away from my apt, so it was great, except in the rain, haha! I normally stopped and got breakfast or a snack from the Tesco or the market and then when to school. Our class times varied, so sometimes I would work at 8:30 a.m. but sometimes not till 10. Our classes were block bells. Some of the days we would switch students between co-teachers at the half way mark. This meant us teachers had to get together and work out a plan that could be interchangeable. I loved using games and videos for my students! I’m a big kid at heart so playing jeopardy and question-and-answer bowling made the class fun for my students and myself as well!
Did you get to do a lot of traveling while you were there? What were some of the highlights?
I traveled a ton while I was there! Some of my favorites were Erawan Falls, which is an absolute must! I got scuba certified in Koh Tao, I hiked in Chiang Mai and took my family to Koh Chang. My favorite though was Koh Samed (Samet). It was the small island closest to where I was located and it was very quaint and small-town, which I love!
If you had it to do over, would you choose to go through an organized program like Teach in Thailand? Why or why not?
I would definitely choose a program the first go round! It gave me more confidence going with a group and having an orientation before heading off to teach. It also helped put my family at peace because they knew I had resources and friends close by.
Are you back home now? What do you plan to do next?
I am back home now, after traveling around the U.S. for a bit. Currently I am working in logistics and hoping to potentially get my master’s. I also, of course, am already planning my next big adventure!!!!
Are you dreaming of a teaching adventure abroad, like Sarah’s, that offers extra assistance with job placement or housing? Bridge has supportive programs not only in Thailand, but also Vietnam, China, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Colombia. Click this link to view quick guide to these types of Teach Abroad programs!