Advice for Teaching in Thailand - 10 Tips For a First Time Teacher

Authored by:
Ruth P.

Ruth P.

Having never been a teacher before, moving abroad to teach might be the boldest thing I’ve ever done. Going into it I had plenty of tutoring and mentorship experience, but nothing compares to actually standing in front of a class and leading a lesson. Learning to become a teacher, while teaching in Thailand, has been a crazy journey. It’s a really unique position and like with all new jobs, it has its ups and downs. 

Below I have compiled the most important things I have learned from my first few months as a teacher in Thailand. While these tips are geared towards the primary ages, they can also be applied to the older kiddos too. Whether you have loads of teaching experience, or this is your first time teaching, I am hoping this guide can help on your teaching journey. 

On a trip to Chiang Mai with other teachers from CIEE

Requirements for becoming a teacher in thailand 

Every program is different, but in general, prospective teachers looking to teach in Thailand must be fluent in English and have a degree. 

I went through CIEE and their specific requirements include:

  • A bachelor's degree. It does not need to be a teaching degree, though if you do have a degree in education, you may be eligible for higher pay
  • Experience working with kids and youth
  • Fluency in English
  • Willingness to commit to either a 6 month or a year long contract

10 Tips for Teaching in Thailand 

Here are my 10 pieces of advice for new teachers teaching in Thailand. Through trial and error, I have found all these tips to be really beneficial throughout my teaching experience. 

  1. Come With An Open Mind 

The best piece of advice I can offer new teachers preparing for this experience is to come with an open mind, and limited expectations. The truth is, if you don’t have prior teaching experience, there are few things that will prepare you for teaching in Thailand. 

In addition, expect the unexpected, especially within your first few weeks. One thing this experience has taught me is how to act quickly on my feet when things don’t go according to plan. Being flexible is going to be crucial for this new role.

Setting classroom on the first week of the semester 
  1. Set Classroom Rules and Expectations in the First Week

At my school, there are few consequences for misbehavior. There is no concept of “being sent to the principal” or “detention,” therefore, the behavior management falls solely on my shoulders. As a new teacher at my school, I found that setting classroom rules was vital for managing students’ behavior. 

Good classroom management is key for successful teaching. If you don’t have control over your classroom, your students will behave in whatever manner they wish and you will spend a lot of time managing behavior throughout your lessons. Set yourself up for success by having an agreed upon contract (either written or verbal) with your students so that everyone is on the same page. 

  1. Over Prepare

Have LOTS of filler activities and extra resources readily available. As you figure out how long it takes for your students to complete their work, you’ll realize some are speedy quick, and others require more time. One resource I like to use for filler activities is LearnEnglish Kids.  

Always have extra worksheets available for those who finish quickly. I have a folder of “filler/extra activities”. This folder contains crossword puzzles, mazes, word searches and various worksheets that I can give my students if they finish early so that they can stay occupied and not distract classmates. 

  1. Communicate Frequently With Other Teachers 

Another tip for successful teaching in Thailand is to communicate often with the other teachers, and especially the local teachers, when you don’t understand something. Miscommunication is bound to happen due to the language barrier, so be sure to ask in several different ways if something is unclear. 

If you have other foreign teachers at your school consider yourself lucky, and use them as a resource. My school has eight other foreign teachers and they were all very helpful when I started teaching. They were more than happy to provide example lesson plans, teaching tips and other various suggestions.  

  1. Get Organized as Soon as Possible

That means you’ll be spending some extra time (at least in the beginning) lesson planning and prepping. As you get in the groove, you’ll be able to plan during the work day but in the beginning, expect to do some work at home. 

  1. Try Different Methods - Both For Classroom Management and Teaching

I do this constantly, especially for classroom management. For behavior, I’ve tried rewards systems, points systems, incentivizing good behaviors, putting names on board etc. When I have a hard day with classroom management, I often seek advice from the other teachers.

As far as teaching styles go, there are countless different ways you can teach a topic. I like to experiment with various methods until I find something that really sticks with my class. The internet is a great resource for all ages and topics. But again, I tend to check in with other teachers at my school for ideas first, as they are most familiar with the students. 

  1. Use Google Translate to Convey Your Point When Needed - Both With Your Colleagues and Students

When I started, another foreign teacher at my school shared that they include translations from Thai to English in their lessons. After I started doing this myself, I noticed that my students were able to follow along more. They were also more willing to speak up when they did not understand a certain word or phrase. 

Part of learning is drawing connections from things that we already know. I find that when I can translate an unfamiliar English word into my students native language, and then provide a picture for reference, my students tend to remember it better. 

  1. Don’t Take Things Personally

Living in a foreign country means people communicate differently here than back home. In my experience, the communication style in Thailand can be quite passive. Most people avoid confrontation both in and outside of school. 

What this means for you as a new teacher is there may be times when you aren’t told directly about a mistake and how you can fix it. Or, there may be times when events are planned (such as meetings, field trips, activity days etc.) and you aren’t told until the last minute. While these things can be frustrating, I found that the best approach is to take the miscommunication lightly. 

  1. HAVE FUN! 

I quickly learned that if you make learning fun, students are eager to be in the classroom and teaching becomes much more enjoyable. Be sure to sprinkle lots of games and activities throughout your lessons. If you find something that your students really like, be it, music, dances, or songs, try to incorporate them into your lessons as often as possible. 

Teaching in Thailand is always eventful 
  1. Always Remember, Smile and Try Your Best :) 

Teaching in Thailand is not always simple. From the language barrier, to the students who lack motivation to learn, you may leave work some days feeling defeated. But on the challenging days, remember that you are still making a difference. 

Knowledge is power. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give a child. You are shaping them and they will carry the things they learn into their future. Teaching is not going to be easy all the time, but everyday will present a unique opportunity for growth. 

I hope that you find these 10 tips to be as helpful to you, as they have been for me! If you have any of your own tips, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to hear what you have to share! 

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