Paige’s Perspective #4: Tips for Teaching in Thailand

Authored by:
Paige S.

Paige S.
Hello! If you are reading this then you are planning on, or at least considering, teaching in Thailand! Congratulations, you have made an incredible decision that will forever impact your life. I am only four months into my experience, and I cannot imagine not embarking on this journey.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, teaching here can start off a little challenging.
When I first arrived, I was informed at orientation about how polite and respectful Thai students are. I don’t know about other schools, but a majority of my students do not act this way.
I found myself becoming more and more frustrated as the weeks went on. I was expected to teach a specific 20-week curriculum in about 12 weeks to students who wouldn’t stop talking long enough for me to attempt to teach them.
I felt defeated. I had to raise my voice more than I was comfortable with and I still was barely getting through my lessons. 
I knew I needed to make a change, in my expectations for myself and my students.
My students and many other Thai students see English class as a time for fun, and they are much more energetic with me than they are with their Thai teachers. Part of it has to do with consistency of teachers and teaching styles, but mostly we are seen as a substitute teacher. Remember when you were in school, and had a substitute teacher? Exactly.  
So below are my top 5 tips for teaching in Thailand:

1. Make everything a game or a contest!

I kid you not, especially if you have primary school students this really works well. I have to offer a reward after each class to the students who earn the most points. I have found this to be extremely successful! I brought with me a large bag of Dum Dum’s and stickers, and I try to alternate these each week to keep them on their toes.

2. Show up for your students!

For me, this was showing up for my homeroom class every morning. In short, the more the students see you the more they want to get to know you. Also, arrive on time or even early for class. This helps with preparation of your materials and it gives the students less time to talk to each other and get, for lack of a better word, rowdy.

3. Treat each student consistently.

And don’t pick favorites, even though it’s hard. If your favorite student is talking over you, you still need to keep your consequences consistent and give them a warning the same as you would every other student.

4. Create a reward system.

Unfortunately, I don’t see my students on a consistent basis, between testing, days off, and shortened classes due to sports day practices. So, I had a difficult time creating a long-term reward system. However, a coworker had already created a system that worked amazingly for her! She has a bin of raffle tickets and each ticket has the student’s name written on them. She would periodically add tickets to the bin and at the end of the month she would pick three tickets from the bin for rewards. The best part about this ticket bin is how she uses it to manage her classroom. She informs her students that if she has to repeat herself more than twice then she starts to rip up tickets. When she rips up tickets the students always ask whose name was thrown away and she will just shrug. So they never know whose name was taken out of the bin! Genius! 

5. Get to know your coworkers and other foreign teachers!

They have many tips and tricks to help work with your new students! They also know your school and how it runs, and they can help you acclimate to your new job quickly! I have also created some amazing friendships with my fellow foreign teachers.

Have fun and make the most out of your experience! It will definitely be challenging but extremely rewarding.

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