To teach in Thailand, follow this rule: KISS!
Keep It Short and Simple.
by David Solomon, M.E. Special Education
Now that I have your attention (I hope), lets talk seriously about the art of professionally and properly educating people in Thailand.
Teaching in the various parts of Thailand is challenging, rewarding and interesting all at the same time, with people from all walks of life and nationalities attending our TEFL Course wherever it is conducted. I firmly believe that all teachers must provide the best learning outcomes for all students in their care, whether these are TEFL trainees or students being taught at local government schools.
I was employed by TEXT-AND-TALK Academy in Pattaya full-time for quite some time, and was a trainee teacher evaluator before that. I left my previous employer in Thailand because of personal reasons, as well as the belief that some teachers were not being properly trained to teach English to Thais. It was my job to make sure that all trainees successfully passed the course with the best possible grade, as well as enjoying the course. The focus of the course is sending our ‘quality’ teachers into the workplace, with most graduates from the Pattaya course that I taught gaining employment within the first two or three weeks after graduation. This very simply means that we, along with one of our “scam competitors”, can truthfully say, “You will be paid for doing our TEFL course!”, for the simple reason that in a very, very short while (probably within 4-8 weeks altogether) your course will be all paid for and you will be making real money doing a really professional teaching job, instead of working on intern wages without knowing how to help your students learn our language. ‘Nuff said!
The nuts and bolts of the course is the information provided to the trainees in the seven course manuals (now comprising a complete stand-alone TEYL, or Teaching English to Young Learners, training module)... not to metion the vital previous teaching experience of the course instructor.
In the case of Thailand, it is important to have a background knowledge of the difficulties that the Thai language causes learners of English. These difficulties are well demonstrated in Module three of our course, and reinforced with everyone’s favourite, the “grammar” in Module five. The bonus is that trainees who learn in this way how to teach effectively to the Thais learn at the same time how to teach equally well to any other students whose native language is Asian. This is because, though Asian languages are usually very different from one another, they nonetheless share a rather huge number of characteristics with Thai.
As for what happens when week three comes about and
the practice teaching begins in earnest, who can blame a trainee for having a
case of the ‘nerves’ when he/she has to face a class of ‘real live Thai
students’? This is only natural, and a good, experienced teacher will readily
admit that that he or she has a case of the ‘nerves’ when facing a class for the
first time. I know that I do even after 20 years of teaching! You just never
know what to expect in any class. The payoff of doing this training is that,
however nervous one might feel during the first one minute of a new class, the
enormous realization of having “been here and done that” sets in at that time,
and the students relax and participate well in an atmosphere of confident
The TEFL Course in Pattaya (consisting of 120 hours of face-to-face training and 6 hours of evaluated teaching practice) is run as a totally interactive experience where trainees participate in all aspects of the course. Whilst the course is intense and intensive, we try to make it as enjoyable as possible for all concerned. We have been very fortunate to have both adults and children from a local government school as students for our trainees to teach, and this has given trainees invaluable experience and understanding of the needs of both adults and children when working with them in the classroom.
Every trainee has his or her own life experiences to
bring to the course, with some being comedians (or comediennes), and others
serious ‘game players’. These differences of lifestyles help to enhance the
learning experiences of the course. To date, we have had trainees from a variety
of nations, including
Czech Republic, not to mention all the English-native-speaking
countries. All of these, I believe, are now excellent teachers, and employed.
Visitors who would like to see what our course is all about are always made welcome here. Ask Bryan and Jeff, who visited one of our previous courses and forgot to leave – eventually graduating with ‘B’ grades! They also had employment within three days of completing their course. We regularly have visitors coming to ‘sit in’ on our courses and most have already committed themselves to joining us in Pattaya within the next twelve months – as soon as work or family commitments allow. All I can say is “Relax and enjoy the learning experience”.
As a teacher /principal and teacher evaluator from Australia, I have been able to bring to TEXT-AND-TALK and the trainee teachers the benefits of significant experience, from teaching English and other scholastic subjects to both adults and children, to teaching the necessary theoretical bases for teaching generally, across all areas of learning. All of my successful TEFL Course graduates have gained employment quickly after their graduation, and they have taught students of all ages. The local schools, in fact, are really very happy to acquire them!
Every teacher has different ideas about how to teach EFL to children. These ideas come from many different sources. One of the strongest influences on teaching style is how the teacher himself or herself learned another foreign language – or EFL/ESL, in the case of trainees’ having been born in a non-English-speaking country. We at TEXT-AND-TALK try to provide our teachers with the best possible ways of teaching English to our students.
Finally, my Thai wife, Puu, and our two children (one in primary school and one in high school) have given me invaluable insights into the Thai culture and the Thai education system, which helps me in preparing my trainees for a rewarding career teaching in Thailand.