What classroom life in Thailand is really like! Part one

Teaching in Thailand can be fun, inspirational, and heart-warming, but at the same time frustrating, demanding, and hair wrenching. I loved teaching my class of twenty-three energetic 8 and 9 year olds while I lived in Bangkok. I’d never taught young learners before so I was a bit wary to start. Over time I began to learn how to deal with the little blighters and thanks to help from my Thai assistant and other Thai teachers I gained the students respect and had a great time. I’ve got quite a lot to say about my experience in the classroom in Thailand so I’m going to do this over two blogs. 
Me with the Ninjas lads
Brief overview
As mentioned in my previous blog (Why Thailand is perfect...) the school I worked for was run by strict catholic nuns. My boss was Sister Leonora, a hard-nosed, tough, short lady. Most students and teachers were scared of her. 

It wasn’t your standard TEFL language academy. The school was massive with over 3,000 students and 300 teachers. I taught English through subjects like maths, science, art, and sports, a kind of CLIL approach as opposed to teaching English straight from a text book. I was at the school for almost nine hours a day, Monday to Friday, and taught about 23 contact hours.

I worked in the specialized English section. There were five other farangs – foreign teachers. We had our own main class and swapped classes for about four periods a week. Each had a Thai assistant, who was the main teacher. The Thai teachers were the ones who could really control the class and they were always lurking about at the back while we taught. In my eyes, that was a good thing because the class were better behaved, other teachers didn’t get on with their assistants and found them a disturbance.

Xmas Photo, check out the muppet at the back
with the stupid hat

The Sister was obsessed with us putting on shows for the parents. After all, they were paying a small fortune to have their children on this special English program. Despite the extra hours, rows between teachers, and chaos on the organisational side, I enjoyed the end results. It was funny watching my class dance about to ‘Rocking Robin’ and ‘Slade’ for the Christmas production, and twirling around the stage while dancing salsa for the ‘International Event.’ The kids loved it too, especially getting dressed up in the costumes the Thai teachers had made.

Mum Teaching
When my parents came to visit
I hadn’t seen my parents for almost 18 months when they decided to visit me in Bangkok. For them it was an adventure coming so far away from England as they normally spent their holidays in the Balearic Islands. I got the class to prepare a few welcome cards and one of the Thai teachers bought some flowers for my Mum. The kids loved interviewing my parents and playing noughts and crosses. After class we went out for dinner with the teachers and they made them feel welcome. It was a proud moment that my parents could see how I’d become a teacher since leaving England.

Dad getting beat at noughts and crosses
My class
Having just one class for seven months really gave me a chance to get to know them. At first they were 23 different faces, but by the end I could tell their work apart just from their handwriting. Over seven months I learnt how to keep the whizz kids busy and how to manage the naughty ones. We got on well and it was sad when I told them I wasn’t going to be their teacher the following term. I bought some ninja hats for the boys and little dolls for the girls. They were a good, educated bunch and will always be my favourite.

That’s all for part one. Next week I’ll write about the worst parts and hot tips about teaching English in Thailand.

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