Study TESOL in Thailand in Sunny Hua Hin!

Study TESOL in Thailand in Sunny Hua Hin!

Start your TESOL in Thailand journey by the beach in Hua Hin!

Explore the gorgeous beach city of Hua Hin whilst studying for your TESOL/TEFL qualification that will let you teach and travel around Thailand and internationally.

When you hear the word ‘Thailand’, what’s the first thing that you think of? Do you think of Bangkok and Phuket? Temples? Beaches? Mountains? How about the city of Hua Hin? The beautiful beachside city sits just three and a half hours south of the capital but remains a hidden gem for some. Here at XploreAsia, we think Hua Hin is a great place to study to receive your TESOL in Thailand qualification and we’re going to tell you why!

In Hua Hin, you get the best of both worlds. It has all the beachy and touristy attractions, along with authentic, local spots. Although many holiday makers come to Hua Hin, many people still live a traditional Thai lifestyle and it’s a great place to start your foray into Thai culture.

Let’s Talk About Food!

 Hua Hin has a plethora of dining options to suit many different tastes and dietary requirements. Across from, XploreAsia are a range of food stalls offering everything from pad Thai, to sugar-laden desserts, to fresh and healthy glass noodle salads, to coffee and much more. There are many restaurants serving traditional Thai food along Soi 51, including halal options, and we recommend that you explore the area on foot so you don’t miss anything.

 There are also lots of spots to find home comforts or international cuisines here. Head to Market Village and Bluport malls to find chain restaurants you will recognize from home and have your pick of Italian food, Japanese food or even Korean BBQ. There is even a vegan restaurant near the night market for anyone following a plant-based diet. Vegetarian or not, we highly recommend giving the jackfruit curry a try!

Get a taste of delicious local foods such as this while you get your TESOL in Thailand
 Taste delicious local foods like this while you get your TESOL in Thailand

Okay, Now Let’s Go Shopping!

Didn’t pack enough pairs of elephant pants? Want to impress your friends and family back home with authentic Thai handicrafts? Head to the night markets! The most famous is simply called the Night Market and is by Soi 72- only a twenty minute walk or short drive from the XploreAsia office!. It offers a huge range of clothes, tech, and souvenirs as well as being a hive of restaurants and bars. You can even get a massage there if you need to charge your batteries halfway through shopping. Other favourite markets include Cicada Market, the Tamarind Market and, for groceries, Dinosau!

There are also two large shopping malls in Hua Hin which offer well-known brands in western sizes. If you have packed light to come to study your TESOL in Thailand, you can easily pick up some smart clothes for teaching here.

See beautiful temples like this when getting your TESOL in Thailand with XploreAsia
See all the beautiful scenery that Hua Hin has to offer, like this temple deep inside a natural cave

Let’s Get Outside!

 In Hua Hin, there are lots of adventures to go on. You can visit the Kui Buri National Park to see elephants roaming free without human intervention. As the land is protected, the animals are, too, and you won’t get any cruel elephant rides here. You can also spot gaurs, deer, wild boar, Burmese hare, and the other majestic animals who call the park their home.

 If you are looking for an active weekend In Hua Hin, then head over to the Pala-U waterfall, where you can choose a hike to suit your skill level. There are 16-levels of this incredible waterfall and you will be in safe hands with the local guides. Another great hiking spot is the Phraya Nakhon Cave. After a hike over a limestone trail offering spectacular views of the beach and mountains, you can take in the beauty of the Kuha Karuhas pavilion.

At XploreAsia, we offer our Hua Hin TESOL course participants the chance to come with us to all of these places as weekend excursions, helping you save money through paying as a group and also making sure you get the most out of your time in the city.

Giving Back to the Community

At XploreAsia, we love Hua Hin and therefore want to help keep it at its best. Hua Hin is the home to Rescue P.A.W.S, a not-for-profit organization that improves the quality of life for many animals through sterilization and education.

Here, you can arrange a day visit, where you will learn more about the organization, and be able to spend time with some of the dogs. Either take them for a walk along the nearby beach, or tag along with the team for their daily pack feeds. Besides, what better way to enjoy your time in Thailand than to spend it with dogs? Even better, a visit here is included as part of the orientation week for all our TESOL students who come to study in Hua Hin!

In Hua Hin, you can visit not-for-profit organizations such as Rescue Paws .
Take the pups out for a walk at Rescue Paws and play with them during a day visit.

Ready to experience life overseas? Check out our TESOL in Thailand!

If the sun, sea, sand and mango stick rice doesn’t convince you to come to Thailand, come to make a difference! Teaching English makes a huge difference to a child’s future, enabling them the chance to gain increased educational and professional opportunities or even lift their families out of poverty. By sharing your language, you can open a world of possibilities for your students!

On completion of our TESOL in Thailand program, graduates also get a week of cultural activities to get you ready for life abroad, as well as lifelong support from our international team. If you want to learn more about joining XploreAsia as an ESL teacher, and more about living in the beautiful beachside city of Hua Hin, then visit our website now and begin to embrace your adventure!

Don’t forget to follow our Instagram and Facebook pages to catch up with our staff and teachers.

Blog contributed by Ashia Glover.

Small Town Stories: Casey in Tak | Teaching in Thailand

Small Town Stories: Casey in Tak | Teaching in Thailand

Casey shares her story of teaching in Thailand, in the northern province, Tak!

“I think you definitely have to be prepared for what you signed up for. Teaching in Thailand is a rewarding and amazing experience. You have to reach out- don’t stay in your room and shelter yourself just because you feel uncomfortable. Reach out of your limits and you will find a community and a home wherever you are.”

Teaching in Thailand can be a great way to explore the culture and live like a local. In this series, some of our teachers tell us about the challenges and rewards of living in a town previously unknown to them. As much as going somewhere unknown can be daunting, we hope their experience and advice will help you settle into your teaching placement more easily.

TESOL alumn Casey shares her story teaching in Northern Thailand!

After completing her TESOL course in Hua Hin, Casey found herself moving north to teach in Tak. In this blog, Casey describes how she was able to build a community of other foreign teachers and Thai teachers alike. Keep reading to hear more about Casey’s Thai adventure and check out our TESOL courses if it makes you feel inspired to take the leap yourself!

When you found out you were going to Tak, how did you feel about your placement?

“I had never heard of this town before. I’d asked for the north, so I was excited to be up here. I’d asked for Chiang Rai, but I had been told that wasn’t likely, so I was open to anything in the area. I also really wanted kindergarten. Getting kindergarten in the north, I was really happy.”

Did you have a first choice of placement in your mind before you started teaching in Thailand?

“Before I came here, I wanted a city, but when we landed in Bangkok I realised that wasn’t what I wanted. So, I spoke with my placement coordinator and asked to switch it to a smaller town in the North.”

Casey's school had a mixture of foreign and Thai teachers who made it much easier for her to adjust to life abroad.
What was it like adjusting to life at your placement?

“It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. I thought the hardest part would be leaving my friends and family in the states, but when I got to Hua Hin, I felt like I made friends and family and I didn’t expect leaving that month to be that hard. I think my first real culture shock came later than I expected it to.”

Now that you’re more settled in, what kind of connections have you made in the local community?

“There’s not a lot of foreigners aside from the handful of teachers. I don’t think anyone really comes to this town for travel. My co-teachers have been really helpful throughout the whole process. We’ve been able to communicate on a daily basis and have been very welcoming into the school community; so them and the teachers I live with do dinners and stuff like that together sometimes. It’s nice to have someone to show you around.”

What is your favourite thing about the town you’re teaching in?

“So, my town is pretty small and a lot of people would say there’s not much to do, and I agree with that, but in the week, it’s nice to have that place that’s calm and collected. When I travel at the weekends, I’m thankful on Sunday night that I’m coming back here instead of a bustling city that never stops.”

Teaching in Thailand is a great way to enrich your students' lives by providing them with English lessons, and have amazing experiences yourself.
Teachers often form strong bonds with their students and make great memories with them.
What would you tell people about living in a small town in Tak?

“I think you definitely have to be prepared for what you signed up for. It’s a rewarding and amazing experience. I don’t think it’s for everyone though. You have to reach out- don’t stay in your room and shelter yourself just because you feel uncomfortable. Reach out of your limits and you will find a community and a home wherever you are.”

Related to your last answer, is there any advice you would give to teachers who are going to a town without many other foreigners?

“I would say the most important thing is staying connected. Sometimes it can be hard to reach out to friends and family as it makes you miss them more, but it is helpful to keep that open line of communication. I think both overseas, and with the people in your community; even if you don’t have many English speaking people around you. You should have teachers at your school that can help you so make sure to reach out.”

We love hearing our teachers’ stories. If you’re an alumn and would like to share your experience, please get in touch. If you’re looking to start a new adventure teaching overseas, check out our TESOL courses and international placement services. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more updates!

I was Teaching in Thailand During a Pandemic

I was Teaching in Thailand During a Pandemic

Teaching in Thailand: How 6 Months Became 1 Year!

“If you would have asked 18 year old Hayley, “where will you be in 5 years?”  I know for certain she would have never said “living alone in a small, Northern Thai town”. I fell in love with this country,  the people, and my students long before COVID-19. If anything positive came out of the pandemic, it was the fact that the temporary life I have teaching in Thailand has become more permanent and became home.”

In this blog post, Hayley shares how teaching in Thailand changed her life and describes why she decided not to leave during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of our TESOL / TEFL graduates end up staying much longer than they originally expected. Read on to find out more about how Hayley’s 6 month adventure has turned into an almost year long lifestyle… and counting!

Hayley decided to seek new possibilities in Thailand!

Just over a year ago, I decided to leave my first “adult” job, my family and my friends behind, and move to another continent. When I first made the decision, I desperately needed a change in my life. I was stuck between feeling “too comfortable”- being so close to my childhood home and memories- whilst also feeling really uncomfortable with how the beginning of my adult life was playing out. So after an eye opening series of events leading up to my 23rd birthday, I decided it was time to pack my bags and escape my problems by teaching in Thailand.

It sounded like a dream! All of the websites, programs, and blog posts advertised that I could teach for 6 months, live in a beautiful place, eat delicious food, and make some memories along the way. But what ended up happening was so much more than the “short-term escape” I had originally planned. 11 months later: this is my home. A home that I have no intentions or interest in leaving for a while.

Teaching in Thailand is better with friends

I started my cliche-sounding “journey” in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand surrounded by mountains and forests. Through XploreAsia’s 120-hour TESOL / TEFL certification, my classmates and I stayed in a hotel in a part of town that allowed for a culturally immersive experience, but close enough to the “fun and comfortably westernized” area. I can remember the first night like it was yesterday as we set out to a large night bazaar with curious eyes— strolling along as we checked out the piles of low priced clothing, exquisite art on display and for sale, and countless sizzling skewers of various meats and scorpions.

Hayley and her international friends enjoyng a meal together in Thailand

XploreAsia’s TESOL program was a jam packed 4 weeks of learning how to teach in Thailand, whilst also gaining cultural insights during orientation week. My favorite highlights include visiting a Buddhist monastery where we learned from a traditional monk, going to teach kindergarteners at an English camp, and even all of the hours spent squished into a red songthaew with my classmates who became like family. All of the XploreAsia staff were extremely kind and experienced in helping us adjust to Thai life and culture, but I’m exceptionally thankful for our amazing teacher and role-model, Mariam.

The adventure in Mae Sot starts here!

After completing the course and XploreAsia’s placement process, I was excited to get a job teaching in the Northern province of Tak. My agents were thoughtful about my placement and kept my preferences close in mind ( although when considering teaching abroad, I HIGHLY recommend coming with very few preferences). Following a night of anxious goodbyes, I was on my 6 hour bus to Mae Sot, Thailand with a couple of my TESOL classmates.

"What I didn’t know was how much I would fall in love with this town and more importantly MY SCHOOL."

I could write a novel about the laughs, learning, and sights of each day. Every single day at school was a new experience that has made me into the English teacher and curious farang I am today.

Hayley Feldman, XA Alumn

Mae Sot is a small yet bustling town on the border of Thailand and Myanmar. Due to its close proximity to neighboring Myanmar, Mae Sot draws a diverse group of people from Thailand, Myanmar, China, and many western countries. It seems quite isolated by mountains and forests, but has many “western amenities” such as comfortable (and affordable) housing, a Robinson’s (essentially a small shopping mall), an airport and other easily available transportation, as well as an active English-speaking community. Almost immediately, I felt confident that I would be comfortable for my short-term, one semester stay. What I didn’t know was how much I would fall in love with this town and more importantly MY SCHOOL.

First days teaching in Thailand!

Hayley having fun with her students in the classroom
Teaching in Thailand gives you a unique window into Thai culture!
Many of our teachers fall in love with parts of Thailand they'd never heard of before. In Hayley's case, she fell for the Northwestern city, Mae Sot

Our first stop in town was our school, Ratwittaya School. After a long night of travel, I was exhausted and terrified, but the nerves settled almost instantly when our new principal Ajarn Oye gave us a tour of the school and insisted that we call her Mom. We were scheduled to start working the following Monday (1.5 days later) and would only have one working week to settle in before being tossed in the classroom with 700 students eager to meet us. The teaching in Thailand adventure was about to begin!

At school, I was assigned to work with primary grades 1, 2, and 3 which consisted of 700 students aged from 5-9 years old. Although there were plenty of bumps in figuring out lesson planning and classroom management, I quickly learned to love my time in the classroom. At Ratwittaya, a Kindergarten to Grade 12 private school in Mae Sot, the students learn all core subjects along with a heavy focus on Chinese language. Due to their tight schedule, I only taught each of my 18 classes of about 40 students once a week for one hour. Have you ever tried to remember the faces and nicknames of 700 students? Let me tell you from experience that it’s NOT easy!

Did you know that Thailand has a day dedicated to teachers?

Nonetheless, the semester flew by and by half-way, I had decided to extend for at least another semester. I was eager to improve my students’ language abilities and to assist in the development of the English Department. Some personal highlights include Sports Day, the Christmas Festival, Teachers Sports day, and the Chinese New Year festivities!! I could write a novel about the laughs, learning, and sights of each day. Every single day at school was a new experience that has made me into the English teacher and curious farang (term for westerners used by many Thais) I am today.

How the pandemic changed my teaching experience

Around mid-January, I became aware of the coronavirus- later named COVID-19- and watched it evolve into the ever-looming news that it is today. Thailand was actually one of the first countries to have cases of the coronavirus outside of China, but the government provided consistent, ongoing information about the number of cases, new regulations, and protocols. Of course, there was a time when I questioned my plans to stay in the country and worried about whether I would be safe here, but, ultimately, I decided to stay. For me, it was about considering where I would be happiest in times of uncertainty, and where I consider to be “home”. This decision was extremely difficult. Staying meant being unsure of when I would be able to physically see my family and friends back in Los Angeles. But, at the same time, it was obvious to me: I had my own small house and lived near to a close friend, had a reliable income, savings for an emergency, and soon I would adopt the cutest grandma cat in town. The new pandemic was not going to prevent me enjoying my new life teaching in Thailand.

We began feeling the full effects of the new health pandemic around late March, so we began self quarantining and social distancing. At this point, schools were already closed for vacation and were not set to open again until May 15. As Covid progressed in its world-wide showdown, things changed. My family would no longer be able to visit, borders were closing, Thailand’s national Songkran holiday was even postponed, and the new school term was pushed back to July 1st. April and May were long and HOT. I was thankful to have my aircon and the opportunity to tutor some of my students online from the comfort of my quaint Thai-style home. I cooked more than I have in years and I actively sought out social time with my family and friends around the world via video calls.

Although many experience some homesickness when teaching in Thailand, Hayley's international support network- and her students!- made staying in Thailand the right choice for Hayley

New normal? No Problem!

In June, our new normal began to blossom. Stores and restaurants began to re-open, the nationwide curfew was lifted, and mask wearing was essential to continue maintaining safety. Never in my life did I think that a mask would become one of my new favorite accessories. Temperature checkpoints and QR scanning were added to my daily routine. Teachers were allowed to begin prep for the year and bit by bit— life seemed to feel normal again! I prepared for the new school schedule which consisted of teaching 200 Primary 2 students for 3 hours a week— a huge development in the English program from the previous school year! Just before the end of the month, I was able to celebrate my birthday alongside friends and coworkers making for one of the best birthdays in my memory.

Around the world, teachers and students are adjusting to the new normal in order to keep themselves and their students safe during the pandemic

July 1st came and so did the students! What a uniquely, exciting day. Teachers and students arrived suited up in masks and face shields, waited in line to be temperature checked before entering campus, and were informed of social distancing protocol and guidelines. Although there were challenges in adjusting to new protocols and schedules, we were overjoyed to be teaching in Thailand with our co-workers and students again!

Still thriving in Thailand!

Today, I am happy, hopeful, and excited to be living and teaching in Mae Sot, Thailand. My students keep me on my toes everyday with their mask-muffled shouting “TEACHER HAYLEY/HARRY/HALRY/ HENRY”, ever-improving English skills, and caring hearts. My co-workers keep me entertained and constantly evolving in my knowledge and appreciation of Thai culture and language. My in-country friends keep me excited and full of laughter. My family and friends from home keep me grounded with their endless support and love from afar.

Hayley with her fellow teachers at her Thai school in Mae Sot!
As much as you're curious about Thai culture, the students are also curious about your home country!
Connections are important. Did you know XploreAsia host regular teacher meetups around the country for our teachers to meet new friends in their area? Of course, this hasn't been possible during the pandemic, but our teachers can use our online networks to access advice and support 24/7!

If you would have asked 18 year old Hayley, “where will you be in 5 years?”  I know for certain she would have never said “living alone in a small, Northern Thai town”. Even just a year ago, I would have never dreamed that I would be choosing to live 8,000 miles from my family and childhood home with no sight of return amidst a global health pandemic. I fell in love with this country,  the people, and my students long before COVID-19. If anything positive came out of the pandemic, it was the fact that the temporary life I have teaching in Thailand has become more permanent and became home. With uncertainty still looming, I find myself feeling more and more comfortable within my small bubble of Mae Sot, Thailand.

If you enjoyed reading about Hayley’s life in Mae Sot, why not try teaching in Thailand for yourself? We place teachers in towns and cities across the country, but all of our TESOL / TEFL graduates have our support for life– no matter how far! Contact us to find out how to join the international XploreAsia family today! You can also catch up with Hayley’s Thai adventure by checking out her Instagram here.

What is it Like to Quarantine in Thailand?

What is it Like to Quarantine in Thailand?

Quarantine in Thailand

An XploreAsia Teacher Experience

What is Quarantine in Thailand Like?

As we adjust to the ‘New Normal’, teachers from all over the world are now able to return to their schools overseas, as well as new teachers can begin their life-changing overseas teaching experience with XploreAsia! However, there are a few hurdles and processes that need to be navigated in order to return.  One of the most common questions we are asked is, ‘What is quarantine in Thailand like?’. Well, we have first-hand accounts that we will be presenting to you over the coming days and weeks, detailing the planning, arrival, and quarantine processes both in Thailand and South Korea!

First, we hear from Lucy, 24, originally from Wiltshire in the UK but has been living and teaching in Thailand since December 2018. After returning home, and now back in Thailand, Lucy writes to us from quarantine in Bangkok, Thailand.

Which Program were you on, and how did COVID-19 Impact your Experience?

I did my TESOL course with XploreAsia in Hua Hin, January 2019. After traveling around and falling in love with Southeast Asia in 2017, I knew as soon as I finished university, I needed to get back out for a longer amount of time, and teaching seemed like the perfect way. I initially only intended to stay out here for around 6 months, but that quickly changed as I got settled into my new Thai life. Having not seen loved ones for over a year, I had planned to go back to the UK in the March/April school break to see my friends and family. I arrived home on the March 21. 3 days later, the UK went into lockdown, followed by Thailand about a week later. The international flight ban was originally until the end of April, then May, then June and with no definite end date, I had no idea when I could get back. I can’t explain how stressful this time was as there was so much uncertainty, yet so much speculation and false hope online. I was checking the news every day for if and when I would be allowed in, and as soon as they said work permit holders could apply to return on repatriation flights, I began the process, and prepared myself for my quarantine in Thailand experience.

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - TESOL Course in Hua Hin!

I was checking the news every day for if and when I would be allowed in, and as soon as they said work permit holders could apply to return on repatriation flights, I began the process.  

What Preparations did you Have to Make for Your Return?

For me, the process was a lot more stressful and confusing than it is now, as when I started to apply the system was very new and no one seemed to really know the proper procedures. There was however a clear list of documents that you needed to provide to the embassy to be considered for a certificate of entry. These are:

  • Copy of work permit
  • Copy of passport and visa pages
  • A letter from your employer stating they wish you to return
  • Health Insurance policy covering you for over $100,000 and any COVID costs
  • Fully completed declaration form that the embassy will send to you

Once you have all the required documents you have to send them to the embassy. When I applied the process was that the embassy would forward your documents to people who in Bangkok who would make the decision. Despite emails from the embassy that said it would take about 2 weeks, it actually seemed to be taking 4 weeks until people heard back with confirmation of a place on a flight. However, the night before the 4-week mark for me I received an email to say that the process had changed and the embassies were now able to issue a certificate of entry. It also said that to be considered for a repatriation flight that month, to reply to the email. So I responded to the email as soon as I saw it on Thursday evening, I didn’t find out I had a place on the flight until the following Monday and the flight was that coming Sunday. So once you find out you are able to fly there are more documents to prepare:

  • Flight booking – through the embassy
  • Quarantine in Thailand – ASQ Booking (all non-Thai nationals must book alternative state quarantine, prices ranging from 28,000 baht to 144,000)
  • Negative COVID test with a result within 72 hours of flight departure and with a full lab report

For the COVID test, I ordered a home testing kit from Randox the week before in case I got a place on the flight. The test costs £120 and is delivered the next day if ordered between Monday and Thursday, but they don’t deliver on weekends. I then had to arrange a collection through Polar Speed a UPS company, which costs an additional £16.99. The test takes 2 days to arrive at the test facility, but once it arrived I got the results within 8 hours, less than 24 hours before my flight.

  • ‘Fit to Fly’ Certificate from a doctor to say you are free from COVID symptoms

For the ‘Fit to Fly’, I used Freedom Health who do a virtual consultation over Zoom and it was super easy and cost £55. It took about 10 minutes max for the consultation. Once I had my negative COVID-19 test results, I forwarded them over and then they sent me my Fit to Fly Certificate. 

  • T8 form from the embassy you must fill out
  • I also had a form from EVA airlines to fill out

It’s a bit of a logistical challenge trying to get everything done in the right time frames, but once you have all these things will you be able to get on the flight.

What was Your Arrival Experience?

Arriving in Thailand now feels like something out of a movie. As you walk from the plane into the airport you’re met with people wearing full-body PPE who ask you where you are staying. They then direct you to a row of chairs where people come along and check your documents. Once they have done this they send you off to wait in line to get your temperature checked, documents checked again and temperature checked again, the second time in your ear. If your temperature is too high for their liking (like mine was on the second test) then they give you water and make you sit down in a separate area for 10 mins before checking again. After all these points you are then able to go through to the waiting area to be taken to your ASQ transport. All the ASQ hotels will have a specially arranged van and you will be taken out to meet the driver who then takes your straight to your hotel to begin your quarantine in Thailand.

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Waiting for Testing at the Airport

Arriving in Thailand now feels like something out of a movie.

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Testing Area at the Airport

How About Quarantine in Thailand, What are the Conditions Like?

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Quarantine Hotel in Bangkok

Minus the plastic screens on the check-in desk, and checking in with the nurse, it was a pretty normal check-in experience where I am staying

Arriving at the hotel, they check your temperature before you are allowed to enter. Minus the plastic screens on the check-in desk, and checking in with the nurse, it was a pretty normal check-in experience where I am staying – Three Sukhumvit Hotel. The quarantine in Thailand package at this hotel costs 40,000 baht and provides you with 3 meals every day, 2 COVID-19 tests, transport to the hotel, and 24/7 nurse contact. They also allow you to order food delivery services which is amazing, as the hotel menu options daily are pretty limited, so if you fancy something different it’s nice to have the option! Each room has a little table outside the door where they will place any food or orders you have or any rubbish you have to be taken away.

On one of the first few days you have a COVID test, which, if negative, you are then allowed to book 1 x 30-minute slot outside your room per day in a designated area. You are also given a bag of masks, hand sanitizer, and a thermometer on arrival. Whenever opening the door you are required to wear a mask, as well as having to take your temperature morning and evening each day to send to the nurse.

What are you Doing to Keep Yourself Busy During Your Quarantine in Thailand?

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Keeping Busy During Quarantine

I was obviously aware I would have a lot of spare time during my quarantine in Thailand, so I tried to get some things to help kill the time. I bought a scrapbook and printed off a whole bunch of photos from my Thailand experience so far which has been really nice to put together and reminisce some amazing times I’ve had in Thailand from the comfort of my quarantine home. I also bought a couple of books and magazines to read and I’ve been reliving my childhood playing The Sims. If you can’t go about your normal life, at least you can live vicariously through an animated Sim!

Looking Back on the Experience so far, have you Learned Anything From it?

I would say there are two main things I learned from this journey; patience and persistence. Being stuck somewhere and not knowing when or how you can get back to where you live is stressful to say the least, especially when everything is so unpredictable right now. I had to learn to be more patient with things as there was absolutely nothing I or anyone else could do about it, and stressing out wasn’t doing me or my family (sorry mum and dad) any favors.

Secondly, I had to learn to be more persistent. I’m the type of person to feel guilty if I have to ask about something more than once or send a second email out of fear of annoying someone. However, I am sure there are several people out there who never want to hear my name again due to the number of emails and calls I made to try and get everything sorted in time. But, had I not done all that, I doubt I would be sitting here in quarantine in Thailand writing all this now!

What are you Most Looking Forward to?

I am most looking forward to seeing my friends with who I work and spend most waking hours together, as well as getting back to work! I have missed all my students and colleagues so so much, and I am beyond excited to get back in the classroom and start teaching again! A lot of people in England were asking me if all the stress and money was worth it, but sitting in quarantine in Thailand looking forward to getting out, I can safely say it was definitely worth it.

Lucy Frobisher's Quarantine in Thailand Experience - Looking Forward to Seeing These Guys!

If you want to learn more about how you can get started teaching overseas, contact us for more information! We are always on hand to help.

Written by Lucy Frobisher. Follow her on Instagram – @theadventuresofanexpat

Teach in Asia: Becoming Part of the Local Community

Teach in Asia: Becoming Part of the Local Community

Teach in Asia and immerse yourself in the community!

Moving to a new continent can be a tricky transition. Despite different languages and cultures, kindness knows no barriers and we’re excited to share our TESOL students’ stories of their first interactions with locals.

Coming to teach in Asia can be daunting. Lots of people worry whether they will fit into their communities despite language and cultural barriers. In this blog post, our TESOL students in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam share their stories of heartwarming interactions in their communities.

1. Sam in Thailand: “Food unites people here”

Openness is not something we’re used to from strangers in America. However, humility and openness seem to be defining characteristics of many people in Thailand. Whether they are a street-food vendor or an employee at the local 7-11, a Buddhist Monk or a songthaew driver, I feel as though I’m constantly greeted with a smile from the person across from me, as if I am meeting eyes with a friend. And so went my first interaction with Daang. As I approached his humble restaurant, he hastily produced a menu for me and motioned to a table with a view of the street. Entirely unsure of the type of food offered at this eatery, I hesitated before taking a seat on the small stool he had chosen for me. I decided to put aside any predispositions and simply find something on the menu that I might like.

To make things more difficult, the entire menu at Daang’s restaurant was in Thai. Rather than choose to leave or simply ask for ‘pad thai?’ with hands raised akimbo in the position of a clueless tourist, I stumbled my way through a conversation that led to Daang preparing me whatever he selected. As I watched Daang shuffle seamlessly back and forth across the kitchen, I was immediately impressed by the skill and efficiency of every maneuver. Daang clearly gave each ingredient respect and care. Daang’s cooking represented poetry in motion.

Sam Daniels came to teach in Asia just after the new year and started a culinary adventure!

Not only did he genuinely care about the experience I had in his restaurant, he also seemed proud that I would choose to eat there. Afterwards, we shook hands with the agreement that I would be back the following day for dinner. As I walked home, belly full and a smile on my face, I was reminded of an Anthony Bourdain quote from his first book Kitchen Confidential, which reads: “Good food is very often, even most often, very simple.” Nothing could be more apt in describing this and the subsequent meals I would enjoy at Daang’s restaurant.

The next evening, the scene before me was different from the day before. Whereas I enjoyed a simple dish of noodles and pork then, this evening consisted of several large fish roasted over an open flame, and a table full of Daang’s relatives and friends. Daang introduced me around the table several times; it only validated what we’d learned during our Thai culture lessons during orientation week: food unites people here. If this experience has confirmed anything, it is my belief in the value of winging it. Letting these happy accidents occur is what so many over-organised tourist trips to other countries miss — I’m very grateful to have met Daang and enjoy his food as well as his company.

2. Cam B in South Korea: “The friendliness was contagious”

During my second week of my TESOL course in Korea, I met a man named JunHyuk, AKA Simon, at a gym. Back in New Zealand, I was a competitive power-lifter and I am very focused on maintaining my fitness whilst I teach in Asia. Typically in New Zealand, people don’t interact much while training. However, while I was bench pressing, Simon came up to me and asked me to give him advice and help to train him to get stronger.

Cameron came from New Zealand to teach in Asia and found a local gym buddy in Incheon, South Korea.

At first, I was hesitant so I politely told him when I would be back and assumed he wouldn’t follow up. To my surprise, the next day he was in the gym waiting and immediately came up to greet me with a friendly smile and was ready to begin training. I ran him through a beginner power-lifting routine and helped him practice the correct form whilst also helping him take notes to help him become stronger. He was so thankful and willing to learn; the friendliness was contagious and I was happy all day knowing that I will be able to integrate into and enjoy the culture while I’m in South Korea. After we had finished he asked if we could meet again the next Saturday and bring a couple of friends with him.

Although I didn’t feel comfortable training his friends, I have continued to meet up with Simon, helping him improve and work towards his strength goals.

Simon has also begun to help me understand Korean language and customs much better through frequent interactions. Recently, we went out as a small group for a meal and had a very fun time in a different setting and talking about life. When I do find myself back in Incheon or Seoul, I would like to make time to see Simon again. What I have enjoyed most about meeting and getting to know Simon is that I have been able to help a local achieve something rather than simply being part of a language exchange. I have loved learning about the culture through someone who has lived in it their entire life. I now understand that the best way to learn about Korean culture is through meeting new people and learning first hand. I’m looking forward to meeting more locals and learning from them whilst I teach in Asia.

3. Cameron H in Vietnam: “The quest for power”

I decided to go to a café with my laptop to hole myself away until my lesson planning was done. My laptop is ailing and decrepit and it always needs to be plugged in in order to work. I had heard tell of a local café that had plug sockets, free Wi-Fi and reasonably priced coffee. I went early in the morning and nested in the corner beside one of the few functioning sockets. Slowly but surely, I plodded through my assignments, under frequent glances of some amused locals at my makeshift study camp. I assumed they felt some pity as I was there for many hours sat alone forcing myself to wade through cheesy children’s music to find the right song for a lesson plan.

Suddenly the power cut out – and my laptop switched off. My stomach dropped. I prayed to the technology overlords that my work had been saved. Other people may have taken this as a sign I should move, see some sunlight, and take a break… I felt more motivation than ever to stay until my work was done. I packed up my bags, stood up from my chair, and began to seek a new socket. The quest for power had begun.

Many countries in Asia have a big coffee culture and you're sure to find lots of places to relax whilst preparing for your classes.

I scanned the entire café trying to find a new socket. There were some sockets on the floor, but they were too loose to function. There were some multi-use sockets being shared by others, but there was not enough room for my comically large travel adaptor. I stretched above other peoples’ tables to try and use a couple of spare ones, but the lead was too short to reach the nearest free table. The entire time I was getting in everyone’s way, carrying a bag, books and an open laptop around, and moving chairs to see if there were more sockets on the floor. It’s safe to say the locals’ glances had turned into some outright stares, some giggling and some straight-up laughter.

Eventually, I deemed my mission a failure. I sat at an empty table and began to gather my things to leave. At this moment, a pair of Vietnamese men came over and plucked my laptop out of my hands. For a second I thought I may be the victim of the most brazen robbery in history. They spoke very little English so we combined languages with a lot of mime.

The pair split off, one heading in search for any sockets that I may have missed. In the meantime, his friend inquired about what I was doing by pointing at my books. I was able to respond in Vietnamese that I am a teacher, and his face lit up. I then said that I had moved from the UK to teach in Asia and proceeded to use up the few Vietnamese sentences I knew before I ran dry and we resorted back to mime. At this point, his friend returned and gave me a shrug as if to say he had done what he could.

The guy I had been speaking to then went over to where a group of people were sharing a multi-use socket and started asking other locals if anyone had enough charge to let me take one of their places.

Teach in Asia and explore the ecclectic city of Hanoi!

My British sensibilities caused me to be consumed with embarrassment at being the centre of attention and putting out a stranger at the same time. Yet this caused a ripple of conversation where other locals started chatting both to the two men and to me. Not only did someone give up a socket for me, but I was then sat at a table where I had inadvertently caused strangers to talk like old friends. There was a local woman who spoke English and we were able to have more of a chat about Vietnam. I inquired about where she was from – Ho Chi Minh City – and asked about her life. In the end, fate had forced me to take a break away from my work. My quest for power was successful due to the abounding friendliness and helpfulness of the locals. Now my work is finished, I just need to improve my Vietnamese – and get a better computer!

Teach in Asia with XploreAsia!

Do you want to start your own adventure and teach in Asia? We have in-country TESOL courses in Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Myanmar. We also offer teacher placement in China and are excited to soon be opening a TESOL and placement package in Costa Rica, Central America!

Catch up with our global family of teachers through Instagram and Facebook and share your stories of cultural immersion in the comments!

Volunteer in Thailand whilst Teaching: Ané’s Story

Volunteer in Thailand whilst Teaching: Ané’s Story

Read Ané's Story on Volunteering at a Meditation Center in Thailand

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world”- Mahatma Gandhi.

Our motto is “embracing adventure, changing lives”. We were thrilled to hear that one of our teachers, Ané, embodied this by seeking out ways to give back to the community in her spare time. Find out more about her experience as a volunteer in Thailand  in this blog.

Every year before the New Year starts I write down a list of things I want to experience, places I want to see or just things I would like to achieve.  On that list going into 2019, I wrote down that I wanted to do volunteering work as it’s something that I have never done before, so I started to do some research.  

I love living abroad. It excites me because we all have different stories to tell.  You might go to the same country or you might do the same Thai cooking course or even hike to the top of a mountain but we all see and experience life differently and that is what makes it really interesting. I’ve been living in Thailand for about 2 and half years now and it’s been an exciting but challenging journey; there is just something magical about Asia.

I finally found the perfect place to volunteer in Thailand. I headed off to Dhutanga Insight Meditation Center based in Samut Prakan, which is run by female monks (bhikkhuni in Thai). So here is my story I would love to share with you all.

I wanted to volunteer in Thailand because I wanted to give back to the community and have an experience that I will never forget. The property isn’t so big but they can accommodate about 10 volunteers at a time. The owner is Punnya Pannya who has a passion for sharing her knowledge about the culture of Thailand and Buddhism. She has the kindest heart! She is really open about any questions you might have. They require that you stay at least 10 days and they work it out for about 100 baht a day to cover electricity , water and food- and it’s all for a good cause so why not?

The room was pretty basic, thin mattress on the floor with linen provided, fans and a light.  At first I thought, “wow what did I let myself in for?” I’d never done something like this before but I like to give things a chance and embrace experiences. If you have an open mind, you might learn something new and that is exactly what I did!

Everyone that I have met there was extremely welcoming. I was a few years older than the rest of the others who volunteer in Thailand but it didn’t bother me. They all were extremely helpful. We spent a lot of time together- we had meals together, we did chanting and meditation together, we helped each other with our daily duties and some days we would sit outside or fall asleep in the hammock and just have deep conversations. I felt like I got 2 new sisters and 3 new brothers.

We did a lot of work outside to help maintain the property and to help the environment. I enjoyed being outside, painting and getting in the river to remove the trash that builds up there. Getting dirty in mud reminded me of my days as a kid growing up on a farm- it’s a good feeling. It was cleansing- I didn’t wear any makeup, I tried to spend less time on my phone, I read more- that was a phenomenal feeling.

After mediation in the evenings, the owner would give Dhamma talks and that was really interesting and an amazing experience to actually talk and ask questions about Buddhism. There is so much to learn.  She felt like a real mom to me, she taught us a lot; she taught the volunteers as we were her own kids and that was really special.  She said we are all connected and that’s so true. 

We did a lot of work outside to help maintain the property and to help the environment. I enjoyed being outside, painting and getting in the river to remove the trash that builds up there. Getting dirty in mud reminded me of my days as a kid growing up on a farm- it’s a good feeling. It was cleansing- I didn’t wear any makeup, I tried to spend less time on my phone, I read more- that was a phenomenal feeling.

After mediation in the evenings, the owner would give Dhamma talks and that was really interesting and an amazing experience to actually talk and ask questions about Buddhism. There is so much to learn.  She felt like a real mom to me, she taught us a lot; she taught the volunteers as we were her own kids and that was really special.  She said we are all connected and that’s so true. 

Ané getting ready for her daily chores wile volunteering in Thailand
Ané and one of the Bhikkhuni at the meditation center in Thailand

But as a monk there are about 300 rules or more that they need to follow but it’s inspiring.  There is a guy that I follow on Instagram, most of you know him.  His name is Jay Shetty, he used to be a monk for 3 years and he even said in one of his videos that it was the most rewarding and best years of his life.  Monks give up a lot of things to be able to live that lifestyle but it’s inspiring.

Honestly, meditation during those first 2 days was really hard. I’m not used to meditating for that long. The first 2 sessions were 15 minutes long, and thereafter 30 minutes at a time. My mind is usually busy and feels all over the place, but meditation is really powerful and I can feel the difference from when I’ve just arrived at the meditation and when I’ve left.

I felt I grew a lot. It felt rewarding to do volunteer in Thailand and give back to the community. It was also amazing to live with the locals and learn from the female monks. I gained a deeper insight into the culture and about Buddhism in general. I think you just need to be open minded to have an experience like this- you don’t have to be a Buddhist to be a volunteer.  When I arrived, I had a lot of things on my mind and things I had to deal with, and now I feel I’ve let go a lot of a lot of things and I feel lighter. It’s a really rewarding feeling, there are no words to describe it!  It was one of the best experiences and I would recommend that others seek these chances to give back and learn more about Thai culture when they are teaching in Thailand.

If you want to experience Thai culture, consider taking our TESOL course which will give you all the skills to be a confident English teacher and make a huge difference in the Thai community by helping kids broaden their future. Complete with a cultural orientation, you can be experiencing Thai culture from day one and use your weekends to explore even more ways to make a difference.

Be sure to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages to see all the updates from our other teachers. Join and explore with us now!

“I Conquered My Travel Fears to Complete an Internship Abroad!” Ashia’s Story

“I Conquered My Travel Fears to Complete an Internship Abroad!” Ashia’s Story

Conquering my fear: traveling alone for the first time.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

An internship abroad is an amaing opportunity, but can be a huge step outside your comofrt zone. For many of us, fear of the unknown can prevent us from fulfilling our goals. One of our Marketing Interns Ashia talks about how she overcame her fear of flying and took her first trip across the world, all by herself! Check out how she kicked down the wall and started an amazing adventure with us!

Have you ever wished you could conquer your fears? I’ve wanted conquer my fear of flying my entire life. I lived by my motto “if I can’t drive there, I won’t go”, but I had all of these places in my mind that I wanted to travel to. I had this elaborate plan to visit all these different countries before I hit my mid-thirties, so I could focus on building the foundation for my future. Well, here I was at the tender age of 25, experiencing my very first domestic flight across the US. I did it! Did the fear stop there? Of course not- it was very much still intact and, if I’m being honest with myself, I did not see it leaving.

Ashia conquering her fear by letting it go during our trip to the beach as part of orientation week.

Soon, I decided to take another step and go on my first international trip: a one-hour flight to the Bahamas with my friends. Still, fear lingered in the back of my mind and I couldn’t see myself ever traveling on my  own. I had this dream to fulfill, but it was blocked by my many reservations.

Shortly after, I ran across the chance to participate in a marketing internship abroad with the company XploreAsia- in Thailand of all places. When I found out about this opportunity a strange phenomenon happened. Not an inch of doubt. Not a moment of fear. The thought of traveling across the world, all by myself, suddenly brought up no red flags in my head.  This was such a change for me.

This time, I didn’t let my fears overtake my desires. I booked a flight and traveled 22 hours and 58 minutes to the other side of the world. Not in the comfort of friends or family. Not knowing any of the language. Not knowing what was in store for me. I would be living here in Thailand for three months for this internship and living my dream whilst working in a field I’ve always dreamed of working in. Only if I conquer my fears, would I get to see parts of the world I’ve only pictured in my head.

“My visit to the cave temple was very uplifting. The hike to the cave was intense but worth it!”

Ashia headed from Georgia, USA, to Hua Hin, Thailand to complete her internship abroad.
Conquer your fear of traveling alone and experience incredible places!

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I felt a shift. Such an ease come over me and although this was my first time ever doing something like this, I just knew that I could do it. Doing an internship abroad can be a huge step outside of your comfort zone, but I implore you to follow my example and push yourself outside the box.

Ashia also got to learn about Buddhism during her internship abroad in Thailand.

During the orientation week with XploreAsia, we did so many activities like muay thai, which is one of the oldest forms of boxing in the world. I also got to experience meditating with one of the monks in the village, which was probably the purest and most serene experience I’ve ever had. At Rescue P.A.W.S., we were able to take the rescued stray dogs out to the beach for some much needed exercise. We also learned how to cook the Thai dishes som tum (papaya salad) and pad Thai. It was a great introduction to the culture.

I have been living in Thailand for just over one month now, and it has been a complete dream. I have been living in the city of Hua Hin, which has a very beachy feel and a very warm welcome.

“The temple visit was thoroughly insightful.”

I’ve even come out of my laziness and have been walking long distances, riding bikes around town and hiking up mountains. All of which I would have opted out of if I was still at home. I am completely out of my comfort zone, and being in this new environment has put me in a new headspace to do the unthinkable. There is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision. I faced my fear head on and just did it.

Whilst in Thailand, I have also traveled to Malaysia all by myself. The locals were also really welcoming and showed me all the best places to eat! I spent only a few days in Malaysia and without a doubt will be returning for another adventure.

There is no longer any fear in my heart when it comes to traveling. I am already planning trips to nearby countries that I now have the confidence to travel to. Those dreams can finally become a reality.

Conquer your fear and explore the world!
Starting an internship abroad lets you get a real feel for local culture. Ashia got a chance to experience the ancient sport Muay Thai during her time with us!

If you have a fear of traveling alone, take that leap and get rid of any doubt or fear you may have. Don’t let your fear keep you hostage. There is so much to see, so much to experience and so much to take in. Thousands of people every year, get on a plane and fly unimaginable miles from destination to destination. They just get up and go. They don’t let fear get in the way and you shouldn’t either. Doing an internship abroad has been one of the best decisions I ever made. It has been not only a chance to gain international work experience to count towards my postgraduate applications, it has also given me the chance ti immerse myself in a new culture and meet lots of new people.

To learn more about how you start a new adventure and join XploreAsia as an English teacher or an intern, visit our website to find out more about our adventures. We offer an internship abroad in Marketing, Management, Teacher Placement, Education Development, and NGO Management and our programs are open to a wide range of nationalities and skill levels. We also offer a Marketing and Communications internship at our partner organisation Rescue P.A.W.S. Send us a message to find out more! Also be sure to check out our  Instagram and Facebook to see pictures, videos and updates from our teachers, interns and staff.

XploreAsia Alumni Meet Up in Bangkok

XploreAsia Alumni Meet Up in Bangkok

Let's Meet Up with our teachers in Bangkok!

On December 14th, our placement team headed out to meet 27 XploreAsia teachers, who now teach in and around Bangkok after graduating their TESOL course. We all met up at Bangna pier before crossing the river to Bangkrachao. Nicknamed “the lungs of Bangkok”, this green island is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and provided a perfect place for our teachers to relax and get to know each other better.

Teach in Thailand and Explore Bangkok!

First, we grabbed some bikes and cycled over the elevated walkways to Baan Toob where teachers chose between making some unique tie-dye outfits and accessories or crafting their own incense sticks. Guided by XploreAsia staff, most of the teachers opted to embrace their inner fashion designer and created intricate patterns on white linen dresses, jumpsuits, bags and scarves. After working together to tie the fabric, the teachers were thrilled to return after lunch to see how their garments turned out after dye was added!


“XploreAsia has been incredibly helpful. Whenever I needed guidance the placement team came to the rescue.”

Bronwynne Calitz, teacher in Bangkok.

Let’s Get Creative Whilst We Teach in Thailand 

Some teachers opted to learn how to make hand-twisted incense sticks. Although creating this ribbon effect was harder than the artisan made it look, our teachers had a lot of fun getting their hands dirty and helping each other to perfect the technique.

Next, we headed over to Bang Nam Phueng floating market to let the teachers buy some souvenirs, some much needed coffee, and to grab some lunch. The market had a lot of options to suit the tastes and dietary requirements of the group. It was great to see our teachers spending quality time with each other. Some reunited with people they hadn’t seen since their TESOL course and others made new friends who are living in their area.

Refuelled, we got back on the bikes and headed over to Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park. Here, our teachers got to explore the green space and share their stories of what it is like to teach Thailand and live here. We were thrilled to have such a large group of people from various intakes and from different walks of life. Many of them shared similar struggles and successes and it was wonderful to see them bonding with each other.

Participant learns how to hand twist incense while at the teacher meet up in Bangkok
Teach in Thailand and show off your tie-dye masterpieces at the teacher meet up in Bangkok

The Gift That Keeps on Giving 

The last stop on our journey around the island was Pobrak, a restaurant with a porch overlooking the water. As well as eating lots of Thai food, the teachers also got into the festive spirit by joining in with our gift exchange game.

It can be hard being away from family at this time of year and for some of the teachers this was to be their first holiday season away from home. We hope that this meetup helped reinforce that they have a family and a network to support them and enrich their experience.

“I’ve never lived in a city before I started to teach in Bangkok, but I’ve been able to make friends through the network. The city is much less intimidating if you have a friend.”

Annie Wilkinson, teacher in Bangkok.

If you want to experience making a difference in a community and embracing your adventure, then check out our website for more information on our four week accredited TESOL program. After the program you will have the opportunity to teach in Thailand and join our alumni meet up in your respective city and meet teachers from other intake dates while enjoying the beauty of the city around you. No matter how long ago you’ve finished the course you will always be apart of the XploreAsia family.

Check out this video of the meetup made by our marketing intern Ashia:

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see what our teachers are up to.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!

ESL Teaching With No Experience- Declan’s Story

ESL Teaching With No Experience- Declan’s Story

Trying ESL Teaching in Thailand for the First Time

"ESL teaching has encouraged me to constantly look for ways to improve myself and taught me how to learn from experiences. Teaching has forced me to grow, adapt and improve."

Coming into ESL teaching from a completely different field can be a huge challenge. In a very raw and honest blog post, one of our recent TESOL graduates shares his struggles and how he overcame them. With a background in Finance, Declan was thrown into a completely different working environment which made him learn how to approach problems in a new way. ESL teaching can be tough at first, but, as Declan explains, there are lots of ways to help yourself and your students if you take it step by step. Sometimes the most important lessons you learn from teaching abroad have nothing to do with what’s on the TESOL syllabus.

I graduated university in December of 2018.  It took way longer to get my degree than it could’ve, but there I was, degree in Finance firmly in hand. As much as I’d also earned a sense of accomplishment that I’d achieved something that began as an idea years ago, I only had to scratch just a little bit below the surface before I started asking myself: “What the hell am I going to do for a career?”

XploreAsia offers training in ESL teaching in a group setting so that you can support each toher through your individual journeys.

I quickly realised that maybe I wasn’t ready for a “career”-type job yet. If I rushed into something without being certain of what I wanted, I may come to regret it.  So, I decided to take a gap year.  Teaching had always appealed to me, and it was something I’d always thought I would be able to do well, so when I discovered the opportunity to teach in Thailand, I quickly jumped onboard.

Fast forward a few months of saving like crazy and trying (and failing) to plan everything, I had landed in Thailand.  The month in Hua Hin with XploreAsia, was amazing; I had a fantastic time and truly didn’t want it to end. I’d made lots of new friends, had built up confidence, and felt that I could live in Thailand. I felt reasonably settled. I was feeling very excited for what the next chapter had in store. I’d gained a couple of days of teaching experience through XploreAsia that went particularly well. I enjoyed them immensely and felt like I’d delivered great lessons. However, this success only added to my misplaced arrogance and naïvety as to how I thought I’d be as a teacher.

ESL teaching offers opportunities to truly bond with your students, but it can be a learning curve.

Walking into my new school, ready to teach maths to 13-year-olds, reality quickly came to smack me in the face.  For the first few weeks, I constantly had this feeling of being overwhelmed, lost and entirely hopeless as to where to begin.  I remember walking into my first few classes, looking around the room to see who was going to be in charge, only to have it dawn on me that I was to be in charge. My lesson plans didn’t go as well as I’d envisioned, and I started to lose faith in them. It felt as though I was drowning. I thought I was failing at a career I thought I would so naturally and effortlessly thrive in. I knew I needed to change my approach to things.

Lean on Your Peers with ESL Teaching Experience

Teaching can be a big adjustment, but an amazing adventure. Remember to breathe, and try to remember what you learning during your TESOL course.
ESL teaching is made much easier by asking for support from your colleagues. Chances are, all new teachers are feel a little unsure at first.

One of the things that got me through those first few months, was turning to my new international support group. I didn’t want to tell my family that I was having problems in case I worried them. Luckily, I’d made friends through XploreAsia and sharing my problems with them set my mind at ease. To hear from them about similar struggles and feelings normalized what I was going through and instilled me with a great deal of comfort. I’d encourage madly that you should remain in contact with your good friends you will make whilst completing your TESOL. The new ESL teaching experience may throw the world at you- and it certianly was a very new experience for me- so to have someone to talk to openly and honestly, someone who could potentially be in the same boat as you, will help soothe your troubles and be very therapeutic.

I also began to keep a daily journal to write down how each class went. Writing in the journal was great, it gave me an outlet for my emotions, and provided tangible evidence of the improvements I was making in my teaching ability.  I began to try to include at least one successful and positive thing that I had achieved in each class.

Try New Activities in the Classroom

I was also lucky that my parents had raised me to become relentlessly optimistic and determined.  If my classes were going horrible, I wanted to change that.  First off, I had to shelve my pride, and embrace my failures to be able to see what wasn’t working. This gave me the confidence to experiment with new techniques and strategies in class. I worked hard to research and improve my management skills and to also keep my lessons interesting by adding new activities. If something didn’t work, I would switch to a new idea to find what my students responded best to.

Sometimes it really pays off to be creative and silly in the classroom.

I embodied the expression ‘anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly.’ If a new activity I implemented in class didn’t go so well, it was still better than not trying new things at all.

Ask for Feedback (Even if it’s Hard to Hear)

Asking for feedback from my peers after my lessons took some courage; it was challenging having my lessons dissected and critically analysed by other teachers. However, I’d made a promise earlier to be open and honest with myself, so hearing some negative feedback wasn’t too soul crushing. As it was such a new career path, I was still learning about ESL teaching and the advice turned out to be invaluable.

Having a fellow teacher observe can really help you build your teaching knowledge.

The advice I was given was hugely beneficial and implementing it in the following lessons returned huge successes: my lessons were running smoother, I had the students under some control, and I was able to keep the children more engaged throughout the class.

To wrap up my first few months of ESL teaching in Thailand, I would say it was much more of a rollercoaster than I was anticipating. Although I’ve had some low moments, I’ve also had some adorable and warm highs and learned more about ymself than I have done during any other time in my life.

ESL teaching has encouraged me to constantly look for ways to improve myself and has taught me how to learn from experiences. Teaching has forced me to grow, adapt and improve. It has also taught me to accept that there are some things I can’t do well from the get-go, and that’s fine. I believe that if we are honest with ourselves, we can handle any situation thrown at us. We can’t be anything more than our best, and we should be comfortable with that, even if our best isn’t always perfect.

If you want to take on a new challenge, why not check out our TESOL courses? ESL teaching abroad can give you a chance to improve not only your own confidence and problem-solving skills, but also to make a huge impact on your students and the local community.

Catch up with our staff and teachers on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Tips for Teachers Working Abroad for the First Time

Tips for Teachers Working Abroad for the First Time

Do's and Don'ts for New ESL Teachers

Nervous about starting your first job as an ESL teacher? Read some top tips from our TESOL instructor.

Hello! My name is CJ Lewis, a TESOL Instructor with XploreAsia. As we welcome a new group of TESOL students to Hua Hin, I thought I would highlight some Do’s and Don’ts for new teachers heading abroad for the first time. Here are my top tips for teachers new to the field of ESL.

First, the Do's!

Here are some tips for teachers looking to make their new lives abroad much easier.
  1. DO arrive to school early. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Yes, that’s every day. It really shows the school staff that you take your job seriously and they will respect you for that.

2. DO dress for success. You know what they say, clothes make the man/woman. It will give you confidence, show the students that you are a professional teacher, and show the staff that you are ready to go. It’s a win-win for everyone.

3. DO bring a small gift for the principal of your school. It builds rapport, shows appreciation and its just fun to do.

Do you have any other tips for teachers? Let us know in the comments!
CJ's advice this month includes to dress for success.

I have given baseballs, fruit, energy drinks, even a Lebron James jersey (for a principal who REALLY liked Basketball) and it really made the year a smooth one from an administrative standpoint. Plus, some became friends for life.

One of CJ's tips for teachers is to try to learn the native language so you can bond with locals.
Explore the markets to find bargains and make new friends.

4. DO explore the day/night markets. You never know who you will meet, what you will buy, what you will eat, what music will play. Always a fun experience each and every time you go. No matter which country.

5. DO have an understanding of the native language. When out and about, if you try your best to speak their language, the locals will appreciate it. You don’t have to be fluent, but the if you know some vocab it will help locals to get to know you better. There’s a ton of apps out there to help you learn a new language in a fun way. Don’t be shy, give it a try!

Next, the Don'ts!

Here are some things to avoid if you want to make a good start teaching abroad.

1. DON’T be late. Ever. I mean it. Of course, things can happen. Everything is different and new in the country you have been placed. Buses are late, scooters run out of gas, routes get forgotten. Plan for it, make it a goal to always get to work on time and avoid distractions.

2. DON’T just stand in front of the class and give instructions. I like to tell students that the front of the room is “lava” and if they stay in one place for too long they will burn their feet. Move around! Get the students to talk, ask questions. Just don’t stay put. Be active

Do you have any more top tips for teachers? Share some advice in the comments!
Top tips for teachers: staying active can particularly help to keep the engagement of young learners.

3. DON’T speak too fast. This is one of the most important tips for teachers who are not used to teaching ESL. When we’re around our peers, friends, and family, we tend to speak pretty fast. They are native English speakers and they understand what we are saying. That is not the case when you are teaching ESL. You must pace yourself, enunciate, and take your time to convey understanding. It will take patience, practice and experience.

Another of CJ's tips for teachers is not to neglect your social life. Try to grasp every opportunity whilst teaching hing abroad.
You'll always have your XA family to lean on. Don't be afraid to contact us for advice.

4. DON’T say no to a wrong answer or an invite, DON’T say I cant to an opportunity. Be a Yes man! Get out there and see what opportunities your town can offer when given the chance! I never thought I would be into scuba diving and now I go almost every weekend, because of an invite.

5. DON’T become discouraged when things aren’t working. Lean on your new friends, vent to your family back home (Skype!), chat with your favorite street market vendor, and of course, the XploreAsia team are always here to help! Drop us a line if you ever need a helping hand.

To learn more about our programs, head over to our website. To see updates from teachers we’ve already helped find amazing new adventures, follow our Instagram and Facebook pages.

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