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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.

Why I Decided to Teach in South Korea

Why I Decided to Teach in South Korea

Why I Started Teaching in South Korea

Like many students, Beth struggled with financing her university life. During studying for her degree in education, she had gained some teaching experience and decided to dive into teaching abroad. After completing her TESOL course in Korea, Beth started teaching at a hagwon in Gongju. Today, Beth shares with us why she started teaching in South Korea 

Why did I come to  Korea? 

Hello my name is Beth and I am currently a teacher in a small city called Gongju in Korea. I thought I would tell you why I came to Korea and also why I am so glad that I was brave enough to come here and stay in this country! Hopefully this article might help you if you are trying to decide if you should come to this country or not. 

Meet Beth, as she starts her journey to teach in South Korea

Why did I choose teaching in Korea? 

I knew that I needed to do something that made me feel excited about life again. I needed a job as university had put me into a lot of debt but I also wanted to travel and have an adventure. I looked at so many different options and countries and it was a little overwhelming. I just knew that I didn’t want to be bored anymore.

I did a lot of research and decided that teaching in Korea was the best option for me. It’s a safe country with so many fantastic things to see and do. Did you know there are 14 UNESCO world heritage sites in Korea? They also hold the world’s oldest Buddhist scriptures. I thought it would be great to teach somewhere which offered a chance to gain so much cultural insight. From a financial standpoint, teaching in South Korea also offers the chance to save a lot of money, which would really help me fund my travel and save some cash.

XploreAsia teacher having fun with her students in Korea

 I had made my decision and promptly applied to be a teacher in Korea. Over a year later and here I am, writing this article from my paid for apartment in Gongju!

What is it like teaching in Korea? 

Everybody’s experience will be different. I work in a hagwon which is a privately run English school that children go to after they have finished their normal school day. My hagwon is very small. There are only 4 teachers including myself and my director and I’m the only foreign teacher.

XploreAsia teacher posing with her students

On a side note, my students are very amused by my accent as Koreans are so used to hearing American accents. When we are doing spelling tests, my pronunciation never fails to cause a little confusion which is always funny. My working week is as follows; Monday to Friday 1:30pm-10pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30pm-9pm. I primarily use textbooks in my lessons, which means my lesson planning is very short. This allows me to complete other tasks like help students who are struggling or have missed lessons. The students I teach are aged from about 8-16 years old so my day is always varied and there is never a chance to get bored.

What is it like living in Korea? 

Life in Korea is so different from living in the UK! At first, I had culture shock, but now I’m getting used to life here. I would highly recommend to do your homework and do some research into the culture before you arrive as things are so very different to the West.

When I’m not at work, I like to explore the country as there really is so much to do. So far, I’ve visited beautiful Buddhist temples hidden in the mountains, I’ve been a proper tourist in Seoul walking around museums and bustling markets in the city centre, and I have also spent a few nights in noraebang– karaoke rooms- which is an absolute must do! I’ve made some wonderful friends in this country- both Koreans and Foreigners from all over the world- and we go for drinks, try Korean food together, take day trips, and we have even been to the theatre in Seoul together. One of my favourite experiences was when a friend who has lived in Gongju for many years took us to a tiny pottery studio for the day and we painted pots together. The owner was playing Korean versions of traditional Christmas carols and it was just so cute!

I try my best to do as much as possible and make the most of living in this fantastic country, but when I do become overwhelmed and home sick I make sure to look after myself. Self care is incredibly important when you live abroad and there is no shame in getting a Korean facemask on, eating some crazy snacks and just taking a time out! 

Why I am glad I applied 

The process of applying to be a teacher in Korea is long, exhausting and frustrating. There is so much to do and in my case there were some paperwork complications. There were times where my friends and family thought I wouldn’t be able to get here and that I was actually a little crazy for trying to do this. Sometimes, I secretly thought that I was a little crazy too. Despite the stress, I am so glad I was brave enough to apply and patient enough to go through the process and get my job. Moving to Korea was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I am clearing my debts back home which is really important for my future and is such a huge weight off my shoulders. I am also growing as a person and I am learning so much. When you live in a foreign country, you have to really rely on yourself and your own intuition. This opportunity in Korea is just the first step on my new journey and career and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.

If you’re interested in starting your journey in South Korea, check out the full program page on our website As well as offering an internationally accredited TESOL teaching certificate, we offer lifetime support in finding placements in six different countries. Additionally, our support network doesn’t close when the certificate is handed over to you. XploreAsia supports clients for life, meaning that if you are struggling with anything, a member of the team will always be there to help you out. Teach English in South Korea with XploreAsia now and start the adventure of a lifetime!

 

Catch up with Beth and her fascinating journey as an English teach in Korea via her Instagram!

40 Days Working in Costa Rica

40 Days Working in Costa Rica

40 Days Working in Costa Rica

Learn How Faith Spent Her Time in Costa Rica

Have you heard about XploreAsia’s new program? We’re giving people the chance to live and teach in Costa Rica, as well as earning an internationally accredited TESOL certification and offering a cultural orientation week to get you ready to experience this welcoming culture.

In this blog read all about how Teacher Faith spent her time in Costa Rica, and how this experience left her with such a positive outlook on this country and its culture. 

Hi Faith! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and why you chose to travel to Costa Rica?

Well, I spent eighteen months living in Canada where I learned some Spanish. After, I really wanted to experience a Spanish-speaking culture and found an opportunity to teach in Costa Rica and live with a host family. I grew up on a farm so that led me to spend a lot of time helping out on my host family’s cattle ranch. I loved it so much, I hope to go back next year!

 

What Was Your Favorite Thing About the Culture in Costa Rica?

I was surprised at how nice people are. In Costa Rica, 80% of tourists are from America and the tourism industry is vital to their economy. However, in a lot of countries with a big tourist industry, people are just respectful, whereas Costa Ricans were genuinely very warm, welcoming and friendly towards me. I’ve never had a bad experience with any of the locals I met in Costa Rica.

My favorite thing was seeing the love they have for themselves and their culture. They’re very proud to be ‘Ticos’ and it was wonderful to them talking with such pride about their culture.

Faith

What was a typical day like for you in Costa Rica?

I was there volunteering so I spent a lot of time doing that. In the morning, the sun rises very early, but people usually don’t get up until later. I’m very used to waking up early with the sun, so I would usually wake up around 5am and use the time to study. At 7 a.m.  or 8 a.m., we would eat breakfast, before I would set off to teach my classes for the day. When I wasn’t teaching, I really enjoyed hiking in the hills; it’s a really good way to workout! I also did a lot of touristy stuff like going to the beaches.

In San Pedro, I also really enjoyed horseback riding. It can be a little expensive in the touristy and coastal areas, but it’s still good to do the touristy things whilst you’re there. In the smaller towns, it’s very cheap to drink and eat with friends and I’d recommend making an effort to get to know lots of local people. They can help you find hidden gems, and many of them are very eager to show tourists around their country. 

It’s very easy to find something to do here. With every step, it feels like you’re stepping into a new adventure. From the local excursions to the activities meant for tourists to enjoy, you’ll never be bored! 

How was your experience teaching in Costa Rica?

I was doing private tutoring with adults, although I also worked with some kids. The demand to learn English is high as it can help people get better jobs due to the large tourist industry. When I go back to Costa Rica, I’m going to tutor the same students again as I made an amazing bond with them. I can’t wait to hear how they have improved with their English.

Is it easy to find different kinds of food there?

In San Jose, the capital, it’s very easy to find international restaurants. The locals were curious about food from other cultures and my host family often asked me to cook American dishes for them to try. It might be harder to find international food outside the capital, such as my host family’s town, San Pedro, but groceries are very cheap so it’s easy to find ingredients if you want to make some dishes you’re used to making at home. It’s also easy to find options for people with dietary restrictions.

One of the most interesting dishes I tried was pargo fish. The locals eat the eyes of the fish, which was a new experience for me. The flavour was really good, but the texture was very weird!

One of the many delicacies, Pargo Fish, you can try while in Costa Rica
Try delicious food while working in Costa Rica
Delicious local Costa Rican food

What advice would you give to people coming to Costa Rica from abroad?

Don’t bring tight clothes. Joggers and loose, breathable clothing will be best suited to the humidity. I was there during the rainy season, which is from June to December. It’s still sunny and humid, but there is a lot of rain. Invest in a nice umbrella if you want to stay dry! The temperature never drops too low. One time, it was around 70 degrees and raining, and the host mother made hot chocolate, so the locals will think it’s cold sometimes.

If you learn some Spanish, it becomes easier to barter when buying goods and exchanging money. As said before, making friends with the locals will also help you get the most out of your time here, and Spanish knowledge will also help you to connect with them.

 Work in Costa Rica and collect your own memories on this experience. Get in touch to start your next adventure now! Make sure to visit our Instagram and Facebook pages to see pictures, videos and updates from our teachers.

 

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.

Chad’s Story: Teacher in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Chad’s Story: Teacher in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Bang

"It was probably the most emotional I have been during this whole experience and all I want for him is a happy, successful life and wish that he gets out of the life he is in now."

In our final installment of this month’s series, recent TESOL graduate Chad shares his heartfelt story. Chad met Bang during his stay in Hua Hin whilst studying to be an ESL teacher in Thailand, and the encounter had a profound affect on his worldview.

So since being here I have talked to so many people in the local community but none have had more of an effect on me than Bang. He is a little kid that was probably no older than 8 or 9. I met Bang in the worst possible way; he was selling roses on the street by himself at about 11pm at night when our TESOL group was heading out on the first of many Friday nights out in Hua Hin.

Chad met Bang during an evening in Hua Hin during studying for his TESOL course. Who will you meet when you teach in Thailand?

Since being told about the difficulties Thailand has with child trafficking, I was heavily against being a part of it and buying into any of it. To my understanding, kids in these situations do not lead the best lives, Matilda, a fellow student training to be a teacher in Thailand, agreed and we decided just wanted to make sure that he knew we cared for him and wanted him to have fun like children at his age should be doing. We chatted with him, danced in the street and played “silly buggers” for almost 2 hours instead of drinking with everyone. He spoke excellent English and knew that we just wanted him to be okay.

He told us that we can visit him around the same area again during the weekends. As I was training to be a teacher in Thailand, I really hoped I’d see him again before leaving to my placement. He was such an amazing and caring little child; it was very upsetting to me that he was stuck in this type of lifestyle. I really wanted to do everything I could while I was here to give him the most fun time as I could manage.

It wasn’t until the next Friday, when we went out again, that I got to meet Bang for a second time. The whole group was walking to the bar district and he was standing on the stairs by a 7/11 with a few of his rose selling friends. Matilda and I saw him and said a big hello and ran towards him- Bang nearly dived off the stairs into both mine and Matilda arms!

The best thing about meeting and getting to know Bang was the true heartfelt hug he gave me after I told him that I would never forget him and hope to see him in again in the future.

Chad- TESOL graduate

We both were so happy that he remembered us and we made sure that he was okay and wasn’t hungry, thirsty or needed anything. We had another muck around with him and his friends and just generally chatted and chilled with him for a bit. Once again it didn’t take me long to realize that he was such an intelligent, funny and just all round amazing kid. He was constantly cracking jokes and showing so much compassion from both Matilda and I which was obviously because he could sense how much we actually cared for him and just wanted him to be happy. 

Matilda, Chad's fellow teacher in Thailand, was also very touched by Bang's situation.

Once again, I had the opportunity the following Friday to try and make his night just the little bit better. Knowing that it may be the last time I’d get to see him, it was harder to want to leave. He was very upset that Matilda was not with me this time and he told me (after our quick game of tag on the streets, a bit a dance together (because he has the coolest dance moves ever) and a shoulder ride) to make sure that I give her a big hug from him and to tell her that he loves her because she is beautiful and kind. It was probably the most emotional I have been during my time in Thailand so far. All I want for him is a happy, successful life and I wish that he gets out of the life he is in now. The best thing about meeting and getting to know Bang was the true heartfelt hug he gave me after I told him that I would never forget him and hope to see him in again in the future.

What did you think of Chad’s story? Being a teacher in Thailand lets you see all sides of the culture, but also puts you in a position to make a huge difference to the community. If you’re interested in teaching in Thailand, check out our programs. Follow our Instagram and Facebook accounts to keep up with our current TESOL teachers.

Chad graduating from our Hua Hin TESOL program and becoming a fully-fledged teacher in Thailand.

Olivia’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Olivia’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

The Banksy of Hua Hin

"I couldn't help noticing the beautiful street art and I was intrigued by the mysterious person behind these works."

Moving to a new country can be a huge challenge. Here at XploreAsia, we believe that challenges are what make people grow and that moving abroad can open up a wealth of opportunities. In this series on our blog, our recent TESOL graduates are sharing their stories of the international frienships they made even before they became fully-fledged teachers in Thailand. This week, Olivia tells us about her discovery of one of Hua Hin’s most prolific street artists who she ran into during her time studying in Hua Hin.

 

Since arriving to Hua Hin, I couldn’t help noticing the unique street art, particularly the giant eye that seems to be watching me everywhere I go. As an artist myself, I was intrigued and keen to find the mysterious person behind these works. I’d labeled the artist, in my head, as the “Banksy of Hua Hin”. In our first week here, I’d noticed an alley that had walls decorated with paintings on the road to the night market. A few Sundays in, I was feeling restless and decided to go to exploring. During my walk, I passed the same colorful alleyway, and decided to venture down and check it out.

What I discovered was a space filled with art. Rap music blared as I wandered around the giant room trying to take it all in. Suddenly the volume was lowered,and a tall skinny Thai man with a ponytail and tattoos nodded at me coolly. He became the recipient of my millions of questions. “Did you make all this art?” “How long have you been an artist?” “Do you live here?”

He answered as best he could with limited English, but was quick to show me his sketchpad. When I told him I drew too, he told me that it’s important to do at least five drawings a day in order to really improve. He invited me to explore and take pictures if I wanted to. He even let me photograph him. We hung out and chatted about art. I learned that aside from art, he likes to skimboard every day with his girlfriend, who is also an artist. She makes clothes and bags- one of which I ended up buying. It was a collaboration of her stitching and his drawings, priced at 500 baht, but since I only had 400 on me, he gave it to me for 400. It had one of the mysterious eyes I had seen plastered all over the city. 

Teachers in Thailand get a chance to gain a real insight into the lives of the locals.

I was really fortunate to meet a Thai artist that seems to make his entire living that way, especially because I have struggled for a while to find my own path. His entire demeanor was refreshing, and it seemed like he had found the secret formula to happiness. He was very humble while also being breathtakingly talented.

Teachers in Thailand have the opportunity to explore the most incredible places!

 

From this interaction, but also from the interactions I’ve had with Thai people in general, I felt very welcome. This is a new thing to me as someone who comes from icy New Hampshire, where people are much less ready to chat to strangers. The genuine kindness of Thai people is definitely something I can get used to. I’ve had Thai people help me fit groceries into my backpack when they saw I was struggling, run up to me with a bottle of vinegar when I got stung by a jellyfish, and cram ten donuts into a box for me because I had dropped the ones I originally bought on the street. Creativity also appears to be a common thread through my experience in Thailand so far, and I am looking forward to meeting more creative people in my new community.

What do you think of Olivia’s story meeting a fellow artist? Teachers in Thailand are often surprised by how welcoming the locals are and it’s easy for Thailand to feel like a home from home. If you enjoyed this blog, why not check out Olivia’s classmate Kyle’s experience bonding with a local?

You can also see updates on Olivia’s journey through her blog and Instagram page. If you want to be finding new friends and learning new things yourself, all whilst making a huge difference to a Thai community, check out our TESOL course which will give you all the skills you need to be a great English teacher. Make sure to follow XploreAsia on Instagram and Facebook to see what else our teachers in Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Vietnam and China are up to.

We Decided to Teach English in Myanmar

We Decided to Teach English in Myanmar

Did you know that in addition to five other diverse destinations, XploreAsia offers the chance to gain an accredited TESOL qualification in Myanmar? We’re always interested in hearing our teachers’ experiences and invited one of them to share their story. Read below an account of one of our TESOL graduates teaching in Myanmar and their first impressions of the country.

The anxiety and excitement leading up to this adventure has been overwhelming. It was scary not knowing what to expect, but thrilling to finally see our plans to teach English in Myanmar coming through after so much hard work and preparation. Upon arriving in Yangon, the first thing I noticed was the sincere display of kindness, warmth and welcoming, a characteristic I expected, but not to such a degree. The next thing I notice is how diverse the place is. With a demographic consisting of over 130 different ethnicities, religions and cultures, it has a very different vibe to many of its neighbours.The city itself has a lot of character; the beautifully unique buildings give clues to Myanmar’s colonial past.

The city of Yangon offers limitless possibilities for exploration.
Explore the streets and find hidden gems whilst living and working in this secluded country.
Get an unincumbered look into authentic Myanmar culture when you teach English in Myanmar.
Teach English in Myanmar and create lasting bonds with local people.
You will be making a difference to the local community if you teach English in Myanmar.
Live like a local. Eat like a local. Shop like a local. Really soak up the culture in Myanmar.
Explore the city via public transport.
"They were regilding this building."
You never know where your journey will take you.

As soon as we arrive, Liam and I are curious to know more about the people and how they live in Myanmar. So, we take the circle line train around Yangon and engage with the local commuters. The train itself is old and rickety, moving at slow speeds. It has no doors which allows us to stand half way out the train and watch the daily life of Yangon roll by. Yangon is a very unconventional city, which allows for travelers to really gain a brand new experience, and allows for some unique inner-city adventures. It’s not difficult to find your way around and the public transport is very cheap, which means you can explore the city without fear of getting completely lost. It’s great to be able to hop on and off the circle line train at any platform and just walk in whichever direction you feel like exploring.

Teach English in Myanmar and experience life like a local.
Explore the fascinating landscape of Myanmar.
Immerse yourself in the culture; teach English in Myanmar and become part of a new community.

Coming to teach English in Myanmar has been a fascinating adventure. If this is any indication of what the rest of the journey holds, it’s sure to be memorable. Throughout our time here, we’re looking forward to finding out out what the people here are all about and discover all this country has to offer.

Does Yangon sound like the place for you? Here at XploreAsia, we offer training, lifetime placement support, and an orientation week to prepare you for life in a new culture so you can teach English in Myanmar with confidence. You can also catch up with XploreAsia and find information on all our programs through our Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Kyle’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Kyle’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

The Jersey Boys

"He wanted to know about my home as much as I wanted to know about his."

Making the move to a new country can be difficult. It’s daunting to leave friends and family so far behind to start a new adventure. However, moving abroad is just that- an adventure- and there are lots of new friends waiting to be found. In this blog series, some of our teachers in Thailand who’ve just graduated from our most recent TESOL course in Hua Hin are sharing the most memorable connections they’ve made with Thai locals during their training. Read on to find out about Teacher Kyle’s chance encounter with a musical couple.

Teachers in Thailand get the chance to make lasting international friendships.

One day, as I walked to explore Hua Hin and find a new place to eat, a friendly Thai man exclaimed “New Jersey”, the state I come from, as he passed me.  I was confused and turned around to see him looking at me and telling his wife something but I only understood “New Jersey” and “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons”.  I didn’t even realize the shirt I had on that day was of the summer camp I worked at called Camp Nejeda.  I tried to start a conversation in Thai with him and they laughed with me before he started speaking above average English.  The man told me his name but said to call him “Ant” because I’d have trouble anyway, sure enough I forgot both him and his wife’s Thai names.  I am pretty sure the man was more eager to talk to me than I was to him.  He asked me question after question about my state and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, his favorite musical group.

I sat with him and his wife for a half hour over breakfast. He was ecstatic that people in my generation had a sense of adventure and an open mind to work in his country. Ant told me he spent a few months working in Washington DC but was never able to make it up to New Jersey which always disappointed him.  I tried to reassure him there was nothing special about it.

Ant, his wife and I were only together for about an hour and a half and I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time. I have never even felt so welcome, even in my own home. The generosity and curiosity was new to me and it was shocking in the best way.

Kyle- TESOL graduate

After sharing music from our home countries, we were heading in the same direction once we left breakfast and he asked if I had ever tried khanom khrok (a Thai dessert made with coconut milk).  I said no and he bought some for us to try. I loved it and tried to offer him money for the share he gave me. His wife and him both laughed at me as I insisted. Then I realized how American I was being. Local’s kindness can be a surprise for new teachers in Thailand.

Ant, his wife and I were only together for about an hour and a half and I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time. I have never felt so welcome, even in my own home. The generosity and curiosity was new to me and it was shocking in the best way. He wanted to know about my home as much as I wanted to know about his. However, what stuck out the most was that he’d drove four hours to Hua Hin that day to replace a car battery for someone in his family. My family care for each other too, but instead of making a 4 hour drive we would probably help them over the phone. Ant, on the other hand, was excited to make the journey to help his family. It was an excuse to come see them and have dinner. He also was fine taking time out of his day to hang out with a stranger from America. I truly could not see anyone doing that in the States. Unfortunately, I forgot to get any contact information and now that I’m writing this I wish I could stay in touch. He was my first Thai friend. At least I got a selfie, though!

What do you think of Kyle’s story? If experiencing a different culture sounds good to you, head over to our website to learn more about our TESOL course which we offer in six amazing locations. Teachers in Thailand can earn a living and make a huge difference in your community. Who will you meet during your time abroad?

Keep an eye on the XploreAsia blog to hear more stories from our teachers in Thailand and the cross-cultural friendships they have made. Also, head over to XploreAsia’s Instagram and Facebook pages to see what our teachers all over the world are getting up to after gaining their TESOL with us.

Teaching in Myanmar- Noah’s Experience

Teaching in Myanmar- Noah’s Experience

Teaching in Myanmar: Noah’s Experience

“This country offers the adventure of a lifetime. Everyday will be different from the last; you truly never know what lies around the next corner in Myanmar.”

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is among the most recent countries to open its doors to westerners. Due to being untouched by western influence, it offers a unique chance to dive into a completely different culture. Additionally, the eagerness of the locals to learn English and better themselves makes it an ideal place for TESOL teachers. Check out our interview with current teacher Noah about his experiences in the city’s old capital city, Yangon.

What made you decide to start teaching in Myanmar?

After teaching in China in 2017, I moved to Australia for a year and whilst I was there, I had the longing to go back to Asia and teach. My girlfriend and I looked into the available programs and found we were extremely curious about Myanmar.

The thought of being able to witness a country that had only recently opened its borders grow, and knowing the people of Myanmar really needed English to help them with this, was just too enticing to miss out on.

Q: What’s a normal school day like?

A: Monday to Wednesday I teach pre-school classes in two different schools.  My school day starts at 9 o’clock with gate duty. It’s a fun way to start the day by standing at the front and greeting all the students and parents as they walk in. Myself and the other teachers help the students with their school bags and lunches whilst guiding them to their various classrooms. After this I begin teaching; every day is different with this because I rotate between every class the school has to offer. While the levels change every day, I have the same amount of teaching each day. Once I have taught the children and had my lunch at my favorite little tea shop down the street its time to see the students off.

As the students wait for their “ferries” or parents to pick them up I begin preparations for my last class of the day. Once all the students have been safely sent home the teachers and assistant teachers all meet in one class and I begin my lesson for them. In this class we work on different aspects of English such as speaking, writing, grammar and various other learning points the teachers feel they need help with. My day finishes around 5pm. Then, on the weekends, I teach young learners, the students ages range from 6-16 year olds. I start earlier, at 8am, but I also finish earlier, at 2pm. I teach four classes a day rotating through the various levels; due to the children being older they don’t require the constant attention/care the pre schoolers do, so my weekends are more focused on teaching. 

Q: With already having taught before, how different have you found teaching in Myanmar?

A: When I taught in China I was teaching University students, so coming to Myanmar and having the complete opposite was a challenge. Adjusting to teaching pre-school students took it’s time and even though I still prefer teaching older children/adults, I have built an amazing bond with my students and I have so much fun teaching them.

Q: How was finding an apartment in Myanmar?

A: Finding an apartment in Yangon was a very simple process. There are many ways to go about it but the best I’ve found was using Facebook’s Yangon Connections page. I placed an ad for myself asking if anyone was looking for renters. Immediately, I received a ton of listings. It took me no time at all to find the perfect place to call home in this awesome city. My land lady is a very kind woman who is always asking if I need any help and is very quick to fix anything that happens in the apartment.

I live in a very cosy modern loft. The apartment came fully furnished and even had a TV. It’s not hard to find a perfect new home in Myanmar like I did.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: The teachers have a great community built up in Yangon, so there is usually always someone willing to hang out and go on an adventure.Whether that’s going for a bicycle tour around the village of Dala across Yangon river, taking a boat and then a 45 minute tuk tuk to see a snake pagoda (a pagoda that is home to over 30 pythons) exploring the abandoned amusement park, going bowling, or simply meeting up for some BBQ, beers and a good old chat. I have also recently got involved in playing volleyball with a group of expats and locals on Monday and Wednesdays, it’s nothing too serious we just meet up for a few games and a laugh, hopefully soon we will start up some training sessions for beginners that want to learn.

Q: Any advice for someone coming to Myanmar?

A: Myanmar is an amazing country that has only recently been opened up to the rest of the world. My advice for someone who is looking to start their adventure here is that this is not like any country you’ve ever been to. There is next to no western influence and should not be seen as an easy country to live in.

With that being said, this country offers the adventure of a lifetime. Everyday will be different from the last; you truly never know what lies around the next corner in Myanmar. So my advice is this; for anyone looking to make the commitment to live and teach here you must come with an open mind and a determination to not be frightened by the unknowns but take it all in stride as just another day another adventure. This county and its people can give you the experience of a life time, you just need to be ready to accept everything that it offers.

If Noah’s story has inspired you, then check out our in-country TESOL course including a cultural orientation week that will give you all the tools necessary to start an amazing new journey teaching in Myanmar. We also offer placement assistance as well as lifetime support following the course.

Don’t forget to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages to see more from our teachers in all six of our placement locations.

Teach in Costa Rica and Live the Pura Vida

Teach in Costa Rica and Live the Pura Vida

If you’re all signed up for our new TESOL course and ready to teach in Costa Rica, you might want to know a little bit about the fascinating new culture you are going to be part of. In Costa Rica, the motto “pura vida”, roughly translating to “pure life”, is very important to the Costa Rican people. This phrase can be seen as similar to hakuna matata and is about living a relaxed, healthy and balanced life. Read on for a further look at this enchanting culture and, if you haven’t already, maybe even consider making the move with our course to prepare you to teach in Costa Rica.

One of the Happiest Countries in the World

Did you know that Costa Rica is one of the happiest places in the world according to the Happy Planet Index? Residents not only enjoy a stress-free lifestyle, but also the health benefits of a more relaxed way of life. Costa Rica has one of the longest life expectancies, with an average of 78.5 years, longer than that of the USA.

Costa Ricans are very generous and welcoming people and take pleasing their friends and guests very seriously.

Teach in Costa Rica- the happiest country in the world!

If you teach in Costa Rica, you will be a valuable member of the community as education is highly regarded in this Central American country and lots of people will want to welcome you. As with other Latin cultures, it is customary to greet close friends with a kiss on the cheek. Culture tip: remember to greet and say goodbye to everyone whenever you leave your new Costa Rican friends’ houses. Even if it might take you an extra few minutes to leave, they will definitely appreciate it.

Teach in Costa Rica – A Country of Diverse Natural Beauty

Costa Rica has lots of natural wonders to explore!

Costa Rica is one of the top five greenest countries in the world, the only one of the top five outside of Europe. Despite only occupying 0.03% of the earth’s surface, it houses 5% of the world’s biodiversity. For nature lovers, there are hundreds of species of birds, over one-hundred and fifty species of mammals, 9,000 species of plants, and 1,000 species of butterflies. As well as having a plethora of wildlife and plants, the locals are also passionate about protecting it. Did you know that more than 90% of the country’s energy comes from renewable energy sources? It’s great that Costa Ricans are so devoted to preserving their land, and there are lots of conservation projects you can get involved in whilst you teach in Costa Rica too.

Food for Thought

As well as nature, another thing close to Costa Ricans’ hearts is food. Most food is cooked from fresh ingredients with little to no added preservatives or salt. Dishes tend to be made of fresh vegetables, fruit, beans and rice. Whilst living in Costa Rica, you can chow down on Olla de Carne, a hearty beef stew with a variety of vegetables, or vegetarians can enjoy dishes such as Patacones, deep fried plantain, with dips and sides. There is a lot of choice and lots of chances to tickle your taste buds.

Enjoy a healthy diet of local dishes
Try lots of authentic Costa Rican meals

Being such hospitable people, Costa Ricans are always keen to offer their guests some food and or refreshments. However, they also appreciate honesty so politely let them know if they give you something you can’t eat or drink.

In this country, sharing a meal is about spending time together with friends and family and often forms the base of social events and gatherings. So, dig in!

Join the Festivities

Teach in Costa Rica and have fun with new friends!

The people of Costa Rica enjoy celebrating national holidays in a big way. On Independence day, there are traditional outfits men and women will wear to celebrate the occasion, with clothing all decorated in red, white and blue, the nation’s national colours. Another big celebration in the country is Semana Santa, usually happening in April, in which people will gather together to celebrate the Holy Week with parades and processions.

As Costa Rica’s main religion is Christianity, there are also a heap of things to do around Christmas time, including more parades, tree decorations, and traditional snacks. It may not offer sleigh rides and snow, but you can have a very merry Christmas when you teach in Costa Rica.

Get Active

Teach in Costa Rica and get healthy too!

Another big passion for Costa Rican people is football (or soccer). There are various teams in Costa Rica, each with their own devoted fan base, and people love to cheer on their team at a stadium or get together to watch matches on TV. Hiking in the country’s many mountain ranges is also very popular and with the wonderful weather it’s a great place to get outside, stay active and feel healthy.

Joining a sports club is also a great way to meet new friends and will help you to feel at home. With health and social benefits plus plenty of opportunity, there really is no excuse not to be a healthier you.

Want to Teach in Costa Rica?

How does the pura vida lifestyle sound to you? If you’re intrigued by the small glimpse into the culture provided by this blog, why not check out our in-classroom TESOL course based in this amazing country? Not only will you get an accredited teaching certificate opening up possibilities for you across the world, you will also have access to our placement assistance and ongoing support network to help you get the most out of your time in Costa Rica. We also provide an orientation week to get you ready for your new adventure. What are you waiting for? Come and join us in the sunshine!

Catch up with XploreAsia via our Instagram and Facebook to see pictures, videos and updates from our teachers.

Teach in Costa Rica

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