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.
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.
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.