8 Survival Tips When Teaching in Thailand 2016

Survival Tip #3: Start An Attendance/ Grade Book Immediately

My third day of teaching I was handed a student roster for two of my classes… I had 19 different classes. Oh, and everything was written in Thai, which I can’t read.

With 19 classes and around 40 to 50 students in each class, it was beginning to feel like I was trying to catalogue the blades of grass in the courtyard outside.

8survival-tips-when-teaching-in-ThailandThankfully I was able to come up with a simple record system that worked.

I printed off an attendance sheet and a grading sheet for each class, and then had the students sign their names on each sheet next to their corresponding student number.

Next I made a binder that contained both the grading and attendance sheets for each class inside, and I arranged it by the days of the week. From then on, each time a student participated in an activity, I just walked up to them, asked their name and number, and wrote down points on my grading sheet.

Not only did this help me keep accurate participation records, but it also allowed me to learn the student’s names easier, and it motivated the students because they could actually see me keeping track of who was participating. Even if I do say so myself, the is a darn good survival tip when teaching in Thailand.

I put my record sheet on Excel, and wah lah! I had digital and physical copies.

Survival Tip #4: Be Aware of Cultural Differences and Respect Them

thai cultureThis one seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes it can be more difficult than it sounds. Don’t touch a Thai person on the head, don’t point your foot at anyone, always take your shoes off before entering a department head’s office, never forget to wai one of the higher ups— there’s a long list of cultural rules that are pretty easy to follow. But I’m talking about the frustrating cultural differences.

Most Thai people will also go completely out of their way to avoid the slightest confrontation or loss of face. This often times results in nothing being communicated to anyone, which has the potential to culminate into last minute shuffling and completely avoidable disasters.

From a western perspective, where the littlest things are blown into huge proportions, and people can’t stop checking their work emails from their cell phones for thirty minutes during dinner, sometimes it can feel like you’re watching two trains heading right towards each other in slow motion.

Although it may seem counter intuitive, the important thing to note is that Thailand has been operating in this style for a long, long time, and showing frustration at these miscommunication meltdowns only makes you the oddball. So just roll with it baby.

8 Survival Tips When Teaching in Thailand 2016

Krissy, Leah, and I posing with some friendly Thai people near a gorgeous Buddha Statue in the Esan countryside

Did you miss part 1? Click here for more Survival Tips When Teaching in Thailand 2016!

We at XploreAsia send a big thank you to Justin Ruhe for having us post parts one and two of his 8 Survival Tips When Teaching in Thailand 2016.

To see the rest of his article, click on the link below. It will take you to Justin’s blog. He’s a fun writer and has lots more stories.


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