Signing up to be an English teacher in Thailand requires courage, a sense of adventure, and the dedication to make a difference in the lives of your students. But actually living the experience goes even further than that! You might find that not only will you change the lives of those in your community and school, but the experience will also broaden your horizons and help to shape you as an individual.
We had the chance to ask one of our participants Bronson Taiapa about his daily life as an English teacher in Thailand. Bronson was one of our TESOL course participants last April, and he started teaching in Isaan, Thailand, last May. Since then, he’s loved it so much that he is now in his second year as an English teacher in Thailand. Here, we chat with Bronson about his daily life in Isaan and how teaching in Thailand continues to inspire him!
How did you decide to teach in Thailand?
I was a screen-printer for several years back in New Zealand, and I needed a change in my work. I wanted to try something that scares me and since I don’t like talking in public, I thought I’d try teaching. Thailand is an amazing place and luckily, it was the place I could go to learn to teach.
Where in Thailand do you teach English?
I teach in Sawang Daen Din, Sakon Nakhon, Isaan. It’s in the western part of a province of Northeast Thailand.
How many students/grades do you teach?
I teach 2 grades: Mathayom 4 from 4/1 -16, and half of Mathayom 6 (High-school). I have about 960 students, give or take 10 or 20 students.
Could you walk us through an average day in your life as a teacher?
An average day would begin with waking up at about 6:45am, getting ready and being at school by 7.40am. School always starts with assembly at 8am, but I’m not expected to be there, so most of the time I just go to my classroom and set up for the first lesson at 8:25am.
I usually have 2 or 3 classes after lunch, my last class ending about 2:50pm, or I have one that ends at 3:40pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have a few kids that come in and practice their English with me and with one another. It’s usually a pretty relaxed session – no stress, just practice, and on those days, we finish at around 5:30pm.
We usually have 2 classes, then a small 25 minute break, which I’ll usually use to eat some breakfast (usually fruit from the cafeteria). We have another 2 classes after that, and then lunch.
During lunch I occasionally like to walk around and talk to students or play sports (if it’s not too hot, and if I’m not sweating too much by that stage).
On other days, I get lunch and go to my classroom to eat. I’ll usually find some students sitting there for the next class, but mostly they’re there to escape the heat outside, so I generally put on a movie, and we’ll sit and chill while I eat.
On the other days, however, I’m usually home, out of my work gear, and relaxing by 4:30pm. Sometimes I’ll play basketball with my students around 5pm when it has cooled down.
What do you enjoy most about teaching English in Thailand?
Having fun with the kids definitely. They’re awesome!
Conversely, what are some challenges you face as a teacher?
Holidays. As great as they are, they made the second semester very difficult to test my students and get grades for them.
Classroom management is also always a challenge for me. If you give them an inch, most times they’ll take a mile; this is a challenge for me because I don’t like raise my voice to my kids or even punish them. It’s a lesson I’m still learning.
How has teaching in Thailand influenced your career path and shaped you as a person?
I’ve become a more confident person in social situations. I’ve found that if I am 100 percent committed to something, I can do the things I used to doubt I could do. I think I’ve become more inspired to travel and teach and learn about other interesting cultures.
Thank you so much, Bronson! We loved learning about your daily life as an English teacher in Isaan, Thailand. You are so clearly passionate about making a difference in the lives of your students and in the community. We are impressed and inspired by the work that you do!
I’m curious to know: what are some of your questions about teaching in Thailand? What would you like to know about life in Thailand as an English teacher? In what ways do you think that teaching in Thailand will challenge and inspire you?