Ira Spodek Testimonial

Super English Testimonial by Ira Spodek

I arrived in Surat Thani about two months ago to teach at Super English Language School. I took a Global  Tesol course in NYC, which I’m glad I did.  It definitely helped to prepare me for some of things to expect as a  teacher. I applied to job postings all over the internet and got a lot of responses in return. Some of the school  representatives I had phone interviews with couldn't speak English well and were unable to answer any of my  questions. When I came across the Super English School I just knew it was different.

From the very beginning of the application process, Super English seemed more of a teacher oriented school  than any other.  The responses I received were friendly, encouraging and genuine.  Unlike all of the other  schools I applied to, they encouraged me to ask questions and answered all of them directly and upfront.  Choosing a school to work in for one year is not easy. I wanted to choose a school where there are other native  English teachers and one that would provide the most assistance in getting acclimated to Thai society. After  three weeks of being in Thailand, I knew I made the right choice.

I have found the staff and management of Super English to be very welcoming and inviting. Being here for the  first time is a bit overwhelming to say the least, but the teachers here all made me feel like one of the team very  early on. They helped get me set up right away in my own house and showed me around town which was really  helpful and so appreciative.  I was so thankful that Peter, the Director of the school, picked me up from the bus  stop in Surat. I definitely would not have been able to find my way. I trained with him and another new teacher  for about a week and went right into teaching.

I was a bit nervous at first as this is my first time teaching English in a classroom environment, but the Director  and other teachers have been extraordinary in terms of what they expect of me. They are so laid back and  understand that it takes time to develop into a good teacher. I was nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do or  how to teach; whether I’d be able to even make a connection with the students. The staff just keeps reminding  me to just have fun. And after about two weeks of teaching I can honestly say I am having a lot of fun.

I teach students who range in age from 6 to 15 and they are absolutely amazing. They come to class,  participate, have lots of energy and genuinely enjoy learning English.  The kids are so excited to see us every  day, it’s hard not to have fun. The Director and Head Teacher are so encouraging and are constantly giving me  ideas for my classes. They keep reminding me that I can’t screw up. But I don’t know about that. The school is  designed where the teacher is the best resource for the students and not the text book, so I have a lot of  flexibility over how to introduce the material to the class – which makes teaching fun. I don’t have to be rigid  or boring in terms of teaching from a book like a lot of the other schools require. The school has so many  resources that finding a fun activity to do with the classes is never too hard. Another positive experience is  that the school doesn’t require a lot of administrative work.  This gives me more time to come up with creative  lesson plans.

I am really impressed with how Super English is run. It’s organized, it’s efficient, they really care for the  students and from what I’ve seen they really go over the top to make sure the teachers are comfortable. They  put the welfare of the students above the business which is really important to me.  I am a long way from being  the teacher I know I can be, but I am really glad I chose to come to Super English. I’ve been teaching in Super English for about nine months now and it’s been quite an adventure. I came to  Thailand primarily to experience the culture, the people and see more than I could as a backpacker or a  tourist. When I first got here, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know what the living situation would be like  or even if I would make it as a teacher. It seemed difficult: standing in front of a classroom teaching young  children in a language they didn’t understand and in a culture I didn’t understand. Especially when I found out  there would be as many as 55 students in a classroom. I remember speaking with the head teacher about this  and he insisted, calming me down after bringing it up numerous times, that it’s not as difficult as it appears.  Well, he was right. It’s so much more fun than it sounds.

I teach younger children, ranging in age from 5 to 11 and they are an amazing group of kids. It always makes  me laugh how eager they are to run as quickly as they can into the classroom each day. They know they’re  going to have fun, way before the class even starts. They have so much energy and it’s hard not to be affected  by it. It really doesn’t take long to start making real progress with them either; specifically in the classes at  Super English. I see the same students there every day, track their performance and help them in the areas  they need it most. The classes at SE are small, which allows me to give individual attention to every student. I  joke around with my younger students in English, and what’s great is that they understand the humor and make  jokes right back at me.  It didn’t take me long at all to make a connection with them.

I find that it doesn’t take as long to prepare my classes as it did when I first got here.  Teaching really does get  easier and much more enjoyable over time.  At first, it was a bit overwhelming since I didn’t really know what  to do or what was expected of me. The training Peter provides is top notch, but once you’re up in front of the  classroom, it’s easy to forget what you went over in the training. The management is really great about this and  they expect it to take a bit of time for you to get your bearings. This is why the training is on-going and the  environment is such where you can ask questions or brainstorm with other teachers to get ideas. In fact, in  addition to interacting with the students, the best part of the job is the relaxed working environment. Coming  from New York City, I am accustomed to stressful working conditions. Here at Super English, the management  allows all of us the freedom to work at our own pace. As long as we maintain certain standards in the  classroom, which is easy to do, Peter affords us the independence to do what we want with our students. There’ s no one checking up on me, no one observing my classes or watching my every move. He really goes out of his  way in trying to make all of us as comfortable as possible so we can focus on teaching.

It’s certainly been an adventure both living and working in Suratthani, definitely one of the most enriching  experiences I have had to date. I know it’s a bit cliché, but I have really discovered a lot about myself over the  last few months. In addition, while learning about Thai culture, I’ve also gained a deeper understanding of  American culture. Simply stated, Surat is an awesome place to live and I am so comfortable here. The people  are so friendly, the cost of living is really low and the weather is hot all year long. I remember my first night in  the apartment: hearing strange noises coming from the outside, watching geckos crawling (more like wrestling)  on my ceiling and wondering if I made a mistake by uprooting myself and coming to Thailand. It’s so funny to  think back on those first few days. I heard people say that everyone finds there niche after being here for a  while, and this is certainly true. After nine months, I can honestly say that I have found a home here. The  street my apartment is located on isn’t the cleanest, but after living here for almost a year, I wouldn’t want to  live anywhere else in Surat. I would definitely not have said that when I first arrived, especially after being  chased down the street by some stray dogs. I recently purchased a little electric scooter and very much enjoy  cruising around town meeting new people every day and practicing Thai with them. I have as much fun staying  in town on the weekends as I do when I travel to the nearby islands. In fact, the Thai food here is so good that I  often find it to be better than the food in some of the more touristy destinations. In recent weeks, I’ve been  involved in a chess and minesweeper competition with a fellow teacher in town and regardless of what he says,  I’m winning. 

If not for my desire to accomplish some career goals in my home town, I would definitely stay on for another  year. I am sure Surat hasn’t seen the last of me (or my yellow scooter)!!