Jessica Gallant Testimonial
One Year Testimonial by Jessica Gallant
Three weeks from today my plane will be landing in New York City. I remember a year ago, when there were only three weeks until my plane left for Thailand. So much has happened in that time, and it seems as though the year has flown by. I decided to teach abroad for a couple of reasons. The first was that I was having a coming-of-real-adult-age life crisis. I felt like I had to do something really challenging and amazing so that ten years from now when I’m driving my kids to soccer practice I’ll never have to wonder what I could have done, and if I actually had what it takes to do it. The second reason is that I just wanted to live in a country other than the United States, at least for a little bit. As a social studies teacher and history nerd, I thought (and now firmly believe) that it’s important to leave one’ s home to really understand it and how it fits into the bigger global picture. I did not study abroad in college, and that is something I always regretted. The third reason that compelled me to teach abroad was my job teaching in the United States. For four years I was a high school history teacher in Philadelphia. I can look back and romanticize it now, but the reality is that I hated my job. It was never really teaching, and I was jaded and burnt out by the end of those four years. I really needed to refresh my perspective on teaching, and to also see if it was teaching in general I didn’t like, or just that particular job.
So I made the decision to teach abroad. I got my CTESOL and started to look for jobs. Being the organized person that I am, I looked long and hard into many options—country and school wise. First I had to ask myself what I really wanted out of this experience. I decided that I did not want to be cold for an entire year, that I wanted to be able to go to the beach, that I wanted to be able to enjoy the cuisine, that I wanted to be somewhere with a rich cultural history, and that I wanted to be somewhere people would really want to visit me. Thailand was the answer to all of this. I have enjoyed warm weather, gorgeous beaches, beautiful temples, delicious foods, and lengthy visits from my family and friends. None of this, of course, could have been possible without my having a job at Super English.
In retrospect, I definitely made the right choice with Super English. Super English appealed to me because it was in Thailand, it was in close proximity to beaches, it provides free housing, and it has a unique educational and business approach. As a Super English teacher I have had enough time off to visit many places in Thailand and Southeast Asia. More importantly, I have met and bonded with an amazing group of teachers who have accompanied me on these journeys. The staff here really feels like family, which is crucial when you’re so far away from home and everything that is familiar.
It is really wonderful, as a teacher, to work for Super English. Peter allows us to design our own curriculum based on the predetermined language targets. This gave me a lot of freedom. At first it totally freaked me out because I was used to a “planning and scheduling” timeline that told me exactly what page and exact topic I should be on each and every day. To have so much freedom was overwhelming for me at first, but I came to really appreciate it. I think it allowed me to actually be a teacher for the first time, and not some robot feeding predetermined information. It was also really great for me, because having fun is a big part of the teaching and learning experience. As foreign English teachers, our duties don’t lie as much in the academic and grammar aspects of English education, but more in allowing the students to have conversational experience with native speakers. Having fun and playing games is important, because if they are having fun they (a) don’t realize how much they’re learning and (b) really look forward to coming to and participating in class.
In addition to the teaching approach being different from what I was used to, the kids here are entirely different. In Philadelphia I worked only with teenagers who had a penchant for cursing me out, and many had no interest in learning or desire to do any work. The students I have had here have been, for the most part, constantly happy, respectful, and hardworking. Possibly the most amazing aspect for me has been actually being able to see and track their progress. When I was teaching history and social science, aside from the occasional conversation it was really hard to tell if anyone had really learned anything, or if they had only temporarily remembered the information for a test or writing assignment. When you teach English, especially to little kids, it’s amazing. The transformation is profound, and it really made an impression on me. I am proud to say that I finally know for sure that I have successfully taught someone something.
I will be forever grateful to Super English and to Peter for giving me the opportunity to revive my passion for teaching.