10. Set Thai culture immersion setting from stun to kill! If you are afraid you will be in a foreigner bubble, this is the place to come. You can easily find Thai friends, eat only Thai food, and hear mostly the Thai language if you so choose in Surat. You can blow your mind with all things foreign. However, if you want some Western comforts, expat friends, and Western food to give you a little comfortable home culture cushion, you can find them as well.
9. Surat Thani is a gateway city. It will inevitably lead to other cities. So tell your children: “If you want to end up in places you never thought you would be, go ahead and do Surat Thani. Just see what happens.” I'm serious. This is no laughing matter. You can leave on the night boat and be on a tropical island such as Ko Samui, Ko Phanghan, or Ko Tao overnight. You might get on a bus for two hours and end up living in a bungalow down by the river in Khao Sok Rainforest. Fail to get off that bus, and well... you could end up pushing long boats in the Andaman Sea in just another two hours.
8. Surat Thani is a Thai cuisine Mecca. Surat Thani is known among Thai people for its fresh seafood of several varieties. There are soft shell crabs in the night market that will make you forever forfeit your fish sticks. Spicy yellow curries with shrimp, oysters, sea bass, barbecued prawns, crabs that look like facehugger bugs from the Alien movie.... it will take you at least a year to taste all the typical dishes. If you don't like seafood, Isan style barbecue restaurants, Chiang Mai food, and Chinese-Thai food are in abundance. You can go to cheap places or one of several fancier places, eat like the gourmet King/Queen of Cuisine and still go light on the budget (30-120 baht for a dish). At the night market, which is one of the best I've seen in my nearly two years here, you can eat 20-30 baht dishes from one end of the street to the other. You'll stuff your stomach with aromatically amazing dishes for less than 80 baht (if you can eat a lot).
7. Employee advocacy. All language schools hire teachers, and most pay them. That is usually where it ends, though many go on to annoy their teachers with lots of changes in work schedule, paperwork, and living accommodations, etc. Peter hires, trains, pays well (he will recognize and honor your efforts), and sticks by his employees. For example, most teachers go to work not just at their own language school, but at a Thai school or business. I have seen him work to ensure that unexpected and unpaid cancellations of classes (which can dramatically cut your pay) and creation of pointless paperwork do not happen to Super English teachers. He negotiates with the schools and businesses, and saves the teachers hours of Thai-style indirect argumentation. It is good to have someone who really cares that you are having a good experience to stand up for you.
6. Absolute minimum amount of paper work. Though previously mentioned, this is really sweet! It deserves its own spot. There are really only two other language schools in Surat Thai that can get into the higher quality schools that Super English serves. Both of them require their employees to complete far more paperwork on a daily basis. The amount of paperwork for a Super teacher varies for the type of class, so if you want to know specifics, you can feel free to email Peter or another teacher about it.
5. Creativity. Peter and the management team value thinking of new ways to draw students into the deep end of the English pool and making them swim. After training, if you want to have your students learn the language targets by singing, dancing, jumping through a series of hula hoops (I did that one, it was fun!), you can do it! If you want further assistance, Peter and the management team will help you implement twists to your lessons that will keep your students engaged, learning, and having fun the whole year. Teachers at Super swap ideas over lunch and at the teachers' room frequently. After some time here, you can get to the point where your students are so into your class that they will rarely ask for games. You can not find that at any language school I have heard of in Southern Thailand.
4. Super English students are eager to learn. I know I shouldn't make hasty generalizations. We do have our challenging students, but the atmosphere of a Super English class is unique. We affirm the students and get the class into healthy competition or educational games that have a team-building element. Classroom management is not easy, but we keep it positive by building the students up with praise and other positive reinforcement. They respond to our attitude toward them with a desire to get into the class and have fun. Our students know that learning English is fun. Or it could just be the mind control. I have them chant “English is fun!” occasionally.
3. Super English has a high contract-completion rate. Looking at the group of friends I have made among teachers in Surat Thani, I have friends from four major language schools. The friends from the other schools, with a few exceptions, have a much shorter shelf life. It is very common for them to become unsatisfied with their working conditions and break their contracts. With very few exceptions, Super teachers like their jobs and their lives in Surat Thani. This makes for a group of peers with whom you can bond and share experiences for at least the whole year contract period. Most other schools are a bit chaotic with all the turnover and puzzling over how to fit the number of staff to the classes that must be taught.
2. Vacation time to the maximum! Super English has an amazing number of holidays. The other major schools have excessive amounts of unpaid “training” time that usually makes their teachers sit in offices while the Super crew is on the beach. For instance, all Super teachers either get March or April off, then most of May and October. It is unpaid time, but you can easily save enough cash here to vacation for the entirety of it. It is a common mistake for me at the pub to ask a non-Super teacher how their vacation was, and get a frown back. I often forget that they have to work so much. Let them eat cake! No, sorry, I take that back. I think that got someone into trouble once.
1. Super English has the best environment to develop you as a teacher in Southern Thailand. The above mentioned low turnover rate is an important part of this, because we have teachers who gain a lot of experience in their classes instead of bailing early or getting a new jumble of classes to cover episodically. Most language schools offer you some form of training and require you to do heaps of paperwork to make sure you are doing your job. In place of that, Super English does a rigorous and short training up front, then guides you through your teaching experience with as little or as much assistance as you request. Super English gives employees the freedom to try new ways to teach while offering a safety net consisting of the director, assistant director, head teacher, and peer teachers to help you stretch your capacity to make your students become English rock stars. Or tourism guides. Or English rock star-tourism guides like David Bowie in Labyrinth.