I am fortunate to be able to say that I have managed to do a lot of travelling throughout my life thus far. I am always taking off on a new adventures and living & working in different countries but the older I get, the more I ask myself how long I can keep this up? After one long spell away I told myself that I should go back to the UK, focus on a career, money and buying a house however, now that I have been in the UK for a couple of years I can never seem to focus on any of those kind of things and I spend a lot of my time planning other trips and fantasizing about getting out of England. I have been searching for some thing that will allow me to be able to get set up in life, travel and help make a difference. Over the last five years the idea of TEFL has crossed my mind many times. TEFL will allow me to do all the things I believe I need to do without having to keep coming back to the UK. I have tried all kinds of jobs and one thing I know for certain is that I never want to work in an office again! I now don’t care about how much money I make, who wears what or any nasty office politics – it’s the simple life for me.
All the signs seem to be pointing in the right direction; it’s just taken me a while to actually read them. After I took the plunge and completed the TEFL course I started to apply for jobs immediately. The fear I once had has now turned into complete excitement and a certain belief that this is the path I should be on. I applied for many TEFL jobs and I waited eagerly for a response. I remember applying for the SE job late one night. I got a response the following morning and set up a SKYPE chat for that very afternoon. I instantly clicked with Peter and I felt as though I had known him forever. I didn’t feel nervous and it didn’t feel like an interview, we had a bit of banter and he got to the point. I was offered the role. I did hesitate at the beginning as all the other jobs I had applied for started to respond. I was offered another 7 roles in various countries, all offering good money, benefits, paid holidays and my flights. I was faced with a difficult decision, but having called them all I noticed that none of the others came close to giving me the warm feeling that I had with Peter.
This is my first teaching job and hopefully it will be my new career. I really want to learn as much as I possibly can and be as creative as I can. I didn’t get the impression that the other schools were particularly keen to assist me in this way. No one seemed interested in me or my lack of experience and I felt that there was little or no support. I really didn’t want to take some thing just because it was good money. I was looking for some thing that would allow me to be happy and comfortable in this my first teaching post.
One of the first things Peter advised me to do on arrival is to take a few days to get settled. Thereafter will be given three days training and the opportunity to watch others teach before I fly solo. I was honest with Peter; I explained that I was nervous, had no previous experience and that I had only recently passed my TEFL course. Peter reassured me by making me feel calm, confident and positive. I gave myself a day to think about it and the only thing on my mind was Super English. I had a warm feeling and just knew it was for me.
I know I have made the right decision. I get regular updates from Peter. I have been emailing a few of the other new Super English teachers and already I feel part of the family. I am thrilled to discover that we are all of a similar age with similar interests. I am so looking forward to being surrounded by like minded people and to learning new skills and techniques along the way. It is my intention to be creative in the classroom to help the children learn in a way that I know can be fun.
I want to use the opportunity to learn more about Buddhism, the Thai language and their culture, meet new people and most importantly making a difference to the children. Five weeks to go – nervous – oh yes. Excited – definitely!
Thailand is a wonderful country with many things to offer: friendly people, happy kids, vibrant nightlife, world-class travel destinations, excellent food, inexpensive shopping, warm weather and much more. It is a great place to live and work. Generally, when we ask in our job advertisement “what makes you want to live in Surat Thani?’ The usual answers
involvessomething about Thai culture. This is good,because Surat is real Thailand and here you will experience real Thai culture.
The phrase “Thai culture” means different things to different people, though. To
someit means a Thai dancing show put on for tourists. To othersit means seeing how real Thai people live and go about their day. While Surat has some of the first kind, it has a lot more of the second. There are festivals, holidays, special events, and more, throughout the year. Each of these involves something very different than what Westerners are used to and are wonderful cultural experiences. However, the real experience in Thai culture is meeting Thai people, getting to know them, spending time with them, accompanying them when they invite youplaces, and learning from them. The holidays, festivals, etc., are easily accessible. You can walk into them without being invited and without having to put forth any more effort than getting yourself there. Getting to know Thai people well enough to the point where they feel like including you in their lives takes more effort. It cannot be accomplished by sitting at home. You need to get out and meet people to make that happen. And it will happen. Thai people are very friendly and will offer you a drink if you are walking by, help out if you look like you need it, and offer tasty food whenever they think you are hungry. But you still need to put forth the effort to meet people.
The general lesson in this is that Thailand is what you make of it. If you want it to be a cultural experience, then you have to make it a cultural experience. Culture cannot be delivered to your doorstep. You have to go out and find it (which is not hard in Surat). If you want your time in Thailand to be a calm, relaxed, mostly introverted experience then that is completely fine as well. It is whatever you make it.
The same goes for teaching. The experience will be what you make it. The classes are mostly yours, meaning we will provide the textbook (which is the absolute minimum the students should learn), the training, the resources and the support. The rest is up to you. You can put a lot of effort into preparing great lessons for your kids, work hard on improving your teaching skills, and the result will be awesome classes which are extremely productive and very fun to teach. You can also show up, not throw yourself into teaching completely and achieve moderate results with your kids. Both ways are fine (although we do prefer the former). Since we have very little oversight at Super English, the quality of your classes depends almost exclusively on you. We won’t know much about your class unless we hear compliments or complaints. Ultimately, the quality and the even the content of the class depends very much on you. It will be what you make of it.
Without exception, those who come and put effort into their classes, their cultural adventures, and the school, walk away from the overall experience with an extremely positive impression and great memories. I would even say there is a direct correlation between the amount of effort you put into something in Thailand and the amount you get out of it. Reading the testimonials illustrates this very well. These are all unique individuals who came to Thailand at different times, applied themselves in their own ways, and were rewarded by the experience relative to how much they put into it. They made it a great experience by putting a lot of effort into making their classes the best they could be, venturing out to experience the culture, staying friendly with their neighbors, colleagues and students, and remaining positive, open-minded and flexible, even when times were tough. They got as
much out of the experience as they put in, but I am certain they would say they got much more.