Tristan Rentos Testimonial 1 and 2

Tristan's One Year Testimonial

Where have the past 10 months gone? I honestly have no idea, it still feels like I arrived in Surat five minutes  ago and I’m standing in my new house, wearing my flannel shirt, cargo pants and hiking boots trying to figure  out how this place works.

I still remember my first night in Surat quite well. I was by myself in the Chalokrat house with two fans about a  metre away from me. Despite not having slept for 24 hours thanks to my flight schedule, I didn’t sleep that night  and the difference in timezones had nothing to do with it. I had never taught anyone anything in my life, and  while I had been to Thailand twice before I decided to come here as a teacher, I was not expecting the locals to  speak no English whatsoever. When I ‘woke up’ the next day, I was by myself and struggling to get a meal into  my stomach, so getting myself properly acclimatised seemed a long way off. It was time to get back to basics.  

10 months later and I’ve been promoted to Senior Teacher, I can speak basic conversational Thai and I feel  that I can confidently walk into any classroom, at any school and any level and deliver a great lesson that the  kids can enjoy and learn from. I have moved house over to the other side of town and possibly have the best  setup out of any Super English house. My classes at Thida and Super English are going very well and unlike 10  months ago I’m thinking ahead instead of thinking about my stomach.

Without trying to blow my own trumpet too much, looking back on everything that’s happened and everything      I’ve gained has been (for the most part) as a result of my own willingness to drop all barriers and try to get  myself on my feet. As for me becoming a half decent (I won’t say good just yet) teacher, Peter and Vic have  been invaluable with their training and advice on the journey, and they continue to be even though I am now a  more experienced teacher.

The main reason that Super English works is because nothing is too difficult or too arduous for Peter and Vic to  handle. They have seen or heard it all before and they know how to fix it without any drama or finger pointing,  and they know everyone makes mistakes. This is imperative in such a close knit environment such as Super  English, because once you start playing the ‘blame game’, all the trust is gone and that’s it, it’s all over bar the  resignations. Nobody is playing any silly games here, the students, teachers and teaching come first and  everything else is taken care of second.

ow has living in Thailand changed me? I feel that I am a more patient person than before, which is a great  asset in a place such as Surat. I like having my weekends off and having time to do my own thing, such as my  extra voluntary classes I do three times a week for those who have the desire to learn English but not the bank  account to pay for lessons. I have also discovered some great places to spend my weekends; my favourite is  Khao Sok National Park. Angela calls it the ‘haven of relaxation’ and that sums it up pretty well.

I am very happy living in Surat and working for Super English, so much so that I have agreed to stay on another  year. As the old saying goes - if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.

Without any more rambling, here are my top 5’s!

- Top 5 silly things your kids might say in the classroom:

  1. I like coke in the evening (self explanatory)
  2. They are tripping at a party (when asked “What are they doing at a party?”)
  3. He has a brown shit (supposed to be shirt)
  4. My brother likes to watch XXX (I hear this a lot in my second SE class)
  5. I eat poop in the toilet (I hear this a lot in my first SE class)

- Top 5 substitutions (Surat is not like Bangkok - there are many things you just cannot get here, especially  western food products).

  1. Cheers beer for Victoria Bitter (it’s actually pretty close!)
  2. Pork for beef (I miss steak and lamb soooo much!)
  3.  A bicycle for my Honda Civic (the performance isn’t quite the same….)
  4.  Siam Commercial Bank for Commonwealth Bank (They still use passbooks over here – how quaint!)
  5. Teaching English for Conference & Event Management (one is a fun job, the other isn’t – no prizes for
    guessing which is which)

- Top 5 bad habits I have gotten into during my time here:

  1. Saying ‘OK krap’ like Thai people
  2. Riding my bike the wrong way down the street
  3. Eating lollies (candy) – I rarely ate lollies in Oz and for some reason I’m buying a packet every week here
  4. Being lazy on weekends (I’m making up for lost time as I spent almost ten years working in restaurants)
  5. Being addicted to inhalers (I seem to always have one up my nose – still, it’s not the worst thing you can put up there…)

Two Year Testimonial by Tristan Rentos

When you’re in your twenties, two years is a long time. It’s hard to believe that my time in Surat is  over; it still feels like yesterday that I got off the plane and was greeted by hot weather, heavy  luggage and Peter. Before I came here, I knew that I would be comfortable living in Thailand. I  have been here before, and instantly felt right at home. What I didn’t think would happen was that  living here would change me as a person for the better. It has.

Looking back at my time here, I think most importantly my classes have all gone well. I spent my  first year teaching Prathom 3, and while I was focused on delivering quality education to those  kids, I always knew that they would be a ‘warm up act’ for my second year classes. I tried a lot of  different lessons out on those classes – most worked, some didn’t. In my second year I ‘demoted’  myself (with Peter’s permission) to Prathom 1, and learning from my first year of teaching I can  only think of literally a handful of lessons that have fallen flat. Teaching at Thida can be a difficult  experience, as the classes are overcrowded and discipline can be a problem. I feel that I have  overcome these obstacles and prepared my little kids well for P2

I have always had the opinion that Thida classes and secondary to Super English classes, and my  class at Super English has been my finest achievement in my time here. I taught the same students  for two years, and seeing as my class at SE is only 10 students (as opposed to 55) I have really got  to know these kids as people, not just as students. This is something that just isn’t possible at  Thida or any other Thai school as there are just too many little faces that you have to divide your  time amongst.

When I first inherited my Super students, they were already very good for their age and I knew  from the very beginning there was huge potential to turn these kids into the very best in Surat.  Watching them progress over the past two years to incorporate  various elements of the English  language into their everyday conversations (such as past tense verbs, correct pronouns and more  advanced adjective usage) has been very fulfilling and given my time here true meaning and  purpose. Whoever inherits this class will be getting a very rare and talented group of kids; unlike  99.9% of their peers they can converse, argue and insult each other in English, and while they are  not fluent they can do it correctly and coherently. I am very proud of all of my Super students and  my one hope is that they continue learning together at Super English, as this is hands down the  best English class in Surat Thani.

Personally, living amongst Thai people has been an interesting experience, especially since I have  been dating my Thai girlfriend since April last year. Best advice I can give the rookies is to always  be patient, relaxed and try to learn as much Thai as possible, it really does help. With my girlfriend’ s help I am able to have basic but continual conversations with Thai people, and I am learning  more and more everyday. Also, I have found that if you go into a tourist area (like Koh Samui or  Phuket) the tourist touts will leave you alone if you speak Thai to them or if they hear you  speaking Thai – defiantly an added benefit.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter and his wife Jeab for their consideration and  support during my time here. Peter is a highly dedicated and professional employer; in my two  years at SE he has always paid me the correct amount (including bonuses) on time, and delivered  on every promise. He is always available to assist, regardless if your problem is professional or  personal. His advice has been invaluable and I would not be the teacher that I have become without  his help. Also, the help from our former director and fearless leader Ms. Victoria Biggs was (in  hindsight) essential to me, her advice helped me to thrive and really become a leader in the  classroom. Super English is a great place to work, and it’s a great place to work because Peter and  Victoria put so much effort into making it a great place to work. Having employers like this,  especially in a foreign country is so critical and makes the difference between Super English and  just plain English.

When it’s all said and done, coming to Surat and working at Super English has been more of the  best decisions I have ever made. The past two years have truly been very good years. Thank you  for having me, and best of luck to all who decide that Super English is the place to be – you  honestly can’t do much better.