I thought I was done teaching English in Thailand after my one-month summer school gig with unruly preteens, but I was wrong too assume that just because I hadn’t heard of more work from my agency meant there actually was no work. Silly me. I should know better by now.
In Thailand, almost nothing is planned, which means nothing happens in advance. Despite my knowledge of this, I was a tad surprised when last Saturday I went to my agency’s office to collect my paycheck and, wham, I walked away with another one. Starting less than 48 hours later, on Monday.
The thing that strikes me as funny, though, is that this position appeared to have just presented itself when I walked in, as if the realization that a school needed to be staffed just occurred to them at the sight of my face. It’s a mystery act my agency has perfected.
“But why should the school need teachers now, at the end of summer break?” I asked.
“Well, because the school just decided to open one week earlier than previously thought, and their two regular foreign staff are still on holiday,” was my answer.
“So, if I accept this position, you will pay for my lodging, my daily rate and my travel to the beach, where I was headed anyway?” I asked, knowing I would take the bait, mostly because spending three weeks on an island in the south was going to eat up my savings. This paycheck will cover my lodging expenses for the remaining two weeks, but my selfish decision turned out to be even better than that.
For starters, the placement was in a preschool, or anuban as they’re called in Thailand, which meant I worked only three hours each morning for a full day’s wage. With afternoons free, I was able to write and blog, wander around Trat, a quaint community on Thailand’s eastern peninsula, and even visit the nearby beach.
Most importantly, however, it gave me the opportunity to finish my exploration of teaching at all levels – preschool to university; an opportunity I once hoped for but didn’t think could become reality given the fact that my original adventure started out as only a six-month stint.
What I discovered is I actually enjoy the preschoolers. My month in primary school left me wanting nothing to do with teaching babies, but what I learned is those in their first year of traditional education have a lot more in common with those in their last (university, my favorites) than any grade in between. Why? Because they want to learn.
More accurately, preschoolers haven’t yet discovered that learning is a choice – they just do what’s expected of them because the thought that they can do anything else hasn’t yet developed. Similarly, in university, most students are there because they want to be, which means they’re taking an active role in their own education. If they’re only in class because their parents want them to be (like many of my Chinese students), they’re at least mature enough to not beat each other with broomsticks in the back of the class.
Most of the in between, from my experiences in Thailand, don’t have an interest in furthering their education, and I don’t have the patience it would take to convince them otherwise.
This will be my last hoorah with teaching abroad…for now. I by no means believe wholeheartedly that I’m finished forever, but I do know that next time AYC calls me with a last-minute offer to teach, it will probably be too late for I’ve already signed a coconut contract with the sun and the sand.
Fellow ESL Teachers: What’s your favorite age to teach? Where are you currently teaching?
- Teaching English in Thailand
- Structure & Mayhem in Thailand’s Schools
- How to Teach English Abroad: Decisions
- No Child Left Behind Has Hurt Our Preschool Boys (earlylearningplanet.com)
- Striking a Balance: What do Preschoolers do all Day? (suecowley.wordpress.com)
- Teach English in Asia in Five Simple Steps (bootsnall.com)
Teaching Preschool in Thailand