Teach Preschool in Thailand

Teaching Preschool in Thailand

Teaching Preschool in Thailand

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.

Teaching preschool in Thailand

Preschoolers in Trat, Thailand.

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.

Teaching preschool in Thailand

That adorable little boy is Asia. He giggled nonstop through an entire cartoon, and quickly became my favorite.

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.

Teaching preschool in ThailandMore 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 Preschool in Thailand
Written by:Jessica J. Hill


  1. rissa says:

    You are lucky to experience teaching almost all levels.
    So,now you are in Trat.
    I saw the pix above and Mr. Laurent is there too!

  2. Lovely post! I really love your final comment… ‘I’ve already signed a coconut contract with the sun and the sand.’ Are you going to be returning home soon?

    • jessicajhill says:

      Hi, Laura. Thank you and yes, I’m heading off on a bittersweet note in two weeks. But I’m sure I’ll be back!

      The blog will continue though, so I’d love to see you back here!

  3. glockers13 says:

    Lovely post and very well articulated regarding student motivation! Although I always anticipated Thais to be eager to learn as they can appreciate the importance of knowing English for work in the tourism industry. Although I guess elementary level is too young to comprehend later life opportunities!
    I really loved your final comment, ‘I’ve already signed a coconut contract with the sun and the sand.’

    Are you heading home soon then?


    • jessicajhill says:

      Hi, Laura. Thanks for your comment.

      One would think that the unlimited opportunities to work within the tourist industry would be a motivation, but alas, that wasn’t my experience in primary or high school – they were all equally unmotivated. However, things might be different in the southern parts, where they actually deal with tourists every day. Then, it probably becomes more of an attainable goal.

      Yes, I’m heading back to The States in two weeks….if I can peel myself off of this island! Are you a teacher?

      • glockers13 says:

        Sorry that was an unintentional double post! Aww yeah that’s a shame! I guess in rural areas it’s a lot less significant to daily life. Aww wow! Leaving the island will be a challenge in itself! Which one are you on? I spent 6 months just travelling se Asia last year and it was so difficult going back home, and I’m a sucker for nostalgia. So yes now I’m back, teaching English to middle school Koreans, in korea, at both a boys and mixed school. So they’re aged between 11 and 14! Been here for 2 and a half months now and out of England just over 3 and a half. What are you doing when you get home?

        • jessicajhill says:

          Oh, your name showed up differently, but I wondered about two Lauras! How do you like Korea? Are your students interested in learning? You’ve been gone a long time!

          I’m scheduled to start studying for my masters degree in August, but I’m already having some anxiety about being in one place for two years! I thought I was ready, but these last few weeks have made me question it.

          • glockers13 says:

            Yeah I like it, it’s not quite got that ‘adventure factor’ or warm-hearted glow that glistens through in other SE Asian countries but it’s a great middle ground for saving money, living in Asia, teaching and experiencing a new culture!
            My hope is to teach in somewhere less developed next year and volunteer a bit too. I’d actually love to go to India and even more so after seeing your exquisite photos! Would you recommend it?

            Aside from teaching the students are generally really warm and lovely, I’d say I get an ‘I love you’ most days which always makes me melt! Teaching-wise there’s not as much positivity in the boys school classrooms as I just can’t shut them up. In the other school generally about half are keen to learn if I manage to find a topic they’re interested in which I’m happy with, but there’s pretty much always a sleeper in every class! Korean students tend to have private lessons until around 9 or 10pm so they use school as a nap site.

            I’m sure once you get back into it you’ll remember why you’re there! Plus there’s always international friends to be made! What are you going to study?

          • jessicajhill says:

            Are you in Seoul? I visited once, for twelve hours, and didn’t see anything I liked. Perhaps I didn’t give it long enough? Haha. I considered the EPIK program before I ever started down this road, mostly for the money factor, but I have heard good things about teaching there (and also that the kids are overworked).

            As for India, that’s tough. It’s an absolutely amazing experience to visit, and I’m sure the students would be great because they really understand the importance of the English language there, but I think living there would be difficult. I’ve never felt more uncomfortable and dirty in a place, even though I managed to fall in love with it, but perhaps staying in one area and becoming part of the community would change that. I’d say give it a try – what do you have to lose?

            I’m going to study English, with an eventual goal of teaching writing at the university level…so I’ll have at least four more years of school ahead of me, but I plan to take another travel break after the first two, if I can make it that long 😉

  4. Future ESL says:

    OK how can I sign up to work for a month in Thailand what links can I go and what schools or institutearly have such programs. I only know of 5 month to 12 month programs.

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