Following on the heels of her last article entitled 5 Things You Shouldn’t Expect While Teaching in Thailand, guest writer Andrea Emerson now writes about her top five reasons for teaching in Bangkok.
So why SHOULD I teach in Bangkok?
If you just finished the ‘why not’ post, you might be thinking well gosh, the air sucks, the kids are poorly behaved and I won’t be at the beach very often. Fear not, I wouldn’t still be here if it was all bad. So, why should you consider teaching in Bangkok, or elsewhere in Thailand?
1) Thai students are extremely creative and fun to teach (when you get them going)
I’ve heard many complaints about the ‘robotic’ education system of Korea, and the lackluster creativity of Japanese students. A friend of mine who taught in Japan attempted a comics lesson, even as simple as filling in bubbles with words, and had terrible results. His lead teacher’s response? “Japanese people no are creativity.”
Now, I’m paraphrasing and relying on unfair stereotypes. But my point is, Thai students are known for having FUN! And they are extremely artistically gifted, story minded and generally know how to make a laugh. Now, the level of this that you experience as fun along with your students as opposed to frustration because you can’t follow what’s going on depends on two things:
- The level of your students English skills versus your Thai skills
- Your ability to roll with the punches even when you have no idea what’s going on. If everybody’s laughing, probably best to join them. And check to be sure you don’t have chalk in odd places.
And while they are very creative, there is a high level of acceptance and even encouragement of plagiarism. So don’t get your hopes up too high, because they’ll be dashed when a bunch of plagiarized work is turned in. Do your best to encourage individual student expression, but certainly don’t expect to thwart the plagiarism beast completely.
No, you can’t go to the beach every day. But you can afford to go to the beach. I never would have dreamed of taking beach vacations regularly while living in the Midwest. Ok, maybe the Dunes on Lake Michigan, but even so, I couldn’t get lodging for nearly as cheap as I can here.
I can hop on a bus and visit another country in a matter of hours. I don’t need winter boots here. Sunscreen is terribly expensive, bring some from home to save some money.
I’ve established an ‘Asian home base’ from which to jump around the continent, one trip at a time. Considering the biggest factor keeping me from seeing Asia was the price of a plane ticket from North America, eliminating that step for awhile is amazing for traveling.
3) If you’re quite serious and need to relax, you need some ‘sanuk.’
For every complaint I have about the Thai education system, there is something to be said for the more relaxed attitude there is towards education. For a time I thought this was sheer laziness and a lack of discipline in education. And, sometimes it is that. But it’s also an attitude that doesn’t drive students to the brink wanting to kill themselves at the rates seen in other countries. It’s an open environment that has not been killed by teach to the test practices, where freedom of teacher lesson creation exists. You need a laboratory where you can practice creating your own course materials? You’ve got it. Sometimes that’s not best for the students, but once a teacher has gotten their ‘flow,’ it’s brilliant for teacher and student. Feel like you need to get some experience in handling classes? All that lesson planning stuff without the ridiculous expectations now in place in most western school systems? Check out being a foreigner teaching in Asia. It’s a whole different face of education and an experience I’ll value as long as I teach, despite all my whining.
4) Need to fix a bad back/get out of a terrible recession/get job experience?
These things are all here. Job market sucks back home? Move to Asia and teach English. Demand for English teachers is high. The market for the job you trained for tanked as soon as you graduated? Are you a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree? Hello, English teachers wanted here! Have a job that pays the bills and let’s you go to the beach. Wouldn’t dream of it back home? Don’t stay home.
Have back tension? We have 200 baht/hour back massage. Sometimes cheaper. Embrace the Thai massage.
Need job experience during awful recession? Again see above. Come teach in Asia.
5) Have demons to exorcise?
I have to be frank. If you move to Asia to teach English, there are stereotypes for each country. Korea is for paying off student loans. Japan is for people who majored in Japanese, love manga or exhibit other passions for the Japanese culture. Thailand, well, people go to Thailand for different reasons. Chief reasons being:
- they want beaches
- they want cheap and/or easy sex (sorry, it’s true)
- they are running away from problems in their home country
Let’s face it. Nobody decides oh yeah I’ll go teach in Thailand for a year or more because they are perfectly well adjusted and happy with their life in their home country. There has to be a reason.
That could be that you are half-Thai and want to discover your roots.
That could be that you are South African and you’re tired of being robbed so often, and simply feeling unsafe.
It could be that the economy tanked back home.
It could be no one from your home country will sleep with you (this phenomenon is referred to as ‘sexpats,’ and at a later time I will elaborate, but this helps explain why I can’t get a date).
It could be that you foolishly placed your hopes and dreams all upon the holy alter of being offered a teaching job at the same time a terrible economic recession hit your country and state and simultaneously flushed people from your job field, let alone allowed for the option of joining the field. I, might or might not be speaking for myself there.
There are many reasons people move to Thailand. Everyone that comes here has something they’ve gotta work out. So, when you put all these people in the same office or school setting, things can often get, quite…interesting. More on that later. Just remember, if you want to move to Thailand, what’s the ‘stuff’ you’ve got to sort out that is leading you to that decision? It could be positive instead of negative, but it’s certainly there. Figure out why before you buy your ticket, so whatever it is, you can actually start to deal with it.