No matter how much you prepare for something like teaching English in Thailand, you will never be fully prepared for such a unique and enriching experience such as this. It is quite accessible to get a range of advice on what to expect, which is often very practical and helpful, but sometimes quite generic and impersonal. One of the most effective ways to give advice is by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. To get the most personal advice out there, we asked teachers living in Thailand; if they could go back and give themselves one important piece of advice before heading to Thailand to teach English, what would it be?
Let go of preconceived expectations
Each individual is different and everyone will experience teaching English in Thailand uniquely. In this regard, all the teachers had varied and equally important advice to offer, but what stuck out as the common theme was to “try and let go of any preconceived expectations”. As famous author, Mark Twain aptly states, “Comparison is the death of joy.” If you set too many expectations before the experience, there is room for comparison. Kristen (USA) shares her opinion of how “expectations can lead to a form of failure sometimes”. For her the most important advice is to focus on why you wanted to teach English in Thailand in the first place.
Keep an open mind
James (USA) built up big dreams in his head about how he wanted the experience to be. If he could go back, he would tell himself that “It’s ok if it doesn’t work out how you planned it to.” Even though the experience was not how he imagined it to be, he learnt a lot about himself and grew as a person. Isabel (USA) said that the key is “to stay open minded to this experience from the get go”. She didn’t have too many expectations about how the experience would unfold and thus far, this attitude has really helped her.
Thailand is not out to get you
Ari (USA) admitted that he used to be ‘type A’ personality who needed to know all the detailed information, but his experience in Thailand has changed that. He said that if he could tell himself one thing before this experience, he would tell himself to relax. Teaching English in Thailand has taught him that “things will usually work out and Thailand is not out to get you.” Emily (South Africa) said that if she had to start again now, she would not be so hard on herself to make the lessons perfect. She realised that “at the end of the day, they are just children and all they want is love.” Emily said that she had to remember to remind herself of the small changes she was making for them along the way.
Appreciate the local culture
Part of travelling and living in a foreign country is the opportunity to get exposed to a new culture and different way of life.
“Cultures are different; it’s not about one being better or worse, it’s about being aware of the differences. You didn’t move to Thailand to live in the same bubble of ideas, thoughts, and attitudes with which you were raised. You came to experience something different. So appreciate those differences. You can learn a lot about yourself and the world if you keep an open mind and an accepting heart.” – Kimiko (USA)
At TravelBud, we pride ourselves on the fact that we only offer teaching, volunteering and work experience that our staff or trusted friends have personally done. We strive to create a platform which helps you understand exactly what to expect from each of the programs we offer. We are still in contact with most of the people we have placed, and this allows us to continually grow our community of teachers-on-the-ground who can share their first-hand experiences of our programs with others. Stay tuned for part four of our Teachers Talk Series where we take a look at how teachers are held in Thai society.
Find out more about the Travelbud Teach English in Thailand program.