What Life as an English Teacher in Thailand is Really Like

Work doesn’t start until nearly 8.00 a.m. but I’m an early riser so I like to get up around 6.00 a.m. I’m greeted by the sun shining in my window. It’s such a refreshing change from the damp, cold winter mornings back home.

Thai cuisine is incredibly varied with seemingly no end of interesting ingredients. But when I stop to grab breakfast on my way to work, I usually go for something simple. Maybe a Thai omelet with rice.

That’s the other thing about food in Thailand—it’s cheap. The check, which includes a drink and a coffee, comes to less than $2.

When my students spot me outside of school they never miss the opportunity to practice their English with me. I run into some of them so often I think they’ve figured out my favorite breakfast spots. But they always blast me with their megawatt smiles so it’s a pleasure to chat with them.

The school day in Thailand begins with the national anthem. It’s an opportunity for both students and teachers to pay respect to the Thai King. He’s the world’s longest reigning monarch and few Thais alive today can remember a time when he wasn’t leader. He’s known for his work with the poor and for shielding his country from the conflict that plagued much of Southeast Asia over the past 50 years. The Thais love him dearly.

The students don’t need any encouragement. They sing their national anthem at the top of their voices as their national flag is raised.

I teach 17 classes a week, each 50 minutes long. This works out as around three or four periods per day. My first class starts at 8.20 a.m., just after assembly.

The students are mannerly and well-behaved, but the secret to getting the best from them is introducing a level of fun. Thai students don’t like to be too serious. So, I always set aside a little time for a quick game or activity. When the lesson ends, everyone leaves the room happy.

Before we wrap up, the students stand and shout, “Thank you teacher!” in unison. You can’t help but leave in high spirits. Job satisfaction doesn’t come much more immediate. Students don’t offer these signs of respect because they feel it’s expected or because they’ll get in trouble if they don’t. It’s something that in my experience, they genuinely feel.

Teachers here come from all over and are of all ages. We hang out together a lot and there’s a real sense of community among us. We come from different backgrounds but I guess we all appreciate how lucky we are to enjoy the lifestyle we do.

It’s just a joy to teach here. The students must be among the friendliest and most respectful children on earth.

I came here on vacation 10 years ago and loved it so much I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. Teaching is the only job I’ve done here because I love every minute of it.

If you’re considering teaching in Thailand I would say one thing to you—do it. You won’t regret it. I certainly didn’t. Neither have any of the other teachers I’ve met.

Take your first step on the road to becoming an overseas English teacher now—by going here. If you do, you could be joining me in “the Land of Smiles” before the year is out.

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