Teaching… it’s a love / hate relationship. Some days you’re amazed you’re kids are understanding so much material. Then the next day, it all comes crashing down as if nothing had ever happened.
Trying to teach a foreign language to kids is hard enough. Add in the fact that you get minimal help, and the kids are 6 and 7, makes it even harder.
When I arrived in Thailand, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy teaching. In fact, I didn’t know if I really wanted to do it. It’s a way to make money and travel. That’s honestly why I did it.
Yes, I love kids. Yes, they are great… sometimes. But when it comes down to it, I miss testing my limits and pushing my brain. I miss the hard work of the office. I miss being able to actually get shit done.
There always seems to be something coming up here. Another sports day, another pageant, another show, another game, another reason to just watch freaking movies all day. They shouldn’t be mad at the foreign teachers for kids not learning, it’s all the Thai teachers.
The high’s and low’s…
These kids know a lot more than you think, but they do have their limits. This is why the co-teachers are here to help. They can translate English into Thai for them so they can do the activity and actively learn, but that doesn’t always seem to happen. One of my co-teachers does a wonderful job of this. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have her helping me. As for my other classroom, the co-teachers could care less. They tell me to keep repeating instructions over and over until I give up; which means nothing actually gets done some of the days. The ones for my homeroom on the other hand could care less. They just tell me to repeat over and over.
How about after I’ve repeated 4 times? Some of them still don’t get it. The kids need help with translation.
Some of the co-teachers continue to sit on their phone or are missing most of the time during my class. This is all right for the most part, because sometimes the kids listen more if they’re not in there. What bothers me though, is when their phone rings in the middle of class or when they talk on it during my lessons. Kids don’t listen at that point. They don’t care what I’m saying. They want to listen in on the other conversation.
Teaching is a struggle. There are highs and lows… a lot of lows to be honest. There are numerous days where I feel as if I’ve lost my shit. Nothing seems to go according to plan, the kids don’t want to be there, they don’t want to learn, and they just don’t understand. (Well, that’s mostly the trouble kids to be honest.)
Each day I try to make the activities fun so they don’t feel as if they’re learning, but once you give the kids a little freedom they take it and run! They run like the wind and start screaming and won’t listen. When they’re like this I have to make the lessons boring, but then they miss out on the conversation in English and learn only by repetition (not with cognitive thinking skills).
Sometimes it seems as if nothing works.
But… there are those rare few moments where everything clicks and comes together.
Some of my students have surprised me and remember the word conjunction and what it means. They can talk about the weather outside and understand different materials. I have a few students who are so advanced that I want to push them further, because I can only imagine how board they are in class waiting for everyone else to finish something.
When you do have those rare moments where everything seems to work you get a little confidence boost. It makes it easier to get through the day knowing there is still hope.
Reality of teaching English in Thailand…
As it is, my teaching energy is running lower and lower each day. The kids wear me out like none other.
Signing on to this job, I knew teaching little kids was going to wipe me out, but they don’t tell you how much it does. By the end of 2 classes, I’m ready to head home and sleep. When I have a 3rd or even a 4th for the day, I’m barely trudging through it. I don’t know how these kids are staying for all of this. At the end of the day I just want to go home too!
Teaching is not exactly what I expected it to be. Granted, I was expecting to teach older kids. I want to teach college history, but don’t want to spend money going back to get all the certifications. It’s pointless to be honest.
At least with English, I was hoping to work on grammar, diction, and the fun writing stuff. Well, I’m working on the diction for sure. Each day I’m teaching kids how to say basic words or sentences. It takes every ounce of me to dumb myself down in order to teach all of this. I keep wanting to throw out big words or push them too quickly.
Their little heads can’t take it. They can’t take sitting still more than 5 minutes!
Teaching English abroad, especially in Thailand, is not all I signed up for. It’s hard working with co-teachers. They think you’re beneath them. They don’t help. They start drama, try to get you in trouble, and only want to include you in photos because you’re fucking white. Oh… they’re racist at that too. It’s not always in a bad way, but everyone is openly racist here. It’s different than in America. At least here they won’t bully you for it.
Anyways, teaching can be good, it can be fun, but it depends where you’re at and the resources available. There’s hardly any resources available here which has made teaching little kids that much harder. I don’t want to teach from a book 24/7 or hand them answers. They need to be pushed to think on their own and out of the box.
It’s not a belief shared by many in this school…
Don’t give up…
While I do rag on the kids and co-teachers, I will admit there are some very bright students. They make me want to teach more and more. They show me that students can learn. They show me that I’m not a complete failure. They give me purpose to keep coming back each day. It’s those students who make me want to stay.
Some of my kids have come such a long way that it amazes me. Before they weren’t able to say what the weather was like, and now they can say it backwards and forwards. Some of them even know what a contraction is now! Okay… not too many remember the word, but they understand the concept.
It’s things like these that make teaching worth it.
While teaching 6 and 7 year-old’s may not be my thing, it has offered me a unique experience and helped me refine what I want to do. I might not fit in here in Thailand, but I might fit in somewhere else.
Too many times, TEFL teachers will give up since it’s not exactly what they want. Maybe it’s the place you chose or the school you’re with, but don’t let that deter you from trying another location. Who knows, you might find a renewed passion for teaching in another country.
Teaching English abroad isn’t always how you think it’s going to be. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and land a wonderful job with amazing kids and co-teachers. Sometimes you might end up in hell working crazy hours with terrible students and dealing with petty drama. It all depends where you go. Don’t let one experience deter you from trying to teach somewhere else.