Volunteer Review: Christopher H., Teach English and Other Subjects in Thailand
I had chosen to come to Thailand without any real expectations or idea as to what would be ahead of me. Upon landing I’m not afraid to say that I was a little overwhelmed. I was heavily jet-lagged and tired and far too warm by comparison to my own country, the UK, when I was greeted by the friendly face of Nou, one of the Project Abroad staff.
We traveled by truck then boat then tut tut to get to my host family on Koh Klang Island. They were very welcoming and were so happy to see me. Nou also introduced me to one of the other volunteers staying on the island. We talked and walked around and I knew from then that this was going to be a good trip.
On the first night a group of the volunteers agreed to meet up in town and thankfully someone had thought to invite me along to meet everyone else. I can’t imagine a better way I could have spent my first day in Thailand! Overwhelmingly hot, but also surrounded by friendly people I quickly felt at home.
Living on Koh Klang Island
Life on the island was certainly very different. For the first few nights I could barely sleep. Whether that was because of the jet lag, the heat or the crickets I’m still not sure but after a while I adapted. Koh Klang is an island just off Krabi town where most people are Muslim. It is breaking the law to have any alcohol or dogs or pigs on the island! Consequently the island has lots of cats and chickens, somehow living side by side.
I was living with Pi Koi, my host mum, who cooked the most wonderful food. I know that given the choice I probably would not have pushed myself to eat as much Thai food as I did so I was glad I was with a good host mum. My favorite dish was Pad Thai. There was also Fundi, Pi Koi’s son of about 11, and his cousin Finsa who was also 11. Fundi and Finsa were always so fun to be around. We ate meals together and I tried to teach them a bit of English as well as playing football and the Thai version of bowls. If ever I felt like I’d had a rough day I knew I could just come back and play games with Finsa and Fundi to chill out.
My Teaching placement
As I mentioned I had no teaching experience whatsoever. I did have a little prep from a TEFL course I’d done and on the induction Earb, my Projects Abroad teaching supervisor, had done her best to help prepare me for the challenge ahead. That said I was more than a little nervous on my first day, so having Earb along with me was reassuring.
I got into the class room and was teaching P4 who are about 8-9 years old. I’d hoped to teach about adjectives, but it quickly became apparent that adjectives were a step to far. I adapted quickly and decided to play some games with the children. After it was over I looked to Earb and Kru King, the English teacher in the school I was working with, and they both said not bad but you will get better, keep it simple, be flexible and try to get the children to be as active as possible. They weren’t expecting miracles but if the children have fun and maybe learn something then that’s a job well done.
From there I went from strength to strength teaching simple stuff like alphabet and numeracy to P1 to doing a lesson on how to give directions to P6. It wasn’t always easy, not everything I tried worked, but when it didn’t I just tried to adapt. If I got stuck I could ask Kru King to translate complicated instructions and if I needed inspiration for a lesson I could always ask Earb.
I enjoyed teaching so much. The school had such a friendly atmosphere. All the children were so happy simply to see me at school. They loved having their picture taken and playing games during lunch with them was always a highlight of my day. I enjoyed teaching in Thailand so much I’m thinking of going back and doing it as a job!
Free time in Thailand
I was only in Thailand for four weeks and we only really got a chance to travel on the weekends. That said I did get to see and climb Tiger Cave Temple, which was my favorite part, and the Emerald pool during the week. During the week I’d plan with a group of the volunteers what we wanted to do for the weekend.
On the first weekend we went to Railay beach and did a five island boat tour as well as going out in the evening into Ao Nang. Railay was the most beautiful beach I’d ever seen. On the night out we went to one of the bars and got to hear a Thai cover band doing all sorts of music from Happy to Californiacation. It was a really nice mix.
On my second weekend we traveled to Phucket. There I got to take some pictures of the big Buddha and see some of Phucket famous nightlife. On the last weekend before I flew back we traveled to Koh Lanta and it was one of the other volunteers’ 21st birthday so we had a party after chilling out on the beach for the day. I was sad that I didn’t get to see Bangkok or Chang Mai but I just decided that was all the more reason to comeback to Thailand!
I’ve truly had a wonderful experience of Thailand and the framework of volunteering made me feel my stay was both worthwhile and productive. Getting the opportunity to try out Teaching in Thailand with help and support of Projects Aboard has given me the confidence to go back to Thailand and do it as a job.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.