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thailand

Article Published on International TEFL Academy’s Official Blog – “The Start of a New Chapter After Thailand”

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Link to this post on ITA’s blog: https://www.internationalteflacademy.com/alumni-stories/the-start-of-a-new-chapter  

By: Courtney Clark 

Hi, I’m Courtney! I took my TEFL certification class in January 2016 and worked part-time for a while to save up money to teach abroad. I finally decided on Thailand as my destination because it was somewhere I always wanted to visit and the timing coincided perfectly with the start of their school semester. I left for Thailand in April 2017 and taught kindergarten until October 2017.

I had 33 students and would teach English, science, math and art lessons each week. All of the students had very unique personalities, which always kept class interesting. Some of my favorite moments include pretending to be zombies and chasing each other around on the playground, dancing to the video “Baby Shark”, and a day where everyone brought in food, and I taught the students how to make sandwiches.

Teaching English in Thailand

From the moment I gave notice that I would be returning to the U.S., I knew it would be incredibly difficult to leave all the people I met there behind. It was so hard to say goodbye to all the friends I had made, my Thai co-teachers who had become like family to me, and my adorable little students. However, I had to leave for my own reasons, which were to be able to grow as a person in new ways and to really get started on my career.

Upon arriving home in the U.S., I immediately noticed so many differences between the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to in Thailand and the one I grew up in but that now felt so foreign to me. I forgot about the “hustle bustle,” busy, rushing lifestyle that is the norm here in the U.S. I also forgot about the importance and stress placed on productivity rather than a peaceful state of mind. I felt unsure about my ability to adapt back into such a stressful environment.

Teaching English in Thailand

Reverse culture shock is a real thing. Whereas everyone in grocery stores in Thailand left me alone, here it felt like I was being bombarded by retail workers about store sales and being forced to remember simple things such as small talk about the weather. Whereas all the signs in Thailand were in Thai, and I learned to disregard them, now everything was bright and distracting in giant English letters. The simplest way I can describe this feeling is “sensory overload.”

However, once I finally got over my jet lag and reverse culture shock, I remembered that this fast paced lifestyle is what has always motivated me and pushed me to be the type of person I am which is constantly trying to improve and grow and learn in new, challenging ways. Although I learned so much about myself, Thai culture, the complexity and responsibility of being a teacher, and will always be overwhelmingly grateful for it all, I feel that I have found another opportunity that is a perfect fit for me at this time.

Teaching English in Thailand

My new opportunity is a position in my field of study. I worked on school newspapers from high school all through college and really enjoyed writing and editing all sorts of different topics. Naturally, I majored in English. During my last year of college, I also completed a book publishing internship. I always thought I would continue along this line of editing/publishing but had trouble finding a job after graduation even with all my prior experience and a writing portfolio. However, once returning from Thailand, I added that experience to my resume and felt like I started to get noticed more and received more responses from jobs I applied to.

After several interviews that didn’t feel like a great fit, I finally landed on a marketing company that was looking for a copy editor. After the first interview, I could tell it would be a very exciting opportunity where I would really be able to test my copy-editing and project manager skills. I am very happy to say that everything worked out, and I am now working in my field and beginning my career. I have a picture of my teachers and students from Thailand on my desk. I am thankful every day for the experience and will never forget all that I have learned and how I got to the place I am today.

Teaching English in Thailand

A lot of people ask me if I would ever teach abroad again and the answer is a giant YES!!! I don’t have any plans to in the near future, but it is a priceless life experience I would absolutely love to try again later in my life. I highly recommend it to everyone I meet.

Sabai sabai  (a common Thai phrase meaning “everything’s good” or “not a care in the world”)

Courtney Clark is 25 from Bloomingdale, IL,with a BA in English from Roosevelt University. She worked as a writer/editor for several years before deciding to teach kindergarten in Thailand.

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thailand

International TEFL Academy Alumni presentation

March 2018 I returned to International TEFL Academy (Chicago Campus) after living abroad to share my experience teaching in Thailand with the newest graduates of the certification program.

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thailand

Teaching in Thailand Part II

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We are now on the third week of class. Each week there is a predetermined topic to base lessons around. The first week was “orientation,” the second week was “school,” and the third week is “body parts.” In addition to teaching them English, I also teach English math and English science. When I am not teaching, they are either in Thai class, Thai science class, at the playground, eating lunch or taking a nap. I also teach an art period and a “movement” period (which is basically PE but mostly dancing along to English songs for kids).

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Each week I prepare worksheets, phonics flashcards (for both the letter of the week and for the topic of the week vocabulary), at least one game/activity, several videos to show and an art project. The best part of lesson planning by far is when I get to color a worksheet/picture for an example for the students. I am grateful for the freedom I have within the curriculum to choose what worksheets and other resources I use especially now that I have accessed their English skills. There are actually big differences in knowledge between classes of the same grade here- possibly due to the frequent turnover in teachers at this school.

As the semester moves forward the students are not only improving their English but also becoming more comfortable with me as their teacher and in turn becoming more confident in their speaking. Last week a student was able to communicate to me exactly something that happened between two other students in the class (one pushed the other) and that was a great feeling to share that understanding. There have been a few moments so far where things didn’t go as I planned such as a certain activity not working out as well as I had hoped but the students are so funny and always immediately raising my spirits with their positive energy.

I am learning a lot from the students + (hopefully) they are learning a lot from me + we’re all having fun doing it so far!

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thailand

Songkran 2017

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I arrived in Thailand on April 11 and spent the day picking an apartment and shopping for some supplies that weren’t possible to pack such as laundry detergent, pillows, clothes hangers, etc. The next day I flew out to Phuket and then took a cab down to Khao Lak to meet up with some of my coworkers. April 12 was spent settling in at the hostel, exploring the town and having dinner by the water with a beautiful sunset. The next day, April 13, was Songkran which is the Thai New Year. In some areas of Thailand Songkran is celebrated April 14-15 as well since it is still the holiday period but where we were there was only one day of the water festival. We were really relieved about this because even though it was an incredibly fun experience by the end of the day we just really wanted to be dry.

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We bought cheap water guns at little shops and all along the streets establishments placed out large buckets of water for people to fill their guns or buckets with. It was just one gigantic water fight. We went to a bar that had the large gallons of water on the sidewalk and then there was a median in the street which is where we stayed for most of the day because the bar was playing music and trucks would drive by with people shooting and throwing water from the back. We were also aiming at the people on motorbikes.

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During this fest, if a Thai person likes you they will put a white or colored clay/paste on your face which you can see in some of these photos. It was just honestly such an amazing experience to get to have fun and feel like a little kid again. It is definitely an experience I’d recommend to everyone who comes to Thailand.