Before I became a teacher I read so many articles and blogs discussing how respectful Thai kids are, how well behaved they are and how much they respect western teachers…can I move to their school please? As much as I have already fallen in love with a lot of my kids, a lot of them, quite frankly, are little shits. Initially I must admit, I felt a little disappointed. Although we touched on classroom management during my TEFL course, it simply wasn’t enough and I feel like my trainers really played down just how badly behaved the students can be over here. The fact of the matter is, everyone passes here- you could not turn up to any classes, you could fall asleep in every class, you could not learn a single thing…and you would still pass your classes. Welcome to Thailand! So let’s think about this for a second, I’m a smart arse Thai kid who cannot be bothered to learn English, my foreign teacher can’t cane me (like the Thai teachers can), they can’t punish me in any real way…and I still pass. Of course I’m going to do whatever I want. Alleh-wah?! (What the fuck in Thai, Thai kids’ favourite phrase).
Now, let’s not become a Debbie Downer. Despite all of this, I have really loved my first week of being teacher. The kids surprise me every single day, in good and bad ways- I had a 12 year old who didn’t know what a pen was, followed by a 5 year old say ‘pleased to meet you, how are you today?’. I usually get bored of jobs back home, they become easy and then unbearable. Well this job certainly is a challenge and I don’t think it can ever get boring. I love coming up with creative ways to get the kids motivated, to get them to listen to me or to get them speaking in English. The language barrier is certainly a big thing though, it breaks my heart when I have to tell a 5 year old I don’t understand what they’re saying to me, but I celebrate small victories every day.
Let me tell you about my school; I live in Phrapradang, Samutprakarn, which is a province 20 minutes drive South of Bangkok. I simply adore it here, I live in a high rise apartment block with a swimming pool, a couple of restaurants, a beauty salon and a minimart AND it’s only a short hop, skip and jump from central Bangkok. My school is in the middle of what I can only describe as a council estate, which there is of course nothing wrong with, seeing as that is where I grew up and went to school myself. The kids are quite underprivileged here and have had a string of utterly terrible TEFL teachers which is why they’re so disrespectful. I feel as if I can make a real difference here but it’s going to take a LOT of sweat, tears and possibly blood. I have a lot of tricks up my sleeves kids and your English levels WILL improve by the end of this term if it kills me! (Even if I just teach my P6’s- year 6 what a pen is). My p1’s (Reception class-5 years old) on the other hand are an absolute dream, if I could bring them home with me, I probably would.