Living in Thailand was something I, like many others, had dreamed about.
So three months after landing in Bangkok, settled and ready to live my new expat life, I was curious as to why it did not feel like all my dreams had come true.
It took a while before I realised it was because I wasn’t working.
Determined to take control of my new life I turned on the laptop to see what Bangkok had to offer me in terms of a career. Which wasn’t a lot unless I wanted to be a teacher—which I didn’t. Having left the childcare industry a few months before moving to Bangkok, I was looking for something more challenging, preferably in writing. However after two weeks of unsuccessful job searches later, I realised that teaching was the only option available at this time, so I swallowed my hopes and looked into what was needed to become a teacher and that’s when I stumbled across Ajarn.
Ajarn is a website that not only displays up to date jobs, but helpful blogs about teaching, life in Thailand, and what to expect when moving to Asia. I was able to discover a world of information in one place, which certainly made my research easier, so I signed up and began my search for a job. After looking at the first few that caught my eye, I noticed a pattern occurring. Every employer wanted somebody with a TESOL qualification, which is something I didn’t have, naively assuming that being born and raised in England (with a semi-teaching related background) would make finding a job easier.
There are many courses available for you to choose from, each with its own price, location and marketing tactic. I think my favourite ploy was “beach side TESOL course in Phuket. Top up your tan whilst training to be a teacher!” but I wanted a course that focused on quality teaching, so I continued looking until I found one without marketing gimmicks.
I decided upon Chichester College – a place that trains TESOL teachers in the day, and provides English classes for Thai students at night.
The course was a mixture of fun, stress and a continuous workload with short deadline dates. Daily journals, weekly peer teaching, constant material prep, weekly assignments, daily lesson plans, weekly excursions and twice weekly (evening) teaching practice were just some of the things I had to endure.
The course was by no means easy.
But it was worth it.
I gained a great deal of knowledge from teachers that strove for the best, and support was always available when needed. My favourite thing was that although each teacher had their own teaching style, they all shared a love of the hands-on approach, so instead of telling you how to do something, they would help you figure it out so that you could move forward independently.
Course cost varies upon providers, but the average mark-up seems to hang around the £1,000 GBP mark. I was a bit nervous about parting with such a large chunk of money, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that a TESOL is full of benefits. It’s a one time cost and can help you get jobs all over the world, which is perfect if you want to travel!
There are TESOL courses available all over the world, but my advice to you, is pick a course that suits your needs. You don’t want to take a course that takes hours to get to, because when you are doing that journey twice a day five times a week, you will get fed up pretty quickly.
The best way to tell if a course is within an appropriate distance is to do a dummy run on a weekday. Leave your accommodation at the time you would expect to leave if you were on the course. This way you get an accurate portrayal of what traffic will be like and you can plan what time to leave accordingly. I made the mistake of doing my dummy run on a Sunday, and a journey that took half an hour on a Sunday took four hours on a Monday morning… Making me three hours late.
So what should you expect from a TESOL course?
Honestly? A great deal of paper work, no social life and a stress headache or five. But you should also expect to meet new people, make great friends and have amazing experiences that you would never normally have the chance to experience!