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Chiang Mai, Thailand English Teaching Q and A with Madelyn Barry
Written by: International TEFL Academy
Last Updated: January 24, 2020
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
Inver Grove Heights, MN
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
South Africa, France, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland
If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?
Cape Town, South Africa
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I wanted to do something where I could earn money and still be immersed in the culture of the country. I wanted something less competitive and enjoyable.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
Did not research my country well enough and not having direct contacts or the security of a job.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
They were all very supportive but also concerned about the lack of job security. My younger friends were jealous and proud, whereas my older family members were more concerned and scared about a new culture.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I chose TEFL because I thought the price was good; however, looking back I did not think the price was that good compared to other places. It ended up being okay but the online class seemed easy to me.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Course
How did you like the course?
I enjoyed the course, but I did not feel like I learned much that I didn't already know. I had Karen Duncan as an instructor and she was great; however the online version is simply not a great choice. I chose it to save money, but I simply did not get the practice in a classroom until my practicum that I had to find and organize. The tasks were somewhat helpful as they got me creative and thinking outside the box, but honestly it was simply not the best choice.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
The practicum (live practice teaching) helped A LOT. The entire course should incorporate practicum things so the future teachers are getting the honest experience about how their teaching abroad will truly go. Lesson plans were somewhat common, but there is no need to plan extreme amounts to walk in to the classroom and have the wifi not work or students not show up. Things are constantly changing here, so you have to practice thinking on your feet and making up a good lesson as you go.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Thailand in the city of Chiang Mai because it was the perfect size for my liking.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
I have been here for three months and I plan to stay for another four months
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Ambassador Bilingual School
During which months does your school typically hire?
They hire at the beginning of October and end of April
Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?
How did you interview for this position?
What kind of visa did you enter on?
Tourist visa (and then work visa upon arrival)
Please explain the visa process that you went through.
I sent my application through the mail to earn a 60 day tourist visa which cost about $50. After I got my job here, I applied for a work visa. My school organized the whole thing, although I did have to pay for it and travel out of the country. It was easy once I got the information, and there is no need to worry throughout the process.
What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply
What is the best way to apply?
Tell us about your English teaching job!
At first it was very challenging and frustrating. There was no direction or objective or lessons to follow. The lack of formality and format was hard to deal with, but after a few weeks I figured out how to organize my class. The plus is that I get to decide what materials to use and how I want to teach the students. The negative is that I have to stay organized and keep on top of my lesson plans to determine what works best. I am working 7:45-4pmM-F. However I only have class four 50 minute periods per day. I am being paid 30,000 THB (approx. $850 USD), but you should compete for more pay because usually they will do it. I am working at a private bilingual school. I have uniformed students who range from everywhere internationally. I teach many Chinese students aged 15-16. It is a laid back system and the students know it. They have Christmas break and some random other days. It has been a tough but great experience thus far.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I just stayed in touch with coworkers and searched around to find a place to live. Once you settle in for a month, it is easy to move if you hunt for better housing. Word of mouth is the best way to do it. I live alone and have a pool and room similar to a nice hotel room.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
Thailand is awesome! I really enjoy it here. Every city I have experienced other than Bangkok, has been wonderful and welcoming. No fear of pickpocketing or cat calling. Everyone is respectful and helpful to foreigners, as long as you respect their culture and Buddhism. I rent a motor scooter to get around. It has been safe as long as you are alert. It is cheap and easy. Other than that, they just began Uber and have red truck taxis that can take you anywhere. There are a good amount of bars and the nightlife is safe and fun! The mountains are great to hike up, and going out to eat is the main social activity. The food is so different at each place so it is smart to learn some Thai to discuss foods when at a restaurant. I have not taken part in the dating scene, but Tinder seems like the best way to go about it and meet people. You can travel to main cities every weekend on cheap buses. I recommend Chiang Rai and Pai.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
RENT - Currently, I pay 8,500 THB ($240 USD.
FOOD - 100 THB ($2.50 USD) a day for food (sometimes more when I have a western meal); 400 THB ($10 USD) for drinks in the weekend.
BIKE & GAS - 3,000 THB ($85 USD) for my bike and gas a month. 500 THB a month for my data on my phone.
PHONE SIM CARD - The SIM card cost 50 THB ($15 USD) only.
TRAVEL - Travel depends on how far. Sometimes it is cheap, other times, expensive. Just do your research.
How would you describe your standard of living?
Great. Obviously there is a bit of culture shock from the Western world, but the standard of living is actually amazing and comfortable.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
Comfortable is a varied word, but I would say rent is about 5000-10,000 THB ($140 - $280 USD) per month. So an income of 30,000 THB (about $850 USD) is perfect.
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
Do your research! Make sure you know where you are committing to and contact people that have your same ideas. I would for sure recommend teaching in Chiang Mai- love it!
Founded in 2010, International TEFL Academy is a world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad & teaching English online. ITA offers accredited TEFL certification classes online & in 25 locations worldwide and has received multiple awards & widespread recognition as one of the best TEFL schools in the world. ITA provides all students and graduates with lifetime job search guidance. ITA has certified more than 25,000 English teachers and our graduates are currently teaching in 80 countries worldwide.
Want to Learn More About Teaching English Abroad?
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