TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
By Jeff Penick
With a higher population than all of the other continents combined, Asia continues to reign supreme in terms of demand for English teachers around the globe. Throughout Asia, schools are hiring thousands of new teachers on a monthly basis and most jobs can be found in the larger cities. Listed below (in no particular order) are five of the top Asian cities that provide a culturally rich and unique lifestyle along with an abundance of English teaching opportunities.
One of the great benefits of teaching English abroad is enjoying the opportunity to experience the celebrations and festivals of different cultures. For those teaching English in Thailand, this is certainly the case when mid-April arrives and the nation seemingly erupts into a giant water fight to commemorate Songkran - the Thai New Year, which is certainly one of the most colorful and unique festivals in the world. The most striking element of this ancient festival is the ubiquitous splashing and throwing of water - by hand, water-gun, hoses, and even elephants - upon others, which is regarded as a New Year's blessing.
Perhaps no city in the world is more of a study in contrasts than Bangkok, a dazzling metropolis of 10 million that serves as the capital of Thailand. Here soaring glass skyscrapers overlook centuries-old palaces and pagodas while monumental shopping malls stand blocks away from traditional floating markets. This is a city where clean-shaven Buddhist monks rub shoulders with Armani-clad businessmen and zippy little "tuk tuks" (motorized rickshaws that serve as Bangkok's favorite taxis) weave around sparkling Mercedes on traffic-choked thoroughfares that run alongside serene parks and ancient temples. Bangkok is the city where you can eat a sumptuous world class meal in a five-star restaurant for hundreds of dollars, or dine on mind-blowing curry or soul-soothing noodle soup prepared street side for a dollar or less
Opportunities to teach English in Thailand are plentiful- just as the country itself offers a multitude of natural marvels and numerous stunning Buddhist temples, you will easily find a satisfying teaching job that suits your personal interests and qualifications.
Positions are available in schools throughout Thailand, particularly in Bangkok, the nation’s geographic, economic and cultural capital. Other popular places in Thailand to teach are the cities of Chang Mai, Phuket, and Pattaya.
As an English teacher in Thailand, you can expect a wide variety of incredible and inexpensive food, good music and great nightlife, cheap movies, and remarkable diversity.
Thai people are very open, friendly and willing to help, especially if they see that you’re respectful of their customs and interested in staying awhile. The Thai concept of time may surprise some expats at first- the Thais tend to live at a slower pace, preferring to linger and relax, leaving their Western counterparts to rush and hurry through life. Buddhist values permeate all levels of Thai culture, from the concept of “mai pen rai” (roughly translated to "don’t worry about it"), to ideas related to social hierarchy and values. English teachers in Thailand are automatically respected by right of their position, as all teachers are highly revered in Thai society.
The concept of sanuk (translated to mean ‘fun’) is also very important to keep in mind while teaching English in Thailand. Students here appreciate lessons that are very interactive and entertaining. Include lots of language-learning games and plenty of activities in your lesson plans while you teach!
As an English teacher in Thailand, you will typically be referred to as either an “ajarn” or “kru.” An ajarn is usually a professor who lectures at a university, rather than a basic English teacher, but the use of this term signifies the admiration you can expect to receive from both your students and their families. Kru is a better word to describe your position, as it simply means “teacher.”
On your off days, there are a myriad of gorgeous diversions for English teachers in Thailand to explore. If you’re working on your TEFL certification in Thailand, the International TEFL Academy’s host city, Pattaya, is known for it’s fantastic beaches and nearby coral islets.