Teaching English in Chiang Mai
Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Why did you choose SEE TEFL over other companies?
The main reason I chose SEE TEFL was because, after a lot of research, I found their company to be one of the most prestigious and well-respected. They have 95 % graduation rate and predominantly good reviews throughout trustworthy comparison sites. Additionally, they are an Approved Centre of Training Qualifications, which is recognised by the UK government Office of Qualifications and Examinations. Furthermore, another huge factor when choosing SEE TEFL, came down to the country they offer the course in. The course runs in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Thailand is my one of my favourite places in the world and at this point feels like a second home. The prospect of being able to live and work there whilst gaining an accreditation was a no brainer for me.
Why the SEE TEFL Internship?
SEE TEFL offers a 4-week course of onsite training every month, which allows you to gain your certification immediately after the training. The internship is 2 weeks onsite training, followed by 4-5 months paid teaching, within a school in Chiang Mai. I chose the Internship because I wanted the opportunity to work in a Thai school. I already hold a Bachelor of Education Degree, so I could have done that without the internship, but most schools in Thailand want you to commit to a year’s contract. At that time, I was not ready to commit to a year in one place. Additionally, when you do an internship in the UK, typically the pay is less than that of a ‘regular’ job. This is not the case with the internship in Thailand, I was getting paid the same or more in my Internship placement, than my counterparts who had completed the 4-week course and found jobs independently. The internship meant I also still had the full support of the tutors from the SEE TEFL training centre throughout my internship.
What was the first week onsite initial training of the course like?
Before I left for Thailand, I was sent videos and assignments introducing classroom skills and grammar terminology. Some of the grammar terminology was a little over whelming at first, as when your first language is English, you do not tend to think about why we say the words we say. We just say them.
I did not need to worry as the 2 weeks onsite training would help me to understand the grammar side of the training. There were 10 of us ‘interns’ all from different parts of the world. We were taught essential classroom skills, language awareness and grammar techniques.
The biggest struggle for me in the first week was that we had to do ‘mock’ classes in front of our peers to prepare us for our observed teaching practices in the second week. Personally, I have no issues standing up and teaching in front of children. Standing up and teaching in front of 9 other adults is a little more daunting. I found I just had to let go of my ego and focus more on the point of why I was doing it.
Fortunately, everyone was in the same boat and after, we would all give one another positive feedback and discuss anything that we could improve upon.
The teaching itself I thought was conducted superbly. Shouvik and Terry who teach the lessons were both friendly and professional. They also genuinely listen and support you with any difficulties you may have.
What were the Observed Teaching Practices like?
It is always going to be intimidating when you are being observed in your teaching. It is important to remember, with good preparation and confidence in yourself, you can do it.
Previously, I have taught ESL in schools around Thailand, Indonesia and Africa, so I feel I was slightly more prepared than the other members of my group as to what to expect. The observation practices are often in schools within the poorer communities, and the children can often be difficult to settle. Especially as they are excited that there is a ‘Farang’ (foreign person) teaching their class.
It was great getting feedback at the end of the day. I can struggle to accept criticism at times, but any negative feedback I took as positive criticism and it all became beneficial when I started work in my placement school.
Overall, I found my teaching observations to be amazingly effective for my teaching growth.
What was the included accommodation like?
The accommodation was a beautiful, tranquil resort. We all shared a room with another member of the SEE TEFL group. I felt that SEE TEFL had thought carefully about who should have been placed in a room together, as I was paired perfectly with a lovely girl from Ireland and we have been great friends ever since!
There was a gym, restaurant and huge swimming pool on the property. The location of the property is walking distance to The Night Bazaar, Central Festival Shopping Centre and only a 15-minute walk to the SEE TEFL building.
What did you do in your free time?
The first week of my initial training we spent walking around Chiang Mai, swimming in the pool, eating at local restaurants, drinking beers and playing card games.
The second week of the training, we literally had no time for ‘free-time’. We were very busy with lesson planning for the Teaching Practices.
Once I started my teaching placement I spent my weekends discovering the city, exploring beautiful temples, visiting Karen villages in the mountains, shopping in the local markets, drinking with friends, meeting backpackers at Zoe in Yellow and (as I love food) trying every Khao Soi in Chiang Mai and uncovering all the best local Thai restaurants. I also spent my time exploring other Northern Cities and learning more about Northern Thailand's 'Lanna' culture.
How was the school placement?
My placement was in an all-girls Catholic Private School in the heart of Chiang Mai. I loved my time at the school and found I was able to practice and discover my new role as an ESL teacher.
The school were extremely supportive and accommodating. I was able to build great relationships with my Thai students and although they could be challenging at times, the more I adapted to my role the easier classroom management became.
I taught students from four years old to fourteen years old. This gave me great variation within my teaching and has given me great confidence for my future teaching practice.
If you are on the fence about whether to undertake a placement on the internship course, I would recommend you try it. There are obstacles to face and barriers to overcome but overall, you will find it extremely beneficial to your future teaching. Also, having a TEFL certificate is hugely beneficial and looks great on your resume. For me the experience and learning I gained from this experience was transforming. Plus, I got to live in beautiful Thailand.
What could be better than that?