This post is for anyone who is thinking about doing a TEFL internship. I recently made the tough decision to return home from Thailand back to the UK, to continue my studies and gain the qualification which will allow me to teach in Thailand's International Schools. I am still making use of my TEFL qualification by Teaching students English online alongside my studies. The qualification will also give me so many more opportunities when the world re-opens and I can get back on my travels.
Angelique Ellis is 27 years old and from the UK. She spent 2 years traveling and working in Australia and then embarked on a journey to Asia. This is when she fell completely in love with Thailand and knew she wanted to stay and live there for as long as possible. Having well and truly caught the travel bug, Angelique decided to combine her love of travel and teaching and to do a TEFL Internship through Premier TEFL. She knew that gaining a TEFL certificate, and experience of teaching in Chiang Mai, would allow her the flexibility to travel and earn long-term.
Tell us about yourself, Angelique! We’d love to know about your background, what drew you to teaching abroad, and more.
I am a 27-year-old from the UK and have recently returned from teaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I have always wanted to teach abroad. When I was around 10 years old, my father took us to visit a local village in the Dominican Republic. I couldn’t believe this different way of life and I was in awe of experiencing such a different new culture. I remember feeling so lucky to have had the opportunity to have such a unique experience. From that moment I’ve always had a huge passion for travel and learning about new cultures.
Tell us about your path to teaching abroad—Did you always know you’d end up in Thailand?
I completed my Education Degree in 2015 at 22 years old, and then decided I was ready to explore the world. I spent the next 2 years following on from my graduation traveling and working in Australia, the following year I embarked on a journey through Asia. This is when I fell completely in love with Asia and I knew I wanted to stay and live there for as long as possible. I had well and truly caught the ‘Travel-Bug’. So, I decided to combine my love of travel and teaching and do a TEFL Internship through Premier TEFL. I knew that gaining a TEFL certificate, and experience of teaching in Chiang Mai, would allow me the flexibility to travel and earn long-term.
What is your favorite age-group to work with and why? Would you consider teaching other age groups?
My favorite age group to teach is between 3-7. At this age, children have such a natural sense of wonder and curiosity to learn. Their enthusiasm helps to promote creativity within me and encourages me to use more of my imagination. I love this age range particularly, as this is when you start to see children grow and create their own identity.
What were three things about your experience in Thailand that you did not anticipate?
A World Pandemic!
I think the main thing I did not anticipate was a world pandemic happening whilst I was living on the other side of the world. During this time, the schools closed so I headed down to the South of Thailand and spent the lockdown on the beaches of Koh Lanta. This was an amazing experience for me as I felt that the Thai people really took care of me during such a scary time and being so far away from family. I got to experience Thai Culture even further and my love for Thailand grew even more.
Smoke Season. I didn’t realize that the smog in Chiang Mai would get so bad. Between March and April is the smoke season when the farmers and factories begin burning agricultural waste. During this time the smog in Chiang Mai can sometimes become almost unbearable. The good thing for teachers is that this is during the school holidays, so I would recommend during the smoke season you go to visit the stunning South Islands.
The weather. I had visited Thailand before and it had always been warm. In Chiang Mai, December and January can be quite cold. You need to make sure you pack for all weather conditions. I enjoyed the cold season as it made it feel Christmassy! Chiang Mai surprised me with how much they got into the Christmas spirit, the malls were decorated with beautiful decorations and the children would sing Christmas carols. It was beautiful getting to experience Chiang Mai in the run-up to Christmas.
What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher abroad?
The most rewarding experience is to be able to look back on the children’s workbooks and assessments from when they started with you, to see how far they’ve come along. I had one pupil in my class who didn’t speak to me at all when I began teaching at the school, but as time went on. I gradually built up her confidence to speak in English, she began to come out of her shell. By the end of my term at the school, this little girl would shout ‘Good Morning Teacher Angel’ to me every morning when she rode past me on the back of her mum’s motorbike. It’s small things like that which are the most rewarding.
You’ve just completed your Thailand program (congrats!). Now that you’ve had a little time to process, what were the best parts of your experience—both inside and outside of the classroom?
One of the best parts of my experience was the people that I met during my TEFL course. There were 10 of us placed together on the Thailand internship, all with different backgrounds and from different parts of the world. We created such a strong bond and became each other’s support system, through the highs and the lows. Even though we are all back in our own countries now, I know we will always stay in touch and I have made life-long friends.
I also loved just being a part of the Thai Culture and living it. Thailand is so beautiful, my friends and I would spend weekends riding a motorbike up into the mountains and just enjoying the luscious green views. I also just loved walking around the city visiting the different temples, and trying out as much local Thai food as I could. Khao Soi is a traditional northern dish that I fell absolutely in love with. Now I am home and I long for the days when I could walk down the road and get a delicious Kao Soi within minutes. Oh and the coffee! There are so many amazing coffee shops in Chiang Mai, I would spend whole weekends just walking the streets, reading my book, and drinking coffee in the different cafes.
Another amazing experience of teaching in Thailand is noticing the difference in how teachers are treated compared to in the UK. The respect you get from parents is something I had never experienced before. Parents hold native English speakers in the highest regard. There is a lot of value placed on education and learning. Being a teacher in Thailand, I was treated with the utmost respect from Thai locals.
What advice do you have for someone on the fence about whether to teach abroad or not?
I think anyone with a genuine passion for teaching should do it. You will take so much away from your experience of teaching abroad and yet be giving so much back.
Why is Thailand the Best Destination for an Internship
If Thailand is on your bucket list, we encourage you to go! Teaching in “The Land of Smiles” will keep you grinning for years to come and. But be warned: Thai hospitality will make you want to stay forever.
From its very affordable street food (you’ve never seen pad see ew quite like this) and majestic Buddhist temples. To its peaceful vibes and of course, elephants. Thailand is known for the best beaches in the world. The clear warm water, stunning views, and insane marine life. To look at as you swim, scuba dive, or snorkel your way through the water. Furthermore, Thailand has so many different types of beaches to visit while your there. From the laid back, relaxed beaches to party all night long, everyone can find there a perfect beach in Thailand.
Thailand is a dream destination for all types of travelers. But, their collective desire to learn English makes it especially great for TEFL teachers. Teaching abroad in Thailand is super-sized, and the highs come by the dozen. Dive in!
What is a paid TEFL internship?
A paid internship is a short term (usually one semester) teaching placement abroad. It is something everyone should consider. As well as gaining a supported experience as a first time English teacher, it is fantastic opportunity to explore local food and culture along with people of similar interests to you. The internship takes place in the destination of your choice and is all-inclusive. No need to fret about organizing the placement, transport from the airport or the accommodation. We will take care of the logistics and plan the ultimate internship that you will love! Meaning that you have plenty of time to plan along list of tourist trips. A teaching adventure made easy! Are you ready for a supported teaching semester abroad…loaded with unbeatable inclusions? You’ll enjoy rent-free accommodation to bucket-list trips to iconic attractions. If so, Premier TEFL has got you covered!
Difference between internships & a regular TEFL job
An internship is shorter than your regular TEFL job. It depends on which internship you choose with regard to the placement length, but it varies from 3 months to 12 months.
When you start the internship you aren’t alone. We understand when starting a new job and moving to a new country, it can be nerve-racking. When you start an internship with us, you start with a group of other like-minded people on the same start date. It’s comforting knowing each person is new to the group, new to teaching, and new to the area. It’s like a ready-made bunch of friends. The bond you will have between each other will grow immensely and end up being extraordinary. All of these people are involved in such a huge new chapter of your life and will help you along your journey
It’s the perfect start to your TEFL career. If you would like the option to travel more and work part-time, then an internship can provide you with the flexibility you need. If you would rather work full time that’s perfectly possible too. When working full time you be earning more and it will cover most of your expenses. Finding a balance between work and leisure is important so that you can make the most of exploring your new surroundings.