Teaching English in Thailand: Day 59, Reflection

I mentioned yesterday that a reflective post would probably come next week; well here it is now. This weekend I am away again (surprise surprise!) and I have a feeling that next week will be a busy one! So while I have time now, I'll give you a little 'after-thought' on my experience working as an ETA in Thailand. 

I didn't really have any expectations when I came to the school, which I think was the best way to go about it. It meant that I wasn't disappointed with much, like when the teacher came to the class with no plan of their own, leaving me to come up with something on the spot. I wasn't disappointed when I quickly learnt that the students' level of English was extremely low, and they were very shy, meaning we had no conversation out of class. No expectations meant I also wasn't disappointed when I didn't have access to many resources at school. I dealt with that by using the white board a lot and using my body a lot to emphasise what I was talking about- but that was all I had. It also meant that I had to focus my lessons around topics that I could explain, act out or draw- which isn't such a bad thing! It meant that I really gave the students my time and effort, rather than just handing them a work sheet to do which wouldn't have been much fun for any of us. After all, we are here to provide the students with a fun English experience, even if it means wandering (very far) away from the curriculum.

Things I have learnt

Some Thai teachers of English can't actually teach English (very well). You can see this in the older students at school who haven't a clue how to deviate from their daily greeting: "good morning teacher how are you [...] I'm fine thank you." I have even tried and failed in my quest to teach them other emotions that they may feel, instead of "fine." I feel like it is down to the teachers to let the students know that they are allowed to say something other than "fine" in this frustratingly robotic greeting routine.

I think that more qualified English teachers should teach in Thailand, to provide good teaching with exact knowledge of the subject. By this I mean teachers of English, from England- and good ones at that. Some of the Thai teachers struggle with teaching English, especially stumbling on pronunciation. Furthermore, a favourite technique of the Thais is 'listen and repeat', meaning their poor pronunciation is being shouted back at them after every word they say. This meant that when I asked "what is the time?" to a class, they would reply "what is the time?", rather than actually answering me. It is very frustrating that this way of teaching has been drummed into them from their first days at school, meaning it would take an awful lot to change it. 

Teenagers are still teenagers. Wherever you go in the world, the teens will still have attitude, still want to chill with their friends, and still be similar to most other teens in the UK. I was half expecting the students at school to be really interested in me. I thought they might try and have a conversation with me or they might all try and add me on Facebook, but its really not been like that for me. Their lack of knowledge of English really hinders their chances of having a chat with me, but they can surely try, right?! I mentioned on this blog a while back a girl from M4 who attempted to talk to me once, and it was ok! Shock! We had some exchanged words about ladyboys and all was well. So I know they have it in them! 

Culture shock

When I first came to my school, I was faced with a huge culture shock regarding their way of life and their teaching system. I never imagined that the way a teacher may teach would vary so much in different cultures. I was told by my mentor in Bangkok when we first met that many of the teachers use a microphone in their classes. I thought 'wouldn't that make it hard for them to move around and get involved with the class?' -well, the answer is yes! If a teacher is limited to where they can go by their mic lead, then of course the huge classes of 40 will be affected. The students at the back will chat and draw on each other whilst the ones at the front try to decipher the distorted voice of their teacher. I thought to myself "I'll stick to my good ol' vocal chord power, thank you very much!" And I'm happy to say that using my voice alone was enough to capture the attention of all the students in the class. 


Before coming to Thailand I knew that I would be in for some funky food. I also knew I would enjoy a lot of it, being a lover of things weird and wonderful. However, I draw the line at congealed blood in noodle soup and boiled chicken feet. Yep- thats right- Thai people eat chicken feet. And they put them in your food, expecting you to eat them, too. And it doesn't stop there! Chicken intestines, raw baby crabs, raw, live 'dancing' shrimp, fish heads, chicken bums... You name any part of any animal that we would usually throw away in the western world- they make a meal out of it. Which is great! I love the fact that they are so resourceful out here. They really do make the most of what they've got, which I find really refreshing. Just don't make me eat it! Also, you will often find people wearing plastic bags on their head when it rains, and keeping left over food in their fridges for probably a bit too long.

Congealed blog and soup mmm


There are stray dogs everywhere. I'm pretty afraid of dogs at the best of times, even if they are a pedigree, Crufts winning, bow-wearing pretty little thing- I just don't like them. So when there are tens of disease ridden dogs loitering outside your house, the streets, and even in the school, you've kinda got to deal with it. I also didn't splash the cash on a rabies jab either, which doesn't help the situation!

Crazy roads

Every day you will see madness on the roads. This ranges from scooters driving the opposite way up the road, people overtaking and undertaking wherever they like, people sitting in the back of pick up trucks, people asleep on the top of their open-top-brick-carrying lorries, overtaking on one-way-one lane roads.. you name it, it happens here. I'm still unsure about which side of the road we are actually meant to drive on- honestly!

"ooh, these bricks are so comfy!"

Thai men and safety

Thai men don't stare at me!! Every other country that I have been to, I have been gawped at for being blonde (or just insanely attractive). It can become pretty uncomfortable, especially when they start crowding round... But in Thailand, I really haven't felt like I stick out too much. The men don't stare WHICH IS GREAT, and if anyone does look for a little longer than they should, they usually then ask for a photo with me! I also feel very safe getting into taxis with Thai men. They usually just have a little chat with me which neither of us can understand, but we laugh it off and its cool. And I arrive at my destination untouched and alive- yay!

Brilliant taxi driver/ hair dresser

Genuine kindness

I have come into contact with some extremely kind people. Many of which don't have any reason to be so kind but it is just the way they are! This includes the receptionist at Kiri Nakara in Hua Hin who looked after me whilst I was lonely little lamb, my good friend Rowena who will cook me cakes until I am obese, my host Kanang who has housed me, fed me and taken care of me since arriving, hilarious teacher Ju, taxi drivers and so many other strangers. The kind, laid back attitude that the Thais have is great. I definitely feel like the English could learn something from them- I certainly hope I do! 

My Thai host Kanang whipping up a treat for me
Beautiful Rowena who has kept me sane for 2 months at school!
Invited to a wedding lunch by a stranger



  1. A great reflection, it's been so interesting reading your daily blogs. I will certainly miss them. It's helped me to not miss you so much, I have felt as though I have been on the journey with you. Mum xx

    1. Aw Mama I'm glad you have enjoyed them and that you could experience so much through my blog haha. Love you! xx