Teaching in Chaiyaphum was my first experience as an ESL teacher.
Teaching English abroad is becoming more popular as the years go on. If you have ever taught abroad, you know why. If you haven’t, you should try it at least once.
It is a life-changing, indelible experience that will stay with you forever. Even if it is not the experience you’d hoped for, it is still an experience and you stepped out of your comfort zone.
Being an ESL is immensely rewarding and not to mention it looks great on your resume- no matter what job you get.
And hey, if you decide to travel and teach ESL around the world, I’m glad to hear it. You’ve come to the right place.
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The Chaiyaphum pronunciation is chai-ya-fum.
Chaiyaphum province lies northeast of the country and is about 5 hours from Bangkok.
You can book a bus from one city to the next for less than USD 10.
Chaiyaphum is located in Isan, also spelled Isaan or Esan. There are several more ways to spell it if you do a quick Google search.
Isan is the region located to the northeast of the country. It consists of 20 provinces and it borders Laos.
Chaiyaphum meaning ‘victory land’ comes from Sanskirt. The word chaiya comes from the word jaya in Sanskrit meaning ‘victory’ and phum comes from bhumi in Sanskrit meaning ‘earth’ or ‘land.’
Four national parks are within the province, including Tat Ton National Park and Sai Thong National Park.
Within the province, there are 16 districts (amphoes), including Mueang Chaiyaphum, which is where I ended up living and teaching for a few weeks.
For my first time living and teaching abroad, I’d say it was a pretty decent experience.
Chaiyaphum is where I was placed through Greenheart and Xplore Asia.
Once I was finished with Xplore Asia, they handed me off to Media Kids Academy to teach at Anuban Chaiyaphum.
About Media Kids Academy
You should apply for Media Kids Academy if you are looking to teach in central, Isan, or northern Thailand.
There are plenty of other jobs and recruiters that you can go through if you don’t want to be placed in those parts of the country.
With Media Kids, you will be given 2 white blouses if you are a woman and a tie if you are a man.
You are required to have closed-toe shoes, a long plain shirt, and professional hair.
Side note: If you have ever been to Asia before, you know that some sizes in both clothes and shoes are difficult to find. It is best to do your own research and plan ahead. If you have family back home you can have them send you anything that you may need and cannot get in Thailand.
My Experience Teaching in Chaiyaphum
I lived within a 20-minute walk from the school which worked out great.
I’d usually get to the school and start with lesson planning.
Lesson planning can be difficult, especially when you are brand new to teaching. Luckily, there are countless resources online and if there are other foreign teachers at your school, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
In Thailand, you will most likely be asked to do gate duty once a week. You will have to stand at the entrance to the school for about an hour. You will greet and wave to the kids walking through and they will wai you.
You will have to wai the other teachers at your school as a sign of respect. It is similar to how westerners wave at each other.
When you greet someone, especially when they are older than you, you must wai them. To wai someone, you just hold your hands with your palms touching in front of your chest and your fingertips touching your nose and then you slightly bow.
Everyone is required to attend the morning announcements. The national anthem would be sung and any important news would be shared.
I worked Monday-Friday. I had an hour lunch break. Lunch was either deducted from your pay or you could bring your own.
The English teachers had to do a morning talk once a week and we had to go on stage in front of the whole school. It was embarrassing for me because I was a shy MC.
Media Kids Academy gives you the curriculum so lesson planning is your job. You have to make the lessons entertaining, appropriate, and educational. And boy is that difficult when dealing with 40+ students while talking through a microphone.
If you decide to give homework or a test, you are responsible for grading those.
It was challenging keeping 40+ students’ attention but it worked with the ones who actually wanted to learn.
The Other Teachers
There were 6 other foreign teachers at Anuban Chaiyaphum and most of us lived in the same apartment building.
Schools in Thailand will usually have a Thai teacher, or a few, that teach English. They will teach the students the grammar and translations of Thai and English.
The Thai teachers were so sweet at my school. One of the Thai English teachers got me some dried strawberries from the northern part of Thailand. Sometimes she’d bring me random food which was awesome. I love trying unfamiliar food.
And then, on my last day, she gave me a skirt.
All of the kids were precious but difficult.
I taught P6 which was ages 11-12ish and then I had K3 and the kids were around 3 to 4 years old.
Teaching them was entertaining but also super stressful and overwhelming. Sometimes I’d have to grab a Thai teacher to help me out and they’d sit in the back of the classroom.
- I really enjoyed teaching and living in Chaiyaphum. It helped that there were other foreigners around and having assistance from the other teachers helped immensely.
- I have to admit, sometimes the street dogs terrified me. Street dogs can be dangerous and unpredictable but they’re still cute.
Sometimes I’d bring an extra banana or buy something at the nearby 7/11 to feed to the dogs.
- Chaiyaphum Thailand has interesting weather.
The rainy season in Thailand is between June and October. But even when it rains it is HOT and humid.
I’d bring flip-flops to school with me in case it decided to pour all of a sudden. Which did happen a few times and I soaked my sneakers.
- In Thailand and many other countries, there is a huge turnover of English teachers.
My thoughts are that it is hard for the students to engage themselves in the subject when they have a new teacher every few weeks. That’s one of the reasons why I think teaching in Chaiyaphum was so tough.
You will learn to be patient and understanding with the students. As time goes on, they will creep their way into your heart.
Honestly, even though I spent 6 weeks with the kids and they were sometimes difficult, it was even harder leaving.
There was this one student who just followed me around and kept hugging me. It was precious.
I never noticed how much 6 weeks could go by so quickly, but also make such an impact on your life. And for that, I will always have a special place in my heart for Chaiyaphum.