Want to know more about the schools and teaching opportunities in China, Korea and Thailand? Read what ATI's TESOL certified ESL teachers have to say about their successful stories about their teaching assignments.

My First Experience as an ESL Teacher

Roger Hall (Completed STP)

While browsing the internet one day, I came across a very attractive website which gave me the idea of an educational tourism package in Thailand involving a guaranteed teaching job. On the pre-text of making a teaching career, I set alone to kiss the grounds of Thailand for the first time, of course the main motive of travelling was the underlying fact of the whole idea. For an adventurous being like me, travelling takes a crucial place in my life and is my hobby, despite many odds that come my way. I love travelling not only to get away from my hectic daily life but simply because I want to learn about the variety of cultures, races and nationalities. Travelling to me is very educational.

Travelling to Thailand and knowing its treasured sights, vibrant culture, diverse terrains have been a lifetime achievement. With all this and more, travelling to Thailand has provides an extra punch, beyond my expectations. Thailand travelling is complete with mountain ranges and ocean from four sides, as if God is protecting this treasure land from all the odds of the world. On top of that I also realized there is something very fulfilling about arriving to a job that you like, using a mode of transportation that you enjoy, while living in a place of amazingly warm n courteous people, that you thoroughly take pleasure in. I've been lucky to have had the opportunity to live and work in Thailand for a year now, travelling, biking, and studying other languages among other things. My ESL career started in Thailand where I began teaching migrant workers conversational English. Living and working here has given me great insight into Thai country and culture, giving me a global view that cannot be learned by studying, but only by doing.

Visiting Thailand along with doing a Teachers' Training Certification Course coupled with the guaranteed opportunity of getting placed after obtaining the certificate sounded sensible and promising for the first time in the otherwise lazy aimless life of a wanderer like me. I've had some incredible experiences but with that in mind, my life here has been very much a roller coaster ride. Many great things have happened, but in all truth and honesty, some pretty horrible things have happened too. You eventually get to a point in your life when you want a bit more stability and when you want the troughs and peaks to even out. I am glad that at this juncture, my adventure in Thailand came as a stepping stone in my life and helped me get a decent career and better life in Thailand, helping me complete almost more than a year now. I am yearning to have my own home here as well sometime soon.

Dream to be an English Teacher

Jennifer Faith (Completed STP 2007 winter)

One of the most defining moments of my life was when my long cherished dream of becoming an English teacher turned into reality, by taking up the Special Thai Project offered by American TESOL Institute. It gave me a teaching position in one of the Thai local schools for four months. It has been a wonderful experience so far, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of the entire 5-months' project, which included the TESOL course and the guaranteed teaching assignment tagged along with it.

For me, teaching English involved a lot of creativity and was challenging, especially for the fact that I come from a native English speaking country. I had to teach students ranging from tiny tots to adults with the skill level varying from very experienced or at the basic level. The experience has been phenomenal starting from sitting down to write up lesson plans to distributing hand-outs to the kids ensuring they have fun for my classes to do. Initially, it was a little baffling to cope with the new Thai culture, language and to new people of a non-native English speaking country. The extensive time commitment, the realization that things are probably not going as smoothly as I wanted and low morale contributed to a period of disenchantment. Although going through the intensive teachers' practice sessions during the TESOL course before the teaching assignment began, I got exposed to the fear of doing all the tasks all by myself after being placed in the Thai school. The situation grew tenser realizing the absence of my trainers to help me out like the way they assisted wherever I went wrong in the past. But soon this anxiousness gave way to a sigh of relief in a few days when I started getting accustomed to the classes and students started responding with smiling faces, helping a rise in my attitude toward teaching. It gradually allowed me to resume a more normal lifestyle, with plenty of rest, food, exercise, and time to make friends. Finding a mentor in one of my peer teachers and receiving assistance from him proved beneficial in my teaching chore and made my task easy.

However, I cannot finish off without mentioning about the fascinating country of Thailand with the most hospitable and warm people I have come across so far. The spicy delicious Thai food is a special reason for my additional love for this place. The amazing places of visit and the great shopping destinations are reasons enough for me to stay glued to the country for longer span of time.

Teaching English - A challenging task

Matthew Flawn (Completed STP 2007 winter)

Armed with a desire to teach in Asia, I enrolled in the Special Thai project offered by American TESOL Thailand. The 4 week course which is followed by 4 months of teaching stint in Thailand, earning 30,000 baht along with housing is by far one of the most profound and enjoyable experiences of my life. The Special Thai project offered me the winning combination of travelling around Thailand, while pursuing my interest in teaching English to non native speakers of the language.

Being part of a non native English learner's journey towards the acquisition of English is a meaningful one. The Thai students' enthusiasm to learn English is rewarding and never fails to motivate me as a teacher. Teaching non native learners of English is no doubt a challenging task. As much as the students are a fun bunch to teach, they can get bored easily. As such, I have to constantly make lessons snappy and moving so as to keep their interests alive. This has given me the opportunity to think out of the box and devise several teaching techniques.

As I approach the last few months of my teaching stint, the experience I have received reaffirms my decision to make a career out of teaching in Thailand. I am definitely considering staying on for a few years. As a teacher, I hope I can continue to have a permanent impact on my students, whilst helping to instil pride and joy in their learning experiences. I definitely recommend this Special Thai Project to anyone who wants to travel and experience the beauty of Thailand on a more intimate level than just visiting by teaching the local community.

Teaching English - "doing exactly what I have always wanted to"

Nichole Coyle (Completed STP 2007 winter)

In my bid to travel and teach at the same time, I took up the Special Thai Project program offered in Thailand. This project earned me a TEFL certificate along with a 4 month teaching stint, which I am currently enjoying. The experience of being able to live amongst the local Thai community is unmatched and I am enjoying the feeling of being more than just a tourist. I am thoroughly enjoying the hands on teaching experience offered by ATI and what I am doing now seems to be the most logical decision I have made.

Now into my second month of teaching, I realise that teaching English to non natives is not an easy task and requires me to constantly innovate in the classroom. This is an essential part of my responsibility as an English teacher as creativity and constant interaction keeps the classroom buzzing. Every day, I think of new activities to carry out in class to teach different concepts. While doing this, I have learnt along the way and also accept that I will be making countless mistakes. Nonetheless, seeing the gratitude on the faces of the students gives me a lot of motivation to carry on infusing the students' lives with English.

Despite the challenges I face on a daily basis in the classroom, I am convinced that I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to; teach English and be able to travel around Asia. I am thankful to the Special Thai Project which has enabled me to realise my dreams. With the fundamental teaching methods picked up during the stint, I am definitely considering staying on in Thailand to carve out a teaching career for myself.

Teaching English - "students have become part of my life"

Maria C. Cok. (Still completing her teaching contract with a Govt. school in Thailand)

I have always wanted to travel to Thailand after reading about its several tourist destinations and culture but was not able to afford a trip. As such, I had to continue teaching back home till I came across the opportunity to do a teaching course along with a short term job stint and long term option of expansion in Thailand. Thailand is a beautiful country with various types of landscapes and scenes, good food and lots of potentials for travel. Being a beach lover, I was thrilled at the prospects of being able to live in Phuket as well as travel around carrying money.

Teaching is difficult work as I continue my 2nd month of work as a teacher, teaching English to Thai students. With a large number of students to teach on a daily basis, admin work and other out of class activities add to the workload. I spend more than an hour travelling to and from my accommodation. My salary is also slightly below par. What keeps me going is the bunch of students who have become part of my life. The respect they have for elders, enthusiasm to learn and their friendliness make my job worthwhile. Any form of negativity disappears when I see my students make gradual improvements in their ability to speak and comprehend English as well as the warmth from the school community as a whole continually amazes me.

This envelopment in and discovery of a new culture, of course, is one of the primary reasons for seeking a career as an English teacher to begin with. I am also pretty convinced that I am able to overcome any hardship in my bid to be a good teacher who can make a difference in the lives of students. Thailand has reinforced that I have made the right decision to live and work in the land of smiles.

Teaching English - "An Eye opener"

Anne Carver.

Teaching in Thai schools has been a rewarding experience as it has opened my eyes to a perspective that is different from the one I am used to. Teaching in Thailand is just great it allows me the opportunity to soak in the rich culture the country has to offer. Thailand has a rich culture of music, dance, art and religion which never fail to enthral me. Being interested in Buddhism, this is the perfect place for me to be in to learn more about the religion while being able to pursue my interest in teaching English.

Teaching work is plentiful, with teachers being expected to do work outside of just classroom teaching. I currently teach in a government school where there are basic facilities like fans, desks, chairs and chalkboards. However, the classrooms tend to be stuffy and hot with few resources and sometimes no books or substandard books. The average class size is 50 students and this is not the easiest environment to teach in. Nonetheless, seeing the students contented with what they have got and the gratitude they have towards their teachers making teaching in Thailand a rewarding experience.

As I have never taught before, the short four month stint is not too long a commitment to carry out to assess my suitability as a teacher. The learning journey towards being certified and thereafter actually teaching is an enriching one. I am constantly learning from my students and their ability to grasp what I teach them never fails to put a smile on my day. Their progress means the world to me and I feel satisfied each day knowing I am part of their journey towards being proficient in the English Language.