a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
I kid you not: the English classes we were teaching were part of the Fun Language programme. A private primary and high school in a small village 45 minutes north of Bangkok. We living in a ten-story block of flats on the river, very inappropriately called Charming Mansions. Every morning we walked around the corner to the line of motorbike taxis waiting to take commuters to work, jumped on the bike at the front of the queue and hoped we were giving the right directions in our broken Thai.
At school we taught between 22 and 30 hours a week in our Fun Language uniforms. Our classrooms had no tables and chairs, but multi-coloured padded flooring. We were not to teach lessons, but rather play games. The English department in the school seemed to be divided into two parts: the “serious” English lessons which were taught by the Thai teachers, and the “fun” lessons which were taught by the foreign teachers. Not so much fun, though, when you have to play Ladders for 6 hours of your day.
So you see, teaching jobs in Thailand come in a variety of disguises. This first job was a great way for me to get some teaching experience under my belt. The school was very relaxed, we each had a teaching assistant, and management generally left you alone if you were respectful at all the right times and didn’t come to school drunk or hungover. The school even helped us find our accommodation and made sure we felt comfortable in our new environment, which went over and above what we were expecting.
My friend, however, soon became bored with the Fun and games and left for a job at a nearby government high school. Completely different story. No assistant. No materials (she had to source or make her own). Not even a curriculum. She was basically left to her own devices to teach whatever she wanted however she wanted. Fewer hours, zero paperwork or extra-curricular commitment, but less pay.
And we were both happy. We would come home every day, buy dinner from the take-away lady on the ground floor of the building, and we would sit on our balcony and
laugh at our students and moan about the other teachers chat about our day. And then we would do it all over again the next day.