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Home / No Degree, No Problem. Volunteer in Thailand: Sean’s story.
Tell us something about yourself, what did you do before TEFL, and why did you choose to start TEFL teaching?

Hey everyone I’m Sean. I am 26 years old from Lismore in county Waterford, Ireland. Before I started TEFL, I was working in healthcare in Cork. During this time, I always wanted to do the teaching (for longer duration). Having done volunteer teaching in Vietnam & Kenya, I decided to research teaching for longer in Thailand. After seeing the option to volunteer in Thailand, I decided this was the perfect opportunity with the TEFL Institute of Ireland.

Why did you choose Thailand? Were there other locations you had in mind?

I have a keen interest in Thai culture having visited briefly before. I love the Thai and their friendliness. Thailand is known as the land of smiles, and I feel that when in Thailand. Not to mention, the massages, the food, temples, the beaches, and the fresh fruit!

What was the application & interview process like? Any tips for teachers looking to teach in Thailand

The TEFL Institute of Ireland helped the process run smoothly and efficiently, they supported us with the visas, and the Thai pass (for covid). We were lucky as the Covid rules had eased up in March. I would advise teachers, don’t worry about the classroom too much, things will always run smoothly in the end! I found that learning a little bit of Thai can get you quite far in Thailand!

What TEFL course did you do? How did you find it? Do you feel it prepared for Teaching?

I did the TEFL 120-hour course. The TEFL course covered a wide range of topics! You can always check your notes again while in Thailand. It gives you a general overview and prepares you for the classroom. I recommend taking notes of the TEFL modules whilst you’re studying!

What was something you never expected about Thailand when moving over, did you experience culture shock?

I never expected to see so many street dogs! Luckily, I was able get involved with the local charity, Rescue Paws, who help local stray animals. We got to see the work and impact they do first hand! We even had a Rescue Paws school event to help educate the kids on animal welfare.

Tell us about your school, how many teaching hours did you have? What age were your students? How did you find it?

During my volunteering in Thailand, we were placed in a public school with about 1,500 students. They never had native English Teachers before, so they were quite excited! They did not expect us to stay long term (up to three months), the students started getting excited whenever we came back to the classes. I got placed teaching High School, ages consisted of 13-17. A typical day consisted of starting first class at 8.30am and last class at 3pm. We would have around 3-5 classes a day lasting 50 minutes each. At first I struggled to manage the class sizes of up to 42 students, but this eased with time and routine, and it eventually came naturally to me!

Did you get to see much of Thailand whilst you are there?

Yes! I came a week earlier, so I had time to visit Bangkok & Phuket. We had a good few school holidays in July, so I went to Chiang Mai, and to the full moon party in Ko Phangan.

I lived in Hua Hin, so I was luckily surrounded by beautiful beaches, national parks, and temples to discover on my weekends off!

What has been your favourite part of your time in Thailand

This is hard to decide because I have a few; interacting with the locals, the teachers, meeting new volunteers, and planning trips and plans on the weekend have to be some of my top favourites! The locals are really friendly, and even in the city they started to recognise us as the English teachers in the school!

Did you travel solo, was it easy to meet other people & make friendships?

I travelled a week before my friend, so I stayed in hostels. They were super chill and very safe. I met a few people along the way who were planning travelling trips. My friend joined me, and we were both placed in Hua Hin in the same school. We made loads of friends with other volunteers and the TESOL groups that our organisation in Thailand host.

What are your future plans? Would you go back to TEFL teaching?

After my volunteering, I’m planning to travel to Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. I will return to Ireland and begin my studies in Nursing in September. This is not my last time teaching. I plan to be back out in Thailand again teaching in the near future!

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