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A Day In The Life

So I have been living in Thailand for three months now, but have not spoken much about my actual teaching experience! I thought a blog post about my daily life in Chanthaburi and my crazy students was well overdue.

So here is a typical day in my life:

6:30 – Wake up, drink tea, eat breakfast, and get dressed. Every day I wear black, or at least dark or muted tones, in honor of the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej who recently passed away.

7:30-8:00 – Arrive at school (Muang Tessaban 1 School), which is less than a five-minute walk away. As I walk through school and up to the office where I work, I am greeted with big smiles, waves, high fives, and fist bumps from the students. And let’s not forget the students that yell “Hello teachaaa Jillian!” They make us foreign teachers feel semi-famous!

8:00 – Stand outside for the national anthem and daily announcements with the students and teachers.

8:30-3:45 – Teach my classes. I teach 5th and 6th grade to a total 324 wild, loving, and funny students. I have 12 classes in total, and about 27 students per class. All of my classes are one-hour periods, and I see each class either once or twice a week.

Here is an example of a typical class:

I walk into the classroom, where the students are usually chatting or running around like maniacs! I definitely have some energetic students! All the students then stand up and greet me with a “Hello Teachaaa, how are you?”

For my lessons each day, I usually dedicate the first half of the class to teaching or reviewing vocabulary or basic sentence structures, and the second part to playing games or doing activities with the vocabulary they are learning. My students have taken English before, but their level is still pretty low. In general, conversational English is the main difficulty or Thai people since the tones in English and Thai are very different, which is why they hire native English teachers like myself to give the students good exposure to the spoken English language, and to get them more comfortable with speaking.

Visual aid is definitely key to helping my students learn! I always print out or draw pictures that I use each day in class, and I always use gestures and body language to help convey meaning.

After the students have finished writing new vocabulary into their notebooks, or finished the work I’ve assigned, we usually play a game to help them really consolidate what they're learning, in a fun way! They love playing what I call the “A/B game,” where there are two teams, and the students have to either say or write the name of the vocabulary picture I am holding up, and whoever says or writes the word correctly first gets a point. My students love competitive games! My students also enjoy games with music, like passing around an object while music is playing, and when I stop the music, the student with the object has to draw a card and say the corresponding word to the picture, or act out a written word. I am currently making a playlist for my students, because the music on my phone is apparently not recent enough for their music requests, ha!

In general with teaching, I try to make sure my students are actively engaged in their learning, so I often have students come up and write on the board, self-correct mistakes with some guidance in the right direction, and demonstrate for the class.

11:30-12:45 – Lunch break. I usually go eat at a nearby cafeteria restaurant, where they offer good Thai food like Pad Thai, fried rice, noodle soups and tom yum (a delicious and spicy soup – definitely one of my favorite Thai dishes). Its funny – I eat out almost every day, and its quite economical!  Most dishes at local restaurants range between 35 baht and 80 baht (about $1-$2), and generally unless you go to a Western style restaurant, eating out is no more expensive than cooking. Other days for lunch, I eat at the school cafeteria, or bring leftovers.

3:45-8:00 – After school I usually go home and rest for a bit, then I go on a run in the park just right around the corner from my house, and then I cook or go out to eat. A few days a week I tutor English after school as well. If I need to make new lesson plans for school, I usually go to a nearby café to get some work done, and also to indulge in delicious smoothies and food. On Fridays I typically go swimming at a nearby pool if I am not traveling during the weekend, which is a great way to cool off from Thailand’s constant heat!

I normally travel about every other weekend – there are so many beautiful places to see in Thailand, and it’s all very economical as well! It’s really neat because you don’t have to make plans too far in advance. I usually decide what I want to do by Wednesday or Thursday, and then I’m off Friday after our ½ day of school!

10:00-10:30 – Bedtime!  A decent night of sleep is required to teach such lively and energetic students!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look into my daily life in Thailand! Stay tuned to hear about more of my adventures.

P.S. If you ever want to make a Thai student laugh, uncontrollably, all you have to do is attempt to repeat a sentence they are saying in thai. About 20% of the time they will tell you “very good!” but usually they will just have a field day with your butchered attempts at speaking more complex and quickly uttered sentences in Thai.

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