New Teacher Tales – Henry
In our New Teacher Tales series, we interview people teaching English abroad, about how, why and where they started out, about their experiences teaching abroad, and what advice they have for new teachers.
Henry, from the UK, is our youngest teacher to interview so far. In his first year of teaching after his degree, he tells us about how and why he decided to teach English abroad, the job he does now and what he’s learned from it.
Where do you work now?
I am a teacher at King’s College of English, Bangkok. I have been here for nearly a year now. This is my first teaching job. It’s a great way to get into teaching because you teach a huge range of ages and curricula, and its a very relaxed work environment. I teach classes of young learners from 6 to 18 years old. Once a week I go into a public school to teach 50 min lessons which act as a top-up to their normal English lessons which are taught by Thai teachers. I also teach adults in a variety of classes. At the moment I’m teaching IELTS (an exam for people who want to study or work abroad), business English, and helping someone prepare for iGCSE. I teach a few young kids who are at a beginner level, and I’ve had classes with adults who just want to improve their conversational English.
What’s the best thing about living in Thailand?
Probably the Thai people. They are friendly, kind and polite.
Why did you become an English teacher?
It was a quick and simple way to live abroad and travel. However, I think I’ll stay an English teacher because it’s a great lifestyle and you meet a lot of great people. I’ve never felt like I’m wasting my life, which I know I would do if I was stuck in an office in the UK.
How did you start?
After I graduated from university last year, I did a 120 hour TEFL course. There were twenty hours of practical work over a weekend in London, and the rest was online. I’d done some research which had said that this course would be sufficient for getting jobs in most places.
Was this the right way to start?
As a CELTA was out of the question because of the cost, I’d recommend this if you want to get a job fast. The course was straightforward and every employer seemed satisfied with it. However, I wouldn’t say it makes you feel like you’re ready to teach. It meant I had to do lots of learning on the job.
What are you planning to do next?
I am considering applying for the EPIK program in South Korea, acting as a guest English teacher in Korean classrooms. Alternatively, I might get a job in a private language school in Korea instead. I’m also applying for other jobs in Bangkok because I like living here. I’d like to do more test preparation classes.
What is the best thing that has happened to you since you became an English teacher?
I think living abroad is a really good way of shaking off university mentality. Moving away from home comforts to a big city where you don’t know anyone is a very maturing experience.
What is the worst thing that has happened to you since you became an English teacher?
I don’t really have any complaints, certainly not from teaching English. The only thing I might say is that it’s been difficult managing finance at home from the other side of the world.
Tell us a bizarre story about something that has happened to you since you became a teacher?
I had a wild west style showdown with a group of old ladies during Songkran (a water festival for Thai New Year where people have huge water fights in the streets). I had a small water pistol, but they had several buckets of icy water and talcum powder. Explaining in English that my phone would be soaked didn’t work, trying to American football style dodge them didn’t work; a final last stand with the water pistol did not work. I got drenched, they got to chalk up another tally on their Songkran soak-spree; we all laughed and went our separate ways.
Is there anything you would change about your time as an English teacher?
I would probably look harder into doing private lessons.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an English teacher?
Do it right now, and do your research on the schools you look at.