The Land of Smiles

One of our dynamic students, Hope Mcgoldrick, writes:

Over the Summer I was extremely lucky to participate in the Teach English in Thailand programme run by the British Council where I was placed in a school in the South of Thailand. The programme lasted for 9 weeks where I was required to teach English to Primary School children.

Hope blog 1Nothing prepared me for the culture shock when arriving in Chumphon, a quiet town on the gulf coast. I can safely say that I live in absolute luxury in England. Staying in a Thai town meant living like the locals. Rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner and sharing a bed with cockroaches and geckos! I was exceptionally nervous when I arrived for my first day of teaching. Apart from having to teach in 34 degree heat with no aircon, I was welcomed by 200 hyperactive, little faces, most (not all) eager to learn English. To begin with trying to engage a class of 40 seemed impossible, however I have never known children to have so much respect for a teacher and be so enthusiastic to learn. The most challenging aspect was standing up in front of such a large class of 8-12 year olds without any support or translator. This required a lot of arm gesturing and attempts to draw. The children did not hesitate to laugh and mock me! All these challenges were worth it when seeing the children spending their spare time practising their English spellings.

Hope blog 2As I had a three day weekend I was able to explore the rest of Thailand. This involved a lot of island hopping and exploring which was the highlight of my time in Thailand. However, I was not aware of how much I adored teaching until I was sat on a beach in the sun thinking to myself “I cannot wait to see the children!”. After spending 9 weeks watching them learn and develop I am proud to say that I have made a difference in their life. As English is essential for people to get a good job, I knew it was necessary for me to inspire the children to want to continue learning English. When leaving the school I was smothered in hugs and kisses from grateful students who felt privileged to have had a native English speaking teacher. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity and I can guarantee that I will be returning to Thailand to teach English again. It is an experience I will never forget and I cannot wait to plan my next visit and would encourage anyone to do the same.

Hope blog 3

About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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