Sunday, 1 December 2013

Teaching EFL in Thailand - Part 1

A day in the life of an ESL Teacher in Thailand.
Disclaimer: Every day is different and this is a composition of several days and weeks of teaching to give a flavour of how it works.
6:00 am I awake and check the time. It is just getting light outside. I have slept well but been aware of noise throughout the night. I am literally 100 metres from the train station. Periodically trains come and depart on their way to or from Bangkok. I hear their whistles and the station announcements over the public address system from the privacy of my bedroom. Also Roosters have been crowing most of the night. I thought that the Cock only crowed at dawn, but this lot seem to have lost all sense of time. It is not a burden however, I actually quite like what I hear.
I should mention that I live about 200Km from Bangkok in a semi rural area.
My bed does not have a mosquito net over it but the doorway and windows are protected by netting and I am rarely troubled by insects. Some nights however I wake up and feel tiny bites on my body. I have never seen what does it, but I believe that it is minute ants. Ants are every where in my house. Drop the smallest crumb and in a short space of time there is a trail of ants taking it away.

My Bedroom
I live in Thai style accommodation. I have a downstairs living area, a small bathroom and have made a kitchen outside. The ground level is a concrete floor that has been tiled and concrete pillars and walls supporting the upper story. Doors and windows are mostly protected with insect screens. The house has settled since it was built and there are large cracks at corners, and where the floor meets the walls. There is no way to keep the insects out. My bathroom has a regular supply of slugs and millipedes, it is a daily chore to collect them and throw them outside. Or just let them be.
House from the front

Back of the house showing the kitchen. The flooding was temporary.
By western standards this is not great but by Thai standards I am in luxury.
I have no hot water and I have to pay Electricity and Water bills and fill up the gas bottle when it is empty. Water for 1 person having 2 showers a day plus flushing toilet etcetera costs about 85 Baht per month. Electricity is costing about 450 Baht per month. Mainly air conditioning and lighting as I have no hot water system. Yes I shower and wash in cold water. If I want hot water I heat it in a saucepan. I did buy a small electric jug for making Tea and Coffee.
I have a gas bottle connected to a single gas burner. That was in a shocking state when I got here but after a thorough clean it is working considerably better. Cooking facilities are all outside. There is a small external sink and I have scrounged tables and bought some pots and pans and cooking implements to make a rudimentary kitchen. Ants, birds, slugs, millipedes, squirrels, mosquitoes and various insects rule outside. It would not pass any health inspection in Australia but is sufficient for basic cooking needs. On the plus side the ants clean up any food stuff that is dropped.
The upstairs section of the house is all wooden construction "Queenslander" style for any Australians and has 2 bedrooms, both with air conditioning. It is pretty cool at the moment with night time temperatures in the mid 20's so I am not using the air conditioner.
I get up, shower, shave, have a drink and get ready for work. I try to check Facebook and email but most of the time the internet is down. This is a specific problem with a shared internet connection that I am using, not a general problem with internet in Thailand.
I live on the school grounds in provided accommodation. This has benefits with cost as it is free and ease of access to work, but some down sides with lack of privacy and anonymity. The school grounds are large and quite lovely. I walk by a fishpond with lovely shaded seating on my way in and past a soccer field and basketball court. Some of the children that I pass call out to me and say good morning. The general greeting is "Teacher" but the last syllable is drawn out and it sounds more like "Teachuuuurrreee". be continued

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