We spent the rest of our fries on the subject and I told her that I would like to try teaching English. I explained that it had not been a life long ambition but I thought it could be a good course to follow to enable me to continue my travels and learn more about the culture, rather than just passing through as a tourist. This guardian angel with an Ozzie accent gave me her phone number in Bangkok and told me to call her when I arrived.
After a strenuous 3 months on the idyllic beaches of Thailand I eventually arrived in Bangkok, the main purpose being to say farewell to my travelling companions who flew home, one by one, to Heathrow airport. Feeling lonesome and lost, I searched for the crumpled piece of greasy paper in the depths of my rucksack. I dialled the number and my life as a teacher began.
The speed, ease and efficiency in which I landed on my feet was quite astounding and I found myself employed, living in the same apartment block as my new Australian friend complete with a new teacher's wardrobe within 2 days. I was based at the ECC Pinklao branch where I taught some evenings and weekend classes.
The farewell at the school was almost heart breaking. Nearly every student bought in a gift for me ( I taught 7 classes of 50 students ). The little girls were crying as they sang the rehearsed farewell song. I gave each student a small photograph of myself at the school as a souvenir. I made a fatal mistake when I signed the back of one. What one child had the others wanted so I ended up signing 350 of them. Now I understand how a pop star feels. The same applied when I kissed one of the girls on the cheek. My lipstick left a mark and I had queues of students wanting their cheeks, foreheads and chins kissed. I used up a whole lipstick in that one day because of the constant re-applying. My last memory was departing the school gates in the PE teacher's car ( to help carry all of my gifts home ) with my students, all identified with lipstick kisses, waving goodbye.
When I finally returned home I decided to do the CELTA course. It seemed like a sensible decision if I was going to make teaching my chosen career. I completed the course in April 2000 but I did not leave England until the following year. The winter blues hit my boyfriend (who I met while travelling in Vietnam) and we were ready to travel overseas again to a more tropical climate.
After little deliberation we decided on Thailand, the land of smiles. Our first stop was to e-mail the ECC head office in Siam Square to find out about available positions. Tely from ECC (who we did not know if male or female) was totally reliable in responding back to us. Within weeks we had secured teaching positions and resigned from our jobs.
We managed to live in a very nice apartment with a gym and swimming pool and had a very good quality of life. We even managed to save enough money to spend one month on Koh Phi Phi followed by 2 months touring Western Australia in a campervan. Both my partner and myself have returned to Bangkok to continue a life we thoroughly enjoy.
Teaching is not a career that suits everybody but you never know until you give it a try. It could be in your genes or you could be a natural. One thing for sure is that Thailand is renowned for its friendly people. Entering and leaving a classroom of smiling faces is a factor that most other jobs cannot guarantee. This, the warm climate, the delicious food and the interesting people you meet make getting out of bed in the morning just that little bit easier.
Becky Kent and Jes Mathews
For more information try the following links
CELTA, YL Extension to CELTA and TESOL Certification Courses for Teachers
who want to teach English in Thailand or abroad.