A Day in the Life: Teaching English in Thailand

Before moving to Thailand, I wish someone had given me a solid run down of his or her day. Do you have access to coffee? What kind of shoes do you wear? Do your students know how to even say “Hello” in English? Where do you eat lunch? Do your coworkers like you? Do you have a desk? What is grading like?

Here is an example of what my day looked like while living and working as a preschool English teacher in Bangkok:

6:00AM – After snoozing three alarms in a row, I finally get up and start boiling water for my instant coffee. I’m back in bed waiting for my coffee. Checking Facebook when I should be reviewing lesson plans.

6:30AM – I finally get up after drinking my (first) cup of coffee and get dressed. No makeup, it’s 35* Celsius already. Black knee-length dress with short sleeves is my typical teaching attire – I’ve acquired one for each five days of the workweek. Comfy flats. My hair is in a topknot, because it’s HOT.

7:00AM – I start walking to the BTS Sky Train station, sweating immediately upon exiting my apartment building.

7:15AM – Force my way into the sardine-packed train. There’s nothing to hold on to because everyone and their mother is on their way to work, I’m likely sandwiched between two University students playing Candy Crush with the sound on.

8:00AM – I arrive at school after a 40 minute overcrowded train ride and 5 minute moto-taxi ride with my Thai taxi-man, Toon. He waits for me at the BTS stop every day. More coffee.

8:20AM – I finish preparing my weekly lesson plans, print worksheets, set up game props, head to assembly.

8:25AM – Whole school assembly, kids stand in line according to class and sing the Thai National Anthem. I sing along now that I know the words. General announcements, I lead my class back to our room.

8:40AM – 11:00AM – Four morning classes including Math, Language, Phonics, and Communication. Most likely learning about sea creatures in line with the alphabet (T is for Turtle!) and singing hundreds of nursery rhymes. Grading their involvement on a scale of 1-10 (comprehension based.)

11:00AM – 1:00PM – Lunch, recess, nap. I write notes in their communication books (sent home to parents every day) regarding their behavior and academic improvements; lesson plan; talk about random cultural things with my TA; eat at my desk (I bring my own food from home because I don’t want to gain 700 pounds eating Thai noodles every day.)

1:30PM – 3:00PM – Afternoon classes: usually focusing on crafts to improve motor skills, physical development and knowledge of the world; more nursery rhymes; lots of games.

3:15PM – Parents pick up, I wait around until each student is properly signed for. I’m usually starving at this point, nursery rhymes make me hungry.

3:30PM – 4:30PM – Back to the jam-packed sky train, walk home eating fresh cut pineapple from street vendor for 20Baht. Addicted.

5:00PM on – Yoga, practice funny Thai words with street food vendor, wine, bed by 10PM.

Rinse, repeat.

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