In our last interview, Diego Ambrosio talked about wrapping up his school year by giving final exams. He was waiting to hear more about the COVID-19 instructions from the Thai government. He recalled his first day of class and how much he had grown as a professional. Diego took us on a typical day-to-day life of a Thai teacher and shared his teaching methods and his overall classroom instruction.
In our final interview, Diego talks about why Thailand and how to overcome initial and recurring obstacles a teacher might encounter during their first years of teaching.
What has been the most important thing you learned while teaching abroad so far?
“I would say that the first thing I learned was certainly the ability to adapt to a culture and a way of life diametrically opposed to how I lived in Italy or England.
Hand in hand with this, I have learned to acquire greater self-confidence and greater courage in accepting the “great teaching challenge.” This is not simply teaching, but teaching through a language that is not your mother tongue.”
Have you accomplished your goals while living in Phuket?
“It was not easy at all. I believe that together with a large organizational component, a bit of luck was also needed. I, fortunately, had the opportunity to meet the right people at the right time.”
Planning a new life in a decidedly distant place from your native land requires a lot of preparation.
“First of all, you must consider a minimum budget available to “start the engine,” let’s say. Without an appropriate budget, moving abroad is like trying to start a car without gasoline. Obviously the more gasoline you have available, the longer you can travel before having to refuel. “Refueling” can only be dispensed by a job. Therefore, you need to know how to organize your resources the best you can and have a roadmap calendar for each day of the week, including small or large objectives to complete.
The second really important thing is to be aware of the baggage you are leaving with, which doesn’t just include clothes :). It also, and above all, includes your curriculum vitae and accredited professional skills. Without these, I could hardly have entered the world of teaching in Thailand. So, within the time that was granted to me, I followed all the objectives. I never broke down or became lazy. Whenever I could, I tried to get more and more information. I scoured the Internet and asked people I met every day.
This resourcefulness, together with my “good nose,” was fundamental in being able to slowly plan my future and to transform uncertainties into solid affirmations.”
What has been the biggest challenge of living abroad?
“The biggest challenge has certainly been to find a job in a country with very few job opportunities for foreigners. It should not be forgotten that in Thailand, most professions are reserved for Thai people only. The few remaining opportunities for foreigners are divided between four or five sectors, which fortunately includes English language teaching.
If I had wasted the opportunity to teach English in Thailand I would have had little or no reason to stay in Thailand. The lack of job diversity is one of the main reasons it’s such a challenge to live in Thailand compared to other countries that offer a wider variety of work.”
What advice would you give on how to deal with that challenge?
“As I explained before, this challenge can only be overcome by rigorously accomplishing a series of small objectives. Together with a well-managed budget, professional background, and a back-up organization to support you will increase your success rate. No matter what, there’s always a small chance of failure. However, your chances of succeeding will be much higher if you face the adventure with an organized conscience.”
Do you have any advice for other teachers about to travel abroad to teach for the first time?
“A specific piece of advice that I have not yet expressed is to try, at least in the beginning, to not to rush towards opportunities that are too demanding. It’s more appropriate to always start with small experiments. Don’t travel too far. Test your very first experience in a new country somewhere with a similar social system.
I tested my endurance and adaptability initially in England, a country very close to Italy. I managed to gather positive energy and the experience necessary for a bigger adventure. That first step into a new country was the one that brought me to live in Thailand today.”
How has teaching abroad helped with your overall professional goals?
“Teaching abroad has certainly helped me a lot in perfecting my professionalism within the teaching sector. Above all, teaching is itself a job that enriches you daily, not only with exciting experiences but also culturally. The countless considerations of the ever-changing English Language and all the new information I receive every day slowly complete the puzzle of my knowledge. Every day I become more and more confident in myself, and therefore, in my ability to teach English.”
What was your most memorable moment at your school or in class this year?
“It is curious to note that my colleague Bethy, a member of Dreams Abroad and a great friend, and I share a similar indelible memory linked to the moments spent so far in school. I will never forget the day my pupils of the Mattayom Four-level organized a surprise party on my birthday.
It all started with an organized false “skit.” One of my pupils pretended to be sick on the floor while another student immediately ran to my office to ask me for help. Once I arrived, I immediately started to give aid to the pupil. I lifted his legs and asked for a glass of sugar water to help him recover. I was in a state of total panic and felt extremely worried.
It was at that moment that a group of students gathered behind me with the cake and candles ready, singing a very excited and emotional “Happy Birthday.” I had tears in my eyes from a double dose of joy. Realizing that the ill student was just a joke and that they had all gathered there and planned this out exclusively for me is a memory that I’ll treasure forever.”
What parts of your teaching will change next year and what will you keep the same?
“The teaching method is generally not subject to change. In this case, I’m referring to the style, the voice, the stage presence, and my way of presenting my lessons.
What normally is subject to change every year are the courses I teach. They may be courses I have never taught before. This variety leads me to constantly organize new projects and new work material. It’s usually a very exciting and motivating task, since teachers are the main actor and director of what will be presented and what will contribute to the student’s educational growth.
I felt particularly interested when I received the chance to create a “Creative Writing & Speaking” course for students of level M5 and M6. In this course, I inserted one of my favorite fairy tale authors, the Greek fabulist Aesop, with enrichment from figurative language (figures of speech). I also assigned a final project that required a theatrical representation of a fairy tale.”
What did you do over the Thai teacher vacation in April?
“Unfortunately, as for the vast majority of people around the world, I spent the month of April under lockdown. The Thai government decided to quarantine the nation in order to contain the global pandemic triggered by the then-novel coronavirus. Spending the holidays cooped up at home is not exactly what anyone would hope for. This was especially so in my case, as I was really looking forward to returning to Italy to spend a little time with my family members I only have the opportunity to see once a year.
Nonetheless, we will survive this. The human being is invincible and always finds a solution to everything. I am sure that we will find the strength and the right temperament to overcome even this sad period of our lives.”
What is the most important tip you can give someone wanting to teach abroad?
“If you really intend to teach abroad, remember that motivation and planning are the essential elements to undertake this choice. Motivation represents the first real starting point. Ask yourself if teaching is really a main goal in your life, or if it is a fallback to achieve other purposes, such as being able to stay in a country and explore it. The most delicate phase is planning, since it includes the collection of all useful and fundamental information before departure. A few examples of things you need to know about include your itinerary, and all the information you can get about your new home country in terms of work, laws, health, lifestyle, customs, traditions, climate, cost of living, and more.
Finally, you must think about the economic budget required for the first few months. You must plan this in advance in order to cover any surprise situations that may occur. The greater the starting budget, the better your quality of life will be, along with fewer worries to overcome.
Finally… I cannot help but to wish you a lot (and I mean a lot!) of luck! :)”
Wrap-Up of What It Is Like to Teach in Thailand
Diego will be teaching online intermittently until July. His regular school year starts July 1, 2020, when he resumes classes. He is waiting to hear more instructions from the Thai government and what actions will occur next due to Covid-19. He is optimistic that the future will allow him to teach in Thailand again. Diego has really enjoyed his experience in Thailand and is hopeful that the coming school year will provide another great year of professional growth and memories.
27 thoughts on “How to Teach in Thailand”
What a fantastic experience! I would love to teach abroad. Learning and adapting to the culture is the experience in itself. This was really interesting to read. Thank you!
Thank you very much Christine for leaving your comment and I am glad you have appreciated the article. :))
What an amazing experience! I wish i could do something like this. Imagine all you will learn from your students. I love these posts on teachers abroad!
Thank you Daniel for taking the time to leave your positive comment and yes, you can definitely learn a lot from your students too!
This was something I dreamt of doing when I was younger, whilst I still worked with kids 🙂
And dreams can become true if you are motivate enough and ambitious to make it real! Thank you Ann for your comment 🙂
What in incredibly rich year Diego has had! Getting to go somewhere and teach students that you can actually share life with is such an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Marie for your positive comment, it is my pleasure to share it with you all and I look forward to sharing with you a lot more on my next interviews!
Very interesting story. I am sure that it was really enriching for him to teach a whole year in Thailand.
Thank you Steven for taking the time to comment it. I am actually on my 3rd year of teaching at the same school now, but I can confirm that every year is more enriching than the previous one!😁
Wow, that was an amazing and inspiring teaching experience for Diego. My wish for Diego is to be more successful on his teaching career. Keep safe!
Thank you Gervin for your nice and cheering comment!
I have a wish to teach abroad. And I loved that your have shared your experience.
Thank you for your comment, I hope that my experience can motivate and help you in your future career😉😉
well done. this is perhaps one of the best and most useful interviews with an international teacher of english. thanks for sharing.
Oh, what a beautiful comment! Thank you very much and it is a great pleasure for me to hear that you appreciated the article. 🙏
I love teaching kids! This is one of the best interviews! So cool! I wish I can do the same.
Thank you Emman for your cheering comment! I wish you all the best for your teaching career 🙂
What an incredible experience you are having Diego! It’s amazing how your life has changed, being a teacher in a foreing country shouldn’t be easy, but as you said… You have found the right people at the right time! I admire you and I wish you to have more beautiful experiences ahead!!!
My dear Fiorelita!! I really miss our time spent together and thank you for your encouraging and lovely comment, I really hope to see you again whenever you’ll decide to come back to visit Phuket! Un grosso bacio amica mia 😘
Thailand is a great country to visit and explore and based on my personal experience, Thai people are one of the good people you will ever meet. The Thai government have huge program for their students to provide English lessons, also a great opportunity for English-speaking travellers to teach language to the country.
Thank you very much Blair for leaving th
is interesting and truthful comment! I totally agree with you when you talk about how good are thai people and yes, the government is heavily focused and gives a lot of importance on teaching English in the country.
This is brilliant! Not only an interesting read but a useful resource and in-depth guide to teaching in Thailand for sure xx
Thank you very much for your charming comment!
This is such a great experience! I honestly thought about teaching English abroad years ago but I didn’t have a chance to do so. I love thinking about how I can travel to countries, experience life there while being a teacher for income. That must be so awesome! Thanks a lot for sharing this!
Thank you! It’s my pleasure to share it with you 🙂
I’d love to experience and teach in Thailand too and experience the same. I adore the country and their culture.