Petro Rossouw

Teach Enrich Empower

Thailand: The Most Memorable Year Of My Life

My name is Petro but as a teacher I went by the name of ‘Peaches’ as the pronunciation was somewhat difficult for students and colleagues.

I was perfectly fine with this and in fact felt more comfortable being referred to by my nickname and thought I fitted in perfectly with my students and their unique nicknames. I loved every bit of my year teaching in Thailand and it broke my heart to say goodbye to all 450 of my students.

What was I doing before teaching English?

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Nature Conservation after five years of studying. Even though Conservation is a primary passion of mine and I believe I will end up in this field one day, at age 23 I was still curious about the world out there having never left my own country before.

Why did I take a TEFL course?

I was still unsure where I wanted to be in the life (i.e. country and career) but I knew I wanted a break from the University life. I needed something educational that will not only benefit me as a person but also my future resume. Thanks to a dear friend, the seed was planted to go and teach but I needed a qualification to support such adventures hence the completion of my TEFL course through The TEFL Academy. I was so thankful for the option of completing it online as I lived four hours away from the nearest city that held in-person classes. I completed it in little under two months as I took my time and did it slowly and at an easy pace, so I didn’t feel pressured.

“Teaching English in Thailand was an amazing experience.”

Where did I go?

Within weeks from the completion, I applied to multiple jobs thanks to The TEFL Academy again for providing me with trustworthy websites I could search through. I got several responses, did the Skype interviews and finally took the job. I should add that I decided to only apply to one country, Thailand. Before making this decision, I searched various sites for top 10 places and just asked myself, out of all those where would I like to go? I loved my choice. I ended up in a large developing town known as Lopburi. It’s a three-hour train ride or one hour and thirty-minute minivan ride from the capital, Bangkok. Also known as the ‘City of Monkeys’ it’s home to a rather large troop of you guessed it, monkeys. They are fed by the locals daily and there is even an annual festival to celebrate them. Besides the primates, the town is known for its historical temples and buildings.

How has the TEFL course helped me?

As I haven’t taught before and only had a couple of opportunities volunteering and hosting workshops I had a mix of emotions including scared and excited. The company I worked for was so helpful and welcoming. They arranged a week-long training with each day having a different topic. We had to prepare a lesson using their template format and set curriculum. Thanks to my TEFL course, I felt at ease and could easily prepare and implement the lesson. The company had a unique teaching style that included a lot of singing and games so if anything, I now know 100’s of songs and games which was such a great bonus. Combining what I had learned through the TEFL course and the company, I created my own teaching style that suited myself and my team teachers.

Any funny classroom situations?

My students ranged in age between 3 – 12 years. So, you can only imagine I had such a broad difference in what to expect each day of the week. Mondays were the crazy kindergarten days and my team teacher, and I loved starting our week with them. Wednesdays and Fridays were my oldest students who became my favourites. I couldn’t wait for these days to come along so I can see them and have fun teaching them. Above all getting use to the special nicknames was the best. Some included Pooh (in various forms i.e. Pu), Aeoy (like the sound ‘Oi’) and Fogus (which can be pronounced ‘Focus’ sometimes). Often you find the same name in different classes, but the pronunciation is also different. You’ll find so many trends in Thailand (i.e. songs, toys, dance moves or sayings) will be repeated for weeks by your students.

Living in Thailand?

Thailand was so much fun. Learning about the culture, religion, behaviour and overall people was amazing. I was blessed in my travels and always had a great time. I saw most parts of Thailand and made a point to see small less popular destinations. The humidity does get to you on some days (April to September) but your body in some way gets use to it and you manage. The train was a blessing as you could travel to Bangkok for 27 baht and even a minivan was only 120 baht. This said living expenses are low and you can live quite comfortably throughout Thailand. I never made food and basically lived off street food, 7-Eleven and restaurants. It is a third world country and one of the poorer Asian countries, but this just gives more feeling to its character.

Plans for the near future?

I hope to one day teach abroad again but for now I am set to go to Au Pair in the USA.  I am very excited as my TEFL course and new teaching experience looks amazing to a future host family.

Useful advice?

    • Enjoy every moment
    • Learn the country’s culture and beliefs – respect it
    • Make friends with locals and other foreigners
    • Never be afraid to ask for advice on planning or discipline.
    • When you get the chance go see places. Don’t waste one day
    • Take as many photos and videos as you can. Record every moment.
    • Try travelling in pairs, groups and alone (all are so different)

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