Shaun Haywood

Teach Enrich Empower

Two Culture Shocks at Once

My name is Shaun and I have recently turned 29 years old (yes you don’t need to be fresh out of University to quit your life at home and go and teach abroad!

Before I began teaching English I was working 2 jobs in Manchester, England; one as a welfare advisor for The University of Manchester, and one conducting market research interviews for another company (basically a glorified call centre job that I hated).  Whilst working both of these jobs, I was also applying for graduate schemes (I wasn’t even sure I wanted) and constantly getting knocked back (which wasn’t very good for my ego).  For a few years I had thought about doing the whole teaching abroad thing, but it was never quite the right time, but after one final knock back I decided to just go for it and enrolled on the TEFL course with The TEFL Academy, and a few months later I moved to Bangkok in Thailand.  To be honest I have never really looked back since!  My quality of life has improved dramatically (you can rent a nice mod-con apartment for less than £300 a month) and for the first time in many years I don’t dread going to work every morning!

I am currently teaching at an International Kindergarten School in Bangkok teaching English to Japanese children, so as you can imagine I got to experience 2 culture shocks at the same time (one adjusting to my new life in Bangkok, and one adjusting to the Japanese education system).  However, it’s a fantastic school with a fantastic team and adorable, polite, intelligent kids.  We have heaps of fun helping the kids learn through play and with events etc. Plus, the class sizes are very small (usually around 7-8 kids).

“The TEFL course gave me the confidence to be able to stand up in front of a classroom and teach.”

The TEFL course really helped me with how to plan a lesson in general, how to plan and deliver an ESL lesson, and by improving my English Grammar knowledge (there’s surprisingly a lot you don’t explicitly know about English grammar, even though it is your native language –  so I would definitely pay special attention to these units).  However, most of all the TEFL course gave me the confidence to be able to stand up in front of a classroom and teach, which I think is just invaluable.

I would be lying if I said that every day was a breeze because sometimes the children do drive you insane as does the country you are living in. But at the same time there are so many moments of joy and pride both inside and outside the classroom. From the children making you laugh to realising you’ve really helped a childs progress, and from seeing a beautiful country and experiencing a new culture (not just around the popular tourist areas) to meeting a new group of friends (which become like family).  I really am having an amazing time here in Thailand.  I get to travel around the Islands and to new countries on my annual leave and on long weekends! Plus, we eat out most nights and it’s hot all year round!

I am planning to move to either South Korea or Shenzhen in China early 2019 and will shortly start applying for teaching positions over in these countries.  I will be sad to leave Thailand, but these countries seem to have the best prospects in South East Asia for saving money and I plan to go home to study more in the future.

One piece of advice I would give to anyone considering doing the TEFL Certificate and going to teach abroad is to just go for it.  You honestly won’t regret it! And hey if you get homesick, you can always go home!  I would also suggest just putting yourself out there. Talk to strangers and get yourself on the expat Facebook groups. You’ll make friends in no time, trust me!

Thanks for reading my story and good luck.

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