Ben Perryman - Teaching English & Other Subjects in Thailand
In November 2012, I arrived in Thailand to volunteer at Ban Nong Taley Primary School, Krabi, for three months as part of my gap year. During my three months I taught English and physical education whilst living with a local host family on a peaceful and cultural island called Koh Klang – a short long-tail boat journey from Krabi.
Since I arrived in Krabi at night, it was hard to see much but I remember the humidity, meeting Nou, the Projects Abroad representative at the airport who was so friendly and easy-going and she took me to Krabi pier and then to Koh Klang. I met my host mom, Pi Bulan, who provided me with plenty of spicy and delicious local food.
The next day, I got to see Thailand in broad daylight. Koh Klang was a simple, laid back island that was full of nature and animals including birds, cats, chickens, water buffalo, and goats. Nou then showed me around Krabi, the Projects Abroad office, where the important shops are, how to get around the area and generally gave me plenty of information, advice and answered any queries I had.
As soon as I arrived in Thailand I was excited to teach. With each day going by, my enthusiasm grew. By the time Ruang from Projects Abroad had given me my teacher training (she gave me 1-to-1 tips on how to teach successfully) I was desperate to start.
My Teaching Placement
Eventually my first day came and every kid was delighted to see me, give me a high-five, shout ‘hello’ at me or even try and climb on me! My first lesson was teaching the kids some vocabulary on animals, followed by asking them questions and getting them to answer the questions such as asking what their favorite animals are.
All the children were eager and loved the fact that they got to be taught English by an English person! Kru King who was the English teacher at the school from Thailand was also very helpful and is always there if you need her to translate to the kids if they were confused, as she spoke English and Thai very well.
I would wake up at 6am every day (surprisingly easy as the sun rises very early there), leave the house at 6:50am having eaten some tasty local food from my host mom and then take a long-tail boat with the locals and other volunteers to Krabi. We would get picked up by a Projects Abroad truck in Krabi and each volunteer gets taken to their school. I would arrive at about 8:30am and finish at 2:30pm as I taught sport in the afternoon too.
Each day I would teach two classes English and one class physical education; often with spare time between classes to plan lessons. At lunch the kitchen staff made sure I was well fed and loved seeing us volunteers enjoying what they had made. After eating, I would often play with the kids or join in with the older children in their soccer match. Each day I would come home exhausted after teaching children, playing with them at lunch and joining in for lessons. They are such fun and have so much energy – for me it is great to see children so happy and enthusiastic!
In the afternoons after school, we would prepare lessons for the next day if we hadn’t done so already. There is a Vogue Shopping Mall where lots of volunteers go as well as a coffee shop that sells ice creams opposite the Projects Abroad office. Occasionally after school we visited a local attraction if we could squeeze in the time – Tiger Temple, Ao Nang beach and the Hot Springs were popular.
During weekends, most volunteers would visit nearby islands – Railay (for rock climbing and snorkeling), Koh Phi Phi, Ao Nang (beaches, massages, nightlife), Koh Lanta (relaxation and scuba diving), and James Bond Island. It is like a big family with all the volunteers and within time it is certain that everyone will become close and may make life-long friends.
I loved working with the children in Thailand but one child in particular who came from a very poor background and had severe learning difficulties would always give me a hug and would be delighted to see me every day. All he wanted was the slightest bit of attention from any volunteer and he would have the biggest smile on his face for the rest of the day.
On my last day of teaching, a few children managed to stand up in front of the whole school (150-200 people) and speak fluently about me in English. I was amazed as I had been teaching them some vocabulary and some short and very basic questions and then to hear them speak so well about me was incredible. There were also a few children that made me some presents and drew pictures for me which was very sweet!
It is only now that I am home that I realize just how much I learnt and gained, as well as how much I miss Thailand and how lucky I was to have been teaching there. It is a once in a lifetime experience that I will remember and treasure forever and I cannot recommend it enough!