Leah Blackman is a teacher from Manchester, UK. She has been teaching internationally in Thailand for the past seven years. She has worked in a range of international schools based in Surat Thani, Koh Samui, Krabi and now in Bangkok. Leah’s current teaching job is as a nursery teacher for Regents School Bangkok. Here she talks about life in the country she loves most, Thailand:
Since I’ve been teaching internationally, I’ve learnt new and different approaches to teaching and learning. Between 80 and 90 percent of the students in my class at Regents School are EAL learners which has forced me to learn new ways of teaching lesson objectives.
I’m lucky enough to be at a school which takes personal development very seriously; we have weekly in-school PD and training sessions. All the teachers are in the same boat; all expats, and as a result I work with an extremely supportive and friendly team. We always share resources and ideas.
I now also teach barefoot; Thai people leave their shoes at the door as they are dirty from being outside. This makes perfect sense and I do the same at home now too!
Life and culture in Bangkok
Thailand, and Thai culture, is beautiful. Living in Bangkok is both relaxed and chaotic at the same time.
I enjoy waking up to the sound of roosters, crickets and frogs, even though I live in the city! The country has everything: jungles, mountains, beaches, rivers, lakes and floating bungalows! I also absolutely love Thai food. It’s delicious, although I always ask for it ‘mai phet’ (not spicy) as the spice will make your ears bleed! Food is an important part of the culture. Giving food as gifts or asking someone if they’ve eaten instead of ‘how are you?’ shows that you care.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself from this experience, such as the fact that you never know how brave or strong you are until you have no other choice. A lot of my friends and family say to me that they are not ‘brave enough’ to leave England and set up life in a new country. It’s not that difficult, if you REALLY want to do it. I’ve now made life-long friends from all over the world, and I’ve lived in another culture and seen how things work differently. I’ve learnt that England isn’t the centre of the universe!
I hope to stay in Thailand for as long as possible. I’m really enjoying my school and the environment I’m in. My partner is from the Philippines so we may end up returning there in a few years.
Thinking about teaching overseas? Go for it!
If you want to teach internationally my advice is to go for it! Be open-minded. Not everything will be the same as back home. It’s scary moving away, but the good kind of scary! Know that if you move overseas, things will be different and strange for a while (and probably lonely) but stick with it. Go out, meet people and socialise when you can. Say yes to invites. And bring your favourite snack over from home!
TIC helped Leah find her job and supported her through her interview with Regents School Bangkok. You’ll find plenty more advice about teaching in international schools in our Teacher’s Stories section. Take a look at the current jobs that are available through TIC and register now for free to have access to all the jobs that are currently being posted for a 2018 start.
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