Teaching English As A Foreign Language – My Experience with Entrust TEFL

Hi guys, my name is Rayno! I am 28 years old and from Henley-on-Klip, in South Africa. I love art, history, 60’s 70’s 80’s 90’s music, delicious food and good company. I have accomplished a few things in my life, of which I am extremely proud. However, none of them have given me the fulfillment I wanted out of “life” – thus I decided to do this TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course, through Entrust TEFL which is a

140-hour, award winning teacher training course and guarantees job placement. It is also interactive and face to face which makes it a lot easier than doing an online course. You get to meet new and interesting people along the way too, as you will soon find out!

By teaching English, I believed I could make my own small difference in the world, not so? Simultaneously I get an opportunity to see different parts of the world and travel and meet new and exciting people… This is the second most meaningful decision I have made for myself. So, everything happened quickly, contemplation, discussions and final decision all within two weeks. This huge step which lay ahead of me felt quite daunting, and it really is, but with the constant wonderful guidance and

assistance, and endless answering of all my questions from the Entrust TEFL staff, everything ran smoothly! The team is exceptionally welcoming, hospitable and well informed.

My Journey to Teach English in Thailand

I left South Africa on March 28th, 2019 and arrived in Thailand on March 29t h. What a long flight, and i can hardly ever sleep on the plane. Wow, it’s hot here! I requested a taxi from the Krabi international airport and arrived at my hotel in Krabi town. I must admit that I probably slept about a half an hour in the taxi… I Had a good rest and then I met my roommate and other students from all over the world, (mostly South Africa). How exciting! We decided to go and try the local cuisine, rice, steamed vegetables, seafood, chicken and pork (pad Thai)! As the night progressed, we learnt a lot about one another and the reasons why everyone has decided to do this course. Naturally everyone had their own motives for coming to Thailand to become an English teacher, but we all had one goal- to teach Thai children English. We also noticed that the Thai people are a very friendly nation. Two days later we met our trainer for the first time, also a South African citizen with a very pleasant personality. As time passed, I grew fonder of her. Each day the TEFL students had breakfast at the Apo hotel and began with our training at the training center across the street. Our TEFL trainer was a great teacher with a lively attitude. During the training it is stressed that emphasis is placed on repetition and pronunciation. This way the students hear what you are trying to teach repetitively and see how you form your mouth to say the words. This helps with their articulation. The class is very interactive, you need to move between all the students constantly, this way nobody is left out and if someone requires individual attention you can help them. We start with group drills, then we do individual drills and end with a board drill. It is important to always encourage your students, and remember it is okay for them to make mistakes… I mean, you can imagine what it must be like trying to learn a new language from scratch. We pushed through hard and accomplished a lot each day. The next morning, we met early once again for TEFL training, and for lunch we always used to pop in at the local market next door for awesome food. Just learn how to say mai ped (which means NOT spicy) for those who can’t eat spicy food like me ha-ha! For those of you who enjoy it, ped mac mac… Another tip is Sawatdee kap (hello for men) and Sawatdee kaa (for woman). Kap kun kap/kaa for thank you. Both times hands pressed together in front of your face forming a Wai showing respect. In the evening we would go to the night market where there were hundreds of stallers selling food, clothing, jewelry, ice cream, etc. The live performances on stage were very entertaining, dancers, singers, flame throwers and of course karaoke! Their outfits were well put together and very elaborate. Many tourists were busy taking pictures of all the performers and enjoying themselves thoroughly. Be sure to get yourself a mixed fruit smoothie!

There is a lovely café ( Sprucy ) next to our hotel which sold the most amazing New York cheesecake and cappuccino! A real Western coffee shop right here in Thailand. A must try! One week of training had passed, the weekend had arrived, we were all looking forward to it very enthusiastically as Entrust TEFL had planned an island excursion for us. We all walked to the dock, boarded the longtail boat and set off for the day. We passed an old shipwreck with a large tree growing out of the middle of it. 1st stop- snorkeling! We all had great fun swimming and observing all the marine life at a small island. Make sure to wear a lot of sunscreen! We moved on to the next island and the next snorkeling spot, had a lovely lunch on the boat which Entrust TEFL prepared for us, and continued swimming in the tropical clear water. Everyone was on jelly-fish watch! We stopped at Skull island and did a bit of walking around and exploring. There were many foreigners here with us, but it was a fun filled day! By this point we were all exhausted and started the journey back to the hotel.

Krabi night market

The following morning, at the crack of dawn, we were all on the bus to go to the airport to catch our flight to Chiang Mai. Moving from an island vibe to the big city life…. You can imagine what we must have been thinking. When we landed, I was pleasantly surprised about the history and different sides of the city.

Chiang Mai has many mountains surrounding it which was like a western city surrounded by a lush tropical jungle. We all got into a minibus and headed to Eco Resort which would be our accommodation for the following two weeks. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that they had a beautiful pool in which we could swim laps. The Krabi students, (that would be us) were quite anxious to meet the Chiang Mai students. They were predominantly younger than us. As we entered the classroom, we were shocked that there were 32 students in total… we were only 10. We then met the head trainer, a very bright young man, who has an abundance of experience and accomplishments, Neung and Patrick the managing director and program director. As the week progressed, we became more relaxed and comfortable with our new surroundings and unfamiliar faces. A few days later we travelled to a school who grants Entrust TEFL the privilege of bringing all the teachers, who are in training, to the school to do practical classes with the students. Wow! All the little faces were something to behold… so friendly and cute! After the introduction and group activities we progressed to our own classes with a team-mate and began to teach and interact with the students. They were so bright and caught on so quickly! All of us were surprised that with only one week of training each of us taught three classes successfully. It was amazing!

Songkran Festival is great

The following day we were invited back to the school to partake in their Songkran celebrations, which is a festival celebrating the Thai New Year, in April. It is also called the Water Festival as the entire country participates, young and old, in the biggest water fight in the world. These celebrations last a whole week! Spending the day at the local school, celebrating Songkran, gave us an introduction of what was to come. The students, Thai teachers and Entrust TEFL teachers had water guns of all sizes, buckets filled with ice cold water and if that was not enough, reality of the events really struck when a big red fire truck pulled into the school and began spraying all of us. We all played in the water for hours with the students. They also presented us with fresh flower necklaces, which is a sign of appreciation and affection. The more flowers you receive, the more you are liked! I got two necklaces…

Later that week we participated in an Entrust TEFL Wet Quest race in the old city in which we had to complete a series of tasks from ten pin bowling, finding a person in a huge mall dressed as a wizard to get clues from him, Thai words which needed to be translated, ping pong matches, plays and yes…. Eating crickets! For the play we had to come up with superhero names and special powers, and engage in mortal Kombat with another team… This lasted the whole day! It was so much fun, even though our feet were throbbing after it all. Running through the old city, getting drenched by everyone throwing buckets of water on us, (quite a shock when you get ice water thrown on you) and spraying us with water guns. There were even vehicles set up as mobile discos playing music for the hordes of people marching down the streets! Hands off to the team for arranging this. It was a huge success!

A few days later we partook in the parade where we walked through the streets again, everyone dressed in traditional Lana wear, singing, dancing and throwing water.

Music and drums in the background and we were all dancing to the beat… and whoosh! Water in the face!

I am sure you must be thinking when we have time to work and go to class… Right! Well, Rod was pushing us to complete certain programs each day as we had fallen behind. After we had gone through a couple of chapters, we would do our revision and quizzes based on those chapters. During this week we had also done a class presentation on which we were graded, if we went off the track Rod was sure to correct and assist us. By this time, I am sure everyone was hoping to finish soon and graduate. The one afternoon Entrust TEFL had prepared a barbeque for us, (for the South Africans- a braai)! It was fantastic. We had a wide variety of meats to choose from and vegetables. There was music playing and we were all dancing and singing along, and of course, being drenched with water. The festivities lasted long into the night…

Thursday, we completed our final examination for the course, it went well! A group of us got together, caught a grab (taxi), and went out to the markets where they had live entertainment and a variety of food stalls to choose from. Adding to the ambience were thousands of lights. We ended up having hamburgers, double patties, they were awesome! Sitting here with my new friends, enjoying all these new experiences made me feel happy and content. I was thinking how difficult it was going to be to say goodbye to them after graduation. During these few days we all had Skype interviews with potential employers, I received a job opportunity in Bangkok as well as in Chon Buri. I decided to accept the job offer in Chon Buri. I was a bit overwhelmed with the idea of going to work in the busy city of Bangkok for my first time, and plus, Chon Buri is by the beach! I can just see myself laying on the beach, working on my tan and swimming in the beautiful ocean. We were called downstairs one by one to go over our contracts and sign them. It was a bit stressful I won’t lie! At least now we were certain of employment, so that weight was lifted off our shoulders. As I am sitting here, I feel confident that I can go to my new school and do a good job, what is expected of me. This is all thanks to our trainers for preparing us so well. Now it is up to us to put in the effort and go the extra mile. So, the morning where our fruits of our labor would be redeemed had arrived. All of us were sitting upstairs waiting in anticipation to hear Rod call out our names and present us with our certificates. One by one we went up to the front of the class and shook his hand, smiled for a picture, accepted the warm applause, and went to sit back down again. I am pretty sure we all felt a sense of accomplishment and were a bit chuffed! Three weeks had gone by in the blink of an eye. That is what they say happens when you are having fun! At this point Rod and Jada made it clear we would not end our journey and relationship with Entrust TEFL here.

Teaching is all about the children 

They would continue to be by our side and offer help when we need it. How amazing is that! They would like to follow us on our journey and asked us to stay in touch, send pictures and videos. We all know we came here for our own reasons, whatever they may be, now we need to focus on the children. We need to recognize the fact that Thailand is trying to improve on their current economic position and begin the transition into a first world country, by increasing their English communication abilities. This responsibility lies with us, so we need to do a sterling job guys and girls, or shall I say TEFL teachers!

We then headed off to the Thai immigration center to extend our visas. The process was very well managed and went by quickly. Across the road we could print our documents and have pictures taken. We were all sitting there praying for visa extensions and making up possible scenarios of why the officials would not grant us extensions, hahaha! Thereafter we went to the train station and booked our tickets to go our separate ways! The train station was well organized and very clean with staff who were more than willing to assist you. It really started to sink in that we were all working in different places. One of the other students is going to the same school as myself, so that is a bit comforting. I still need to find accommodation in Chon Buri, so that is something I need to sort out as soon as possible so that I can relax!

My last day in Chiang Mai was a memory that I will forever carry with me. Entrust TEFL arranged a Thai cultural excursion for us, we all left the hotel and headed off to do meditation with a Thai monk. He sat us down and went through all the details, explaining to us how to realize the balance between good and evil, right and wrong, and the optimum result is an equilibrium between the two.

Breathing techniques and movements had to go hand in hand. We could feel the energy between our hands. This is something I would like to do again in the future. Afterwards we felt so relaxed and at ease. We then started our Muay Thai lessons, which is Thai boxing. Our instructor was a champion boxer of 54years, and he looked like he was 40. He even acted in a film or two! We all practiced the moves and steps. He insisted that we kick him with all our strength. Nobody did, I mean, I am sure he could have handled our kicks with ease. You could see how strong his abdominal muscles were from the repetitive kicks he had to endure and become accustomed to. We then all climbed into the steam rooms with lemon grass and other herbs, had a cold shower and felt very refreshed. A tropical storm had come out of nowhere and we were all standing in the arena area watching the rain come down in buckets, it even started to hail which is a rare occurrence here in Thailand. Our Thai friends got so excited and showed us the hail with much amusement. The giant bamboo was breaking, signs were being blown over and branches were flying around. Later we found out that the storm had affected over 600 families and damaged over 1000 houses. The King deployed the army troops to assist with supplying those with food and begin with reconstruction. As the storm came to an end, we left to go to the Silver Temple. We had to turn around many a time and take alternative routes as trees that had been uprooted were blocking the roads. We eventually arrived and once again had a scrumptious meal (khao soi) arranged by Entrust TEFL. A not too spicy chicken and noodle soup with vegetables. We were offered a purple drink that is made from flowers! We all had seconds! We then made ourselves key chains out of stainless steel.

We each received a candle for blessings, prosperity and success for our future endeavors. Each day in Thailand represents a different color, and each year a different animal. I was born on a Tuesday (pink) 1991 (goat). So, you place your candle in a bowl above your Chinese zodiac.

Thereafter we wrote our names on a long roll of yellow cotton cloth which was wrapped around a golden shrine. We found ourselves in the temple where the monk said a prayer for everyone, and we were all connected by cotton string. He then sprinkled us with water, and we were presented with a small monk figurine and a string bracelet. A walking meditation was held around the Silver temple, each of us were holding a candle and flowers. The candle we had to place in a bowl which was filled with sand. My friends and I kept making eye contact, as this was quite strange for us, something we had never experienced before. Woman are unfortunately not allowed to go inside the Silver Temple. Neung told us that the temple took 12 years to build! It is covered with aluminum metal sheeting that the monks have embossed, carved, decorated and punched into detailed murals. The amount of man hours put into this is immeasurable. Absolutely spectacular. It was an unforgettable experience that I am so glad I participated in.

Seeing the Thai culture, what they are all about really opens one’s eyes. They are a very peaceful nation, always smiling and never losing face. Arrogance and entitlement are personality traits that you should leave behind before coming to Thailand. This is just a small tip that I can give to you. I would say the philosophy of Entrust TEFL creating all these excursions, would be to prepare us to be welcomed in the communities where we will be teaching. We will be invited to partake in events and outings, and we should always accept the offer, as it is rude to not accept what a Thai person offers you.

Our trip to Bangkok

I am now sitting with my fellow South African friends and Danielle, an older lady from America who we have all grown very fond of, enjoying our last breakfast together. We have booked the train ticket for 5pm to Bangkok. It takes 14 hours to get there, at least we can sleep on the train. Then once we arrive, we need to book tickets to our next destination. Mine being Si Racha in Chon Buri, which is about one and a half hours from Bangkok. My friends are going to Phuket, Racha Buri and Bangkok. I feel a bit sad that our adventure has come to an end, alas new and exciting times await us all. Each day we awaken without appreciation to be taken to an unknown destination. Unaware of what lies ahead, but something we should not dread! So, we find ourselves at the station, our friends have all come with to have a final meal with us and wish us well. An emotional day, Natasha was crying when she hugged me goodbye. I think out of all the people here, her and I connected the best. I managed to keep it together, until I was on the train and they left. We all spoke a bit and eventually our beds were assembled for us, and we went to bed. The following morning, we awoke at 5am and the assistant on the train made our beds up again. We arrived in Bangkok; at the station and I sat down on a bench to use google and one by one we headed off in our own directions. I booked a train ticket to Pattaya for 31 baht, literally two minutes before the train left! I made it just on time… I was quite impressed and shocked that it was so cheap to go from Bangkok to Pattaya. I was quite stressed that I had embarked on the wrong train! I tried communicating with people on the train trying to find out if I was on the correct one, this was a difficult task. Eventually I arrived in Pattaya and booked into my hotel which was made of shipping containers. I was walking distance from the beach, to which I went every day, right down the road there was a market that started at 5pm on Jomtien beach. I had pork and chicken burritos every night, with a smoothie of course. There were also a group of guys that played beach volleyball every afternoon and evening, I even joined them for one game! The one morning I travelled to Pattaya beach, a very busy tourist attraction. As I was laying on the beach lounger, I counted 106 speed boats, 15 passenger boats, 13 banana floats with people on and 35 para gliders, this happening all at once! I could not believe that there weren’t accidents on the water and people getting tangled up in the air. During this time Katherine and I were communicating and planning when she would come through. She flew down and I met her at a hotel that I booked for us for two evenings so we could go and look at accommodation with the agents. We viewed a beautiful townhouse and a few lovely apartments in condominiums. We decided to stay in The Sky condo in Sriracha. The agents who assisted us were very helpful and did the best of their ability. We were so happy that we would be able to unpack our bags and not live out of suitcases anymore. We moved in two days later. We are enjoying our pool and gym facilities; the best part is that Assumptions College is right next door. The following week we both had interviews at the school. I sat with 5 faculty members for about an hour, being asked an assortment of questions and trying to answer to the best of my ability. Assumptions College is a very prestigious school based on 500 acres, beautiful buildings and amazing sports facilities with astro turf. There are over 4000 scholars that attend the school. Students from; pre-school to matric. I will be teaching primary school which is between 6 and 11 years old.  Perhaps I can even give extra tennis lessons to the children! One of the teachers told me that the parents pay a considerable amount on school fees and they expect results, I said that is great and I am ready!

So, it’s been almost three weeks of teaching to date. Every morning I wake up at 6am, get ready and leave at 7:20. This leaves us just enough time to make it to the office to sign in with the electronic scanner. Either by fingerprint or face recognition. Each morning we meet at our various assembly points for kindergarten, primary and high school. At 8am we sing the Thai national anthem; all the students face the flag and it is hoisted for the king. We make sure everyone is paying attention, standing in a straight line with their arms next to their sides. At this point the discipline is quite good, the younger learners are quite disruptive in class though and we struggle to keep them focused. All in all, the interaction with the students is going well, we each have televisions in our classes which we can utilize whilst teaching. The students are very amused and interested with their new teachers. They are also very bright, and most are eager to learn. I know as a teacher you shouldn’t have a favorite, but in each class, there is always one or two children that you connect with and that stand out. Teacher! Teacher! Good morning! The warmest smiles welcome you every day.

The first week of teaching was a bit of a nightmare as we had to work out all the glitches. We are four teachers in the SEP (Special English Program) and another who just joined us yesterday. Two Americans, (Katherine being one) a man from Belgium, another from Sweden, and myself. Now we each have our own schedules that we need to follow. Our lunch break is at 11:20am in the cafeteria. The school gives us lovely food every day. Main meal with desert each day. We all meet up, eat and discuss how our days are going, and head off to the next class.

At 4:30 School ends and all the parents come and pick up their children to go home. I have met another two good friends from South-Africa, Rua and Matt who are also teaching at the school and a cool guy from Russia called Joe. Joe moved into the same condo where Katherine and I are staying over the weekend. I helped him bring all his belongings here.

Last week I did my trip to Laos to extend my visa. I met up with Natasha in Bangkok and we travelled together. It was so nice to see her; we had not seen one another in over a month. We spoke about what we had done the past few weeks and had a good catch up. We were 6 South-Africans on the bus, yip, we are all over, slowly but surely taking over hahaha… 9 Hours later we arrived in Laos, stood in the line, gave our passports in with our applications and went to rest at the hotel. Natasha and I went for a great burger and the best fries…

The following morning, we went and queued at the immigration office again. There were hundreds of people, and everyone was placing their bags in a row and going for breakfast across the road. This is how you queue up in Thailand! When we were done eating, we went to stand in line. There was a Canadian woman with her group of friends and a Thai lady who stopped us and said we will not push in front of them. I said we have been here the whole morning and our bags are there. She said that it was our agents’ bag and it is not acceptable, making a huge fuss about it.  I just said to her that I was sorry she was having a bad day and turned around. We got our visa extensions and passports an hour later. We all climbed in the minibus and commenced on the long daunting journey back to Bangkok. I arrived in Bangkok at 2:30am, the agent said they would take me to my condo for an extra 2000 baht, I agreed. I climbed into bed at 4am that morning. Natasha on the other hand still had a 12-hour journey to Phuket.

Next week I need to travel to Bangkok again to do my English proficiency examination. Fortunately, I can get a minibus from our local mall which costs 120 baht and takes about 1 hour and forty minutes to get there. It is a three-hour exam and you may not take water into the hall with you. Wish me luck!

I am beginning to miss my home, family, friends and pets! It is very different in Thailand and you need to learn their way of living and become accustomed to it. I must say it seems much more relaxed to be honest. This is natural, a part of culture shock, but I need to stay focused and teach at least a year in Thailand.

Thank you Entrust TEFL

After reading this I hope I have made your decision easier by planting a seed of imagination in each of your minds, and that you can see all the possibilities that Thailand has to offer you. Not only just in teaching, but in finding yourself, healing and living a meaningful life whilst exploring new things. My wish for you is that you are excited to come and teach English in Thailand, embrace the lifestyle and start living like you belong in Thailand. I would encourage each person to come and experience this, it is something you will not regret. If I can do it, then so can you. It is incredible! The Thai lifestyle is very different, but it’s a good kind of different. Thank you to Entrust TEFL for your support and guidance throughout the training.

Humility is always a good quality to have… You guys are making a significant change in the lives of each child and you are opening many possibilities for them.

English is vital to be able to communicate in the business world, especially with Thailand being such an important tourist destination. Continue the good work!