My First Taste of Teaching Abroad

It was 38°C, and I was standing outside in front of a whiteboard. It had been wheeled to me only moments before by a burly Thai boy of around 21. He was covered in tattoos and had a scar along his forearm. He was my student, and one of the most polite young men I'd ever encountered.

My first taste of teaching was at a juvenile correctional facility in a town north of Chiang Mai. It was also one of the best things I'd ever done in my life. The young boys that I met there were the most well-behaved students I'd ever met, albeit they had the same language skills as a six-year-old. They were respectful and listened with intent, and each of them had a story behind their eyes.

I realised as I was standing there, identifying classroom objects in English, that the majority of these boys had come from your typical and sad dysfunctional family, riddled with either alcoholism, violence, drugs, abuse, and a myriad of other problems. Some of them might be there because they stole a bicycle, three years ago, and there is nowhere else for them to go (this was really the case with one boy that I heard about).

What I learnt from this place was far more valuable than what I had managed to teach them. In fact, teaching them random vocabulary like "ruler" and "duster" seemed trivial. I knew that these children and young adults needed far more than vocabulary or modelling and drilling - they needed love, acceptance, and care.

NOTE: This was a teaching practice I did, along with a bunch of other TEFL students, with SEE TEFL. I'm pretty sure everyone else had an array of profound, funny, interesting, or heart-warming experiences that day too.


Some lovely TEFL teachers.
Another trainee teacher doing her thing.
The sort of characters on my TEFL course.
On the way back to class, after teaching all our classes.

1 comment:

  1. Most people would not like teaching at a juvenile teaching correctional facility yet you gained from the experience walking away having learnt from them as you say. I can only commend you on this enrichment but I feel sad for these young men.