Interview: Teaching English in Thailand

I met Rachel in Queenstown during my first few days in New Zealand. I had the pleasure of spending three days with her and her best friend. Rachel is a fellow American living and working abroad, and during our time together she was able to give me insight into her experiences and how she obtained her current position.

Where are you from?
“New York.”

Did you graduate from college? If so, what did you study?
“Yes. I got my bachelor’s degree in English literature and creative writing, with a minor in education!”

What country and city do you work in?
“I live in Chanthaburi, Thailand.”

What type of work do you do?
“I teach English to 12-16 year olds.”

How did you find and obtain that position?
“I went through a nonprofit organization called CIEE.org. They helped me get a job and provided an orientation for everyone in their program.”

Were you required to get an ESL certificate or something similar?
“No, for Thailand I was not required to get my TEFL.”

How long is your teaching position?
“I signed up for 1 year, but there was an option for 6 months.”

What is the biggest challenge of your job?
“The language barrier and the lack of a concrete education system. I only see my kids once a week, and I have almost 600 students. It’s hard if they decide they don’t want to learn or don’t care about learning English.

What are one or two pieces of advice you would give to someone that wants to do what you do?
“Patience really is a virtue. Also, it’s important to just go with the flow, or Mai Pen Rai as they say in Thailand.

Why is traveling and working abroad important to you?
“Traveling makes me the best version of myself. It makes me so unbelievably happy. Seeing the world and meeting all these fantastic people along the way is so incredible. I’m living a very blessed life.”