Depending on where you decide to teach, your days will be structured differently. If you choose to teach at a language school such as Shane English School, then you will be working during the week in the evenings and sometimes full days on the weekends, because the language schools need accommodate students in the time outside their regular school days. This is great as you have the entire morning available to do with what you like. (Editor’s Note: Different countries, and even different schools, have very different schedules. If one location’s schedule doesn’t suit you, then you should take a look at other locations before giving up on teaching abroad. Or get in touch with us directly.)
The other option is to teach at an international school which means you will be working a normal working week and your days will be from 8-4, you will have weekends off, but if you have not taught before and you only have the TEFL qualification with no teaching degree, then an international school is not for you, as it demands the expertise of an experienced teacher.
For most language schools there is a set curriculum of work which you use to develop your lesson plans. At Shane, all this is explained during a week of training. The basic structure of your teaching time will most likely be set out according to the school’s curriculum. Take into account your transport time as you will need to arrive at the school an hour before your first lesson in order to plan your lessons for that day and to catch up with the other teachers.
Then class starts. Each class runs for an hour and a half. This may sound long, but the classes fly once you start playing games and get into it with the kids. Before you know it, you look at your watch and it’s time for the next class.
During the week you will have about 2 classes each evening as the students can only come in once they have finished their school day. Then on weekends you will come into school early and leave mid-afternoon. The weekends are busy, but if you are prepared and have fun in your lessons, then it’s more fun than work.
Teaching at a good language school is a very stress-free job and often after a class, my mood is noticeably lifted. Spending time with the students is a great way to get perspective on life, as at the end of the day all they’re worried about is having a good time and playing a good game.
Starting out you will spend an entire hour – and maybe more – preparing your lessons. Once you get into the groove of the structure and get to know your students, however, planning will come naturally. So don’t let it intimidate you.
And of course, you can read more about living in Thailand here.
The best way to enjoy your time here is to use your free time for things you’ve always wanted to do and get into a good habit or routine of doing them. You have a lot of free time so be careful not to get lazy by sleeping in and lounging around waiting for work to start. If you enjoy being lazy that’s fine, but I’ve found that if you tend to wait around for work to start, you begin to feel that all you do is work. This lifestyle begins to weigh on some teachers and they start struggling to enjoy their time abroad teaching. So get into a routine and treat your day as if you were working a full job, but instead get up early and plan things you enjoy for the day. It sounds simple, but it does take some discipline.
I use my free time for yoga, tanning, and writing. I have also started learning some Thai. It’s great to be able to do the things which you wouldn’t normally have the time to do if you worked a 9 to 5 office job. Some of the other teachers who work with me have taken up their own hobbies such as learning about music production, meditation, and Muay Thai (also known abroad as Thai kickboxing). Not only do you have time to get productive but you will also be able to explore your new area. There are some amazing day trips to do around Thailand and we are able to take advantage with our free time.
You may think that working weekends could get you down, but I promise where I’m working the days of the week make no difference. The markets, bars, malls and amusement parks are busy every day. You honestly can’t tell if it’s weekend or not. I think it has to do with the warm weather, but Thai people are always out and about and things are open all the time. This especially true at night – maybe even more than in the morning – but they will be open every day of the week.
Other things you can look into taking up in your free time include joining a football club, playing badminton, learning something new, and even take part in Thai cooking courses. There is so much to do, but it is up to you to make the most of the time you have. Otherwise, you will feel that all you do is work. Have fun at work, but also enjoy your own time. That is what teaching abroad is all about.
Want to learn more about teaching abroad in Thailand? Click here.
Final Thoughts on Filling Your Time Abroad
Teaching at language schools around the world is an awesome way to make a living and still have enough time to fulfil your long lost hobbies. It gives you an accessible way to travel and explore places you wouldn’t have thought of going to.
Living in certain areas also gives you a great insight into how other cultures live their daily lives. If you are interested in pursuing this dynamic type of lifestyle then get in touch with any of the Shane recruiters and they will help you find the perfect teaching location. Shane has schools worldwide, but you can see the featured jobs here.
Want more like this? Be sure to visit our Teaching Jobs Abroad blog.
About the Author
Tatum Condon a 27-year-old South African girl with Irish family. Her dream growing up was to be a mechanical engineer for Formula One’s Team McLaren. Any sport which is in water, she does it. Even if the water is frozen, count her in. She is currently teaching and living in the land of smiles, Thailand, while sharing stories of my life adventures and experiences. She hopes you enjoy.