Tell us your Koh Phangan story…
I first visited Koh Phangan in 2011. This was my first time travelling and I went to the Full Moon Party. I came back in August this year for a week and really fell in love with the place. I signed up for a Thai language course, booked my accommodation, then went home to hand in my notice at work back in England. Six weeks later I was back!
Now, I’ve just finished my English teaching training with Paradise TEFL.
What got you interested in teaching?
My job back home for the last three years was a mental health support worker. So, that involved an element of teaching. I was helping people to develop life skills and teaching them how to become more independent.
I’ve always enjoyed working with people and doing things with a social focus.
And what courses have you been doing, what does this entail etc?
I did a four-week program with Paradise TEFL on the island where I was learning everything about teaching English as a foreign language.
There were fifteen teaching hours involved where I taught two classes a week at a primary school and gave business English classes.
There’s a lot of preparation goes into every lesson. Then, at the same time, I was completing assignments on different aspects of teaching, methodologies and how I use these in my teaching. I was guided through everything by my mentor as part of the course which made everything so much easier as someone completely new to it all!
You teach children here on the island, tell us about this…
Teaching the children is great. I have to be creative as there's a wide range of abilities in the class.
I try to make things as fun and interesting as I can.
I do competitions. So, I’ll turn around with a clock and they have to raise their hands to tell the time, fill in the blanks of a sentence on the board or draw a picture next to a word.
It’s enjoyable, challenging and rewarding. I’m continuing with the class as a volunteer now I’ve finished my training. I’m looking forward to working with them more as I’ve seen great things from them already.
What do they enjoy about it?
I think they have fun. I do poems with them like Monday’s child is full of grace, Tuesday’s child is fair of face and make up new silly ones to make them laugh.
You teach ‘business’ including the staff at Infinity Beach Club, what do you do and how does this help?
For the business English, I research the place using websites like Trip Advisor to see what people are saying about them.
This can be helpful to get an idea about what they might need help with.
To begin, we might do a test of menu knowledge and some tongue-twisters together. I’ll ask the staff if there’s anything they want to work on in particular or anything they’re finding difficult.
Then, I’ll create the lessons around that. We do role-plays with made up customers like ‘angry man’ and ‘allergic woman’ or look at how to make conversation or give directions to the bathroom. There’s pronunciation work, useful phrases – it all depends on what they need.
What have you been learning through teaching on Koh Phangan?
I’ve learn how a little input can go a long way. I can often hear improvements in students within the same lesson.
I’ve also learnt how flexible and adaptable you need to be as a teacher. I might have a great lesson plan put together. Then, when I go in the class I’m met with blank faces. I have to switch straight away and do something new on the spot. A lot of my best ideas have come out of situations like that.
What do you hope to do in the near future?
I would love to keep learning and developing in my teaching work to be able to do this as my job. I’d also like to set up a teaching blog to share some of my experiences and funny stories from class.
And what do you do in your free time on Koh Phangan?
I love cooking and entertaining. I've been doing dinner parties with a friend here. Besides that, I love cycling on my bicycle around the island and taking in the sights!
Leave us with your life philosophy...
Have fun and go with the flow!