I know of a brand new international school in Bangkok that has a great building and no teachers or students yet. I know they want to hire two or three great kindergarten teachers who are certified in North America. If you are reading this blog and you would like an adventure where you could really make a difference, please write me.
I am just sitting in the airport in Phnom Penh waiting to board my plane back to Canada. I have spent the last three months here working in a school as a consultant developing curriculum to set up an international school. Since I did similar things in Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand I think I have a good base of comparison and might be able to offer a few points of comparison if you are considering where you would rather teach , but keep in mind the critical factor....kids are kids so you will enjoy it very much in both places I am quite certain.
If you are going to live like a typical teacher, living in the cheapest accommodation you can find, I think you will find Cambodia cheaper to live than Thailand. Both are cheap, for sure, compared to the west, but you will probably be able to rent a place for about a tenth of your salary in Phnom Penh as opposed to Bangkok, for example. I know some of the teachers where I was working were renting for under $100 a month and now there is an oversupply of accommodation in Phnom Penh so the prices should remain low. Meals are about $5 a person, even in the finest restaurants and of course street food is so cheap they practically pay you t eat it.
There is probably more to see and do in Thailand then in your typical Cambodian city or town where you may end up. The infrastructure in Cambodia is not great, so to get to the beach, for example, if you live in Phnom Penh it will take you 4 or 5 hours even though it is only 221 kilometers since there is only a two lane road.
In Thailand, there are actually highways so you can move a lot faster from place to place. For example, if you want to go to the beach from Bangkok it is only a matter of an hour or two, depending on where you want to go. Going by bus is equally cheap in both places with virtually any bus ticket to anywhere for $10 or less.
Tourism is a business and Thailand does it best. If you want to see "things" like Temples, beaches, museums, interesting shopping and so on, Thailand beats Cambodia hands down, but if you want to see "natural wonders" then you have a fight on your hands which country offers more.
Other than Siem Reap, which is out of this world for interest, places like Phnom Penh offer very little. All of the tuk tuk's carry a list of tourist attractions and there are about five. You could take a year to see all of the attractions in Bangkok, but it is, of course, a much larger city so perhaps the comparison is unfair but if you compare a small city in both countries, you will have more 'formal' things to see and do in Thailand so it just depends what you are looking for, like anything else, I suppose.
There are so many international schools in Phnom Penh it will be very easy for you to find a job if you are qualified. I was only associated with one school so I am certainly not an expert, but if you look at some of the job sites I referenced in many blogs , you will find many jobs and if you happen to be a little older, Cambodia welcomes you because the population is so young.
Thailand also has many international schools where you can work and the pay is higher, but it will probably cost you more to live. If you are idealistic, stick to Cambodia since it is such an emerging country you will be doing a lot of good working there.
If you would like to add anything else, please do so. What have I missed or what would you like to know more about? Again thanks for the letters of support I receive every week. I am glad this blog is helpful t you.
I thanked Robert in the last article for his invaluable web sites and now I would also like to add additional information he sent me about teaching which looks so interesting.
I post everything I can find at https://www.facebook.com/Thailand-Teach-289975994428274/
World Food Programme (wfp.org) is the food aid arm of the United Nations system have developed a Free Education program to test your knowledge and gives 10 grains of rice for every correct answer. freerice.com/content-group/thailandteach
StoryBots is kidSAFE+ CERTIFIED and COPPA compliant. You only need to apply as a teacher to be able to use the program for free. storybots.com/educate
English Attack is a cognitive learning English program that we are seeing good results from.Wonderful thing is the full time teachers are adding it to their existing English program. Enter Code: TCHAKOKJT1LNY on the top right where it asks you "Do you have a promo Code to receive a free trial. english-attack.com
Tux Paint is a free drawing program for children ages 3 to 12. tuxpaint.org
Click'n Kids is a very good Reading and spelling Program for beginners clicknkids.com Currently have 20 licenses I am happy to share.
The Florida Department of Citrus has created a multi-part educational program designed for second graders, with learning activities in math, social studies, language arts, and fine arts. captaincitrus.com/teacher_galaxy_plans.html#language_arts
Educators, parents, and students from around the world rely on Curriki for free Open Educational Resources. curriki.org/welcome/
Powtoon allows you to create animated videos and presentations as easy as Powerpoint. Free EDU until July 2014 at powtoon.com/edu/join-group/EHgS/
Teaching Ideas and Resources - teachingideas.co.uk/
Learn Spoken English for Free englishspeak.com/english-lessons.cfm
Watch this video! Listen to some great advice from ESL professionals and gain insight about teaching English in Thailand.
Keep us in mind if you are looking to volunteer in our rural area.
All the best, Robert and Pooh Newton
Remind is a great way to share, learn, and grow with school colleagues.
Free Worksheets for Kids
- Phonics / Alphabet - Math - Everyday Subjects
- Seasons - Holidays - More Stuff
Open Education Source brings you the best free educational resources available for educators, home schooling and supplemental education.
The focus is on free, grade appropriate material that can be used for a year or a full semester brought together into a one-stop site from which one can teach a full subject curriculum at no cost.
Open Education Source can help you if:
you are among the growing number of people who believe that quality education can, and should be, freely available to all who seek it.
you have arrived at home schooling and urgently need a good, solid, trusted curriculum with which to get started now.
you need time to research the curricula you are considering purchasing more fully before jumping in, but still need to be schooling now with a free, reliable, grade appropriate resource.
you don't want to spend thousands of dollars on a curriculum that may or may not be right for you.
Simply click on a subject or grade page to get started.
Creativity in the English language classroom
Free PDF file from the British Council
GCF Learn Free has a ESL (English as a Second Language) program contains activities designed to help students practice their English and master common English vocabulary. It is not a complete, start-to-finish English course. Instead, it’s best used as an additional resource for students who already speak some English and have a basic understanding of English grammar.
The program is built around 1,000 common English words, grouped into themed categories. Each category includes resources students can use to learn new vocabulary and improve their English.
A video series where students and teachers bring game-like learning to life.
Students, volunteers and academic leadership around the world value the online tuition-free degree offered by University of the People, and support UoPeople's mission to make education a right for all, and not a privilege for a few. University of the People offers a quality academic education, tuition-free and accessible for all!
Want to know what diversity is and why it is important?
This lesson includes more than 54 slides in a powerpoint presentation.
If you do not have powerpoint it can be opened in an opensource program
Language Arts Curriculum consist of 20 e-lessons in English.
Also Math - Science - Environmental Skills - Environmental Skills
Computer Skills - Computer Skills - Health - Language Arts
Language Arts and Life Skills
We also list many free resources on our Facebook page.
All the best,
Rob and Pooh
This is what you are going to have to get used to if you live in south east Asia if you stay for a full teaching year.There are two season in Asia....the rainy season and the dry season. I got so wet the other day my clothes were sticking to my skin and even though my windows were shut tight the rain just came pouring in to my apartment. Everyone has a rain coat as this lady has and life carries on. What else can you do? Luckily I have a car but even with a car I have to get to it.
I guess the key is to have patience. It does not rain for more than about an hour and frankly when it stops there is no evidence that it even rained it dries so quickly.
Then there is the dry season when the waterfalls dry up and you are always looking for shade. You can always find a coconut tree but I would be careful about sitting underneath one. A coconut missed me by inches the other day as it came crashing down. Just drink lots of water and stay in the classroom. One trick you might try is to freeze a bottle of water the night before and take to school and sip all day.
At least you will not have any snow which is guaranteed.
I am just going home to Canada in a few days and thinking of giving this site a bit of a rest until I return to Asia in October. Is there anything further you would like me to write about? Any questions you have about living in Asia or working? Any questions about where to buy the book?
Again thank you for reading It All Started In Mandalay and sending me your wonderful comments. They are much appreciated. Get your friends to buy a copy for themselves....don't just pass the book around....ok?
I had no idea how accurate I was when I made reference to bar girls in my first novel, It All Started in Mandalay, . In the novel I talked about the "farang lottery" where a girl from Issan met and married a foreigner from a western country and was well taken care of for the rest of her life.
How true this is I found out yesterday when I went for a hair cut. My barber said she had a friend she was going to see in Patong who had just come from her same village who was going to work in a bar, and not any bar but the bar where everyone comes to work from this village. Apparently this bar is frequented by a lot of Australians and there are many tales of marriages where the ladies end up going to live in Australia after they buy their parents a house back in their village.
Apparently there are all kinds of stories in this town of women who have come to Phuket, hit the farang lottery and llived happily ever after in Australia ( after getting a house built for their parents in Issan).
When one of my friends lived in Pattaya he used to go to a bar where the women were following instructions from a book on writing to their boyfriends with the introduction page telling them to say how much they missed them, then the next page writing about what to write a few weeks later if the men wrote back and so on. It is just like any other business, I guess.
Kind of takes the magic out of dating..doesn't it? But these are the things you learn about as a foreign teacher.
As well as learning how to surf!!!
I think that it is critical that as teachers we also have to be learners to better understand the learning process. Secondly, it is also important from the point of view of learning a different culture. Thirdly, it allows us to better communicate with the indigenous population who will appreciate the fact that we are trying as foreigners to better understand the culture we are living in.
I am in Thailand at the moment and I am trying to learn to read and write. Somehow, I have to memorize the alphabet which is completely foreign to me. I even have trouble writing the letters and I have no idea how a five year old Thai child can do it. Amazing. The problem for me, I realize, is that I am trying to learn out of context which clues me in on how to teach contextually. Trying to memorize letters and sounds out of context is difficult. Everything we teach has to be in some format where the child can link things to a deeper meaning.
It is also important in learning a language to understand that language reflects the culture. We learn, for example, in Thai that men say "kup" and women say "ka" at the end of the sentence. Even though someone might look like a man, if they end the sentence with a "ka" they feel like a woman.
We have the same sorts of things in English. For example, Eskimos have multiple names for snow and city dwellers have multiple names for couches like sofas, love seats and so on. It tells us about the English culture in which most of the readers of this blog use.
Do you want to talk to these people and ask them what they are looking at? Most of them probably speak enough English to tell you, but if you start by asking them in English you just might get these stares. Try saying hello and asking them how they are in Thai and you might be able to find out that they are listening to a bird competition.
If you live in foreign environment spend time talking with the indigenous population. If you wanted to hang out with English speaking people why leave home?
In Thailand, the traditional New Year's Water Festival is called Songkran and it is celebrated right now from April 13-15. Of course, it starts before and goes long afterwards as Thais drink to excess, splash water on each other continually and enjoy themselves immensely. It is the hottest part of the year and generally speaking a little water is very welcome! The water metaphorically washes away all of your sins for the year, just as Jews at New Year's wash away their sins in the nearest body of water.
The problem, and I call it a problem, not a challenge, is the stupid "farang" or foreigners who buy the biggest water cannons they can find and walk near the street spraying motor bikes and tuk tuk drivers with pails full of water. This results in many traffic fatalities every year in Thailand and it is very dangerous.
This is what you see all the time if you are lucky enough to be alive after falling off a motorcycle. I have personally witnessed two fatalities in the last two days and I dare say it was the foreigners and not the Thais who created these accidents as the pavement becomes deadly slippery and the drivers swerve to avoid fools who put ice in the water.
People are also walking around sprinkled with powder which can cause momentary blindness.
I am begging all "farangs" to let the Thais do their thing and just watch and enjoy. If you must throw water, do what the Thais do. Fill a little small bowl with water and sprinkle it on passers by. Put the guns away.
You are visitors in this Land of Smiles. Not an invading army!!!
In the interests of full disclosure, I am now working in Phuket, so let me talk a little bit about Thailand here and Phuket specifically.
Phuket is an island for tourists and if you like what it offers for tourists you will be fine. There are myriad bars, shooting ranges, go cart courses, lion shows, lady boy shows, golf courses and so on. If you are not into any of the above, this is also not a problem. You can find deserted beaches, small quiet villages, out of the way restaurants and roads that have not seen a car for days. You just have to know where to look.
You can see you can have your fill of treasures, either swimming on a deserted beach, picking fruit at your leisure or visiting a Temple. This one is at Chalong but there are Temples everywhere. I went for a big Buddha celebration last week where we had to light a candle and walk around the Temple three times. Three and Seven seem to be a sacred number in many religions. My candle kept going out because of the wind and the person walking beside me kept relighting it for me which was kind of nice and so typically Thai.
Yesterday after school, I decided to go to the beach because it was 34 degrees centigrade, to-night after school I think I will play golf and this week-end take a bridge off the island to look at some limestone cliffs. Does life get any better than this?
Sometimes when we are teaching in Asia, or for that matter anywhere else in the world, we tend to forget that we are not teaching math or science or art...we are teaching kids and the reason the parents want us here and pay the big money is not just our handsome white faces but our ability to teach their children English.
A few tips if you are teaching in Asia:
use key visuals when you are teaching a concept
always use English in class
write a glossary of key words on the board before the lesson
talk at a n normal speed...do not speed up
and the 1000 and one other techniques you can find at places like Dave's ESL cafe at http://www.eslcafe.com/ideas/
Never give up on kids. If you are reading this blog, you can certainly read English and probably speak and write. How did you learn? Are you soooo smart? Don't you think you students can also learn by listening and practicing? Learning a foreign language is tough, especially the older you get, but NEVER give up on kids!
They can and will learn English if you force them to speak English in your class.
As a teacher in Asia, you are generally taking a plane to anywhere you want to go on week-ends thinking you do not have enough time for other modes of transportation. This is, of course, not true. If you look at a map of Thailand, for example, you see that there is a beautiful city in the north called Chiang Mai. If you happen to be living in Bangkok, for example, you leave school on a Friday afternoon and catch an overnight train to Chiang Mai. The train is a lot of fun and you can buy a sleeper with a private room and bathroom or a room with bunk beds and have a great trip north, save the cost of hotel room for one night, spend a full Saturday and Sunday in the north and come back Sunday night and make a beeline right to school. Hopefully you are either the principal or have an understanding principal in that you might be a few minutes late to class Monday morning.
The same thing can happen in Ho Chi Minh when you can take a train to almost anywhere in central Vietnam like Da Nang. If you are in Ho Chi Minh City you can also consider taking a bus to Phnom Penh for the week-end and even though it is only five hours away you can take the night bus and end up in Cambodia in the early morning. The only problem with the bus is that you could end up being woken up at the border to do paper work just as you are trying and probably beginning to fall asleep!
Airplanes are also great and quick and cheap but you do have alternatives that might end up being more fun and cheaper.
Michael Allan Charles is the first time author of It All Started In Mandalay