Review by teacher Kacey Andreotta for TEFL Heaven Mexico

Interview with Kailey Hak, Thailand Q and A

PERSONAL PROFILE

What is your name, age and nationality?

I’m Kailey Hak, age 25, from Florida. 

What is your education level and background?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where?

Before I moved to Thailand three years ago I had travelled a decent amount around North America. I also lived in Barcelona studying abroad during college, so during that time I was able to visit a lot of Western Europe. 

What motivated you to teach abroad?

I honestly did not hear about it or consider it until Senior year. I was studying accounting and did internships with an accounting firm during my summers. Half way through senior year I was seriously doubting accounting as a profession. A friend of mine briefly mentioned teaching abroad and I thought why not go for it! I loved exploring new places, and really wanted to travel to Thailand. Little did I know how much I would love teaching and still be out here 3 years later!

What did you want to personally achieve with this experience, and have you succeeded?

I wanted to push my boundaries and try something new. Living in and navigating a life in an entirely foreign country really gives you a sense of accomplishment.Taking the risk to move out to Thailand opened so many doors for me. I began teaching at a placement from TEFL Heaven at a school outside of Bangkok, I spent a year and a half there and really fell in love with teaching English. From there I have had the opportunity to volunteer working as a teacher with a non- profit working to combat statelessness in Northern Thailand. It’s been really fulfilling to be able to give back to the community and continue to grow as an individual as well.

Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?

I actually knew friends from various points in my life that were applying for the program as well. I made so many new friends on the course as well!

Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?

I had heard of people teaching abroad, but I didn’t know anyone who had actually done it!

What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?

I was pretty excited and didn’t have too many concerns, besides making sure all paperwork, visa etc. was completed- however TEFL heaven was very thorough with providing checklists that I needed. One other concern I did have  was dealing with medical issues should something happen. However once I got here I realised that if need be seeing a doctor here is safe, reliable and also cheap.

TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION:

What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?

I chose TEFL Heaven because I loved that the course was in person in Thailand. I loved the idea of getting to meet so many new (and now life long) friends on the course. I also loved all of the assistance that was provided with getting over to Thailand and getting my placement. TEFL Heaven really helped every step of the way.

I think that especially in a field like teaching it’s much better to learn in person. I really loved how hands on the course was and that we could get real time feedback from our instructors.

Which TEFL program did you do?

Paid internships Thailand- Koh Chang, October 2016.

What did you enjoy about your TEFL Course?

The friends I made, first and foremost! The location was fantastic. And most importantly, the knowledge and experience passed on to us from our trainers. The course was so much fun, super interactive with a lot of games- similar to the English classroom!

How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?

Regardless of how much experience or training you have, the first day can always be a bit daunting. The course, however, left me feeling confident and excited to start teaching!

How long do you plan to stay in Thailand?

I have been living and teaching in Thailand for nearly 3 years now. The first year in a half in Nakhon Pathom, near Bangkok, and the latter half of that time in Pai, Thailand. Thailand has become home to me, so we’ll see!

How did you secure your English teaching job?

TEFL Heaven placed me with my first job near Bangkok where I taught kindergarten for a year a half. I now volunteer with a non-profit and teach online, which I have secured myself.

What does a typical working week look like for you?

During my first job at a typical Thai government school I worked Monday- Friday 9-3:30. I usually would have 4-5 classes a day with plenty of time to plan during breaks. 

Now, with the youth centre I volunteer at, I teach the adults Friday evenings and the children on Saturdays and Sundays (we open on the weekends for the children to get extra English help.) I work on lesson planning, operations and fundraising during the week. I also work in the evenings Monday- Friday 3 hours each night teaching online to earn money. Some weeks I work a lot more than other weeks, but my schedule is super flexible which makes it easy to take a little trips or take some time off if friends or family is in town.

What age group or range do you teach?

I have taught everything from 3 year olds to 50 year olds. Each group and age level has their advantages and challenges. The classes at my previous school were more of a formal classroom setting with usually about 20 students, however at the learning centre our classes are much smaller with only 5-10 students maximum. Each setting is an entirely new learning experience. Teaching different ages and levels has kept things interesting and challenging.

What do you most enjoy about teaching your students?

You can plan and plan, but with teaching there are always surprises- it keeps things interesting! Sometimes it can be difficult to manage your students, or they’ll look at you like you literally have four eyes. But your students will look at you, eyes gleaming with their new found confidence, and although we speak entirely different languages, there is a mutual sense of understanding; this is what makes it all worth it.  

How did you get your work visa?

My first school that I was placed at through TEFL Heaven helped to arrange my work visa for me, they pretty much took care of everything! The same applies for my second visa with the non-profit.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?

The school that I was placed with showed us a few different locations that teachers would typically live at. We ended up living in an apartment a few minutes away from school, it was simple but had all amenities I needed. I now live in a traditional Thai style teak house that I found on my own. There are a lot of expats in the town I currently live in, Pai, so there are lots of options!

COUNTRY INSIGHT:

Thailand is a Buddhist country, so many of the values embedded into the culture of Thailand include respect and care. The people of Thailand are friendly, helpful and welcoming. There is a wide sense of respect in Thailand- monks, elders and teachers are highly respected in the community.

What are your monthly expenses?

Rent: 6,000 THB/month

Food: 2,000-3,000 THB/week

Other bills: 1,000 THB/week

Social life: 2,000-3,000 THB/week

Transportation: purchased motorbike for 12,000 THB

Phone: 600 THB/month

Other costs: Give or take, 500 THB/week

Would you say you are able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?

Yes! Both in my old town on my teaching salary and now working online I can make plenty!

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS

What advice would you give someone thinking about teaching abroad, and would you recommend teaching English in Thailand?

Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone and take risks, this will lead to so many opportunities! You will learn and grow so much, so go for it!

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