We recently caught up with Kay Jonsson, 25, who is currently teaching in Thailand in Nakhon Si Thammarat in the South of Thailand.
What dates did you start work at the school and what was your position?
I started in May 2015, and am still employed by the school now and about to begin a third contract. First year I worked on the Anuban campus teaching Kindergarten 2. Second year I moved to the main English Program campus and taught as the Pratom 2 (Primary 2) homeroom teacher which I’m going to be doing again when I get back from holiday.
What are a few of the good things about working at this school and living in this area?
The school is a great place to work in terms of support. From moving to Thailand and help being settled in town to getting appropriate visas and work permits figured out. The school provides great paid holidays (4 weeks in October, at least a week off at Christmas since it is a Christian school and up to 7 weeks in the spring if I renewed my contract for a second year). The school provides some resources for new teachers and classrooms are well equipped with air conditioning, WiFi and projectors.
The town has a lot of western conveniences if you are missing things from home. A new shopping mall called Central just opened and shows English language movies and has a wider variety of western groceries. But the size of the town allows farangs (foreigners) to have a very authentic experience since there are few tourists that travel here. Farangs are generally treated very well and are highly respected. Costs of living are very low, yet travel is super easy since Koh Samui and nearby islands can be reached within 3 hours for weekends. Krabi is also less than 3 hours across the coast.
How many other foreign teachers are at the school and how good was the community of teachers there?
There are about 40 foreign teachers employed by the school but we are spread across 3 campuses: English Program (P1-M6), Anuban (Boriban-K3) and the regular campus which houses and IEP program and regular ESL classes. There are about 20 at both the EP and Anuban campuses.
The community in town is pretty great! There are probably 100 foreign teachers around town and events are often organized for pub/ quiz and movie nights. It’s very easy to find travel buddies for weekend or longer trips since teachers from multiple schools will hang out together.
What kind of support does the school offer you as a teacher?
The school provides all materials from the previous 2 or 3 years in hard copy to refer to including lesson plans, tests and worksheets. There is also a database on Google drive that teachers have access to with curriculum documents and worksheets. There are computers and printers in the office to share as well and numerous resource books on all topics and subjects to refer to. The school offers some Professional Development through seminars a few times a term and has a support system in place where teachers observe each other monthly for support. There are also lead teachers in each department that offer support and advice when required.
What are some of the things you can do in the local area?
The town is pretty sleepy so other than a few bars there isn’t much nightlife. There are tons of markets and great cheap food and coffee shops around town. Nakhon is also located about 45 minutes away from a few national parks and waterfalls where we can go swimming or hiking on weekends. Khanom is an hour and a half away and is a quiet beach town that has frequent parties and many people spend weekends there.
What are two of the biggest tips you’d give people arriving to teach at this school?
It would be helpful to know that the town is very Thai and there is very little English spoken in average shops and restaurants. Although it is possible to get almost everything you need it definitely takes longer and can be frustrating at times to get daily tasks or errands done, especially in the first few months.
You will pretty much need to have a motorbike to enjoy your time in town. Although there are songtaews (local bus type-thingys), motorbike taxis and taxis, in order to have freedom and a simpler time getting around town a bike is the most convenient. Also to get to the beach and waterfalls and even after dark when its actually harder to find public transport – so your own motorbike is obviously better.
In terms of this school the same can be said for working in Thailand in general I think, a positive attitude and flexible mindset is super important as things can be changed at any given time. Our school has a lot of events and visitors and assemblies or parades which can actually be pretty fun. Although they seem to try their best to give advance notice, new information or different information can be provided just on the day! It’s important that any new teacher is aware that this is the case and can keep up a positive attitude regardless because it ends up being a super long year if someone dwells on these smaller moments.
To actually see what the school looks like, you can watch this video one of the other teachers made – not professionally done, but you get the general idea of what the school looks like.
Thanks Kay, you’re awesome!