Dez's Two Year Testimonial

by Dez Dyson

Surat Thani and Super English:

Surat Thani main town is where the Super English language school is based, the town itself has no real positive write-ups in any travel books. It seems they have been using the same blurb for the past few years and not taken time to revisit the town. This isn’t to say it’s had a radical change around in any way. It is a quiet town compared to the rest in Thailand but it does have a lot more to offer than first meets the eye. In the time I have been here many new clubs, bars, shopping malls, and restaurants have been built with new ones being built at the time of press.

Peter and Jeab are the owners of Super English and once under the wing of their employment take on a role of professional but highly caring nature, always eager to help out in any situations that arise in order for your time in Thailand to be the most enjoyable experience that you could wish for.

A working week at Super English in Surat Thani:

A week at Super English is usually around 25 hours of teaching. If you are working solely at one of the schools that Super English has contracts with your typical day will start at 7.50 am (ouch!) to be present at school for the daily ceremony of the national anthem and flag raising, then a rest between this and the start of lessons. (8.10/8.20 start). *Peter’s note: attendance at the flag raising is only required if you are scheduled for a first period class

All schools finish around 3.30 but the beauty of working for Super English is that you are only contracted to be within the school grounds during your time of teaching.

If you are working at Super English main school your rotation will be working a lose split-shift style with two or three hours teaching in the morning followed by a break of between two or three hours then starting again at 4.30pm and working another one or two hours. (*At time of press Super English finishes at 6.30pm but previously it finished at 7.30pm.)

What to do in Surat:

During the teaching weeks all the teachers in Surat communicate with each other from all the language schools (currently eight) often meeting up for group meals, drinks, games, book swaps etc. There are many restaurants in Surat that also double-up as places to drink. Big screens are plentiful for any sports fans with staff always willing to stay open / change the channel to help. Coffee shops (most with WIFI) also have had a massive increase in Surat of late, many of which have a more western style of desserts available for the sweet tooth.

A second department store in the center of town has recently opened with a movie hall on the top floor, once in a blue moon the movies are played in English and I have many reports from students that they often have English subtitles. This information is never backed up when asking the staff at the hall.

Over a bridge walking distance from Super English is an exercise island, this scenic spot also has WIFI and all the playing courts, running tracks, machinery you could imagine (no weights). Surat also has a sports stadium with swimming pool; many classes take place here at very cheap prices. A further note for exercise junkies is that there are at least four gyms and five swimming pools to choose from.

The pier for the night boats to the islands and the night market are both located minutes from Super English. The night market offers many types of snacks, foods and clothing, the pier also has a good food selection with a nice vibe for an alfresco evening.

Currently there are four night clubs in Surat that stay open till 2 or 3 am. There are also two after hours bars that run either till not enough people are there or till about 7am. Because of the nature of Thai people, there are always restaurants open around the town throughout the night.

The scenery of Surat Thani town is in no way any depiction of Zion in any fools eyes but there are pockets of natural and man made beauty to be found. One park to mention is right next to the sports stadium, already mentioned is the exercise island and another still under cosmetic pampering is the lake on the outskirts of town.

Another note to any riders/skaters is that Surat is a very flat town with only a handful of areas to call hills.

As mentioned before there are two department stores in the town, numerous markets and just on the outskirts of the main city are two supermarkets. (A third is currently under construction in the heart of the town).

What to do Outside of Surat Town:

Get a travel book on Thailand or talk to people that have been here and you’ll quickly learn there is loads to see and do. The pier mentioned earlier is a blessing for both beach lovers and weekend hedonists with boats departing for a choice of three islands at 11pm every night. (weather permitting)

Moving around Surat can be done by tuk tuks (taxis) at around 20 baht for journeys within the town. Many teachers here ride pedal bikes or mopeds and as old teachers leave and new arrive it means a reliable cheap mode of transport is always available to buy at a cheap price.

Housing:

Super English, unlike some other language schools, provides housing with the job. All of the houses come semi furnished with; a bed, a fan and a wardrobe for your bedroom, and a sofa style seat for the living room area. This may be all that will be in your house when you arrive. Anything else within the house is a generous gift from previous teachers. Most houses have a kitchen area but this is unfitted. You will have no fridge, gas burners, plates, cups, etc. unless you go out and buy the

Pay:

The pay from Super English is based on an hourly basis. It is a good wage to live on in Thailand and if planned correctly you can save and have money for traveling during the breaks. One point of interest is to remember is that there is a two month break from teaching during a year contract. Super English puts summer camps on during these times and does everything possible to bring in any work to suit you.

Also there are many Buddhist holidays in the year that the schools close for sometimes a day or sometimes more.

Crime:

Crime should in my eyes be treated the same all over the world. If you can protect your things better, then do it. All the houses have two locks on the door and as with all houses in Thailand have bars on the windows. The houses are effectively a cage and as long as you remember to lock your door you are safe. The thieves figure that all Westerners are rich, have a laptop, nice camera for travel pics, have mp3 players and keep big money notes laying around the house. (They’re probably not so far off in many of the houses of teachers) so I’m sure you can imagine its like a honey pot for a ……… bear)

Nearly done…

What brother Dez suggests to bring and remember with you on your glorious adventure with Super English to Thailand:

  • It’s hard to find good quality cotton bed sheets in Surat.
  • If you’re a book reader there is no good English book store in Surat, only swaps with other teachers.
  • Underwear and applicator tampons for girlies
  • MUSIC. This one I can’t stress enough. If you like music bring it and lots of it.

Just to bear in mind……

You are in Thailand- brush up on Thai customs and traditions, ways of life. Don’t expect that everyone can speak English, this is Thailand. Don’t think you can change the way in which things are done here. Be patient.

Surat Thani is a small town with many eyes and many mouths. Because of our different appearance being in the town people recognize that you must be here teaching. Locals seem to have a lot of respect for the Westerners doing the job of educating their youngsters so try to keep up a clean image.

Watch out for the tuk tuk drivers in Surat. When they see the big rucksack or a new pasty face they will try their luck (150 baht for a 20 baht journey). From my experience of traveling nearly all over Thailand the Surat boys have the biggest cheek with the prices they ask.

Please bear in mind any prices are at current time of print.

Dez mouth spoken… him tell no lies and will answer any questions honest and true if you wanna email.

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Erica's 1.5 Year Testimonial

by Erica Ambrose (October, 2007 – March, 2009)

After having spent a year and a half in Thailand and reflecting back on my previous testimonials I’d like to talk about and express my gratitude for all the holiday time I received while working at Super English. During all this time off I had the opportunity to visit Laos and many other beautiful places within Thailand that were amazing. However, the most important thing it allowed me to do was become certified in Thai massage and Reiki. Working with Super English not only allowed me to become an English teacher but, because of their extensive holiday allowance for their teachers, I was also able to do other things which interested me about Thai culture.  There are many places around Thailand you can become certified as a natural health practitioner, yoga teacher or masseuse. I chose to do 2 of those. I studied Thai massage in it’s birth place, which is the Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. I had enough time to take a intensive 2 week course, and return the next month for 7 more days of training. Don’t get me wrong, these courses are intense they are both physically and mentally demanding. But if you are serious about learning massage ITM is a good school to look into.

I also have become a Reiki master since being in Thailand. I studied this in Koh Phangan Island, which is only a short bus and boat trip from Surat. These courses are also about half the cost they are back home, that’s just one of the perks of Thailand! I took my classes on weekends, so while I was working in Surat I studied at Chakra massage on Haad Rin Beach.

The most exciting part is I have set up a studio in my house in Surat and have been practicing on friends and family. I plan to take my newly acquired skills back to Canada and become a natural health practitioner. There are so many opportunities to explore besides just traveling and sightseeing. Other options to look for are meditation retreats, yoga classes, cooking classes, and jewelry making.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to teach in Thailand and work at Super English. The staff team is incredibly supportive and caring and always offer good advice and encouragement. Working in Thailand has opened my eyes to so many new points of view and experiences, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I will miss working with Thai kids and teaching English, but will surely be back to visit in the near future!

If you have any questions about taking courses in Thailand please email me at esa660 AT mail.usask.ca.

Fun facts to help you with your future in a Prathom 1 (First Grade) classroom

by Katy Clarke (July, 2008 – March, 2009)

1. Have fun!! Teaching Prathom 1 was my favorite part about being in Thailand. The students truly enjoy English class; therefore it is pretty easy to win their hearts. Smile, make them laugh, they will make you laugh; don’t hold back when it comes to having loads of fun! They do require a lot of energy, so go into the classroom, run around, jump around, and chase them around, whatever it takes! Positive energy, and lots of it, will carry you through an exciting year with these students. Just have fun! Sanuk maak (“fun very” in thai)!

2. Speak slowly and clearly! The slower you speak the quicker they will grasp what you are saying. Patience will help you with this; I can’t believe how much patience I have now!

3. Use repetition with everything you do. Each day was very similar to the day before, and you might think they will get bored but they don’t! Repetition helps their progress a lot, especially with the youngsters. If you repeat your daily schedule they know what to expect and will be less timid as a result. This is especially effective when playing games. The more often you play games (the games they like) the more often the shy, quieter students will break out of their shell and join in.

4. Develop a point system. This is up to you, in my classes we had three teams everyday (the desks are divided into three sections already). At the beginning of each class one student from each team chooses a name- you write it on the board- then depending on how you want to administer points, you write them under the team name. (I used stars, diamonds, smiley faces, hearts, etc. “up to you”).

5. Develop a system for discipline. This will be a very helpful and necessary tool. The students you have are actually pretty well behaved…..of course they all have their moments. Their will be a Thai teacher in the classroom making the rounds and keeping the class somewhat in line and attentive. I used the point system to keep them in line….. they really don’t like to lose points so it helps control chaos to have the points up on the board. If a student(s) on one team is misbehaving, not listening, etc. deduct a point, and all of a sudden the team quiets down. Amazing!

6. Assign writing for approximately 15 minutes everyday! The number of sentences will vary depending on the English level and cooperation of the students, as well as the difficulty of the writing assigned. While they are writing continuously walk around and monitor them…..they are sneaky and some will try and get away without writing…BAD! One student will be on number four and two little chatty girls/boys will still be opening their books!

7. Along with the writing, try to grade their journals twice a week. All you have to do is initial each entry….they will make simple mistakes, and many of the students will make very similar mistakes, therefore grading is quite easy! They like if you sign your name like an autograph on occasion, or draw funny smiley faces, etc. They are easily pleased!

8. They like to play with balloons, chalk, flashcards, etc. Once again, easily pleased. I used a magic bag that I put objects (flashcards, figurines, etc) in according to the subject we were studying. They love reaching into the bag and pulling out an unknown object. Then you can have the talk about the object or whatever you want to do in order to teach them the current subject.

9. On Fridays you do verbal testing. Fridays are very nice; you sit at the desk while each student comes up individually to answer two to three verbal questions. I used flashcards a lot for this. Also, it is convenient to print out worksheets (sometimes two worksheets depending on the class level) for Fridays. Walk into class, pass out the papers, explain the worksheet, explain the subject and expectations of the verbal test, then sit down and start calling the students up to the desk. Easy.

10. Smile, laugh, and thoroughly enjoy the experience! These students are amazing, one of the most fun group of students at Thida (maybe this is biased but I don’t care)! Have a great time getting to know the Thai staff and the other Super English teachers. I honestly wish I was still there, pedaling my way to school everyday, standing for the national anthem and prayer, and heading off to class where the children cheer and yell for you because they love English class so much!

Good luck to you! (Chok dee ka)! Have fun!