My Testimony

by Brittney Johnson

My time here in Surat Thani, Thailand has exceeded my expectations. I came here to essentially take up time until I started graduate school in Norway. I figured Thailand is beautiful, I can go to the beach, do yoga, make a little money, and I can teach again. Ten months is nothing, right? I wasn’t expecting to make amazing friends, realize how fun teaching can actually be, and come out of Thailand with a completely different direction and plan than when I came here.

On the teaching side, I had taught in Korea the year before coming to Thailand. But it offered no creativity, fun or challenge. Working for Super English has taught me to be an innovative, loving, and at times spontaneous teacher. I love the amount of freedom we have as teachers to teach what works best for us. Not every teaching method works for everyone, and Super English allows you to explore and discover what works best for you as an individual. SE also encourages you to not stop there, but to keep pushing yourself and strive to always become a better teacher. The classroom should be a fun, interactive and inspiring place and SE supports you to achieve that.

I definitely wasn’t expecting to teach again after Korea, but I’m glad I did. I very well may be teaching again after Thailand. Turns out I actually like it!

On a social level, I have made some amazing and life long friends here in Surat Thani. I think most people that decide to get up and leave their life for 1 year have to be pretty open-minded people. The expat community in Surat Thani is somewhat of a family. Even though some of us work for different companies, we all get along. We have weekend parties, weekend getaways to beautiful beaches, quiz nights, and there always seems to be a reason to have a party or dinner to celebrate a birthday or going away party. Surat teachers definitely make the most of the weekends and the long and short breaks and I love that! Even if we stay in town for the weekend, we go to a night or day market, go to Ko Lampu, out to a new or a favorite restaurant, or get together to just hang out. Most of the farang here are really laid back and easy going. Everyone knows everyone, so its easy to make friends.

Living in a tourist country has been very interesting. I came to Thailand one year ago for 2 weeks as a tourist. Honestly, I didn’t like it all that much. But now that I’ve lived here and actually experienced it, I have fallen in love with the country! Now that I have a feeling for the culture, food, language, and the people, it is 100 times more pleasant to be here. When you just travel through to all of the touristy places, you don’t get a chance to see the real Thailand. I’m glad that Surat Thani isn’t a tourist destination. Whenever I go to Phuket or Koh Panang or another beach or island on the tourist map, I tell myself that I’m glad I live where I do. Even though we have no McDonald’s or a cinema that shows English movies, Surat has it’s own unique charm that you can’t find in a touristy city.

The first three months of living in Surat were challenging. I was adjusting to teaching in Thailand opposed to teaching in Korea, and getting familiar with new friends and the country. SE management was there the entire time to support me as a new teacher.

Life in Surat is a completely different lifestyle than Korea and the west. I taught P2 classes and 2 classes at Super English for the first semester. I’m so glad I got to experience teaching at SE. The classes were smaller than my P2 classes so I got a chance to really get to know my students. It was a challenge, but I’m glad I stuck through it to the end of the semester. Working at SE was a rewarding experience. The 2nd semester I taught 4 P2 classes and 2 regular classes. I have really enjoyed my teaching schedule this semester. Some days I finish at 1:50 and the latest I finish is 3:30pm. I have the entire afternoon and evening to do what I want. I have been able to do yoga almost every night, which is one of my passions. I’m grateful for the amount of free time I have. I am fully aware that most people don’t have the luxury of having free time during the week. And aware that I may not have it again. But at SE, we work for that free time. We put all of our effort into the classroom, and spend our time outside of the classroom how we choose. Every teacher at SE seems to be very responsible about getting paperwork, tests and grades in when they are due. We don’t abuse the amount of freedom we have, because we value it so much. As long as everyone is doing their job, everyone is happy.

I can’t believe my time here in Surat is almost over. Feels like I just got here. Ten months has flown by! I can see why many people decide to extend their contracts. It takes awhile to get adjusted, but once you do, life is good! I wouldn’t mind staying longer, but plans are already in the works of what is to come next. Teaching in Thailand has made a huge impact on my life. I’m grateful for the amount of support I received from SE management and fellow teachers. I will miss the teachers and my students so much! Surat and Super English will always have a place in my heart!

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My Experience Working for Super English

by Amy McIntyre

I remember applying for Super English and filling out the questionnaire wondering if I was ready to take the leap. I got a reply the very next morning, and a Skype interview arranged that afternoon. At first I was a little hesitant about coming to Thailand. I was not sure if I was ready to leave everyone and everything I knew. After talking to Peter I instantly felt better and had a good feeling about the decision. I knew Super English would be the place for me. I applied for many jobs all around the world and I heard back from most of them, but I didn’t get the great welcoming feeling I got with Super. I wanted to get experience as a teacher and Peter was so supportive and understanding I took the job as soon as I was offered it. I was offered a job in March and began in July. I booked my flight straight away and started to save. I had millions of questions every day and I would often email Peter, the teachers, and the new teachers due to arrive the same time as me. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly and answered all questions and provided me with lots of advice. Time flew by and before I knew it, it was July! I remember having a mini-panic… I was terrified of the thought of teaching! I was questioning if I had made the right decision about moving half-way across the world to begin a new job I was not very experienced in. My last 2 weeks with my friends and family were so great I started to think maybe I shouldn’t leave. I sent a very long email to one of the teachers telling her about my fears and thoughts. She replied instantly and put me at ease. Brittney was also new and had arrived two weeks before me. She said she felt exactly the same way but assured me that all would be well, that I would love it, and everyone was friendly.

I was greeted at the airport by Wen, the Thai staff administrator at Super English who handles many important details on the Thai side at the school. She had a little sign with my name on and all the teachers had written me a little welcome message. I began to get nervous as we approached the house; I started practising my “hello, hey, hi” in my head. When I arrived I was made to feel very welcome. All the teachers came out to say hello to me on my first night. I was bought snacks and drinks. I had a ton of questions about the teaching and everyone shared their stories of when they first came.

I feel I settled in really quickly and everyone was really great at making me feel welcome. People took turns showing me around and took me to shops to get settled. I arrived on a weekend so there were many parties and events; I managed to meet most of the other teachers in the city. I was amazed and relieved to see that there was a large community of foreign teachers around that hang out and spend time together. Super English put on a welcoming Hawaiian party for us and it was a great bonding session. A few drinks, a few cringing dance moves always speeds up the process.

I cannot believe how fast time flies. I have one month left! I am very sad to be leaving, I have had such a great time and experience. Super English has been the best company I have ever worked for and my job has been the best job I have ever had. I feel so fortunate with my experience teaching for Super that I am a little nervous to move on as I have been treated so well here.

I have been lucky to have had nothing to complain about here. I know if I had had any issues, Peter would have been more than happy to help sort out the problem. I did have a small problem with some students being disrespectful. I was a little embarrassed with the nature of the problem but I went to Janet and Peter since I was not too sure how to handle it and they were great! They really stuck up for me and were on my side. Peter came to the school to let the administration know that that kind of behaviour was unacceptable. He brought it to the Thai teachers’ attention and the students have since then been little angels.

All the teachers that work for Super are amazing. They have all really helped me grow as a teacher. They have all sat and listened when I have had a bad day and always said something really positive to help me get back up again. They have often given me new ideas for the classroom and given me fun ways to manage the classroom as I felt I struggled with it at the beginning. I have had some really fun nights out with them, some great weekends away, and amazing holidays as well. They have been my family here and I love them all and will miss them dearly. Peter really looks after his staff. He always throws parties and is very generous. I have had a great time. If you are reading this because you have accepted a job then you should be really excited! Coming here was the best decision I have ever made!

One other bonus for me moving to Surat; I have met the love of my life! I met him on my second day here at a house party. Things like that never used to happen to me. I was always the unlucky one. I had actually gotten out of a relationship and was going through an awful break up. That was the last thing on my mind. It was love at first sight. I am incredible happy and we are moving to Japan together.

Super English Testimonial

by Chris Ansell

Wow. What a year! What a year!

A year living in Surat and teaching with Super English, has me feeling, to borrow a familiar phrase “same same but different” right now, as I sit typing in my favourite restaurant in town, Earth Zone. I feel comfortable here now, I feel that it is my place and this feeling took a long time to come about and an even longer time to actually realize. I could quite happily stay for another term or year. Life is easy in Surat. I can say that with my hand on my heart. A few months into my new life however, I would have said the complete opposite!

From the moment my plane touched down in a small non-descript airport in southern Thailand my arrival was taken care of with just the right balance of care and consideration for need of personal time. I was greeted at the airport by Peter and Wen and taken to my new abode. A small gesture perhaps, but in hindsight a bloody useful one as being left to independently find it would have taken all day and probably cost half my savings! (the Thai’s have a nose for new meat and the ignorance accompanying it).

Victoria was next in line to help my assimilation into life. She was first a friend and then a boss and our relationship has always felt like that. Vic is great at her job because of this ability and I feel lucky having had her there at the beginning. I arrived at the same time as Chris M., John and Janet. We shared the same house as Emily. As the only one of us who “knew” Surat and Super English, Emily really helped us settle in too. It was in these early gestures and friendships that I began to learn that Super is as much a family as it is a company.

Just before the actual teaching began Vic invited us all around her place on the promise of coffee and cakes. These were polished off rather promptly and we then had to stand up for 5 minutes each and present how we planned to begin our first class the following week. None of us flopped and Vic offered us all some great hints as well as some constructive criticism. In our observations that followed Vic was there again to offer ideas and suggestions, most of which were pretty obvious in hindsight but were of utmost importance . Vic did this in a way that praised us at the same time and fed us the necessary confidence rather than leaving us with doubt about our ability at teaching.

Super English was always extremely good in offering help, advice and suggestions whether asked for or not. The door was always open. Between them, Peter and Vic have a wealth of experience in teaching all age-groups. I was able to sought Vic’s advice when I taught a Mathiom 6 girls class for a while and then Peter’s advice when I began teaching the tiny little Anuban students. I went on to use some of there ideas and in some cases adapt them further!

My initial schedule consisted of a similar number of hours to which I am teaching now (25.5) but was far more scattered throughout the week. I had plenty of free time during the day but ultimately had to have a teacher’s mindset from 08.00am to 18.30pm everyday. This was a welcome change from the 9-5pm job I had back home but after a couple of months it began to become a struggle. By the time my Super English classes arrived later in the day I lacked the energy and enthusiasm required. I didn’t notice this myself until it was pointed out. I had a chat with Vic and Peter and realized just how low I had been feeling. Peter offered to take over my Super class for a while and I was also lucky enough to be given the role at Noo Noy school. This change of schedule did wonders and I have been far happier and motivated ever since. It is credit to Super English that they nipped the problem in the bud before it developed into anything major.

It is the seemingly small things that for me have made the difference between having a fairly good time with Super and having a great time. For example, Peter is always very creative with new ideas about how to improve Super and recently this has been focused upon the website. He has offered topics for us to write articles on as well as creating various extra “positions”, such as Super English Official Photographer, which are all paid. This has been a great and fun way to mutually improve the website and thus the company. There are also monthly cultural events and parties which are great for team bonding and again are the type of thing that adds flavour to the whole experience of working for Super and living in Surat.

There have certainly been some tough times for me this past year. I feel fortunate to have chosen Super English though, as I am sure that it is due to the friendships I have made here that have picked me back up and ensured that my time here has been the most fulfilling of my life so far.

Thank you Super!!!

One Year Testimonial

by Mitch Burbick

This last year I’ve spent teaching in Thailand with Super English has been nothing short of incredible. Thailand is a country full of tons of great things like elephants walking down your streets, three dollar massages, and lady boys in all shapes and sizes. The food is as spicy as it is diverse and even though I’ve craved “normal” food at times (BEER, cheeseburgers, pizza, Mexican food) it can always be found or made if you put enough effort into it. There are ten thousand different beaches to see and it always seems like the one you’ve just found is better than any of the others you thought the same thing about just a week ago. But the real reason that I’ve been able to enjoy myself as I have, the reason that this past year wasn’t a complete disaster that moving to another country can prove to be for people, is because of the support, training, and dedication to its employees that I found in Super English.

You won’t find a better boss than Peter Meltzer. Seriously. He’s the man. He never ceases to one up himself in his generosity and attention to his employees. He sponsors parties almost every month entirely at his expense (he buys the booze!) and is always looking for new ways to get the Super English teachers involved with each other and in projects for the school. He offers up a host of ways to make extra money if you’re ever feeling the pinch and this is something that in all my traveling and talking with friends that I’ve only seen Super English do. Peter is dedicated to the growth and happiness of his teachers and makes it a point to always be available for advice, guidance, or just a chat if something’s not going smoothly. 10 minutes before class and you’ve run out of ideas on how to teach time to a class of 16 students? Easy, make a human clock with the kids as the numbers and hands. Perfect. Thanks Peter. I think the highest praise I can give to Super English is that it’s a school for teachers. Super also gives the most vacation out of any of the schools in town. Super great. Super important.

You’re given all the freedom in the world to cram your lessons full of games and dancing and singing if that’s your thing. Fun is the golden rule and the kids have it. Whether you’re teaching elementary or high school or the smaller classes in the evening at Super the only limitations on the lessons are the ones that you put on them. This was difficult for me at first because normally I’m not terrifically outgoing, but there’s something soul cleansing about reaching a point of just not worrying about it anymore and dancing and singing silly songs with kids all day. It’s nice. It’s really nice. As a teacher at Super English you’re encouraged and able to really cultivate relationships with the kids that you teach every day. I’ve had the same kids in all my classes for the entire school year and already I know it’s going to be hard to say goodbye. Super English has always worked with me to make sure that I’m where I want to be with both the groups of kids I’m teaching and in my advancement as an English teacher.

The teachers here are awesome. Hands down the best group of people I’ve ever worked with. Ever. There’s not a single person on the staff team I dislike. Really, there isn’t, and that says a lot. More than anything, it feels like a community where everyone’s out to help each other out. There’s always something going on and you’ll never need to travel alone (unless you want to). The teaching English abroad gig can attract a certain type of bum but everyone teaching with Super English during the time I’ve been here has taken their work as seriously as their play and that’s been really refreshing to me. There’s a lot of pride that can be found in this job, and to live and work in a community of people who take that seriously has been surprisingly gratifying. It’s something I have been really thankful for this past year.

And let’s not forget about the city. Surat Thani! You beautiful beast. Full transparency here, I really didn’t like it at first. I think it goes that way for a lot of people. Surat’s a pretty typical Thai city filled with lots of pretty typical Thai things. There aren’t a ton of Western comforts here, it can take a little time to get used to at first. Not many tourists venture further than the night boats out to the islands and if you see a white person you don’t know during your normal day it’s a surprise. The longer I’ve spent here though the more I’ve come to enjoy living and working here. Things are cheap. Big bonus. There’s a new restaurant to eat at every night and after living here for a year there’s still a lot to the city I don’t know about. The location in the south of Thailand cannot be beat. Living here puts you in such close proximity to so many beautiful places that are great to visit but a pain to live in because of how expensive they are. Weekend trips to the islands are made really easy by living here.

Super English, Surat Thani, Peter, the community of teachers here, and the ability to travel have all made this last year into something that I will take with me as an integral and amazing time in my life.

Two Year Testimonial

by Tristan Rentos

When you’re in your twenties, two years is a long time. It’s hard to believe that my time in Surat is over; it still feels like yesterday that I got off the plane and was greeted by hot weather, heavy luggage and Peter. Before I came here, I knew that I would be comfortable living in Thailand. I have been here before, and instantly felt right at home. What I didn’t think would happen was that living here would change me as a person for the better. It has.

Looking back at my time here, I think most importantly my classes have all gone well. I spent my first year teaching Prathom 3, and while I was focused on delivering quality education to those kids, I always knew that they would be a ‘warm up act’ for my second year classes. I tried a lot of different lessons out on those classes – most worked, some didn’t. In my second year I ‘demoted’ myself (with Peter’s permission) to Prathom 1, and learning from my first year of teaching I can only think of literally a handful of lessons that have fallen flat. Teaching at Thida can be a difficult experience, as the classes are overcrowded and discipline can be a problem. I feel that I have overcome these obstacles and prepared my little kids well for P2.

I have always had the opinion that Thida classes and secondary to Super English classes, and my class at Super English has been my finest achievement in my time here. I taught the same students for two years, and seeing as my class at SE is only 10 students (as opposed to 55) I have really got to know these kids as people, not just as students. This is something that just isn’t possible at Thida or any other Thai school as there are just too many little faces that you have to divide your time amongst.

When I first inherited my Super students, they were already very good for their age and I knew from the very beginning there was huge potential to turn these kids into the very best in Surat. Watching them progress over the past two years to incorporate various elements of the English language into their everyday conversations (such as past tense verbs, correct pronouns and more advanced adjective usage) has been very fulfilling and given my time here true meaning and purpose. Whoever inherits this class will be getting a very rare and talented group of kids; unlike 99.9% of their peers they can converse, argue and insult each other in English, and while they are not fluent they can do it correctly and coherently. I am very proud of all of my Super students and my one hope is that they continue learning together at Super English, as this is hands down the best English class in Surat Thani.

Personally, living amongst Thai people has been an interesting experience, especially since I have been dating my Thai girlfriend since April last year. Best advice I can give the rookies is to always be patient, relaxed and try to learn as much Thai as possible, it really does help. With my girlfriend’s help I am able to have basic but continual conversations with Thai people, and I am learning more and more everyday. Also, I have found that if you go into a tourist area (like Koh Samui or Phuket) the tourist touts will leave you alone if you speak Thai to them or if they hear you speaking Thai – defiantly an added benefit.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter and his wife Jeab for their consideration and support during my time here. Peter is a highly dedicated and professional employer; in my two years at SE he has always paid me the correct amount (including bonuses) on time, and delivered on every promise. He is always available to assist, regardless if your problem is professional or personal. His advice has been invaluable and I would not be the teacher that I have become without his help. Also, the help from our former director and fearless leader Ms. Victoria Biggs was (in hindsight) essential to me, her advice helped me to thrive and really become a leader in the classroom. Super English is a great place to work, and it’s a great place to work because Peter and Victoria put so much effort into making it a great place to work. Having employers like this, especially in a foreign country is so critical and makes the difference between Super English and just plain English.

When it’s all said and done, coming to Surat and working at Super English has been more of the best decisions I have ever made. The past two years have truly been very good years. Thank you for having me, and best of luck to all who decide that Super English is the place to be – you honestly can’t do much better.

Victoria's Four Year Testimonial

by Victoria Biggs (October, 2006 – October, 2010)

My experiences with Super English have been extraordinary. When I took on the job as English Teacher four years ago I had no idea how many wonderful, challenging and resume-pampering experiences lay ahead of me. I have compiled a list of my unique work experiences at Super English. I want every prospective teacher to realize that if you work hard to excel and advance at Super English you will have boundless professional opportunities.

First: the Teaching!

  • Creating lesson plans and teaching Kindergarten classes. Age ranges from 3-5. The class sizes varied from 25 students to 55.
  • Creating lesson plans and teaching regular Prathom classes (Grade school: Grades 1-6). With class sizes ranging from 12 to 55 students.
  • Creating lesson plans and teaching English Program Prathom classes. With EP classes you see the students every day for one hour.
  • Creating lesson plans and teaching regular Mathyom classes. (High School: Freshman through Senior.) With class sizes of 40 to 55 students. Government and Private schools.
  • Creating lesson plans and teaching EP Mathyom classes. You see the students for one hour four times a week.
  • Creating lesson plans and teaching conversational and professional English to nursing staff at both a government and private hospital.
  • Creating lesson plans and teaching at a private language school (Super English!) Age ranges from 4 to 18. Class sizes from 6 to 16. I taught one particular level for 3 years. I saw those kids for one hour every day for three years. I really got to see the fruits of my labor and that felt great.
  • Teaching at day camps for Prathom students held at private schools with 200 students in attendance.
  • Teaching at day camps for Mathyom students held at a government school with 150 students in attendance.
  • Teaching at Super English camps.
  • Teaching at overnight Thai English teacher’s camps. 30 Thai teacher’s from all over Southern Thailand in attendance.
  • Teaching at an Autonomous Learning Seminar for Thai English Teachers.
  • Teaching a Parent’s class to help them improve their children’s English ability.

Second: The Management!

  • In my four years with S.E I have managed over 40 teachers! (An average of 11 teachers per year is needed to teach classes. Over 95% of these teachers completed their contracts!)
  • Managing teachers from countries all over the world. (Canada, America, England, Scotland, Australia, South Africa…)
  • Managing teachers in both personal and professional aspects. This management position is unique because it is our job at Super to make sure that teachers are comfortable in a foreign country. (From where to eat, to where to buy tampons, to how to teach a class of 55 students.)
  • One of the most interesting aspects of managing at S.E is a chance to do cross cultural business dealings. It is very interesting to learn the differences between Thai and Western concepts of professionalism. A unique opportunity to really begin to understand Thailand.
  • Super English teachers teach from the youngest of children (about 3) to adults in a professional setting. I have trained teachers for all of these age groups and varying class sizes. Being a manager at S.E really keeps you on your toes!

Third: The Fun Stuff!

  • Organizing a Christmas show every year. We put on the performance in front of about 400 Thai teachers. The videos are online.
  • Playing teacher’s game of basketball in front of 4000 screaming Thai students. (I assume they were screaming for me.)
  • Organizing monthly cultural events. From cooking classes, to boat trips to Thai sport excursions. – Creating themes for staff parties. And deciding what liquor goes best with the theme!
  • Creating appreciation songs and skits for teachers that have done a great job. Always entertaining and a unique bonding time with your staff team.
  • Going on holidays (completely separate from work) with your staff team. It is always amazing to be a part of a close knit group that manages to play and work together in harmony. (It is an even more amazing feeling to know that you are the leader of this group!)

Managing and teaching in a foreign country offers many interesting and unique work experiences. Yes, your time in Thailand will inevitably be incredibly fun, but if you are willing to give a little extra and become a manager, then the fun is balanced out with a very educational management experience that will prepare you for any other feasible management position. Management with Super English gives you the opportunity to learn to balance work and fun, private and professional, in an understanding and compassionate atmosphere. I feel much stronger as a professional and even more importantly my management experience has helped me to become a more compassionate, patient and understanding human being.

Janet's Testimonial

by Janet Phelps

Today is a perfect time for me to write a testimonial. I just signed up for an additional year at Super English. Ten months down, fourteen more to go. And I’m sincerely excited. When I find something good, I like to stick with it.

But, let me go back a little.

My first few months of teaching were hard. Thai kids love to laugh and have fun, but it’s hard to not get upset when trying to speak over than 55 rambunctious kids. Being in a different country and not speaking the language can be a frustrating and overwhelming experience at times. It took me about four months of teaching to learn the most valuable lesson you need to thrive in teaching a Thai school: Laugh. Laugh at your students, laugh at yourself and laugh just to make things easier. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

I especially struggled that first semester with a couple of fifth-grade classes who were very undisciplined. They were loud, unruly, rude and crazy. I dreaded going to those classes

OK. So enter Super English. SE owner Peter M. worked with me a lot to get those classes under control. He gave me advice, encouragement and support. SE director Victoria was great— sitting in on those classes to give me feedback and listening to my frustrations.

And that’s not even all. The other teachers at SE made me feel welcome here. They showed me around, took me out to eat, helped me figure the Surat world out. That’s the kind of welcome you don’t forget.

On the last day of class of my first semester, my fifth-year students got together and bought me a huge fruit basket. Several kids recited poems of appreciation in English, and they sang me a song. The students made me cards and hugged me good-bye.

That sealed the deal for me. At the end of the semester, Peter kindly gave me the option of dropping those difficult classes, but I chose to keep them this semester. I don’t regret it at all. I am happy to see my students every day. They love me— even though we often don’t understand each other.

Teaching can be tough, so it’s really important to be at a school you like with people who care about you. I can’t imagine a better place for a new teacher than Super English.