Why did you decide to take the LanguageCorps TESOL course in Thailand?
Raúl: I am a professional educator and I have always liked to travel; for most of my life, I have lived in different countries other than my own, but I didn’t have any experience in Asia. Since I am not a native speaker of English, moving to work in faraway land seemed a rather difficult prospect, so I thought LC could provide the kick-start I needed.
After further research, and comparing other providers’ courses, I saw most people had something good to say about LC. Also, there was the chance of extending the support of LC to future endeavors beyond Thailand, and that held a lot of weight when I made my decision. After my first contact with LC, I was finally convinced that I could trust their services. Unlike other providers, they first assessed my English and were realistic when discussing future prospects with me. I appreciate that approach and had very little doubt when I finally signed with them.
What made this abroad experience unique and special?
Raúl: Well, Southeast Asia is unique and special in many ways. Until now I had always worked and lived in European countries, so coming to Asia was similar to traveling to Mars for me. From little details, like table manners to the important issues such as the “saving face” concept, I was not familiar with this different set of values. These values certainly affect teaching and it was made clear to me by the staff at LC from day one. This immersion has affected my personal growth and, truth be told, it took a lot of energy and determination. I feel personal sense of achievement in all this, and I’ve gained a new perspective about so many things that we take for granted in our countries (which will surely stay with me forever).
I mostly taught in government schools, where resources are not abundant. In short, if you can teach in Southeast Asia, you can teach anywhere. As a teacher, this experience has made me a more reliable and consistent professional.
What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering a TESOL course in Thailand (or abroad in general)?
Raúl: The most important thing would be flexibility. You truly need a flexible mentality and an open mind when facing countries abroad, especially when they are culturally afar from yours. Movies don’t help. Hollywood has created expectations for many who land at a distant airport, but films have so little to do with reality. In other words, foreign lands are not a theme park. They are countries with different mentalities, traditions and views on things that we deem as pretty standard globally, when in actuality, they are not (e.g. work, friendship, love, duty, etc.). So be prepared for different customs, and always bear in mind that you are the foreigner, not the other way around.
Another thing would be professionalism. Some of the people taking on this experience are professional teachers and they understand what is expected from them from the start. Others see this as a vital experience but they are not really teachers, just native speakers with a degree and a pocket full of good intentions. But the people who hire you expect teachers that provide teacher solutions to their teaching needs. So be professional and keep in mind that you are not providing charity, just helping with a needed skill within a professional context. The good name of those who come after you, LC and even your country are at stake.
Having said this, I would also advise to take the opportunity and have your fun! If you do things right, you will have awesome stories to tell your friends back home for ages.