One caveat emptor, strictly for those who want to come to Thailand to (first) holiday, vacation, and/or party, and only then (second) take up teaching English as a foreign language: you will find the course too demanding for a purely good-times, drinking and dancing schedule, and you may not be able to complete it with that kind of mindset. Like all worthy endeavors, you will get out of this program what you put into it. This is a rigorous, professional course designed for people who earnestly want to teach (or improve their teaching skillset). The tempo of the course is demanding (but doable by anyone willing to manage his or her time and put in the work), and you will be required to memorize relatively complex classroom practices as well as some formal English grammar — not easily done with too little sleep or a hangover. If this sounds like you, my best and most friendly advice is that you take the money you would invest in the program, have a fine party-holiday, and then pursue another line of work (the world doesn’t need more educators who are in it for the wrong reasons). If you can’t afford to travel without working at the same time — and that is your only motivation for teaching EFL — consider washing dishes instead. But if you have a passion for teaching or think you might find a passion in teaching, connecting to students, providing solid, effective instruction, you will be more than satisfied, delighted even, by the thoroughness of the program and the solid pedagogical foundation you gain from it.
One of the first things you will find out about SEE TEFL is that they are prompt, professional, and thorough in responding to any questions you may have before dedicating yourself to one of their programs — about coming to Thailand, obtaining appropriate visas, and about the program and school as well as opportunities to teach following program completion. And once you have registered, they provide clear guidance as well as the appropriate paperwork to help you (painlessly) acquire the necessary visas. This can be a rather confusing and stressful process to navigate on your own, but not with John Quinn et al on your side: you’ll be guided through a few simple steps, and you will be ready to go.
The staff at SEE TEFL will also help arrange (off-site) accommodations for your stay in Chiang Mai during the course if you like (I did not use this service, but several of my classmates did, and they were pleased with the arrangements).
On arrival, you will find a clean, inviting, well-maintained and modern school, attended by friendly and helpful staff: ample classrooms and meeting rooms (all complete with air-conditioning); work spaces; computers; office essentials for students; a comfortable and pretty outdoor break area, sheltered from the sun and rain; and a nice, inexpensive self-service coffee bar with snacks and drinks on offer.
Once you begin the classes, you will learn that SEE TEFL’s four-week training course provides intensive training for the classroom. The lion’s share of the program is devoted to (A) giving students tried and true principles and methods for teaching English as a foreign language, (B) providing students with a solid base of English grammar knowledge and terminology, and (C) instruction and practice in effective classroom management. Even as a previous English composition and literature instructor and writing tutor, I found the review of English grammar helpful.
The principles and methods that you will learn may seem rigid at first. However, as you progress through the program you will realize that the principles and methods are adaptable to any number of teaching situations, informal and formal alike, whatever your students’ abilities; and while you will go “off script” in your classes once you have a position at a school or language center, the principles will always be there to guide you in creating effective, student-centered lessons.
The classroom management skills you will acquire are simple and effective. They are designed with an awareness of Thai culture and customs in mind, but except for a few details the skills are clearly applicable to any classroom, regardless of the age or culture of the students — and they help make the classroom a fun and engaging place for students.
And you’ll learn that there is time for fun and for getting to know your classmates. The instructors are focused, but they have healthy senses of humor and are personable and friendly. SEE TEFL also arranges a night out on the first Friday of the program, and they arrange a “cultural awareness day” during which you will go to several sites around the city, including a cultural museum and Buddhist temple (where you will participate in a short ceremony if you like), all of which are discussed and explained at length.
The faculty at SEE TEFL are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. They work hard to constantly improve the program in order to train and certify the best TESL/TEFL/EFL teachers that they can. While the classes move at a relatively quick pace, there is room for fun, the classes and instructors are always pleasant, and the instructors are very good about setting all of the students at ease.
Throughout the program, you will be required to make and produce several lessons — and teach them to actual students in actual schools. If this sounds daunting, do not fear: the SEE faculty are available (pretty much all day every day) to help with any questions or difficulties you may have while designing lessons and creating materials. The faculty of SEE TEFL are sincerely dedicated to seeing their students do well and succeed.
These “live” teaching practices are invaluable. Each time you teach in a school, a SEE TEFL faculty member will be there to observe your lessons and to provide you with constructive feedback afterwards. (And, if you listen to the suggestions and attempt to make the improvements and changes the faculty suggest, there is no two ways about it: your teaching will improve with each and every lesson.) Another upside is that at the end of the course you will have a set of lessons and materials to draw on, ranging from simple vocabulary to complex grammar, which you can showcase to prospective employers as well as use to get your classes started once you are offered a position at a school.
Also included in the program are several “survival Thai” language lessons. Following these, you’ll be able to communicate in the most necessary situations (ordering food and drinks, making polite requests, describing ailments to doctors…).
Finally, throughout, during, and even after the program the faculty and staff are prepared to help with visa issues that may arise and to help with contacting employers, resume writing, and interview skills.
This is a tremendous program, very well designed and well taught, definitely worth the investment, and worthy of its accreditations and international recognition. I could not recommend it more highly.