I would recommend BFITS for anyone new to teaching or new to teaching abroad. They are professionally run and provide a variety of teaching opportunities, in several locations across Thailand. I began teaching at the start of the second term and was able to teach outside of Bangkok, at my request. I was provided with a four day crash-course orientation on BFITS, Thai culture, Thai teaching expectations and BFITS on-line grading system. It was a little rushed as I had joined a later orientation for those of us who couldn’t make it to the one on the first of the month. I appreciated their flexibility with my start date. The orientation was held in Bangkok, after which they sent me on a bus to my new city, where I was picked up by the office coordinator. She took me to look at an apartment and then took me shopping. I needed basic kitchen supplies, bedding and the school teachers’ uniform. As a woman, the school uniform was quite casual and comfortable. If you have tattoos though, you’ll likely be expected to cover them up, which may mean longer sleeves and longer skirts. Not knowing the specifics of the uniform, I had packed and purchased a lot of unnecessary clothing. Having this information ahead of time would have been nice.
BFITS provided me with all the tools and information to make teaching as easy as possible. I had well-structured lesson plans, a teaching schedule, an online grading system and lots of videos on classroom management. With teaching 20 hours per week and making use of the material provided, there was plenty of time throughout the day to prep, grade tests and projects and input grades into their online grading system. They also allow some flexibility with the material, so you can update and personalize it, making it more fun and engaging for all. I was placed in a school with a really small BFITS presence. Just two English teachers and two teacher assistants; one who doubled as the office coordinator. This was probably the toughest aspect of the teaching experience, as we were quite isolated from the rest of the school and other BFITS teachers and managers. I relied on this small team for all local and school information and it often felt like the information wasn’t forthcoming. The Head Teacher was also in a different location. Although just a phone call or email away, I could have used some advice throughout the term and, as it was my first teaching experience, I didn’t always know what questions to ask. Others may really appreciate this less-structured environment, which I think is quite rare in Thailand.
Over these five months, I have experienced and learned a lot. I never thought teaching was easy and this experience hasn’t proven me wrong. If you’re thinking about teaching only as a means to support your travelling desires, you might want consider other means. If you would like to experience a new culture and support others in learning English, BFITS is a great place to start. Along with the challenges, there wasn’t a day that went by without a reason to smile, both within the school and the community.