June 18, 2013


We’ve written quite a few posts about our trainees during their TEFL training in Phuket, but what about after they graduate? On average, about half continue traveling or return home and the other half start teaching. But, for those who stay abroad, what happens to them? Where do they end up?

I’ve followed up with several of our TEFL graduates to answer these questions and more in our brand new feature: TEFLPlus Spotlight.

Ruan TEFL graduate TEFLPlus PhuketMeet Ruan. Ruan wanted to start his life over and decided that teaching English in Thailand was the next big step. He sold his car and left everything behind in South Africa. After completing his four weeks of TEFL training at TEFLPlus just a few weeks ago, he found a great job in Ayuttaya, one of Thailand’s most majestic regions just a couple of hours outside of Bangkok. So why did Ruan decide to become an English teacher? How did he do it?

What is your background? What did you do before you decided to become an English teacher?

My story is quite a sad one to start off with…but in my opinion I think I have made the best of it so far. I finished school in the year 2008 and after that I set my heart on going to university and getting a degree in computer software development. I finished my first year in 2009 and half way through my second year in 2010 I completely lost interest in what I was doing and so I canceled all my subjects at university and decided to change direction and start fresh at university with something else completely in mind. In the year 2012 I started university again and wanted to get a degree in microbiology, chemistry or biochemistry. During the year I loved all my classes and I really enjoyed what I was doing, but closer to the end of the year my subjects were getting very difficult and at the end of 2012 after I had finished my exams I came to realize that I had failed two subjects and was not allowed to proceed to year two of my course; I had to repeat my first year. Even though I loved the classes and everything about university at that stage my parents had decided to cut me off financially and they told me that I was now free to do what I wanted with my life, but they would not support me to further my studies and if I wanted to repeat my first year and try again I would have to find funding on my own. This was a very difficult time in my life as I was not working and I had no way of paying for my own studies, and at that stage I had no way of receiving a loan for studies from a bank or any other financial provider. I then heard from a friend of mine about teaching English abroad and thought that it might be a good idea. As my relationship with my parents was not all that good, I decided that I would research this matter and see if it would apply to me, and if I was actually able to go through with it.

This is around the time that I found the TEFLPlus website and started doing my research on the whole topic. I finally presented this idea to my parents and they thought it was also a good idea, but at the stage thought that I would only go and do it for maybe one year or so, save some money, come back to South Africa and further my studies. This however in my mind was not the idea I had. I saw this as a big opportunity for me to leave South Africa permanently and start my life fresh and make the most of it by not making the same mistakes I had made in the past. All my plans started forming and to get the funding for my TEFL course in Phuket I had to sell my lovely car so that I would have the finances I needed to travel to a new country and start my life over.

Have you done much traveling in the past? If so, where to?

While at university, I was part of a choral group that traveled around the world taking part in many choral festivals that we were invited to. So I have traveled all across Europe (London, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Germany and France), Germany again in 2009, Italy in 2010, Argentina in 2011 and Beijing in 2012. If you want to see some of the performances that we performed you can go to YouTube and search for “Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Choir” or just “NMMU Choir”.

Why Thailand?

My decision to teach English in Thailand was rather simple. Both my cousins who recently got married both had their honeymoons in Thailand and they had told me so many stories about the beautiful country, and because Thailand just stood out for me from the moment I started doing my research. I also have many friends who had done this before in Thailand and they were able to give me so much needed advice about certain things. I also currently have a friend who is an English teacher in Chonburi.

So two weeks into my TEFL course and I was already set with a job in a beautiful city…

How long did it take for you to get a job after completing your TEFL course?

Getting my first job after completing my TEFL course is actually a funny story. While I was busy doing my TEFL course I was told that starting to look for a job before the TEFL course is finished is ok and there should be no problem if you just change your CV and have it say that your TEFL course completion date is…whatever the date was that I expected to complete my training. So I took advantage of this and started sending out e-mails just before the third week of my 4 week TEFL course. I sent out nine e-mails in total, and all at the same time. Within 20 minutes of sending them out I was contacted by one of the gentlemen from a company in Ayutthaya in response to my work proposal. Twenty minutes after that I was busy having an interview with said person, and it was extremely successful. I was offered a position and everything was good and well. So two weeks into my TEFL course and I was already set with a job in a beautiful city of which I had started to research a lot.

Where do you currently live? What are the good or bad things about living there?

ruan_tefl_spotlight_teflplus_phuket-9I currently live in a little village called Lat Bua Luang, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. The village is so very small and one of my colleagues and I are the only English speaking people in the whole village. And trust me when I tell you, that we are literally the only two people who can speak English. Due to this unforeseen circumstance it has caused both me and my colleague to learn Thai at a very fast pace, and I do not regret it for one moment. I have been living here now for around three weeks and everyone in the village knows who we are.

Some of the advantages that I received when getting this job is that my apartment was to be paid by my company and it would be included in my contract as a benefit. My company does not normally provide accommodation at their expense to their teachers but due to the fact that we actually live and teach almost 70km away from our office, they said to me that they will pay for my accommodation, which I thought was awesome as it means that I can save even more money every month.

My apartment is very small but very livable for one person, and because I do not need so many fancy things or luxuries, I think it is perfect to call this my new home.

Can you tell us more about an average day at work?

ruan_tefl_spotlight_teflplus_phuket-22My teaching schedule is very hectic but also not so hectic. During one week I teach at four different schools. On Mondays I teach at Watreetara School, kids ageing from prekindergarten all the way to Pratom 6. On Tuesdays I teach at Satapratoom School, again same age groups, prekindergarten all the up to Pratom 6. On Wednesdays I teach at Wittayanon School, and there only Pratom 3 to Pratom 6. On Thursdays and Fridays I teach at Sahamit School which is the largest school in this area. There I teach kindergarten and Pratom 4 on Thursdays, and Pratom 5 and 6 on Fridays. My school day starts at 8:30am every morning and I finish roughly at around 3:30pm. I only teach four hours at each school every day and those are four 1 hour classes spaced evenly throughout the day. At the schools that I do not have a Thai teacher with me in class, the students go crazy. At the schools that I have a Thai teacher present with me in class, my students are all very well behaved and everything has gone according to plan, very well. At Wittayanon School I have two very special students who take part in the annual English competition each year in various categories. One of them, Giada, is a girl in Pratom 4 who won last year’s competition for English story telling. Then there is a boy, Nattakorn, in Pratom 6, who takes part in the prepared speech category. I have started working with both these students on a one-to-one basis and am busy getting them prepared for this year’s competition which I will be attending as well. I am very excited about this as both the students have been doing so well and due to the fact that I am preparing their material makes me feel very proud of them and I will cheer them on at the competition and I am positive that they will once again make their school proud.

What is your overall compensation package? Are you able to save any money?

Ruan's CBR 150 motorcycleThe contract that I signed with my company stated that I will be getting a total of 32,000 Baht each month paid to me bi-monthly. So I receive 16,000 Baht every two weeks. For the first four months however I will not have the luxury of saving any money as I will be paying off my motorcycle every month for four months. Thankfully this little village is, well, very little and there is nothing to really spend money on at all.

How about your visa and work permit?

My company did all the paperwork for my work permit and for my new visa. I didn’t even have to leave the country, and tomorrow I am going to collect my Thai driver’s licence.

How long do you plan on teaching in Thailand?

Like I mentioned earlier about my parents thinking that I will go and teach in Thailand for maybe, one year or two years and then return to South Africa with all my money and then further my studies. This is in fact not true at all, and I do not plan to leave Thailand for any reason whatsoever. Thailand is now my home and I could not be happier about this. Yes, I will eventually go home during my holiday period to see my parents and to visit all my old friends, definitely. But to move back to South Africa and make a living there? I just really don’t want to.

DJ Shazz performing at a clubWhat are your future plans?

My future plans are quite simple. Pay off my bike, which is priority number one at the moment. And then I will move around a little and stay in different areas and work in different areas in and around Thailand. Maybe I will have enjoyed my stay here in Lat Bua Luang so much that I decide to stay here for a longer term. There are many factors that play a part in my future in Bangkok. I am currently dating a Thai girl, whom is absolutely awesome, and she has been so good to me and I could not have asked for anyone better. And then there is the DJ’ing part of it all, which is very important to me as well. I was very privileged to have met an owner of an events company that purely focus on my style of music and also hosts a party once a month in Bangkok. I met with him in Bangkok one night and he introduced me to one of his DJ friends whom also plays at all his parties as a resident. I have been signed as a resident DJ and will be performing at my first gig in July in Bangkok as my debut in Thailand. I was so excited when I heard about it. So from now I will be labeled as DJ Shazz playing under Psyhead Community. I have also been asked to perform at the Christmas party hosted by Ooze Bar, Bangkok which is held on a boat in Kanchanaburi in December which is supposedly one of the biggest psytrance parties in Thailand.

Anything else you’d like to share with those planning on moving to Thailand to teach English?

For those people that are planning on coming to Thailand to teach English, and have not yet done the TEFL course? I would strongly advise that you do the TEFL course in Thailand, specifically TEFLPlus because I am living proof that you will definitely enjoy it 100% more and [get] so much more experience from doing it there than anywhere else, be it in the country you are coming from, or online, or whatever. There is nothing better than getting the experience in the country that you will be teaching in.

Thanks Ruan!

We really appreciate the time Ruan took out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Even though Ruan did not have a university degree, he was still able to get started working legally in Thailand. Things are looking pretty good for Ruan and we couldn’t be happier for him.

If you are into psytrance, check out Ruan’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/psychshazz or listen to one of his mixes at https://soundcloud.com/dj-shazz-1.

If you are ready to get started in your new career teaching English in Thailand, we can help. Contact us at teflplus.info@gmail.com today!

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