In our sixth installment of the TEFLPlus Spotlight, we head on over to the northeast of Thailand to meet up with Jasper in Sisaket. It has been a few months since Jasper completed his 4-week TEFL training course at TEFLplus in Patong Beach, Phuket. What has he been up to? Let’s find out!
What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Jasper Stokes and I’m from England.
What did you do before you decided to move to Thailand?
Before I decided to move abroad I was studying in England, where I taught at a secondary school for a year, then I worked in a supermarket to save up some money.
Where do you currently live?
I currently live in Sisaket province, in Mueang Sisaket district in Sisaket city.
Had you done much traveling before?
I haven’t been traveling before, but I have been on holiday to many locations, such as the USA, Germany, Bulgaria, Laos, Thailand and a few others mainly around Europe.
Why did you decide to take your TEFL course in Thailand?
As my intention was to teach in Thailand, I thought it was best to learn here so I would know the main difficulties Thai people have when learning a new language. I also thought it would be more beneficial to have my teaching practice with Thai people, and that it would be easier to get a job afterward. Also, it was a better value.
What did you do after you completed your TEFL training?
I found a job within a week of completing my TEFL here in Sisaket.
Was getting a job a priority, or did you have other plans?
Getting a job was my main priority after completing my TEFL.
What are the good (and bad) things about living there?
The good – it’s very cheap, a lot cheaper than Phuket or Bangkok. For example, I go to the market at the train station almost every night, where they sell local food and for me and my girlfriend. I spend about 150 Baht a night on, som-tam, two portions of rice, half a watermelon, pork scratchings, five (Thai) hot dogs, fresh eggplant, sour vegetables, suk ma koo wa and a motorbike taxi home. The taxis are cheap and the motorbike taxis also charge the local rate. In my experience, I find Sisaket has everything I need, and everything is within close range. Anything that I needed to buy I have been able to find here in Sisaket, and I was even able to do my work permit and visa here. I also find the people are much friendlier here in Isaan, if you are friendly and respectful.
The bad – some of the samlors will try to overcharge a lot if they see you are a foreigner. Also, although Sisaket has had everything I need, you won’t find things on the Internet, so you have to just go walking the streets and eventually you will find a shop for what you need, which can be difficult and tiring in this heat. Also, finding apartments near the schools is difficult and expensive (about 4,000 Baht a month) as most places are on the outskirts near the University where they cost about 1,500-2,000 Baht, but you will need a scooter. Also, if you like clubs and a nightlife, Sisaket doesn’t really have one, and a few foreigners have told me that sometimes they get charged more for purely being a foreigner, but this hasn’t happened to me.
Can you describe your apartment/house/condo?
Here is my old apartment for 4,000 Baht, 8 Baht per unit for electricity and 150 Baht per person for water. The apartment was nice in an excellent location near the schools, markets and the main shopping streets.
Where do you teach? What ages? What is your school like?
I teach at Anuban Sisaket School, in their English program where I teach P.E. and English conversation. In the English conversation program, I teach Prathom 2 and 3 (ages 8 – 9) and P.E. Prathom 1-6 (ages 7-12). I have taken part in a few activities already such as Songkran and Visakha Bucha where I visited the local temple with the school. Half the classrooms are well equipped with TVs, projectors, and air-con, however, the other half is not so lucky where there is no air-con or projectors, which can make teaching more difficult. Sisaket is a reasonably modern city with a shopping mall next to my school, and just further out there is a Big C, Tesco Lotus and a Makro.
How would you describe your students?
Playful. They always want to play so they are quite loud and lively, which is ok for P.E. but for English conversation, it can be difficult to get them to sit down and get on with their work. But, they are very respectful towards teachers and are very friendly.
What is your overall compensation package? Are you able to save any money?
I get paid 30,000 Baht a month, which is a good wage here Sisaket, and I get health insurance, five official days off work each semester, free lunch and a pay raise for every year I stay. I generally save at least 5,000 Baht a month.
What are your future plans?
I currently have no future plans, but I love it here in Sisaket and very happy I chose to come out here.
Anything else you’d like to share with those planning on moving abroad to teach English?
Schools are run very differently here in Thailand compared to the UK and things can change, so you just have to go with the flow. For example, no-one told me about the Songkran celebrations so I had no spare clothes, and on the morning before Visakha Bucha they told me my classes were canceled for the trip to the temple. And the day before the semester started they told me they wanted me on another department as they didn’t hire enough English teachers. So go in with an open mind, and just relax and be happy and just be respectful (for example wai to the teachers and directors), and they will always be happy to help you out. Always have a good, smart appearance at school and make sure you gave copies of your degree/qualifications.
We really appreciate the time Jasper took out of his teaching schedule to answer our questions. It is nice to see that Jasper got settled in his new home in Sisaket so soon after completing his TEFL training.
Are you ready for a change? Teaching English in Thailand could be the answer you are looking for. Ask us how we can help you to teach English abroad!