Jerry came to Thailand with no teaching experience and no teaching certificate. I guess he just fancied giving it a go. So how's it been going?
Jerry, before you came to Thailand, you had no teaching experience whatsoever nor did you have a TEFL certificate. Did you come here planning to be a teacher or has it just happened that way?
I came with an open mind and the intention of being an English teacher. I had read a lot about it on Ajarn.com as well as talked with some friends who had taught in Japan. I also spoke with several teachers in the U.S.A. working with college students who came from abroad. This was part of a large university yet apart from the sense of no state or federal money. The foreign students who get accepted to our (U.S.A.) universities often have resources or grants of some kind. The English teachers themselves are fully qualified with degrees in education and often achieve an additional add-on in TESOL. To each man and woman, after my talks with them, it encouraged me to give it a go...........so here I am.
Apart from the teaching, do you have your fingers in any other pies?
Yes, I do have some other income sources doing some export of legal products. Buy and Sell sort of thing for a few friends who then re-sell in the states. The margins are great Phil.
You often sign your discussion board posts as 'Jerry and Supa Rogers' Tell us a little about 'she who must be obeyed'?
Supa was working as a bargirl in Pattaya when I first met her. I don't hold that against a woman here, it just happens. We fell in love, do you need to know more than that? Of course you don't.
You're fairly critical of your fellow farang teachers, so let's talk about a couple of issues. Firstly, the often poor relationships between Thai and farang teaching staff - What are we doing wrong?
I don't recall being critical of my fellow farang teachers. I consider the ones I work with as friends. We often talk about various experiences in the classroom and of course have some limited off duty get-togethers. I've not been critical on ajarn.com that I recall? Perhaps you refer to some of my post prior to first banishment on your site? I was in fact critical of the teacher who implied that open sexual displays, especially homosexual ones, were proper in Thailand. I said they WERE NOT. Is that what you are asking about?
On the more important question, that of poor relationships which seem to develop, even where I work, between Thai and farang staff, let me just make a few comments.
I think we as farangs need to be respectful to a great degree to every one of the Thai staff. We are often if not always paid a lot more than they are. We are sometimes not even wanted on the campus by a few. Many of them have been at the school for many years, even more than ten in some instances. Many of them cannot just pack up and take a bus to the next stop. All of this I think needs to be understood before we tell them what to do! I for one listen to all their suggestions and try and apply them in the classroom, for better or worse. It seems to me I am there to help them achieve their goals rather than set my own and plow ahead. I listen to what they want me to do, and do it.
Keep in mind, I am at a government school, not a private one.
Any other areas where your foreign teaching colleagues fail to measure up?
I don't recall mentioning even one. I don't understand your attempt to make me some sort of bad guy like this. I tell it like it is but don't like personal attacks even implied as you have done here. What I think about the foreign teaching colleagues is my business and not shared on ajarn.com nor with them. Everyone has good qualities Phil, I tend to focus on that, not the bad or negative ones. This comes from having hundreds of employees in my past life. If you actually wanted or expected everyone to "measure up" to your perceived standard you would only have one employee, yourself. That happens of course, people just work for themselves and more power to them. Teaching English in Thailand at a government school does not allow you do to that.
Do you find that you earn enough to have a comfortable living?
Certainly enough if you don't have any bad habits like drinking and going to bars or picking up women off the street or in go-go bars. The expenses for housing and food for my small family are negligible. Where and when I get into trouble is when I venture to Bangkok on a supposed "business trip" and get carried away and out of control.
Complete the sentence. In five years time, many farang teachers.......
will be wondering why they are being asked or told the job requires 25-35 contact hours a week instead of this 18-22 hours, for the same wages. The work "load" of 18-22 contact is a joke. The Thais will learn that some day within the five year window you suggest.
You wanted to say a few things about discipline in the classroom, so go on then.
I think we need to earn the respect of the students, not demand it.
What in your opinion makes for a good lesson?
Knowing the students have learned at least one word or thought of at least one topic or "thing" in English. Context is everything in my opinion. I try and teach context in my lesson, not just how to say something.
When you first started teaching, what things surprised you or didn't perhaps live up to your expectations?
No real surprises Phil. I came prepared and had visited Thailand several times, even fell in love. I suppose an honest answer would be that I cannot measure my success or failure easily. I don't know why I thought I may be able to, but it's just not easy to measure, so that was sort of a let-down. We would all like to know if we are doing a good job or not.
You have some quite strong opinions on Thailand's TEFL course providers. Rather than slagging them off, what would you do differently if you opened your own teacher training school?
I would have Thai instructors and charge a reasonable Thai Baht fee. I would want my school to be about giving the farang some of the basic insight in to what is expected from them and how to accomplish it.
Do you think the future's looking grim for Thailand's farang teachers?
Actually, I think the future is looking good. More and more schools appear to be starting up English programs and the wages appear steady or even on the increase. I do think, as I have posted, the long range goal of those in charge and funding everything is to get Thailand students bilingual and then support it with fewer farangs. This goal however seems far fetched to me, so the future is bright Phil.
If you were ever put in charge of the hiring and firing, what things would you look for during an interview process?
I assume your question refers to the hiring and firing of Farang teachers. If so, in the interview process I would look for respect and cander. I've read thousands of resumes and interviewed hundreds of people in my past career so have some advantage over perhaps your intended "subject" or guest or whatever you deem me. I would look for in specific, just to answer you:
1. Past experience in front of a group
2. Verified education credentials (I think this got me censored a second time on ajarn.com?) I really put a lot of emphasis on college education and completion with a degree.
3. Criminal background check or proof such as required by some countries for
Where do you see yourself in ten years time? Is teaching something you'll want to do forever?
I don't look that far ahead Phil. A lot is going to happen in my life before then. I suppose you have read, the bars in Bangkok are going to have to close at midnight? Where are all those bargirls going to go at midnight tonight? That is more important to me than the question of where or will I be teaching in ten years time. In all seriousness though, I think I will pursue a degree from a Thai University and learn to speak Thai. I think a native speaking English teacher, who is fluent in Thai and has a degree from the USA as well as a Thai University can live happily forever here in Thailand.
Thank you for the chance to give my opinion.