David Parfitt

Honestly, I'm here in Thailand to teach

For the male teachers out there, how do you build rapport in the classroom?

"Teacher, do you go to the island with many women?"

There's no denying it: there's a stereotype about male English teachers in Thailand being seen as sex tourists.

If you're single, you're fighting an uphill battle against this perception. Being married to a Thai national, especially with children, significantly boosts your standing in Thai society. For single male teachers, it's often an unspoken challenge to prove that their intentions are honorable and their presence genuine.

At the start of every corporate course, I make it a point to introduce myself and share pictures of my wife and daughter in hopes of building rapport. I explain my background, my passion for teaching, and my genuine love for Thai culture. However, this strategy doesn't always work. Some students remain skeptical, their minds clouded by the prevalent stereotype.

Despite my best efforts, there are always a few students who assume I'm a sex tourist, spending my free time searching for bathhouses in Bangkok or frequenting infamous tourist spots known for their nightlife.

It bothers me more than I care to admit. I love teaching and strive to connect with my students on a personal level. I put my heart into my work, hoping to inspire and educate. But to some, I'm just teaching to fund my vices, a perception that overshadows my dedication and passion for education.

If only they knew what my typical day looked like, they might change their minds. If they knew I wake up early, fight traffic to get to work on time, spend evenings at the park with my wife and daughter, and do the same weekend grocery shopping as they do, maybe they would see me differently—as just another productive member of Thai society doing mostly ordinary things.

To bridge this gap and dispel any lingering doubts, I usually play a Q&A game with my students. I encourage them to ask any questions they want, no matter how personal. This not only helps them practice using question words but also allows me to answer as openly and honestly as possible. I share stories about my life, my family, and my experiences in Thailand.

This approach helps create a deeper relationship, giving them a chance to know me on a personal level and clear any lingering questions. It's my earnest attempt to win their hearts and trust.

"No, Golf, I don't go to the island with many women. I go with my wife and daughter. Between the two of them, they're all the women this man can handle."

For the male teachers out there, how do you build rapport in the classroom? How do you earn your students' trust? What strategies do you use to break through the stereotypes and show your genuine intentions?

These are questions I often ponder, seeking new ways to connect with my students and build a bridge of understanding. Teaching in a foreign country comes with unique challenges, but it also offers unparalleled opportunities to make a positive impact and forge meaningful connections. How do you navigate these challenges and make the most of these opportunities?


By being kind and caring and upper grades pulling them aside and giving a word of confidence. Showing them you honestly care!

By AjarnTom, USA (26th June 2024)

Seems to me there is a certain amount of projection being thrown towards being a single male teacher. When in fact, the projectors are the ones creating the very reasons that are centered upon initial suspicion.

I can almost fully agree with what Joe said, about zero -ucks given. However, there needs to be a degree of presentation so.

In regards to the teaching questions, I don't get that deep into making connections of bonding with adult students. They are students, not family or close friends. I keep a healthy distance but still with empathy and concern for their progress. You may wish to simplify the entire situation by attempting the same thing. Or not..you do you.

By Knox, Boston (22nd June 2024)

At the end of the day you shouldn't give a flying f#ck what anyone else may or may not be thinking about you. The fact is most people are to occupied with their random shallowness and petty stuff happening in their lives that you won't even be given a second thought. The funny part is all the mind time you've given them has been for nothing in most cases.

However, it's true some people see you like that, but let's examine this. Honestly, many people who think along these lines usually have nothing else to occupy their minds, so they create drama in order to spice up their lives. The reality is that a great number of people are like this in life so you can't really avoid them.
If they ask you if you're a sex tourist just smile say yes and next!

By Joe, At Lek's Bar (22nd June 2024)

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