Sam Thompson

Summer school is for the birds

Does it beat cocktails on the beach? Hell, no.


Around the start of our second term (January), the administration started polling for interest in teaching summer school. Get paid an extra 10,000 THB on top of your salary per week! Relaxed working hours! Make a difference! Ok, that last one might have been towards the begging phase.

Anyway, considering my Thai fiancé works according to the Thai government school calendar, she has to work all through my summer holiday (mid-June through the end of July), so I figured, what the hell. I have nothing better to do, and can't leave anyway because she's working and I have evening/Saturday classes going on throughout the summer regardless.

TOEFL experience

I signed up, and because I've done TOEFL teaching for a few years on the side (that's an English test students take to study in North America), I got slotted into the summer TOEFL programme.

Fine, no problem. It's bound to be better than the all-day hell that [mandatory, unpaid] summer school was at the government school I used to work at. This programme is 4 total teaching hours daily, 2x 1.5 hour classes plus one hour and some change at the end of the day. It actually ends up being more than some of my "normal" school days in terms of contact hours, and considering parents pay 30,000 THB per child for the privilege of my company... well, at 16 students, I'm being financially ripped off @ 10k/week. Such is life.

TOEFL targets

Well, I've been at it for a few weeks now. My school requires students to make a minimum score of 60 on TOEFL to move from middle to high school, and a minimum of 70 to graduate (although 80 to be awarded scholarships in-school). Thus, my class consists primarily of 8th graders that didn't make the required score to move into high school; all students are TOEFL tested at the end of each academic year regardless of grade level past grade 6.

Needless to say, they aren't exactly thrilled to be here... but with that said, I've been pleasantly surprised at their ability to adapt to a full day of intensive English reading/writing/speaking/listening (the TOEFL sections). When you're 13 or 14, it's not easy to spend 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. doing ANYTHING during summer, much less hardcore English test-taking skills. Hell, it's not easy for ME.

Never again

While I'm actually happy with the students, and planning for the course isn't difficult as I've been doing this for a while... I don't think I'll do it again.

There's a lot to be said for having respite after a long year, even if one still has evening classes. Sure, an extra 50-60k in the bank is always a good thing (and needed), but if you do end up wanting to go all-in with teaching, it's probably more important to not burn yourself out, and I'm certainly feeling the strain as most of my colleagues are sending me pictures from the beaches they're drinking on.

I will say this, though: having so many contact hours with the same group of kids, as opposed to the more spread out schedules of the normal school year, has allowed me to see real learning take place from day to day, and that's quite refreshing. I really feel I'm making a difference.

The question is: is it more refreshing than a piña colada by the sea?


I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you would like to get in touch or perhaps e-mail me with a question, I would love to hear from you - All the best, Sam Thompson.




Comments


Sam

Thanks for sharing, but feeling like you have the option to turn down extra money as an English teacher is usually only open to single teachers or at least those without children. If you have family responsibilities and bills to pay, as an English teacher in Thailand one might not be able to afford to turn-down an opportunity to help provide for the family.

By Jack, At home (2nd July 2016)

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