May 27

6 Interesting (and hilarious) Things About Teaching in Thailand

Teaching English in Thailand

Surprise! I live in Thailand now!

living in Thailand

The day I learned to ride a motorbike in Thailand

The last place I wrote about was Vietnam (and how I fell in love), and I completely skipped over my travels through Cambodia. I’ll get back to those, but for now I’ll tell you about my current adventure and new job in middle-of-nowhere, Thailand.


A few weeks ago I saw a posting on facebook advertising one-month teaching jobs. I had been trying to find long-term volunteer positions with NGOs but none of the organizations I wanted to work with were getting back to me. So, although I had declared that there was no way I was going back to teaching already, I was lured in by the thought of money and a temporary home. I applied and not much later found myself in front of a classroom full of high schoolers in Chaiyaphum, a mid sized town in central Thailand.



The first week of classes has been amazing and I am loving it. Without going into too many comparisons for now, it is a complete 180 from my job and lifestyle in Korea. Everything is laid-back, the people are friendly, and the kids are generally enthusiastic, well-behaved, and don’t make me want to hurl them myself out a window. I’m also learning quite a bit about Thai culture and am frequently caught off-guard by the way they do things here.


Here are just a few of the hilarious/interesting things I’ve noticed about teaching in a Thai school so far:


ladyboy student in Thailand

The ubiquitous ladyboys are a common sight on the streets of Bangkok, but I never imagined there would be a handful of excessively flamboyant teenagers in every one of my classes.


Weird English Names:

weird English names in Thailand

On the first day of class I asked the students to make name tags with their English nicknames. There are almost no ‘normal’ names, and instead it’s as if they opened a dictionary and pointed at random words. My classes are full of names like Milk, First, Coke, Flame, Beer, Tiger, Oil, Name, Arm, Pop, Best, Ice, Nice, Ring, Ball, Pepsi, Film, Copter, and my personal favorite, Boss. Oh, there is also one named Job and all I can think of is the scene from Mrs. Doubtfire. “I. Am. Job.”


Morning Meditation:

morning meditation Thailand schoolEach morning before classes start the students at our school gather for an assembly. Part of it includes several minutes of meditation during which the 3,500 students actually sit in complete silence with their eyes closed. The thought of doing something like that at a school back home is laughable. It might be the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.


No bells, “Thai time”

classroom in Thailand

No bells ring to mark the start and end of class. The time table does not allot time between classes so it’s generally up to the teacher as to when to finish the class. As a result, the students may show up anywhere from 5 minutes early to 20 minutes late. You just have to roll with it.


Bad English Signsbad English signs

Someone who clearly speaks almost no English was apparently commissioned to make the most hilarious and sometimes inappropriate signs which have been posted all around the English building. There are so many that each day we find a new gem and we devote a considerable amount of time to trying to decipher what the sign is actually trying to say (or wondering who on earth thought it would be a good idea to say it).

Here’s some more:

bad English signs

“Don’t teach your grandmother to sudceggs”

bad English signs

bad English signs

This strange grouping of words…

bad English signs

bad English signs

Because we should teach all children what a “rubber johnny” is and the noun and verb forms for poop


Strange Variety of Uniforms

teaching English in Thailand

Our traditional Thai fabrics to celebrate a Buddhist holiday

It’s not uncommon for students to wear uniforms, but they seem to have a different one for every day of the week and even the teachers are required to dress up fairly frequently. Sometimes a sampling of students and teachers will walk around in military gear. Earlier this week everyone was required to wear Thai traditional silk skirts and shirts. Sometimes we wear purple for King Day or other times we have to wear a specific color just because. Figuring out what to wear is never an issue in the morning.


Overall, I love my school. I am so lucky to have fun students, welcoming and friendly coworkers, and a laid back working environment. Teaching in Thailand was a fantastic idea and this month is going to fly by!

Teaching English in a Thai school



  • Lianne Zimmermann

    Teaching in Thailand seems like a great experience! Now I almost wish I had taken my Thailand job offer over my Korea job offer. Thai time sounds like it would be both annoying and freeing at the same time. Does it mean you can finish your class when you’re done with the material, rather than having to stop when you’re unfinished or having to think of a time-waster for the last few minutes?

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      well you make more money in Korea, so there’s that. maybe someday you can come give it a try in Thailand for fun! The “Thai time” is great, if we finish a few minutes early I can just let them go and it’s no big deal. No more desperate, drawn out games of hangman haha.

  • I would love to go down to teach in Thailand one day. I really do love teaching. Those English names made me laugh. “I. Am. Job.” Hahaha

    My friend up in Gangwon asked her students to give themselves English names too and they all came up with “Facebook” and “Like” and really random things like that.

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      You definitely should give it a try! It’s a completely different experience from Korea! I love calling out, “Mr Facebook? Mr Job? Mr Beer?” haha

  • Mark Newman

    What goes round, comes round. That’s ‘a’ classic.

  • Can we please make have the “no bells” policy here, too? I love that idea! I’m not sure about you, but last time I was a student we were punished to either sing, tell a joke or be called out to answer the first question of the day (usually a pretty hard one) if we were over 2 minutes late!

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      wow, that actually sounds like quite an easy punishment! we got detention for being late! for the most part I love the no bells and “thai time” thing, it’s nice to be able to end class when I’m actually finished, whether that’s a few minutes early or late! 🙂