Teaching English to people who can’t understand 75% of what you are saying forces you to develop some interesting skills. Skills like accommodating everything you say with an action, communicating with people using as little words as possible, and knowing how to make a listening activity about a trip to the post office exciting and engaging.
And now, after 2 years of teaching English abroad in Thailand, I am happy to say that those interesting and necessary skills you develop on the front-lines of education in Asia, aren’t limited to the classroom…
Oh no my friends, these skills will also make you the best party host of all time.
Here’s why —
- You know a Toy’s R Us- sized catalog of Games
Not only are you a master of charades and Pictionary, with an endless supply of word games, but you also know how to explain instructions quickly and simply.
Like matching the proficiency level of your students, you have at least one game that will appeal to each guest in the room, no matter what the level of inebriation or shyness.
It won’t be long until those friends who came and plopped down on the couch, swearing they were only going to stay an hour, are sliding across the floor in a leg-locked line, trying to pop a balloon between each other’s chests and backs.
In Thailand there is a No Fail-Policy, so as a teacher one of the biggest motivators for your students will always be fun. Games are essential to keep ESL learners engaged in your lessons.
But don’t leave your game roster behind in the class, use it to get the party jumping.
And speaking of getting the party jumping…
2. You’re Used to Entertaining
There’s no doubt that Thailand’s School System helped me hone my entertaining skills, and whether you like it or not, if you stay teaching abroad long enough, there’s a good chance you’ll be the same.
Teaching ESL learners requires lots of action, movement, laughter, and fun. If you’re not entertaining, there’s a high chance your students aren’t going to listen.
But don’t worry, after getting some experience teaching abroad, it’s only just a matter of time until getting the crowd engaged, and supplying a supercharged dose of fun is second nature.
Did your party hit a lull? Fret not friend, turn on the charm, crank up the action, and let the jokes fly. By this time you have no trouble being the entertainer.
3. You Can Manage Large Groups of People When They get out of Hand
Festivities getting too loud? Worried the neighbors might… make the call? Guests horsing around near an urn full of your favorite grandma’s ashes? Potential fist fight on the horizon?
Sure it sounds rough, but you and I both know it’s child’s play when compared to managing a classroom full of hyperactive low-level English ESL students.
You’ve dealt with out of control behavior before, and you’re not afraid to bust out your tool-belt of a classroom management techniques to get everyone back on task and into the party.
You’re good at getting the attention of large groups, and you know how to put them back into focus.
Don’t even worry about moving the urn, you’ve separated the frolicking trouble makers and given them the task of running to the store for snacks and drinks– Grandma can rest in peace.
4) You’re Great at Understanding People when Language Fails Them
“I….I….bllahh uuhhhh…” The slobbering and incoherent man on your doorstep sputters, spinning his hands in a slow circle. Your other friends are looking worried and confused, staring at you.
What does he want? They mouth silently, and watch as you leave the room, worrying that you’ve said to hell with it, and walked away from the situation.
Then you return, a shining savior, leading your incoherent friends lady towards him. Your buddy starts falling over sideways, and she rushes under him just in time to keep him from slumping over into the grass.
How did he do it? Your friends gasp in awe.
But for you it was nothing– You’ve been interpreting hand signals and word fragments from ESL students for a long while, and you’re damn good at it now.
Teacher magic– you probably knew what he needed before he did.
5. You Can Think on your Feet
It doesn’t matter how many lesson plans you’ve prepared, awesome worksheets you’ve created, or educational games you’ve masterminded… at some point during your career as a foreign English teacher one of your activities will fail you.
It happens to everyone. Whether the students get lost in your lengthy instructions, or the game is just too big to orchestrate in a class jam-packed full of students, eventually one of your lessons will fail, and it is during this time that you’ll scramble like mad men and women to quickly adjust whatever activity, game, or worksheet, to fit the situation.
Then, after enough failed lessons, you just expect certain outcomes, and you are ready to handle whatever comes your way, whenever it comes your way. You can adapt an activity to fit specific behavior or proficiency in less than a moment’s notice.
So don’t worry if your Bluetooth speaker system breaks right as your guests show up. You’ve got a cell-phone in a ceramic bowl, and if that doesn’t work, the acoustic guitar is right behind the couch.
Don’t worry if the store just stopped selling beer, you know there’s that questionable bottle of wine from the last Christmas party just waiting to unearthed and cheerily consumed.
6. You’re Ready to Dance like Crazy at a the Drop of a Hat
There’s a time in every foreign English teacher’s life, especially those in Thailand, where they are required to dance for their students and the school. Whether it’s at the English camp, the New Year’s Party, A Language and Culture celebration, or just a lesson on different hobbies, you’re going to have to bust a boogie.
The good news is that no matter how embarrassing and utterly trivial those experiences may seem, they are actually preparing you with an invaluable skill.
When anticipation lingers in the air, and the music is right, and everyone is nodding their heads and snapping their fingers to the tune, but they are too paralyzed by fear to actually start dancing and create a full-on dance floor.
Fear not, because there is one person who is not scared to get in there and kick things off, and that person is you!
After being laughed at by endless students, you have zero qualms over making a fool out of yourself and your funky moves. That’s right, you get right in there and show the others how a dance party starts.
This is ain’t your first rodeo.
Teaching abroad can be an invaluable experience. I love teaching English in Thailand, but whether or not you love it, hate it, or sorta like it, you’re going to have to develop some crazy skills to be successful.
Use those skills! Be proud of the abilities you gain from teaching, and don’t be afraid to let them fall naturally into your every day life. Who knows, you may just become the life of the party 🙂
Want to know know where the party is on Koh Tao? Check out my post 11 Things to do in Koh Tao!
Thanks for reading & happy travels!