TEXT-AND-TALK ACADEMY TEFL Courses:
What to Do, Prepare and Know
WHAT TO DO.
Besides acquiring either a single-entry or double-entry visa for Thailand, you will still need to make arrangements for your transportation (we strongly recommend that you purchase your one-way air ticket directly from the airline rather than going through an agent, who may tell you falsely that a round-trip ticket is mandatory). And, of course, you will probably wish to let us know if you need us to help you acquire accommodations after you arrive; and it is always wise when traveling to stop at a booth at the airport and purchase travel insurance as a hedge against any emergency.
Upon arriving, and checking into your living quarters and then picking up all of your course materials from our Academy, it would be wise to e-mail or call your friends and loved ones and let them know you arrived safely, where you are and how you can be reached. Please do remember to inform your loved ones right away after your arrival! (We believe they would probably do the same for you.)
Finally, on the way to our academy (if you are taking the course in Bangkok), just call our director James Parmelee from your taxi (mobile phone number 081 847 7248), and he will tell your driver exactly how to reach our school.
DOCUMENTS AND OTHER ITEMS TO BRING ALONG.
A good stock of pens, pencils and note pads will be needed in your course, but these may either be brought along or purchased locally before you class starts. However, please do bring recent visa-size photographs, all of your academic documents, diplomas and certificates (with transcripts, if at all possible), a photocopy of your birth certificate, if available, and character references from at least two persons who have known you for a long time. Ensure that these are securely packed, to prevent loss. (After getting acquainted with us and allowing us to view these documents, you should then keep them in a secure place for later use with employers and government officials, as you will be called upon to produce them for most of your life.)
Thailand is a tropical country, meaning that the temperature here normally hovers between about 27 and 35 degrees celsius (roughly 87 to 95 degrees fahrenheit) the year round -- so leave your topcoats, sport coats and suits at home, unless you anticipate using them! Do pack a number of dress trousers, long-sleeved dress shirts and some nice neckties, if you are a man, and lightweight dress clothes, if you are a woman. By all means, include some leisure clothing and beachwear, for example -- though Bermuda shorts, sports shoes, tee-shirts and Hawaiian shirts will not be welcomed when you are in the training room or teaching! Generally, don't bother to bring an umbrella (unless it's convenient), as these are sold everywhere here at a low price. The rainy season is normally June-November, though there are years when it starts a couple of month sooner. However, it generally rains for only a short portion of the day, so, unless you are living in a part of Thailand where heavy flooding is regular, you probably won't be using your umbrella as much as you might imagine.
Make sure if you bring in actual foreign currency that there are NO MARKS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND on them, as the Bank of Thailand may not accept bills for exchange that are marked. It is always good to convert your money to traveler's checks, of course. However, do make sure that your signatures on the checks match up well, not only with each other, but also to the one in your passport! In any event, you should exchange enough money at the airport when you arrive to cover your initial local expenses, including the rental on your accomodations.
Without a work permit, you will generally need to contact the main office of a Bangkok bank in order to open an account and deposit your money. (Most smaller branches will not do it. However, some brances will, so check with us for up-to-date information before proceeding.) In any case, as you may want to relax for a few days before seeking out a bank, it's a good idea to change most of your money into traveler's checks ahead of time, and keep your purchase receipts in a secure place. You should probably bring at least US $1,500 in necessary funds, plus perhaps $500 for the inevitable shopping you will want to do! You could bring more, of course, but this should be more than adequate to see you through your course, find a good job, and, of course, enjoy yourself (if you have time) before your course begins!
LAPTOPS, INTERNET USAGE AND ELECTRICAL APPLICANCES.
By all means, bring your laptop and any accompanying disks or hardware except for the more bulky printers! If you do bring your laptop or PC and want to use it with a direct telephone line (which usually will not already be installed in your room, though some places actually will provide Wi-Fi to your room for a fee), you will be allowed by your apartment owner in most cases to purchase a line at your own expense, generally for about $75.00 US. If you have a need, let us know, and our staff will help you to arrange for your direct line. Having said that, excellent low-cost Internet cafes are located absolutely everywhere, so if you mainly just want to check and send e-mails, you might just leave your computer at home, at least the PC!
Note, however, that in our most popular accommodations, wi-fi is available right in your room for just an extra 500 baht per month!
Finally, in order to maximize your progress in the teacher-training course, it is wise to know and abide by the House Rules and Study Rules of our course, as these are for the benefit of everyone.
Dress. We want you to be comfortable while training! Therefore, except on days when you are scheduled to teach, you may dress casually but tastefully. Shorts, t-shirts, Hawaiian-style shirts and sports shoes, however, are discouraged. Blue jeans are generally acceptable, but not as much so as other types of trousers. Men should shave and trim their hair (of whatever length) and keep it clean. Women, also, should appear well groomed, however casually they might wish to dress. The point to keep in mind is that the Thai people will see you at school, and they should not be made to feel alarmed about how the 'teachers' there look!
Photocopying. You are provided with all module books, and even a carrying bag. However, you will need from time to time to photocopy pages from textbooks, or other items, in order to give an effective teaching presentation, and school copy machines are needed by staff and regular staff teachers. Therefore, please come prepared, just in case, to spend as much as 400 baht (about $9 US), totally, for such photocopy work done during the 6-week duration of your course. (You will probably spend less than that.)
Coffee and snacks. Coffee, along with cream and sugar, is provided free of charge while you are in training, as well as tea. Snacks are sometimes available to be purchased on our premises, but, if these are not available, only a very short walk will take you to where they may be obtained.
Telephone use. You will almost certainly wish to purchase a mobile phone, which is very cheap, as is the usage cost. Our staff do not generally allow others to use their phone lines except in emergency, in which case the charge will probably be about 5 baht (our actual cost). We do not generally allow long distance calls to be made on our phone lines under any circumstances, but can direct you to a post office of phone center where you can do so conveniently. Should you need to make a long distance call, and it is a real emergency, our academy will help you to do this, but you must get approval from the director first and pay for the call immediately upon completing it, to prevent confusion on the part of our staff when the phone bill comes in!
Courtesy to the Academy staff. If you are courteous to and patient with our staff (who are highly talented and devoted people, though in some cases just a bit weak in English), you will endear yourselves to them - and these are the very people who will be assisting you in gaining and maintaining (as well as being paid for) any teaching work you will be doing for our school!
Attendance. Attendance and prompt arrival at class times (and after break periods!) is essential, to ensure that your trainer maximizes your advantages from the course. Therefore, more than 4 absences (from the total number of class periods) will on each occurrence result in the reduction of one grade level from your final course grade. Likewise, three occasions of being late for class will count as one absence. This may sound strict, but you have paid money for your course, and on the basis of how well you perform, will be embarking upon a profitable and very enjoyable new career!
Special trainer assistance. Should you be forced by circumstances to miss a class and know ahead of time, your trainer will assist you with what to do while you are away, and will not count this 'miss' as an absence! He or she will also bring you 'up to date' when you come back on anything important that you might have missed. Also, should you require any special help with your training materials, you will find your trainer to be very kind and supportive, and will give you whatever help you may need. This, of course, does not mean you can expect a lot of help if you have neglected to do your homework at all!
Respect for fellow trainees, and our Academy. All trainees have come to learn, and will have an equal opportunity to participate in training room activities and discussions. Therefore, each trainee has the right to expect that the other trainees will not 'dominate' the training room or behave in a disruptive, disrespectful or argumentative manner towards either the trainer or the other trainees. If you are disturbed in this manner, the offending trainee will be cautioned once, and then if necessary expelled from the course without refund. So be nice and considerate, just as you would be at home, and we will make sure that others do the same!
Reading assignments, lesson plan preparation and homework. All reading assignments, practice teaching lesson plans and homework exercises must be done on time, as this part of your course performance constitutes a significant part of your final grade.
Presentations and practice teaching assignments. In-class presentations, or practice 'lessons' given to your peers, will generally be of short duration (5-10 minutes). You may be called upon at any time to give such a presentation, as this will challenge your ability to 'think fast' and help build confidence in yourself in handling all teaching situations. Real teaching presentations, totaling 6-8 hours, will also be given to actual students, and one of our trained, professional teachers will be present each time (silently!) to provide encouragement, and after the class praise you on what you did well, while making recommendations on how you might have done better. This is fun for everyone: trainee, trainer and student alike!
The Course Final Exam. The Final Exam is in two parts: written and oral presentation. It is reasonably difficult, but very few trainees have failed it. You are not likely to fail it either, if you have followed the 'rules' above!
Finally, we have a rule for ourselves, too! Our rule is to provide you with every service and convenience (and perhaps a bit more!) that you might need in order to be comfortable in your time with us and throughout the course. These services include, but are not necessarily limited to, advising as to what bus number to take to reach the area you wish to travel to (such as immigration, for example), directing you to Internet cafes, department stores, housing, entertainment areas, photocopy or printing shops, etc. (many of which are located very near our own Academy). They also include giving you such special assistance as finding out for you where to go to pay a mobile phone bill -- or we may just send our messenger and do it for you!
In summary, every study class must have its own rules, for the benefit of everyone, and all of the above are designed to make your time with us fun, exciting and enjoyable -- and, at the end, to get you started in your wonderful new career in The Land of Smiles!