Thailand University Teacher Extraordinaire

The trials and tribulations of a young English teacher

Winding Down

on Sat,Feb,2011

There is only one week of Thai program courses remaining, and all of the teachers at my faculty are buzzing. For the Thai teachers, 12 hours of teaching a week will become 0 hours of teaching a week. For the Western staff, 18 hours of teaching a week will become 6 hours of teaching a week. The faculty will close down completely in May, and classes will then recommence in June. This is a break that everyone has been looking forward to.

The academic year in Thailand is different from most countries. Thai program courses (courses where all subjects except English are taught in Thai) have two semesters. The first semester begins in June and finishes at the end of September. The second semester begins in November and finishes at the end of February. Full time Thai and foreign teachers are contracted to teach 12 hours of Thai program courses a week.

International program courses (courses where all subjects are taught in English) have three semesters. The first semester begins in August and finishes at the end of November. The second semester begins in January and finishes at the end of April. The third semester is a short but intense summer semester, where 4 months of classes are crammed into 4 weeks in June. Foreign teachers teach either 2 or 3 International courses a semester, which works out at either 6 or 9 hours of class a week.

At this stage of the academic year, all international staff are exhausted. The last time we all had a complete break was in May 2010. Even though everyone has briefly had reduced schedules, there have still been exams to mark and materials to write as well as a constant stream of marking. I’m very much looking forward to having 2 easy months of teaching. Instead of eating hurried 15 minute lunches in a canteen, I’ll be able to enjoy leisurely hour long meals in a nearby shopping mall. I’ll be able to enjoy a lie in most days instead of rising early to teach at 8am 4 times a week. I won’t have to sit through any more boring meetings that drag on for hours until June. There is finally light at the end of what has been a very dark looking tunnel this academic year.

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