Thailand Isaan Year

Few Tourists Come Here, but Teachers Should: Teaching in an oft-overlooked, yet proud region

Departure: Early October 2018

Application Deadline: August 1, 2018

Volunteer Commitment: $5,490

Our Year Program in Thailand

12 Months (Oct - Sept) |
Host Family with Option of Independent Housing
Teach English, Science, Math, History

WorldTeach strives to give students in this region a skill that will enable them to compete with those in provinces with more economic success. In Thailand, our volunteers serve in the Isaan region with primary or secondary school students, focusing on English language education. As a WorldTeach volunteer, you give these students a chance to interact with foreigners who introduce different cultures in their classroom. In addition, the Thailand Isaan program is an opportunity for you to get involved in community service, serving in additional volunteer roles in various organizations and institutions that could use the extra capacity, while also building your own.

Country Overview

Few venture off the beaten trail to the rural areas of northeastern Thailand, where quality of life differs greatly from its tourist-entrenched west and south regions. Bordering Laos and fondly called Isaan, with Lao, Vietnamese, and Cambodian influences, the region is a melting pot of Southeast Asian cultures and languages. The peaceful landscape reflects the Isaan people’s mindset and way of life which is summed in a common phrase mai bpen rai, "don’t worry." Nakhon Phanom province is one of the poorest areas of the country, with an economy that mainly revolves around agriculture. There is little incentive for students to complete their education before going to work in the fields. As such, students in this region are at a disadvantage as opposed to their more privileged, city-dwelling counterparts when competing for university enrollment or for jobs. But an inspiring teacher like you can change that; come help expand their worldview.

Your Role

Classroom life in Thailand varies greatly between schools. You may find yourself teaching the majority of your school’s students over the course of a week. Two or three classes a week with each grade level is a normal schedule, averaging about 12 to 16 classes total. Some schools have a specific textbook and others ask you to create your own curriculum. Some have a set classroom for teachers while others require you to move between classrooms each period. Even the number of students in a class varies with normal class sizes ranging from as little as five to as many as 35.

While each individual school is quite consistent, placements shape the Thailand experience far more than most other WorldTeach programs. In addition, you have the chance to engage in extracurricular activities outside of your classrooms. You can follow the footsteps of many past volunteers and lead an English club or another optional class with more freedom to teach about subjects you and your students find interesting, such as English songs and dances. With older students, you may start a drama club; elementary teachers may focus on art projects. In the broader community, you may engage in projects with senior citizens who also desire to learn English or plant gardens.

Placement & Housing

You are provided housing during your time in the Thailand program. For the first two months, you will live with a host family to learn Thai and to integrate into your community. After the initial months, you can choose to continue with your host family or live independently. Independent housing ranges from teacher housing on the school grounds to apartments nearby. Regardless of the type of housing, living in rural Thailand is rustic to say the least. Bucket showers are the norm in Thailand, and many houses have an outdoor porch with a burner as the kitchen. Internet is usually available but some sites will not have access, though all schools do. You will have a room to yourself but local people, unaccustomed to those who live solo, are likely to invite you to share a meal with them at their homes.

Finances

Our local school partners in Thailand rely on volunteers to help raise the finances needed to support their placement in schools.

Your contribution to the Thailand Isaan Year program of $5,490 goes towards:
  • Housing
  • Living stipend
  • Comprehensive orientation, mid-service, and end-of-service training conferences
  • 24-hour in-country field staff support
  • Access to a remote teacher quality support
  • Pre-departure preparation and visa assistance, if necessary plus visa fee*
  • Supplemental overseas travel medical insurance
  • Alumni services and networking
    *Visa fee of up to $160 USD for regular processing of Thailand Non Immigrant Visa

Many volunteers are able to successfully fundraise all or a significant portion of their program expenses. Please refer to our fundraising page for more information about fundraising possibilities.

Requirements

Volunteers in the Thailand Isaan Year program must:
  • Be a native-level English speaker
  • Have a bachelor’s degree by the time of the program’s departure
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 54
  • Be highly flexible, mature, and have a genuine interest in teaching