Teaching in Thailand – a Foreign Culture, a New Experience
One of the primary reasons for travelling is the opportunity to experience and see new cultures. Still with all the different touristy things to do in a new country it is often difficult for a new Ex-Pat to immerse themselves in the culture because they know that they will be there for a long time. For people coming to do TEFL training culture immersion is also vital because they will need to be acclimatized to customs and norms for their future students. For someone who does not speak your language understanding their culture will be a major catalyst in understanding each other and communication effectively.
How will entrust TEFL immerse me in Thai Culture during my TEFL training?
During TEFL training with entrust TEFL you are taken to famous temples, hill tribes and a royal residence. This helps you to understand the countries major religion, social hierarchy and rural lifestyle. Thailand is just as metropolitan as any western country in the city regions and getting around is easy but during your TEFL training you are transported to the various places and our staff helps with getting around and seeing all the most important parts. During culture immersion trips you will have to conform to dress codes and customs this will help you understand how to behave in certain situations and result in a deeper understanding of the way the Thai culture works.
The “How” of a culture is great – what about the “Why”
also… why should i have an understanding of the culture?
Explaining why a culture functions the way it does in a specific way is difficult – The best we can come up with is that there is a commonality in human nature which is that politeness is measured in different ways.
Differences between people within any given nation or culture are much greater than between groups. Education, social standing, religion, personality, belief structure, past experience, affection shown in the home, and a myriad of other factors will affect human behavior and culture.
Sure there are differences in approach as to what is considered polite and appropriate behavior both on and off the job. In some cultures “yes” means, “I hear you” more than “I agree.” Length of pleasantries and greetings before getting down to business; level of tolerance for being around someone speaking a foreign (not-understood) language; politeness measured in terms of gallantry or etiquette (e.g., standing up for a woman who approaches a table, yielding a seat on the bus to an older person, etc.); and manner of expected dress are all examples of possible cultural differences and traditions.
In México it is customary for the arriving person to greet the others. For instance, someone who walks into a group of persons eating would say “provecho” (enjoy your meal). In Chile, women often greet both other women and men with a kiss on the cheek. In Russia women often walk arm in arm with their female friends. Paying attention to customs and cultural differences can give someone outside that culture a better chance of assimilation or acceptance. In Thailand friends of any gender will often hold hands while talking or sitingg down – Friends will share almost everything. Ignoring or not understanding these cultural differences can get an unsuspecting person into trouble.
The simple fact is that as a TEFL Teacher or teaching traveler you must realise the impact of culture differences. There are cultural and ideological differences and it is good to have an understanding about a culture’s customs and ways, especially if you plan to be involved with the education of children from a different culture to your own. The one danger is that without complete understanding of a culture generalization is dangerous.
“In studying cross cultural differences, we are not looking at individuals but a comparison of one ethnic group against others. Hence, we are comparing two bell curves and generalization cannot be avoided.” – Aaron Pun
“The human need to categorize. – Anon”
True and true, but the danger comes when we act on some of these generalizations, especially when they are based on faulty observation. Acting on generalizations about such matters as eye contact, personal space, touch, and interest in participation can have serious negative consequences.
In Thai Culture the social structure is embedded deeply into the customs, greetings and social codes. Thai people are highly sensitive to the social hierarchy. This fact is reflected in something as basic as “Wai-ing” when one greets another person. In Asia respect is earned over time.
Final Note – TEFL Training Implimentation
To live and work in Thailand as a teacher, a good understanding of the Thai Culture and Thai perception is very important. Since Thailand has never been colonized by a western power, its traditions and ways of life are very different from ours. You would be surprised to know that things we do everyday in the west, if not addressed, can be seen as behavior problems by Thais. Thailand is a wonderful place with wonderful people, so during the first week of our TEFL program, students are taught Thai Culture: the do’s and dont’s and Basic Thai Conversation. Once you have the basics down in class then we head out to local markets, Temples and Historical sites to test out your new skills in the field by actually living it. On the weekend we follow up the Thai Culture Program with day trips to famous Temples, Queens garden and visit local hill tribes.
- Start your journey at 10:00 AM
- Visit Queens Garden and the Royal second homes of the King and Queen
- Visit Doi Suthep, a famous temple overlooking Chiang Mai
- Visit a Hill tribe village where you can see Opium poppy fields
- Visit a Thai BBQ and enjoy a huge Thai meal