Paul has spent many years teaching English as a foreign language. He most recently taught in Thailand for seven years.
2009 Sixth-Grade English Students at Saint Joseph Bangna School in Thailand
Memories of Teaching English as a Foreign and Second Language Since 1971
I have been retired from teaching since 2014. Before that time, I taught English as a foreign and second language in Taiwan, the United States, and Thailand.
In 1971, I began teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in Taipei, Taiwan. With no previous experience, I quickly fell in love with teaching and realized that I had an aptitude for this work. 15 news reporters for a Taiwanese newspaper were in my first class.
Later, from 1973 until 1979, I taught EFL to adults and children in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Group classes and individual tutorials were held in my apartment.
After returning to the United States in 1979, I taught English as a second language (ESL) to children in the Toledo Public School System for 15 months.
I missed teaching very much while employed with the federal government from 1980 until 2007. Before my retirement, I decided to go to Thailand to teach EFL.
From 2008 until 2014, I taught EFL in a Catholic School in the Bangkok area. My students were in both grade and high school.
In this article, I reflect on four things that I miss the most about teaching.
Four Things I Miss The Most About Teaching
It has now been several years since I last stepped into a classroom in 2014. Although I have been enjoying retirement with my family in Udorn, Thailand, there are still four things that I miss about teaching. They are as follows:
- Sense of worth and accomplishment
- Interaction with students
- Interaction with teaching colleagues
- Financial compensation
1. Sense of Worth and Accomplishment
Over a lifetime of teaching, I felt a great sense of worth and accomplishment in working with adults and children every day. I was especially proud not only of helping young students improve their English language skills but also of being a good role model in their development of moral values.
I never felt prouder when one of my recommended Thai junior high students was accepted for year-long study in a United States high school.
While tutoring Taiwanese businessmen and women in Taiwan in the 1970s, many improved their English language communication skills that aided in growing their import-export businesses.
It is a great sense of worth and accomplishment seeing many of my former students become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and businesswomen in Thailand.
After a class for Taiwanese news reporters in 1971, my students presented me with a plaque stating that I was a nurturing teacher.
Finally, one of my sixth-grade classes at Saint Joseph Bangna School in Thailand gave me the following note on the last day of class.
The note reads: "We are sorry about everything. We talked and played in the classroom. We thank you for your good teaching. We know that you intend to make us clever. Thank you very much and it was nice to meet you in sixth grade. Today is the last day of class. We don't want you to be serious. We love you. Teacher Paul, you are our role model. You are a good teacher and the best teacher."
2. Interaction with Students
Since 1971, I have interacted with my students at the following venues:
- In the classroom
- On field trips
- In extracurricular activities
- On social occasions
In The Classroom
I will never forget all of the interesting interactions that I had with my students both adult and children in the classroom. In addition to standard learning activities, my students participated in role plays, group presentations, and educational games.
Adult students practiced dialogues through role plays for various social situations.
My elementary and junior high students discovered English was fun to learn by role play by telling fairy tales, group presentations on selected topics, and by playing educational games for review.
Saint Joseph Bangna 2009 EFL Class
On Field Trips
During my first two years at Saint Joseph Bangna School in Thailand, I interacted with junior high students on English camps off campus and chaperoned elementary students on field trips to Bangkok.
I remember two English camps held at the Felix Resort in Kanchanaburi. Teaching colleagues and I stayed for two or three nights at the resort. During the day, we had enjoyable learning activities for small groups of students. In the evening, our students participated in games, sang, and put on drama presentations.
On a field trip to Bangkok in 2010, I accompanied students who toured the Temple of Dawn, Wat Po, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and a historical museum.
Author With Students on a School Field Trip
In Extracurricular Activities
While teaching at Saint Joseph Bangna, I interacted with my students in many extracurricular activities. Three of the most common were helping with student speeches, advising clubs, and participating in Sports Day.
Twice a year, I helped elementary students prepare two or three-minute speeches presented before the student body.
On one occasion, I advised a Discovery Club for junior high students that wrote and produced a short play.
Every year, all teachers at my school took part in Sports Day. On that special day, we were assigned to teams and helped cheer our competing athletes.
Discovery Club Students Rehearsing Lines
On Social Occasions
Finally, how can I forget being with my adult and children students on special occasions!
In 1976, when I was teaching in Taiwan, two of my adult students accompanied my family and me to attend a Fourth of July celebration in Tainan,
On the occasion of my 66th birthday in 2010, adult students in Bangkok joined my wife and me in celebrating at a German supper club.
My students at Saint Joseph Bangna also treated my colleagues and me to yearly Christmas holiday lunches.
Adult Students in Bangkok Helping Celebrate Author's 66th Birthday
3. Interaction with Teaching Colleagues
Every day while teaching, I looked forward to interacting with my teaching colleagues. We collaborated in developing tests, teaching and learning objectives, and lesson plans. Twice a year, we also attended teaching and learning seminars.
I also enjoyed attending many social activities with my colleagues. One that comes to mind is the yearly end-of-school-year variety show that teachers put on for students. In 2013, I sang a duet with an Australian teacher accompanied by a British guitar player.
Performing for Students at Saint Joseph Bangna School
4. Financial Compensation
In all honesty, it was difficult walking away from 65,000 Thai baht or $1900 per month. Since I receive a retirement pension from the United States, I am not financially hurting. Just the same, my teaching salary enabled me to save and invest money.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Paul Richard Kuehn