Teaching English on an Island - Volunteer Reviews
Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering
“I had the most amazing time in Koh Phangan teaching in one of the local primary schools!
I was the only volunteer on the project in November, this was a little daunting to hear at first. But with the support from Eiu and the teachers at the school I was settled in very quickly.
Eiu is fantastic and will do absolutely anything for you. She makes you feel very at home. I have the best memories from working in the local primary school. The children are just amazing and Teacher Anne was so lovely and I have fantastic memories from it all. The farewell ceremony at the end of this placement is probably one of the most touching experiences I've ever had.
What did you find most rewarding?
Working with the children definitely! They take to you very quickly and we're just a joy to be around.
What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging was probably the language barrier. Teacher Anne does speak a little English but it isn't very good. I quickly realised that I was also there to help the teachers teach English..and not just the children. Sometimes it was difficult to explain myself and the excersise I was trying to do with the class. But the children do pick things up very quickly and are so keen to learn and join in
with whatever task you're doing.
What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Bring blue tac and stickers with you! I can't stress enough how much the children love receiving a sticker when they've done something well. You will quickly become their favourite! I couldn't find any blue tac anywhere in Koh Phangan so bring some with you for putting pictures and words up on the boards. Teacher Anne loved all the different games and exercises I did with them, but she also really loved that I taught grammar and done different writing skills with them. She loves all the children and really wants them to learn as best they can. So encorporate a bit of both while you're there.
Also because teacher Anne's English isn't very good she ain't able to tell you what level the class are at with English speaking. So when I was teaching new classes for the first few times it was hard to lesson plan property. But after a couple of classes you quickly get to know them and how good their English is and can lesson plan better. And do not worry if some lessons don't go aswell as others!
Teacher Anne is just so thankful to have you so any teaching you do is good enough for her.
Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
A friend one mine done a project with Pod and recommended them to me.
Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”
"I had an amazing time working on the tropical island of Koh Phangan, teaching English in the local primary school. The locals and teachers were all very friendly and warm to me making the experience very enjoyable. The children were rewarding to teach, with a great sense of fun and enjoyed trying to teach me Thai as much as I tried to teach them English (which they picked up a lot quicker than I did any Thai!).
The area in which I was teaching was beautiful. The resort is on a beach fringed with palm trees and set within half an hour drive of a few towns where there are lots of markets to eat and shop. There were also many small restaurants along the road off which the resort was set, meaning that I could easily walk to get amazing food nearby. The island of Koh Phangan is also within a short ferry trip of Koh Tao where I went scuba diving on a couple of the weekends which
“I had a fantastic time teaching at Srithanu school and I absolutely fell in love with the kids we were working with. I was part of a volunteer group of four, and we elected to teach as a team rather than be split into different schools. It allowed us to work with the kids in small groups of 4-6 and develop relationships with them. We were given books with topics from which we made our lesson plans and were given complete freedom in how we taught the classes. The teachers were very welcoming and supportive, although even the English teachers at the school spoke minimal English. We taught about 10 classes per week and had Friday-Sunday off so I spent many weekends visiting nearby islands and exploring Koh Phangan. I spent more than I had intended to, but I loved the experiences I had (snorkeling at Koh Tao, a day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park, C&M Thai classes, My Wok & Me cooking school, Slip N Fly, Full Moon Party, foot scrubs, yoga, night markets, etc...) and Eiu was fantastic in helping to coordinate taxis (with her brother, Chai) and bookings”
“Teaching English on Koh Phangan was the most amazing experience and I am so happy that I plucked up the courage to do it. From the application process and the lead up to going to Koh Phangan the support from Pod was amazing. Once on the island all your worries disappear as you are welcomed and supported throughout by Eiu and her fantastic staff on the resort. By the end of the experience you feel like and are treated like a local and really respected within the community.
The teaching at school was from around 2/3 hours a day. During our free time between lessons we were able to use the computer facilities at school to plan our lessons and resources for the next day. The children and the teachers were also very welcoming and always pleased to see you shouting 'teacher teacher' and giving you numerous amounts of high fives. After school I would use my free time to go to the beach or relax in my hammock if planning for school was ready for the next day. At the weekends we explored the other island of Koh Tao and Koh Samui which was very quick and simple to arrange, Eiu would help us organise our boats. I even managed to take a very short trip to Chiang Mai one weekend and we explored every beach, temple and waterfall that koh phangan had to offer really making the most of our time on the island. The accommodation is comfortable and modern and has everything that you need for the 6 weeks. Eiu's food at the restaurant is amazing and well worth trying everything on the menu. She is a credit to Pod the experience would not be the same without her and her staff.
What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding part of the experience was definitely teaching in the school and being recognised and respected for helping the community as you walk through the town. As a teacher at home it was fantastic for me to have a different experience of what teaching and education is like in Thailand and how I coped teaching in a different environment.
What did you find most challenging? The most challenging this was the language barrier when teaching the younger children as we weren't able to convey the type of behaviour that we expected from them however, when their teacher stayed in the room the children were a lot better behaved and we could actually teach them something instead of them running round and pulling out their favourite toys.
Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I chose Pod because of the security I felt they offered prior to the experience and during the experience."
“I had the most amazing experience volunteering on Koh Phangan for Pod. First of all Eiu was an incredible host and always went out of her way to ensure that our stay was the best that it could be. She helped us to get involved in the local community and culture, whether it be buying the materials for us to make Krathongs with the children at the school or asking us to be involved in local parades she made us feel welcome from day one till the day we left. Plus her PadThai must be the best that I have eaten in Thailand.
As for the school I have never known a school to have such friendly staff and pupils alike, just like Eiu we were made to feel welcome from day one. There was not a single lesson or year group that I didn't enjoy teaching and despite the Pre School sometimes being a handful they are always smiling and wanting to give you high fives as you walk around the school. I would certainly recommend this placement to anyone as not only is the school a joy and pleasure to teach in but you find yourself becoming part of the community and you are treated with so much respect from the locals and in many cases you will find yourself teaching their children in your lessons. So all round this has been a pleasure to have had this opportunity and an experience that I shall never forget. Just as long as you go in with a positive attitude I guarantee that you shall have an incredible six weeks.
I cannot complain about anything really. This is probably down to Eiu who always went out of her way to ensure that we got the most of our experience and to include us in local community activities. The whole process was smooth down to PODs part and when we required support we got it!
What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement? Try to find out what each class has been taught already, as you may not be told straight away from other teachers, so that you have new ideas, subjects and lesson plans for them.
Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed? Not really, but would have loved to have maybe got involved in helping in additional ways with school activities such as helping with sports teams.
Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Recommended by a friend
Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”
“I had a fantastic, life changing time, definitely recommend to anybody with an interest in teaching!
What was a typical day at the project? Most days I would get up and take a morning walk along the beach, maybe getting my favourite breakfast of crepes and fruit at the local restaurant. I would then sit in my hammock and finish off any planning that needed doing before I needed to be at the school. I would then take a short 5 minute walk to the school where I would quickly use the computer room to print off any resources and then proceed to teach the lessons. The lessons would be an hour long each and depending on the day I would be at school for 1-4 hours. After school I would head back, maybe get a smoothie on the way or a massage, have some lunch and chill out on the beach. I would spend about an hour preparing for the next day, but mostly in the evenings I would go out for dinner at the many great restaurants around the island, and meet some friends at a bar for a few drinks. Mostly very relaxing days without a lot of stress. My typical day was beautiful !
What did you find most rewarding? As I was the only volunteer who happened to be on the project I definitely found the whole experience very rewarding. I had never previously been the class teacher, only the teaching assistant, and to be able to jump straight into the role of 'Teacher Abii' and to succeed in actually teaching structured hour long lessons was great! Especially when you could see the children learning and remembering what you had taught them. When a lesson goes to plan and you manage to fill the hour with lots of different activities it's an awesome feeling!
What did you find most challenging? The fact that I was the only volunteer and I was new to being 'the teacher' of course was very challenging, everything was new but it was all ok! Being the only teacher in the classroom of mixed ability speaking children was hard at first, class control was an issue, it was almost impossible to teach the lesson, help individuals and keep a relatively calm work environment. I do wish that maybe I had more support from the other teachers at the school, however I just got on with it and managed to overcome most of the difficulties with this! If it can be done by a young first time unqualified teacher, it can be done by anybody!
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Bring lots of blu tac and stickers! ...also in terms of coming to the island you really don't need to pack a lot, everything you need you can buy on the island, there's even a local Tesco!”
“I really enjoyed my time teaching in Koh Phangan. The island surprised me with its beautiful beaches, friendly people and a hippie, fun-loving atmosphere. Together with two other lovely volunteers, we taught at the nearby school, just a 10 minute walk from our bungalows. We stayed right on the beach with our amazing (and super hard working) coordinator Eiu, who made us feel right at home and constantly full with her amazing, authentic Thai meals.
What was a typical day at the project? I usually woke up around 8am and went for a swim or did yoga with the other volunteers at the nearby yoga centre. We then went to school around 12 and worked until 2.30 or 3.30, depending on the day. After school we had lunch, went for a swim or planned some lessons, followed by a dinner in our own restaurant (cooked by our amazing coordinator and a fantastic chef Eiu) or somewhere else. Sometimes we went out exploring the island tried some meditation classes nearby. During the weekends we travelled to Koh Samui and Koh Tao together with all the volunteers and once even to Surat Thani with our coordinator Eiu, who took us shopping and let us stay with her sister.
What did you find most rewarding? I found interacting with the students the most rewarding part of the experience. It was delightful to see them so excited to see us every day; they usually greeted us with hugs and huge smiles. It was very touching to see them gaining confidence in their English language skills. We had a lot of fun in the classroom too, our students loved to play games (especially the Pat Pat game that we teachers were not so excited about..) and sing the "Hello" and "Goodbye" songs we created for them. Although we didn't have a lot of time with the students, I still felt that we made a difference and really connected with the students. I also connected well with the other volunteers and felt that we worked together really well as a team, which made the experience much more rewarding. It was very emotional to leave the school the last day, as they had created a beautiful goodbye ceremony for us. We all shared a lot tears that day. I also enjoyed being part of the community in our village. As teachers, we were treated with a lot of respect. I would sometimes walk into a hair dresser or restaurant, only to find out that the lady doing my hair or the waitress serving my food had a child in our class. I felt very privileged to experience the local life in such a comprehensive way.
What did you find most challenging? I found the language barrier between us and the students the most challenging part of the project. Often their English was almost non-existent, which made communicating and explaining the games and the tasks quite challenging. We often had to ask some half-European students who spoke good English to translate the rules of games, if our body language and simple explanations failed us. On the other hand, I learned a lot about the importance of the body language in communication. Sometimes it was difficult managing the classroom when we had a lot of young students, who couldn't really understand what we wanted them to do. They would often run out of the classroom or in P2 case, jump out of the first floor window when they decided it was time for a little break. There were a lot of cultural differences, especially in terms of safety and the ways of teaching, but we managed to find a happy middle. As much as we loved our preschool class, managing 30 running and screaming little cuties wasn't always the easiest thing to do, especially in the scolding heat.. More often than not, stickers (especially the Frozen ones) came to our rescue!
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? I would advise others to come with an open mind: you are not there to change their ways, but you are still there to offer something very valuable. Learning a little about the Thai culture and the language goes a long way.
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering is a great way to experience the local culture in a much more profound way. It teaches you a lot about other people, cultures and mostly importantly, about yourself. It gives a fast lane to really grow as a person, when you are faced with a lot of differences and challenges, but also with amazing, unforgettable experiences you wouldn't get in any other way. I truly felt that it was life-changing for me.
Why did you choose Pod? Pod seemed to have it all: great, well-managed projects with nice locations, friendly and helpful staff and a reasonable price. I was impressed by their efficiency and the effort of making the world a little better place through meaningful volunteering.”
“Eiu, the volunteer coordinator, was an amazing woman and always made us feel so welcome and supported. The accommodation we were given was amazing and was such a nice home to come back to. In terms of the role itself, I had an amazing time with the kids and the teachers were such a joy to work with as well. It was a bit challenging going in with no information, regardless, we did put a lot of effort in to our lesson plans and felt as though the kids really enjoyed our time with them.
Wow, the beach we were on was incredible and were told by various people that it was the best beach on the island and maybe even in Thailand. There definitely was a magical quality about the environment we were surrounded by on the island and we loved staying in that area. Eiu is also regarded as one of the best, if not the best, chef on the island so the food was always good. There were also no shortage of other great restaurants in the area including various vegan and vegetarian options as well.
What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding part of the placement was the connections we made with the kids. It was so awesome how receptive and excited they were to see us and to have us teach in their class. We also loved seeing them around the town and how happy they would be to see us and say hi to us. We also taught each class a "Hello" and "Goodbye" song that we would all sing together at the beginning and the end of class and they loved it. They would even sing it to us when they saw us around town. The last day was definitely indicative of the strong connections we made with the children as many of them were crying and could not stop hugging us. The teachers organized a big assembly for our last day and each child took a turn coming up and bowing into our laps to thank us. It was the most moving experience I've ever been a part of. Most heart-warming and heartbreaking experience I may have ever had.
Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? I would definitely like to see there be more of a transition element for the new volunteers coming in to make it maximally beneficial for both the children and the volunteers experience.
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Be open and receptive to every experience that presents itself during your time on the island. You will get out of it whatever you choose to put in to it.
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It expands the mind and the heart and offers a greater understanding to the various things and people on this Earth. Nothing like it.
Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”
“If you are thinking of volunteering abroad then look no further. I had a fantastic experience... I loved the place so much I've stayed! The teaching on an Island project is excellent. The island is fantastic as is the accommodation and support. If you want to get a taste of Asia without the hustle and bustle then Koh Phangan is the place for you. A thoroughly enjoyable 6 week project.
What was a typical day at the project? I would usually get up early and head to Yoga, sometimes there was time for a walk beforehand. Breakfast and shower before taking the beach route to school.
What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding for me was integrating a little boy with some difficulties into the English class until he was positively excited to be there and join in. He didn't read or write well even in his own language but with any written work being prepared for him in a dot to dot form he was soon sailing though the lessons and asking for more!
What did you find most challenging? The most challenging was to make an impact in 6 weeks, the time span is short so you need to invest preparation time to ensure pupils enjoy the classes whilst learning.
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Take lots of stickers and blu-tac, the kids are fascinated by it and you find however big a ball of the stuff you use to display work the next time you look only a minuscule part remains! Stickers are great to reward, as were balloons. The older kids enjoyed role play, although a bit nervous at first they really got into character. There written work is generally good, as is there spelling but the fluidity of speech and sentence structure was a gap area and if it could be continued that would be fantastic.
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? We have two hands, one to help ourselves and one to help others. Nothing compares to knowing you are making a positive difference to a child's education.
Why did you choose Pod? I chose Pod as they came up a lot in search engines, they were price competitive and I liked the support network they offered.”
“Seeing progress in the kids was so incredibly rewarding. The kids, although sometimes hyper and crazy just like kids back home, were astoundingly grateful and polite. By the end of the placement, it was clear that we had actually taught them things (even though at times it didn't feel like we had). Being a part of the local community was also hugely rewarding. It was clear how much our volunteers were appreciated! One time, after our lunch, the owners of our favourite restaurant brought us out a huge plate of local fruits, since of the chefs' daughter was in our 2nd grade class. One of the other volunteers got an ear piercing and was offered a discount because she was a teacher. Even the Thai teachers at our school showed us so much warmth and respect! It was such an amazing feeling.
I would wake up early, go read by the beach, and eventually get a fresh fruit smoothie at one of my favourite local coffee shops. During this time, the other volunteers and I would usually lesson plan if we hadn't already. We had the opportunity to teach every grade, ranging from 5-year-olds to twelve-year-olds, so our days varied greatly depending on who we were teaching. We played lots of games involving speaking and listening, encouraging the kids to practice their spoken English. We also played lots of "pat-pat," hangman, and bingo. After school, we would go get lunch at our favourite Thai restaurant, Mama Pooh's (seriously, you have to try it -- cheap and amazing). After school we'd enjoy the beach a bit more and decide on something fun for dinner. Sometimes we'd head to the night market in the main town, Thong Sala. Sometimes we'd have dinner close by. Sometimes we'd plan a dinner at one of the top-rated restaurants or we'd get take-out and enjoy our food on the beach. One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing the kids around town. Every day, we'd see at least a few of the kids, usually because their parents owned nearby restaurants or street vendors. It was so fun to feel integrated into the community. On the weekends, we either attended fun events happening on the island or travelled to the close-by islands, like Koh Tao and Koh Samui.
What did you find most challenging? Planning lessons at the beginning was quite challenging and we definitely taught a few classes where we had to improve activities to get through the hour. Toward the end of the placement, though, we had enough games and activities in our repertoire to fill up the class without too much hassle. Another challenge was adapting to what we came to affectionately call "island time." Locals on Koh Phangan have a very different way of life than the typical Westerner. There is less of a concern about being punctual and telling people about things in a timely fashion. For example, at 3:30pm on Thursday, one of the teachers at our school asked us to arrive four hours early the next day, at 8:30am, for a full day of English camp. It definitely threw us off a little bit, since back home we would have been told about something like that far in advance, but it's just the way of life! Embrace it.
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? I would advise others to throw themselves into the experience. Embrace the uncomfortableness! Don't worry about feeling silly in front of the kids, don't stress about how to get around the island, and don't put pressure on yourself to have a particular kind of experience. Just enjoy it! On a more practical note, bring supplies.
Why did you choose Pod? Pod was helpful and available from the moment I started doing research into organizations. Once I decided on this project, they answered every single one of my questions quickly and completely, which really gave me peace of mind. Eiu, the support in Koh Phangan, was amazingly helpful (we referred to her as our "Thai mom") with everything from directions to restaurant recommendations to booking ferry tickets to giving us cream for our mosquito bites; it's clear that Pod is an all-around great team. Whenever we had an issue or concern during our placement, Pod sorted it out in a timely fashion. We were actually surprised at how smoothly everything went, and that's all thanks to the hard work of Pod! Thanks!”
“The project was fantastic overall. The Thai teachers were lovely, the children were fantastic and the Thai coordinator Eiu was fantastic. It was a tough experience as my first time abroad on my own and I missed my family. Despite this, it was a fantastic experience and increased my confidence greatly. I would certainly consider doing another volunteering experience!
What did you find most rewarding? When a child with very little English ability achieved something beyond their expectations and the way their face would light up. You'd genuinely feel proud of them.
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a fantastic opportunity. You get to have a great experience whilst giving something back to others.”
“I would just like to say the teaching on a tropical island was probably one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. The kids were all so nice and enthusiastic. Not 1 problem during my whole 8 weeks. The accommodation was fantastic and I hope to come back to Koh Phangan soon.
On a typical day I woke up to sunny days on the beach and was picked up by my driver and taken deep in the jungle to where my school was. All the kids would run up to the car and shout, "Teacher! Teacher!" I was always well treated by everyone at the school. After my shift I would then be dropped off back at my accommodation and have the rest of my time exploring and enjoying myself on the amazing and beautiful island.
This is the BEST course to do! It’s an experience that you will never forget.”
“Words can't describe how amazing a time I truly had during the six weeks spent teaching English on Koh Phangan. The accommodation was ideal, such a beautiful location. The school I was placed in was fantastic, the class sizes were very manageable I feel very lucky to have had the chance to get to know the pupils - they were all so enthusiastic, entertaining and engaging, and were a pleasure to teach. The support I received from the Pod representatives in Koh Phangan was great - I never felt that there was anything I couldn't ask them about. Overall, I can't fault the experience I had and would urge anyone - whether on a gap year, or just having a career break - to go for it. My only regret is that I didn't stay longer!
What was typical day at the project? All of our classes were in the afternoon, so a typical day would begin with throwing the curtains open and seeing paradise! Then I would head to a morning yoga class 5 minutes from the bungalows, then after an amazing brunch at Coco's we would get picked up and head to school, where we would teach two classes (one hour each). After school we would relax on the beach or in a hammock, spend some time planning lessons for the next day, then go to the food market in the local town for some cheap, authentic food, and a few Changs !
What did you find most challenging? I think the most challenging aspect is when you have a class with such mixed ability, for example one student is fluent in English and others can barely say a word, it’s very difficult to find activities that give the students equal opportunities to excel.
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? The advice I would give would be to prepare in advance - bring materials with you such as stickers, arts and crafts supplies, etc. to make lessons more fun and reward deserving students! Also, be ready to plan lessons - have specific topics (animals, family etc.) and activities ready, it's so much more satisfying when a lesson goes to plan.
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture, and really feel part of the community, rather than just a traveller passing through. The feeling of gratitude you receive at the end is overwhelming - the smaller schools don't have much money so to have teachers volunteering is great for them. They feel lucky to have you, and you feel lucky to be there, so it's a win-win experience!
Why did you choose Pod? Both my sister and a friend had previously done the same placement with Pod and had highly recommended it. Also, for me, it was a perfect combination of the location and the work involved, which no other organisation offered.
Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes, the experience was life changing, and the memories will stay with me forever."
“I loved it. Plain and simple. If I could hit rewind and do it all over again, I would. Teaching English on Koh Phangan was one of the most incredible experiences I've had. The connections I made with not only my fellow teachers, but the students and people on the island, are ones that will last a lifetime. Giving back through teaching and enriching the lives of the students was fantastic. Doing on a tropical island made it all that much sweeter.
What is a typical day at the project? We taught in the afternoons each day, so we would get breakfast in the morning and plan our lessons. Then we would head to school a bit early and play with the kids or start lessons early, if the students were idle. Afterwards, we would return to town and walk around or simply go back to the beach and relax. There is a fantastic yoga studio right down the road from Tropicana, so I found myself there nearly every day.
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad allows you to help people while becoming immersed in their culture. Simply traveling abroad does not facilitate the deep connections you make when living and working with the local people. The tears shed when I left the island were ones of deep gratitude. It is an incredibly special experience.
Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend it to your friends? Yes. I chose Pod because the program sounded ideal, I could choose the project I wanted, and all the reviews I read were fantastic. I made the right decision."
“The month I was in Thailand was the most amazing experience of my life. Teaching everyday with such inspiring children was just the start of the wonderful trip. Eiu was the perfect person as our mentor when out in Thailand. She was organised, helpful and so friendly, I felt the whole team was a family within the first couple of days! All the volunteers clicked so well and I think I have made friends for life out there. The accommodation was beautiful, overlooking the beach. Perfect way to wake up in the morning, especially when you could go underneath the beach hut and laze in the hammock waiting to be picked up for placement. The school was so welcoming! They always greeted us as we came in and said goodbye as we left. We had free rein of the lessons we were teaching, so we were trusted within the classroom. At the end of our time at the school we were presented with the most touching goodbye ceremony that brought me to tears. I have never experienced a trip so heart-warming and life changing as being in Thailand, I would not hesitate to come back next year!
What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding was when the children who started the lesson struggling, would be the one trying hard and ending up at the same level as the others by the end. It showed that being there was beneficial to the children's education, especially as English is an essential part of their learning.
What did you find most challenging? In year 1 especially as they had little knowledge of the English language, so we would find that when more than one person was pronouncing words, they would repeat but not know what it meant in terms of their Thai vocabulary. It sometimes seemed as though they did not understand what we were trying to teach them, as they would not remember the words they were pronouncing.
Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes, I chose Pod because it looked like a great and secure volunteer agency that provided me with the exact placement that I wanted to go on. They were friendly and quick to reply when I applied, so I knew how easy it would be to organise through them. Almost instantly we were given documents to read through before we even put the deposit down, so we knew exactly what would be going on.”
“Volunteering on Koh Phangan was one of the best experiences I have ever had. As soon as I arrived on the island all my nerves disappeared and I immediately knew I had made the right choice by coming here. Volunteering at the primary school was extremely rewarding as well as a massive culture shock. The children were so much fun, always full of life and ready to take part in any activities you threw their way. Although I don't know how I would have coped if it weren't for the help of my fellow volunteers (aka pod family) who were amongst some of the best people I have ever met. The food on the island was delicious and suited everyone, even a fussy eater like myself and there aren't a lack of restaurants to choose from although I can guarantee you will end up at cocos (the bar/restaurant next door) for dinner and drinks every night. Volunteering on a tropical island exceeded all my expectations and will be an experience I will never forget. I made some lifelong friends and life long memories and for that Koh Phangan will always have a place in my heart.
What advice would you give others considering teaching on a tropical island in Thailand? Go prepared with games and lesson plans before you get there. Don't assume the thai teachers will tell you what to teach, you need to suss that out for yourself.
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It is an amazing experience which changes your outlook on life completely."
“I had the best 6 weeks of my life teaching in Koh Phangan. You are within walking distance of lots of great places to eat - especially the night market. The placement includes some amazing activities including a day snorkelling near Koh Tao, which was amazing!!
We also got a tour of the island by Bon, our amazing driver, upon arrival which was really helpful to familiarise yourself with the place. Eiu is also amazing and really looked after us throughout our entire stay. I couldn't have asked for more from either of them and miss them so much. The social aspect of the project is brilliant and I honestly have made friends for life. We had some hilarious nights out in Haad Rin and of course the infamous parties across the island which you must go to!
Teaching itself was so rewarding. We had good days and bad days, however, not a single day went by where I didn't laugh at the school. The children are so sweet, albeit a pretty mental! We taught classes of around 30 which at times got a little hectic, but the majority of children are interested in what you have to say as long as you go about it in the right way. I really seriously recommend stickers and other novelty rewards, the children love them and it is one of the few things which makes them quiet(er) for a while!
I never found the language barrier an issue, which is strange considering I can't speak Thai and we are trying to teach them only basic English! The children are good at pointing and showing what they are trying to say which is really helpful in this situation. I think it is important to realise that the schooling systems in Thailand and England are very different, and you shouldn't expect to walk in the room and it be silence - because it really won't be! The Thai schools are also not as organised as England, and there were many days where we would arrive at school to discover we had no lessons, or sit at school waiting for hours on end waiting to discover the kids had sports! It all has to be taken with a pinch of salt, and accept the difference in cultures. All in all I had an absolutely amazing time on Koh Phangan and couldn't recommend it enough. I wish I could do it all over again (and again and again)!!
What did you find most rewarding? I absolutely loved making friends with the children and hearing them all shout 'teaaaachhhhhher' as you walked in every morning!
What did you find most challenging? The days where the children just were not interested! Stickers to the rescue...
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Be prepared to have the best time of your life on a beautiful island! Bring stickers and other things you think might come in handy from home, because at some point they probably will!
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It is so rewarding to be totally welcomed with open arms into another culture, and something you will always remember."
“I would say I'm quite a fussy person and for me to say I cannot find any fault with something is rare but I can truly say that I would 100% recommend my experience with Pod and teaching in Thailand to anyone. I taught at a small local school on Koh Phangan for two months and enjoyed every minute of it. The other teachers at the school were kind and encouraging and the kids were naughty but lots of fun. I will miss there shouts of 'Teacher' every time I came to school, I won't miss the daily chorus of Gangnam Style though! It was such a rewarding experience to be around the exuberant joy and energy of children everyday. I also felt like the experience was very good value for money, I not only had support from the UK pod team but also a team in Thailand. Everyone was always checking in to make sure everything was going well and to make sure we weren't having any trouble, which we never did. I would recommend this program to anyone, it is in one of the most beautiful locations on earth and the Thai people are such wonderful friendly people I can't imagine anyone not enjoying them self. I wish I could go back every year!
Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because it opens your mind and your soul. It exposes you to a new culture and it's great to learn new customs and beliefs.
Why did you choose Pod? Location. I knew I wanted to volunteer in Thailand but also wanted to be by a beach, your program fitted the bill.
Thanks for everything, I wish I could come back every year!”
“I would highly recommend volunteering with Pod as it was the most rewarding experience I have ever had! From start to finish the service was impeccable, both in the UK and in Thailand, with any query or problem immediately resolved. That is not to say the teaching is without its challenges, but being able to overcome those challenges meant that I left Koh Phangan with a real sense of achievement. The teaching also allows you to really get a sense of the Thai culture, and the length of the placement means you get to know local people and really integrate into the community. Overall I had an amazing time and I would like to say a particular thank you to Eiu for all her help and continuous support during my time in Thailand.
Eiu, our Thai representative, was incredibly helpful and friendly and made it very easy to settle into the placement and fully enjoy all there was to offer on Koh Phangan. The accommodation was in an amazing location and I would consider the placement as good value for money.
I chose Pod because the placement looked amazing and was advertised extremely well. The company seemed well organised and when I spoke to Gemma she was extremely helpful and put me at ease with any queries I was having. I would happily complete another placement with Pod as I found their service to be impeccable.”
"The most amazing time of my life! I did the 4 week placement and would re-live the whole experience again. The entire placement was fantastic and something I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a challenging, rewarding and fun experience. Pod was great with the coordination of the placement; informative and helpful. I found the teaching absolutely fantastic; the children were so lovely and I became rather attached to them all! The most rewarding part is seeing how much the children love having you there!
The accommodation was lovely; basic but very clean. Eiu, our coordinator out there was fantastic- always there to help and advise. Overall, I had the most incredible time of my life and leaving the island was a very sad moment for me!"
“As a trainee teacher in England I decided a summer teaching placement abroad would be the ideal opportunity to improve my CV. After looking around, Pod seemed the cheapest, especially for the location! Before we left the UK the information and organisation of Pod was outstanding, really helping to prepare us as much as possible for the trip. Once we arrived on Koh Phangan this level of support continued, not only with frequent emails, but also from two ladies (Erng and Eui) who ensured that we were well looked after, including going out of their way to help us organise our own day trips around the island. The school was so grateful that we were there and the children were adorable.
Although I am studying for a teaching degree, this is definitely not necessary for the placement, as the majority of the group were studying for unrelated degrees and found the transition into teaching easy, especially with the help of the Tefl course that was provided at the beginning. Finally, I would recommend this placement to anyone who not only has a passion to work with children, but also wants to travel Koh Phangan. The island was beautiful and we found that the teaching and planning did not get in the way of exploring the island and organising a variety of day trips.
Teaching the children was most rewarding. We were constantly being told by the teachers and parents how much they appreciated us visiting their school. They were so grateful, which is something we rarely come across at schools back home. Additionally, shop owners around the island who discovered we were teachers were thanking us for helping the children, which was interesting to see how much they valued and respected teachers. Additionally, the children were adorable and made us laugh every day. Although they tried to be cheeky, we laid down the boundaries and they quickly respected us, enabling us to plan a lot of practical activities that the children quickly engaged in.
Originally we chose Pod because of the location and price. From completing the project there are a million other reasons to choose Pod! I would definitely recommend the company and the placement as it was, without a doubt, the best month of my life and would not be possible without Pod!
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Do it! You are able to make such a difference to the schools and the children and able to explore a beautiful island! I learnt so much about myself from this project, and have made life long friends from the placement!”
“Great location, great accommodation...great challenge! The kids are very cute, but hard work! Some teaching experience or TEFL would prove useful but not essential... Be warned of the monsoon season in August...
Be prepared for the challenge, and if you are only there for a short time, don't expect miracles- have realistic expectations for what you want the kids to learn.”
“I found the placement absolutely brilliant and would highly recommend Pod to anybody who is thinking of volunteering. The staff were very supportive and helpful both before and during the placement. Both the accommodation and location was, quite frankly, absolutely idyllic. Very good value for money!
What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Grab the opportunity with both hands!”
“The placement on Koh Phangan was remarkable in so many ways and challenged me on so many levels. It was the first time I'd visited Asia and I was truly fascinated with this new environment and culture. Spending time with my fellow volunteers and visiting the local schools together was truly fascinating and provided my introduction to the colourful, vibrant although sometimes chaotic Thai education system.
The overall experience was wonderful.
I loved bonding with the children and I felt pleased and satisfied when I felt I’d taught a particular topic well and the children had benefited from the lesson. I also adored the children's enthusiasm and interest in being taught by a foreign teacher and their kind interest and welcoming attitude which I experienced, particularly from the younger classes was endearing and inspired me to teach the classes to the best of my ability.
I chose Pod as I was impressed by the professional nature and content of the Pod website which was really informative and I was very impressed by the Pod team who i could contact with any particular query. I found their help prompt and helpful. Also, within the last month, having seen my photos of the trip on Facebook, two friends have asked for further information about the company that organised the work placement and I've highly recommended it!
Thank you immensely for all your work and input into the projects.”
“As my first volunteer project I felt Pod made it extremely easy for me to organise the trip as well as offering great support while I was at the project. The staff are friendly and helpful and my experience with them has given me the volunteering bug. I just got back a week ago and I am planning my next trip already! The projects give real help to those that need it and furthermore the company is a non- profit organisation unlike many other major volunteer organisations, which means all the money you pay goes towards the projects and the administration involved in organising the project. I would recommend Pod to anyone that wants to volunteer to aid various causes, and I will be using them for my next trip. I hope this type of volunteering/holiday gets more popular as in my experience these project allow us in the "1st" world to get a REAL taste of a country's culture whilst giving us the opportunity to contribute towards a good cause. If you want to see the real culture of a country and recognise how privileged we are, and see the gratitude of the locals that you can give your time for a good cause. DO IT! Fun and fulfilling.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Koh Phangan with Pod. I made instant friends with the other 11 volunteers and everyone got on really well. I made best friends for life and truthfully had the best month of my life. It really opens your eyes to another culture and way of life and it really has made me appreciate what I have. I was scared about going but now I am home I can say it was 100% worth it as I had an amazing time and will never forget the time I spent in Thailand. Thank you!!!”
“My time spent on the island of Koh Phangan has been an unforgettable experience. The beautiful weather, culture shock, warm and friendly locals and mouth watering food have definitely been the highlights of my trip.
The whole experience from start to finish has been an incredible one. For me, the best part of the trip was the teaching itself. The children in Haad Rin school are literally the cutest I've ever come across in my life and the staff were great too! It really was a pleasure to teach there.
“The 10 weeks that I spent on the Koh Phangan placement were definitely a life changing and amazing experience. From the moment of meeting everyone, to waving everybody off at Thongsala pier. The teaching in the schools is not exactly what I expected at first, but still very enjoyable and extremely educational.
I think at first you have to remember that the schooling system in Thailand is very different from the U.K's. Some of there ideas of classes may come as a surprise, but after a while you know what is expected of you and what to expect! I've made some great friends, from other Pod volunteers to the Thai locals and feel like I came part of the community. I would like to thank everyone at Pod for making everything possible. I just can wait to get back to Thailand now!”