John Quinn – Course Director and Lead Trainer
My life after university had been an eclectic rush of mainly unsatisfying jobs and adventurous travel. Scientific Officer for the UK’s Ministry of Defence, courier company owner and film extra in Cairo covered much of my working life before I became a language teacher. My travels have included climbing a pyramid, cycling through France and Spain, travelling the Trans-Siberian railway through The old Soviet Union, backpacking India and Nepal for a year plus quite a few other escapades.
While contemplating my return to the UK from backpacking India in 1998, I felt a cold fear come over me at the thought of returning to suburbia and routine. Fortuitously, I met an EFL teacher taking a break from her job in Bangkok — Eureka! At last a job that would satisfy my desire to do something personally fulfilling and an opportunity for adventure. And to cut a long story short, 4 months later in Chiang Mai I stepped into the language classroom for the first time.
Since 1999 I’ve taught in language schools, colleges, universities and the British Council. Currently, I’m the Academic Manager of EFL Learning Centre and Senior Trainer for SEE’s TEFL certification program. In addition, I’ve been a language examiner for The University of Cambridge’s ESOL examinations since 2004.
The students are the primary reason you teach. In Chiang Mai the warmth of the Lanna culture flows through them and emerges as respect for the teacher, friendliness and a love for life.
Dr. Wilaiwan Wannachotphawet Quinn (Ying) – School Licensee
In July 2004 I returned to Chiang Mai from my Ph.D. Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University. Before I departed Thailand for England I had studied English extensively and to a high level, but I was shocked when the first “Manc” I met said “Hello luv” closely followed by sounds it took me two years to understand as English with a Manchester dialect — I wasn’t his “luv”.
Slowly, deep-fried Mars bars and mushy peas replaced my hunger for chilies and fish sauce, but I never got used to the continuous rain and cold. In Thailand we have 3 seasons: summer (hot and dry), winter (warm and dry), and rainy (warm and humid).
I had seen movies, read magazines and watched television programmes about farang (foreigners of European descent) as I grew up, and like most Thais I was fascinated by these tall and confident people with long noses. In Thailand, apart from my English teacher, I never had the opportunity to meet and talk to them.
Thailand needs English teachers and its people want to meet foreigners but can’t afford to travel abroad, and I know from my English friends that foreigners love Thailand and want to meet Thai people. A match made in heaven.
Shouvik Mukherjee – Second Trainer / Teaching Practice Observer
Shouvik Mukherjee, recently won the The Excellent Teacher Award 2015. It was awarded by the Private Schools Association and presented by the Governor of Chiang Mai.
Life for a young student in London was a somewhat predictable mixture of exuberant hedonism and directionless nihilism. This explains in part, my abrupt change of direction from studying medicine at St. George’s Hospital Medical school to then studying Law at King’s College London. After completing my studies, hours were spent under the unremitting gaze of statute books in various legal offices across London and this tedium was occasionally broken up by the much more rewarding act of tutoring a very bright boy with various educational needs that were not being met at school.
A eureka moment ensued and search engines were consulted for a way out. A TEFL course in London was paid for and completed with great enthusiasm and searches kept throwing up Chiang Mai, Thailand. After some cursory research my bags were packed and I embarked on a journey with a sense of commitment that hitherto, had been lacking.
And what a journey! I have taught a wide range of age groups in Thailand and the respect and love you receive from your students is something to behold and beyond what you could possibly begin to imagine in a manic office environment in a bustling metropolis.
What I have found that really sets Thai students apart is their enormous sense of fun and zest for life. This ensures that your classroom is full of beaming smiles and great energy that I am starting to believe is unique to this beautiful haven of northern Thailand.
Martin Gordon – Teaching Practice Observer
After many years working in England in the timber industry and approaching a certain age I was all too aware of being typecast. Being stuck in an office as branch controller – responsible for the company’s performance – then as an assistant manager at a newly formed company, just didn’t cut the mustard anymore. Therefore, I needed to broaden my horizons.
My travels developed and about 10 years ago brought me to Thailand. After 3 subsequent holidays here I decided that Thailand offered something special in terms of people, climate, way of life and cost of living, all of which matched my goals.
In 2005 I completed a TEFL course in Chiang Mai and have been teaching here ever since. This has been to primary and high school pupils in both government and private institutions. Teaching in a language school, both to groups and individuals of all levels up to IELTS, has also been part of my experience.
This adventure has been wonderful and I have learned many aspects concerning my students and how they view the world. It is important to know your students and what makes them tick regarding interests and ideas, plus strengths and weaknesses. That way you are able to create lessons that better suit their requirements. Learning is a two-way street. Finally, always strive for your next lesson to be the best.
Kellie-Anne Burke – Teaching Practice Observer
I first fell in love with Chiang Mai 18 years ago when I studied at Chiang Mai University as part of my Bachelor of International Business with Griffith University, Queensland Australia. After a 13 year Banking and Finance career in Management and Executive Coaching it was time to leave and pursue my passion for education. The most logical place was to come back to Chiang Mai to do so. I completed my TEFL at SEE in August 2013, and was lucky enough to find a position teaching kindergarten full time, as well as working with all age groups from young learners to university lecturers part time through EFL.
When I am not teaching you will find me studying my Masters of International Education, watching Australian Rules Football and taking in the sights and sounds of Chiang Mai, particularly the food. Like John, Shouvik, Martin and Lori, I am committed to unlocking your full potential as an English Teacher.
Patricia Hodgson – Teaching Practice Observer
On finishing school in the UK, I desperately wanted to go to Art College, but my parents said this would not lead to a viable profession, so they enrolled me at Secretarial College where I would always have a career. My skills eventually took me to South Africa, and this brought me to a long term assignment with a computer company in Johannesburg. Eventually, they enrolled me on one of their computer programming courses and a new career in computer programming started.
Many years later I returned to the UK and secured a job training customers on programming and software. In 1999, one of my colleagues from Johannesburg contacted me as he had set up business in Manchester and requested I join them for upgrading all systems for the encroaching millennium. This was an exciting, nail biting time and involved both programming and training in the hope that everything would continue to work at 12:01 on the 1st January 2000. It did and celebrations were had by all. I continued with this company living and working in different areas of the UK and Europe.
When residing in England I always booked overseas holidays around Christmas, and in 2011 this brought me to Thailand, travelling all through the country and the last three days brought us to Chiang Mai, which I fell in love with. Six months later I came back to Chiang Mai and travelled all over the north of Thailand and spotting SEE TEFL, decided to book myself on one of their courses. Four months later I came back to Chiang Mai for two months and attended the TEFL course, which was great, hard work but very educational with exceptional training staff. Five months later with my house in the UK sold, I disposed of all my possessions and returned to Chiang Mai permanently together with my daughter and two dogs.
EFL Learning Centre has provided me with opportunities to teach EFL at all levels, ages and nationalities, Thais, Taiwanese, Japanese, Swiss, and French students. There were also weekend workshops for 100 school principals in the Chiang Rai area, 100 school teachers in the Chiang Mai area, Kindergarten teachers located at Doi Inthanon and student summer camps at Doi Saket. These were amazing fun weekends.
So, having always been creative through teaching and programming, I continue to enjoy the creativity of observing, preparing and teaching lessons to enthusiastic and motivated learners.
SEE TEFL and Ministry of Education Officials
John and Dr. Ying with Mr. Sermsit Pimpandee (Vice Director of Chiang Mai Education Services), and Mr. Dhwatchai Chaikan (The Head of Private Education Institutes) at Chiang Mai Ministry of Education. Read the interview with the Thai MoE.
SEE TEFL ISO 9001:2008 Certification Celebration
Since 2005 SEE TEFL has successfully trained more than 1,000 teachers. The SEE TEFL training program is unique in that the original director and course designer John Quinn has been continuously managing and teaching the course, and training the trainers. There has been no discontinuity in the life of the organization and the courses.
In 2009 the organization was awarded internationally recognized quality management certification ISO 9001:2008, the first TEFL training organization in Asia to receive this. Ongoing staff training and quality management processes ensure a consistent and reliable TEFL training operation.