John Quinn – Course Director
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 – Lead 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.
Terry O’Shea – Trainer / Teaching Practice Observer
If there was ever a person not meant to have a career…Finishing school in Dublin, Ireland in a bleak economic environment, I bought a one-way ticket to Melbourne, Australia. With good fortune and a bit of blarney, I thrived in this new multicultural landscape. I was a tram conductor, a wool tester, and a silk tie salesman, before the law caught up with me: I settled in the Supreme Court of Victoria as Building and Services Manager for a few years. Having a new found interest in the judicial system, I took some courses and transformed into a Youth Worker. Here, I specialised in the management of vulnerable young prisoners exiting the prison systems across the state.
This thirst for further knowledge drove me to completing a BA in English, which also included a few trips to Iceland to start a family (this was not officially on the curriculum). Finding it difficult to settle my Vikings down under, we relocated to Iceland and I became a relocation manager for the next 8 years. I worked my way up through the ranks of a company that specialised in international relocations, exactly what you dream about during your English degree.
The economic collapse in Iceland finally caught up with me in 2011-2012, so I was offered a fantastic position in management in Dubai with huge piles of cash on offer, which of course meant I went to France and Spain instead and worked for peanuts. Why? Education! I was finally able to begin teaching, first tutoring through an International University program in Southern France and finally at a school in Northern Spain. However, I wanted to go east again and remembered Chiang Mai from past travels.
I have been in Chiang Mai less than two years, but its home and a most pleasing one. I have had some thrilling experiences and have taught at every level from kindergarten to corporate training, in public and private schools. Thai people and Thai students in general, are a joy to teach, so what are you waiting for?
Dean Du Plooy – Trainer / Teaching Practice Observer
I was born and raised in the beautiful country of South Africa. From an early age though, I was fortunate enough to join my parents on their overseas travels and my first trip to Thailand was when I was 13 years old. I remember being fascinated by this amazing country but I had no idea at the time that I would one day call Thailand my new home.
My work experience in South Africa was mainly in Local Government institutions. I started in the Finance Department, reconciling accounts and handling revenue collection, before transferring to the Human Resources Department. I worked for many years in the Personnel Department of a large metropolitan municipality. I gained valuable experience in training and developing employees and was responsible for recruitment, salaries and benefits. I progressed up the ranks and eventually became a Principal Personnel Practitioner.
I always had the desire to become an English teacher as it was one of my favorite subjects at school. I enjoyed writing poetry and reading the English classic novels. Also, I had fallen in love with Thailand during my many visits to the country. I was so impressed with the Thai culture and wonderfully warm, friendly people that I made it my goal to make the career change and move to Thailand.
I did my TEFL course with SEE TEFL in 2012 and found it to be such a practical, valuable experience. I started working soon thereafter at a high school in Chiang Mai. I enjoyed teaching but a work opportunity arose back in South Africa and I went home for three years to work as a Project Specialist in Remuneration and Benefits. I never gave up on my dream though and knew that I would be back in Thailand as soon as the circumstances permitted.
I was so pleased to return to Thailand in 2016 and obtained a teaching position at a Technical College in Chiang Mai. The students and my colleagues were so welcoming and friendly. It was a pleasure to teach the students a variety of technical subjects in English and to see them progress.
In 2019 I joined EFL Language Centre as a full-time teacher and am also an observer for the TEFL trainees which I thoroughly enjoy. Having done the TEFL course here before, I can relate to the trainees and their experiences. It is always so rewarding to see the trainees develop their skills over the period of the course and become confident in their teaching abilities.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to work in this amazing country and to fulfill my dream of becoming a teacher. Life is too short to have regrets so never give up on your dreams!
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.
Sultan Chaudhry – Teaching Practice Observer
My life has always been full of spontaneous decisions and career choices. After graduating from Brunel University in London, T started work as a sales advisor. Unsatisfied with my job, I went back to my home country and decided on doing what I always felt was my passion, ‘flying’. In less than 2 years I became a qualified commercial pilot as well as a flight instructor. During the time I was an instructor, I also got the opportunity to become a manager for a private aviation firm. Life seemed to be going great, yet I was still not satisfied and was hungry for something better but didn’t know what it was.
Long story short, ended up in Thailand for some long awaited vacation time, when I met the love of my life. Longing to always be by her side, I started searching for career options in Thailand when I stumbled on a TEFL course being offered by SEE TEFL in Chiang Mai.
Two years later, being happily married to my better half and finding out that teaching is my true calling. Nothing has made me more satisfied in life than giving knowledge and seeing my students prosper.
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 1,200 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.