Teach on a Beach! – Cambodia

Koh Rong is an island off the coast of southern Cambodia; just a short two hour boat trip from the mainland will get you there!

Koh Rong has spectacular beaches with crystal-clear water… Island life consists of reading a book in a hammock, fishing, walking the beach, lying in the sun, eating, and sleeping.  There is no internet, TV, phone service, etc.  Island life is simple, peaceful, and beautiful.

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CLICK HERE to read more about the island and see pictures!


A Beach Encounter:

While I was there, I noticed a group of kids skipping by me on the beach pointing to things and yelling what they were in English: “BOAT! ROCK! BOY! BOOK! SHELL! SHELL! SHELL!!”  I wondered what they were doing and observed closely… Then, following the group of about 10 or so kids, an older girl with a British accent came from around the corner.  Without breaking stride, she yelled out to the kids “Good! And what is this? Right! A beach! Great!”… as they all continued walking and skipping along the beach on the beautiful day.

I was really interested in what this girl was doing of course, but I didn’t want to interrupt her to ask.  Fortunately, everyone knows everyone on Koh Rong and it only took the first person I asked to give me her name, the scoop on what she was doing, and where she would most likely be that night so that I could ask.

The English Teacher and Her Classes

The English teacher’s name is Katie and, later that night, I caught up with her and asked about what I saw that day.  Katie explained that she is the English teacher for the local children on the island.  Her job is to teach them English and what I saw on the beach was just fun practice of using their newly learned vocabulary with everyday things.

“Katie, affectionately named “Teach” by her students, runs two classes almost every day. Her friendly personality as well as her extraordinary teaching skills make her an important part of the local community!”

There are two English classes based on ability.  She called the two classes “small kids” and “big kids” but she said that if a younger student is really good at English, then of course that student will then be in the “big kid” class.

The Small Kid Class:
– usually 3 years old – 10 years old
– meets at 14:30 every day
– focuses on basic words

The Big Kid Class:
– usually 4 years old – 16 years old
– meets at 16:30 every day
– more advanced words and sentences

However, Katie told me that she noticed a lot of students were above “The Small Kid Class”, but not quite ready for “The Big Kid Class”… Because of this, she was seriously thinking about making a third English class for a middle level…

A few months later, classes changed to just that; now, there are actually FOUR levels of instruction:  Bees, Geckos, Dolphins, and Sharks [respectively].

BEES Level 1
Usually 3-5 years old
meets at 14:15 every Tuesday and Thursday
GECKOS Level 2
Usually 6-9 years old
meets at 16:15 every Tuesday and Thursday
Usually 10-12 years old
meets at 14:15 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
SHARKS Level 4
Usually 13-16 years old
meets at 16:15 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday


School and Schedule:

A typical school day for students would be close to the following:

07:00 – 11:00 Students have regular school from 07:00 – 11:00 every day.  School is taught by a local teacher and instruction for all subjects [besides English] is in Khmer [the Cambodian language].English class is taught half of the time in the classroom and, the other half of the time, outside.  When in the classroom, English class consists of reading, writing, coloring, speaking, vocabulary, etc.
11:00 – 14:15 or 16:15 Students go home to each lunch with their families.  After lunch, they do their chores, homework, and whatever else their family needs them to do.
14:15 – 15:45 BEES – meet on Tuesday and Thursday
DOLPHINS – meet on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
16:15 – 17:45 GECKOS – meet on Tuesday and Thursday
SHARKS – meet on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
18:00+ Dinner, homework, playing with friends and family, etc.

Who Pays the English Teacher

Katie was not a volunteer.  She was a paid employee – but by whom?  The answer to this is surprising, amazing, and sweet: the local scuba diving shop on the island!  The Dive Shop Cambodia finds great English teachers who want the ultimate island life and supply the teacher with FREE food, FREE accommodation, AND [like free food and free accommodation aren’t enough] a small salary!  The Dive Shop Cambodia is really flexible with making their English teacher happy.  For example, the teacher after Katie, Gabriela, really wanted to scuba dive… so instead of getting the small salary, The Dive Shop Cambodia trained Gabriela from beginner level all the way up to the first professional level [PADI Divemaster] in return for her work. 


Why Does The Dive Shop Cambodia Do This

Unfortunately with beauty, massive tourism always seems to follow…

Koh Rong is actually a “private island” owned by an investment group – although right now, I would have never guessed that because building has not yet started…  However, I have been told that there are plans to build up the island to make money off tourism… plans include a marina, a golf course, resorts, and even an international airport.

The Dive Shop Cambodia, being the first western-owned business in the Koh Tui village on Koh Rong, recognized that this might be a big change for the life of the locals who basically had no contact with westerners and tourism beforehand.

“A fair start into tourism would start with at least teaching them English to offer better chances for the future and an easier way of making a living out of tourism.”

Aside from English classes, The Dive Shop Cambodia has done a lot of other social projects on Koh Rong such as bringing in doctors, dentists and nurses [local and foreign] to provide easily accessible medical assistance, providing financial support for more serious medical cases, building a new bridge making it easier for the children to reach the school, building a public incinerator big enough to burn the garbage of the whole village in an environmentally-friendly way, and providing water for half of the village.  In the near future they hope to build a dam to provide water for the rest of the inhabitants.

The Dive Shop Cambodia really cares about the locals, the community, and where the future of Koh Rong is headed…

For more information about projects such as “Beach Clean Up Day” and many others, please visit The Dive Shop Cambodia’s facebook page!

Want to be an English Teacher on Koh Rong

Really though, who wouldn’t want this job?  Free food, free accommodation, and then some pocket change for some beers on the side… teach in the day, relax on the island at night, and get a tan on white sand beaches between classes…

If you’re interested, you can check out if The Dive ShopCambodiais currently hiring a new English teacher at their website: www.thediveshopcambida.com

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