I sometimes wonder if I’m doing the right thing by raising my son in Thailand. I’m happy enough to remain here indefinitely, but I just can’t imagine what type of future Timmy will have if he stays here. I not only have concerns about the education system, but I can also feel threatened by how fast my son is soaking up ‘Thainess’. I’ve had to bite my tongue in response to his latest fondness for wearing large amulets – his friends do it and he wants to do the same. I had hoped to raise Timmy to feel a part of both cultures, but I realize that this is a naive aspiration. He is growing up in Thailand, and that makes him Thai.
End of Term Report
Last week my wife and I were called in for Timmy’s end of term report for kindergarten 2. It came as a shock when one of his English teachers (not a native English speaker) reported back to us that our son did not speak much English. I felt flabbergasted because Timmy speaks it almost all of the time at home – I never speak to him in Thai. This teacher also tried to convince me that my son did not understand the word ‘blanket’ – a word that he has used on an almost daily basis since the age of two. She went on to report that she needed to sometimes speak to Timmy in Thai to get him to understand what she was saying. Like a good parent visiting a Thai school I kept my cool but inside I fumed. I doubt that it is Timmy’s comprehension of English that is the problem here.
I understand that my son can be reluctant to speak English in school. I’ve posted before about the situation ( see Now My Son Only Wants to Speak Thai ). He does not want to be seen as different from his friends who are not able to speak English. I had hoped that the teachers in the school would be able to encourage him, but the fact that one of his English teachers feels the need to speak to my son in Thai indicates that this is not happening. The next day I was able to chat to one of the native speaking English teachers, and he reported that Timmy is doing really well– the only problem is that the material is so below his ability.
The reality is that getting a good education in Thailand is not easy without lots of money. We selected his current school because it seemed to be one of the few places that offered a bilingual program that we could afford. The teachers there appear professional and dedicated, but I’m not impressed with the English program. They only have one native English speaker to cover all their classes. This might be enough for Thai kids who just need an introduction into the language, but it is not enough for a child who is bilingual. I worry that this program is so lightweight that it might be damaging his confidence – especially if English teachers resort to speaking to him in Thai.
Educating My Son in Ireland
If we were to move back to Ireland I know that Timmy would have a better chance of getting a good education. I also believe that he would have more opportunities once he completed his schooling. Of course it would also mean that he would get to know my culture, and it would be something that we could share. There are so many great things about Ireland that I’d love for him to experience. I would be in a much stronger position financially if we moved back home, and it might be nice to get to know the place again after living abroad for 24 years.
There are also plenty of good reasons not to move back to Ireland as well. This is our home. It would be a struggle for him to adjust and being half-Thai might mean that he never feels completely at home. Both of my parents were Irish and I grew up feeling like an outsider so how much harder might it be for my son? Despite any complaints I might have about the Thai education system there is no doubting that this is a great place to bring up kids.
There are also more practical reasons for why a move back to Ireland would be difficult. We have our dog Cola who is part of our family. She is getting on in years and six months in quarantine, so she can move to Ireland, is not a viable option – I couldn’t afford this anyway. It would be difficult to find a good home for her, and there is no way that I’d consider leaving her without at least this.
The other stumbling block to moving back to Ireland is my wife. She has agreed to do it for the benefit of our son, but I know that she’d find it a struggle. We’ve been back to Dublin a few times. She enjoys these trips, but she also suffers from homesickness once the novelty wears off. I was born with itchy feet but Oa is more of a home person.
Someone wise once told me that ‘if you don’t know what to do you should do nothing’. We will probably look for a new school next year, but for the moment our future seems to be in Thailand. I sort of believe in fate, and if we are meant to move to Ireland the universe will push me in that direction.
Anyone else in a similar situation?