I Asked Thai 14 Year-Olds to Write Bucket Lists and These are the Results

One of the fabulous perks of teaching English in Thailand is that I can invent my entire curriculum.  That’s the glass-half-full way of looking at it – basically I’m not given a curriculum, and my only direction on what to teach was “get them to speak.”  I also was given no information as to what they previously have been taught, nor do I believe that such a record exists.


As a result, I’ve planned many a lesson that ended up wasting an absurd amount of time, belonging to both the students and myself.

“What’s this?”

“A library teacher of course!”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“An Actuarial!”

Okay that was dramatic.  Actually it’s true, multiple students have told me they want to be an actuarial when they grow up.  However, given the looks of confusion that accompanied my natural follow-up question “Oh so you want to work in insurance?”  I think they were just regurgitating vocabulary that someone had fed them incorrectly.  But my point is that often times I try to teach them basic things that I think they should know, only to be met with eye-rolls and sassy attitudes that allude to the fact that the students have already learned that information.

So I try to be creative in my lesson planning.  I thought the idea of bucket-lists would be a fun topic to teach, and for once I was right.  Even my highest level classes had never heard of a “bucket list,” and I was able to supplement the vocabulary with a quick lesson on Idioms(“kick the bucket”).  Shout out the learning section at Bangkok Post for providing me with articles that had Thai translations to teach such an abstract topic.  I also was able to tie in lessons on simple future tenses(will/going to) and contractions so the students could write their own bucket lists, compliment that with the new Justin Bieber song Cold Water(I won’t let go, I’ll be your lifelineeee tonight), and voilaaaa I was actually able to hold the interest of my students.


The best part of the entire lesson was reading the bucket lists that students wrote.  They had never really been asked before what they wanted to do before they died, so I was presented with some interesting lists.  Here are some of the Bucket List items that I found most entertaining.

What do you want to do before you die?

  1. I couldn’t bring myself to break the news – “I will see Michael Jackson in concert.”  


2.This is what they always refer to in Lifetime movies as “early warning signs”  – “I will learn how to kill the people.”

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3. My personal favorite “I will go to destroy the White House.”

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4. This boy has his priorities straight –

“I will learn how to make money fast.” 

“I will make muscles on my body.”


He also asked me how to say that he will become very handsome, I’m sad that didn’t make the cut.

5. Evidence as to how addicted Thai people are to Pokemon Go –

“I’ll catch a Mewtwo in Area 51.”

“I’ll play Pokemon in the White House.” 


Honestly I’m just impressed that he even knows what Area 51 is.

6. These girls really understand what matters in life-

“I will eat a lot of cake.”

“I will eat a big lobster.”

“Before I die, I will eat a lot of cheese.”

“Before I die, I am going to eat a lot of chocolate.” 


7. Clearly this boy is reaching for the stars(or he just didn’t understand the assignment)

“I am going to watch a movie at home.”

“I am going to eat pizza.”

“I am going to do my homework.”(dear lord I hope that happens before he dies)


8. I almost shed a tear for these adorable secret admirers –

“Before I die I will kiss Oppa.” 


“I’m going to get married with Pranpreeya.” 

Pranpreeya is another student in my class.  They’re not dating, nor did I know they were friends.



9. This student knows what he wants & isn’t going to let obstacles like below 0 temperatures and arctic winds stop him-

“Before I die, I am gonna eat noodle at the top of Everest mountain.” 


10. And last but definitely not least, this boy is a hopeless romantic –

“I’m going to give a lots of smile to my love”

“I will kiss with my girlfriend”


So there you have it.  If Thai children could do anything before they died, they would eat a ton of cheese and destroy the White House.  Sounds like a solid Saturday afternoon.



2 thoughts on “I Asked Thai 14 Year-Olds to Write Bucket Lists and These are the Results

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