So, you are interested in teaching In Thailand. Thinking of
taking a TEFL course in Bangkok, Rayong or Pattaya. Well, here are some
things you should know before you go, or even apply.
1. What are
Thai children like as students?
a. They are lazy,
stupid, ignorant, egotistical, spoilt brats. Howís that for a
generalization? But it is an honest generalization for nearly all the
private schools and many of the richer government schools. There are
exceptions, but unfortunately they are few and far between. Students
put their greatest amount of energy into getting out of work or
cheating. They have made making noise an art form.
2. What is
it like, working in a Thai school?
Dirty! Hot! The vast majority of schools still do not have air
conditioning, this means that you are in a classroom of minimal size
with up to 60 students, 58 of which donít want to learn. The rest are
carrying on their own conversations. The ambient noise can be above the
safety levels set by most western nations. The use of giant speakers at
schools assemblies is a constant problem. My tip is by good earplugs
youíll need them.
b. There are two
classes of teacher, Thai and other nationality. The Thai teachers are
given respect by the students, because of their position, and out of
fear. Thai teachers have been known to wield the stick in a very
aggressive manner, pull hair, pinch, and even kick their charges.
Foreign teachers on the other hand have a social status one step below
that of the street dogs you will see freely roaming around full of
eczema. To your face, they will be polite in a one to one situation,
but collectively you are at best left with a feeling of belligerent
non-cooperation. Once youíve been part of the school for a few years it
may change, a little, to total disregard.
c. Non-communication is the bugbear of so many foreign teachers in
Thailand. Too many times the teacher will be informed what is happening
by the students, not the administration.
d. Flexibility is
the key word for teaching in a Thai school, things change at the drop of
a hat. So, if you are a teacher that likes to plan your lessons in
advance for the term, good luck.
e. If you are
lucky enough to find work in a school with air-conditioning, you will
find that you will freeze. Canadian teachers complain about it being
f. Resources, or
lack of them is a major problem for teachers used to working in the
west. You want resources? Go buy your own. Donít expect computers to
work even if the school has them.
There are several
types of agents operating in Thailand. Hereís how they work.
a. The first type
is the language school that is contracted by a school to supply teachers
on an hourly rate. The teacher is paid by the hour. No work, no pay.
That includes holidays and vacations. Put in a nutshell teachers will
be paid for about 220 days a year. These teachers, for the most part
work illegally. Pay is between 175 baht per hour Ė 300 baht per hour.
The three main players in this field are Siam Computer, ECC, and ELC
b. The next type
is also a language school that gets a yearly contract to supply
teachers. Some of these are supplied with work permits, but most
arenít. The ones that arenít have to go to another country every 30, 60
or 90 days to get a new visa. This can prove problematic as the local
consulates are becoming increasingly uncooperative. Those teachers who
break the contract with these language schools find their visa cancelled
and their name put on a blacklist. Salary starts at 25,000 per month,
but donít expect to get holiday pay. The main players here are Elite,
Ampro David English House, English First, and Text and Talk
c. The final type
of agent is the one that acts as a recruiter for the schools. The
school then employs the teacher directly. In most cases the teacher is
free to negotiate their own salary and other benefits with the school.
Work permits and teacherís license are arranged by the school. The best
two to deal with here are St. Gabrielís Foundation, and Worldwide
Education Services. Only teachers who have qualified teacher status in
their own country will be represented.
the right school, or being chosen?
If you are a
qualified teacher getting work is not going to be a problem. However
choosing an employer that will help you develop as a teacher instead of
stifling your teaching ability is rather difficult. Thai schools are to
say the least Autocratic. They are ALL business first, education
second. It has been know for a school to ask the teachers to start at
07.00 and finish at 17.00 every day, wit only one 15 minute break in the
day. Schools routinely lock the gates to stop teachers leaving during
the day, even at lunch. Teachers have had their salary docked for being
5 minutes late. There are hundreds of horror stories, but there are
also hundreds of kindnesses done that donít make the rounds, and you
never hear about. Like one school director paying the hospital bill for
a teacherís wife to deliver her baby. Or a school HOD allowing a new
teacher to stay at her home rent free whilst he found his own
Donít be frightened
to ask questions, all questions, and donít get fobbed of with bland
answers. If youíre not sure, donít take it.
5. When is
the best time to look for work in Thailand?
As the academic year
starts in May, the best time is March or even February. The second
semester starts in November so you should again look around one month
before. There are always teachers leaving just after the new semester
starts, and throughout the year, but competition can be hot.
Questions and Answers
1. Who can
Actually anyone who
has a teaching degree. But letís break it down into different
schools: Most International school do require that their teachers are
experienced, qualified teachers who hold QT status in their own country.
Program Schools: As far as the Ministry of Education is concerned any
person who has a minimum of 15 teaching credits to their degree will be
licensed. However, in reality most schools will only employ ďNative
English SpeakersĒ, with white faces. A few of the more enlightened
schools do employ qualified teachers from different countries, but the
M. of E. can sometimes make it very difficult for those teachers with
degrees written in languages other than English to get a teacherís
c. Thai Program
Schools: Anyone with a degree in any field can teach in a Thai program
Schools: Most language schools will employ anyone, regardless of their
qualifications, or lack of them. Language schools are the only
institution that may want you to have a TESL certificate.
2. Do you need
3. How many
teaching periods per week?
If in a school it
will be in the region 20-25 x 50 minute periods, in a language school
anything from 1 hour to 30 hours a week.
4. How easy is it
to move jobs?
If in language school very easy. If you break a contract in a school
you can end up being blacklisted and deported.
5. What are the
advantages of teaching in Thailand?
As Thailand is a
male dominated country there are some obvious advantages for the male
teacher. The beaches and Islands on your time off are superb; the
hospitality you will receive outside the main three cities will be
genuine; the cost of living can be extremely low if you want to live on
a budget and save.
6. Types of
These run from a
worthless piece of paper to a binding two year contract. If it is your
first time going there, go for one year, look around and decide after
your first year where you want to teach.
7. How much can
you expect to earn?
Letís look at the
main areas again, but with the addition of Universities.
schools: These pay the best if you are employed from outside the
country. Salaries range from 35,000 baht per month for locally hired
teachers up to 150,000 baht if you are an ďimportĒ. You also get better
benefits if you are hired abroad. Donít ask WHY! I have no idea.
Program Schools: As far as the Ministry of Education is concerned the
minimum wage in this type of school is 30,000 baht per month with a
maximum of 60,000. Most schools pay minimum or close to it.
c. Thai Program
Schools: Anything from 5,000 to 40,000. It all depends on how lucky
Schools: Most language schools pay by the hour. This can vary from 150
baht to 600 baht. It is worth noting that in 1997 before the Asian
Crisis language school teaches were earning no less than 350 baht per
8. How much do
you need to earn to live in Thailand?
How long is a piece of string? You can live on 15,000 baht per month if
you want to, or you may not have enough at 200,000 baht per month. It
all depends on how you want to live. If you wan to go out on the town
every night, you will never have enough money. If you are happy to go
out once a week and be careful with your spending, then you will need to
earn around 30,000.
9. Can I have a
part time job or teach at my spare time to earn extra income?
Yes, as long as
donít get caught by the immigration police.
10. Q: How do I
get paid? Do I need to pay tax?
Probably you will be
paid at the end of each month in cash. Most schools will deduct your
tax and pay it every month. At the end of the year make sure you get
your tax form from the school. Language schools leave it to you. In
Thailand, if your employer underpays your tax, YOU are liable.
11. Can my
partner go with me?
Of course, as long
as you have the right visa.
12. Should I find
a job before going to Thailand?
Try to have two or
three lined up, then choose the best one when you get there.
13. How do I get a work visa?
Donít ask!!! The
only way of getting a work permit is to be a legal employee. First you
need a Non- Immigrant B visa. What you need for that will depend on
where you are coming from. Once you have your visa leave it up to your