Teaching English in Thailand
- November 3, 2015
- Posted by: TESOL Direct
- Category: Teaching Abroad,
These notes provide basic information about what to expect when seeking work teaching English in Thailand. Note that there will be considerable variation between schools, employers’ preferences, and government regulations, and requirements will change from time to time. Before entering into any commitment, you are advised to check with an appropriate authoritative source such as the Thai embassy in your country.
Thailand has a bit of a reputation these days, and that has less to do with the history and the culture and more to do with exotic holidays, excessive intake of alcohol, and a few other unsavoury elements. Thailand doesn’t deserve this reputation because the people are open and friendly and the history is amazing, but tour companies, cheap flights, an explosion in the number of bars and second-rate hotels have combined to undermine a wonderful country in some areas. The result is that some people there have used teaching as a way to fuel their holiday rather than a way to help people to further develop their language skills. The majority of foreign teachers are male and many appear to be more interested in the bars than the classroom. The Thai government has tried to limit that recently by tightening up on the issuing of visas and requiring teachers to have a degree. However, some organisations have got around that by having volunteer teaching schemes. These can involve the teachers paying relatively large sums of money to teach in a local school for anything from three months to a year. Few are properly trained and the students sitting hopefully in their classrooms may well find themselves faced with an enthusiastic but woefully inadequate teacher who can do little to improve their language skills. The companies sending the teachers make a handsome profit but it is the students in the classrooms who end up losing out.
If you are serious about teaching, and want to teach in Thailand, it is important to be fully prepared. A one-month course by Cambridge (CELTA) or Trinity (TESOL) would be acceptable but note that these tend to focus very much on the language school situation and that is not always very relevant in many Thai classrooms. Another alternative would be a 110-hour or 150-hour TESOL course by distance learning accredited by the College of Teachers (see www.tesol-direct.com ). These courses take a more eclectic approach and offer a wider range of approaches than a one-month taught course. It is also possible to do a training course in Thailand but some are poorly run and the qualification may not be very valuable outside Thailand.
Salaries are not particularly high but the cost of living is not especially low in Bangkok so Thailand is not the place to go if you want to save a bit of money. Some jobs come with accommodation but few in Bangkok. If accommodation is provided it is likely to be small and sparsely furnished. If you need to rent your own accommodation the good news is that this can be done quite cheaply. Some people get a teaching position after applying from outside Thailand while many others find a job while they are there. It’s important to get an appropriate visa if you do get a job in Thailand or you could find yourself getting fined. Salaries are generally in the 30,000 – 35,000 baht range per month (around £700 / €875) in Bangkok and perhaps a little less in other areas for a full-time post.
Finding a job
There are many language schools in Bangkok and if you are already in Thailand you can find contact details and advertisements for jobs on local sites such as www.aycthailand.com . The British Council also has a list of schools and colleges. There is an English-language newspaper, the Bangkok Post, which also has job vacancies. There is a high turn-over of teachers in many schools in Bangkok because some teachers do not stay long, or break their contracts, and so visits to schools could result in a job offer. As with all such visits, it is important to dress smartly and to carry with you the appropriate documents. Schools like their teachers to be smartly dressed and so it is important to look the part if you visit a school. Some people dislike the traffic and pollution of Bangkok and seek jobs away from the city in smaller centres.
People hoping to teach can go to Thailand on a tourist visa and then change it while there. This is possible once you find a school willing to employ you. However, remember that you will need to carry with you all your original documents, including your degree certificate. Alternatively, if a teaching post has already been obtained while still in your home country, you could get a non-immigrant B visa; this can be obtained at any Thai consulate or embassy. This will enable you to stay for 90 days during which time you would need to obtain (with the help of your school) the appropriate visa for a teacher.
If you are keen to teach in Thailand it’s best to get a TESOL or TEFL qualification before you go. Be cautious about companies offering training plus a ‘guaranteed’ teaching post as you might not really get what you are looking for. Try to work for a reputable organisation, preferably out of Bangkok. Remember that you are not there just to enjoy yourself but to teach English to classes of students many of whom are lively and enthusiastic, and deserve good teachers. You owe it to yourself and your students to be well organised and well prepared. Those people mainly interested in the night life of Bangkok would be better advised to stay well away from any of the schools in Thailand.