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Teach in Thailand

Welcome to the teacher life section of Farangdam. Here I’ll share with those of you who want to teach in Thailand an idea of what to expect. There are plenty of post on this website where I talk about teaching ESL and the ups and downs but for the simplicity of navigation I’ve created this page.

If you’re certain you want to be a teacher in Thailand or anywhere in Asia for that matter I implore you to at the very least research a TEFL course. I know TEFL courses can be expensive but the value you’ll get from them will serve you for a lifetime. Now a days you can find 120-hour courses online for under $300. Also, if you’ve surfed this site already you’ll know that all farangdam readers get a 35% discount at mytefl.com. The most you can get without using our promo code is 30%.

Promo code: “FARANGDA”

“Screw the TEFL Mike! My friend said I can find a job without one.”

Hey! That’s whats up! If you think you don’t need a TEFL certification to get a job, then good luck. I’ve known plenty of people who’ve gotten jobs without TEFL certifications. Yes, they did have a much harder time finding decent jobs and job security was also an issue. If you want to make yourself full-proof then get a TEFL.

Let me share a short story with you about a job I kind of took in Lopburi, Thailand. I was hired by e-mail by a company called Good & Smart. They basically had contracts with schools outside of Bangkok. Here is a rundown of the job title:

Position: English Teacher

Hours: 8am- 4pm

Salary: 27,000 baht($766.24) per. month

Qualifications: University Degree(for work permit)

Perks: Free 26sqm apartment, Free meals on school campus.

I was desperate and took the job. Would I take it now? HELLL NOOO!!! Knowing what I know now I know that there is an abundance of teaching jobs out there and if you look enough, you will find it a gem.

Anyway, back to the story…

So it was about August and I was waiting for my university degree in the mail. The day that my degree arrived I immediately started searching for flights. I told the lady, who was Thai, that I could arrive in 3 days. Everything seemed fine until I tried to contact her, one more time, before I bought the ticket to confirm that everything was set in stone. I wasn’t contacted for almost 2 days and by then I already decided not to go ahead and buy the ticket because something just wasn’t right. Finally, I get an e-mail telling me how she is so sorry and that she gave the job to someone else because they were available and ready to start asap.

You see where I’m going with this? This was a job that didn’t care if I had a TEFL certification. They didn’t care about the quality of their teacher(not so much as the look…), they just wanted to throw a foreign face up in front of the classroom to impress the parents and entertain the kids. Anyway this is why I recommend you get a TEFL before applying for jobs. This goes for anyone who wants to teach in Thailand.

Teaching Agencies

Most Thai schools hire English agencies to recruit, interview and hire native English speakers.

I’m kind of in the gray with this because there are a lot of things that factor into whether a company is shady or legit. Just know this, at the end of the day all these companies are doing this for profit. English is a big business abroad(and at home) and parents will give their hard earned cash to schools that promise a quality English program. With that being said, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing malicious about it it’s just way business is.

You can tell how good the company your working for is by their employee retention rate. It’s too hard to tell when you just arrive. I think your first year is kind of difficult to make sense of your work situation. So if you want to teach in Thailand try and research that.

Legit teaching agencies, in my opinion, will take you as long as you meet the basic requirements set by the Thai Ministry of Education. That’s have a university degree, a TEFL certificate and have a passport from a native English speaking country. Not all are necessary to get you a work permit, but combined will pretty much guarantee you one.

It goes without saying that timely payment is a must for any agency. I’ve heard stories of people getting paid late or not at all. Don’t let this stop you from coming to Thailand because it can happen anywhere. There has to be something seriously wrong with your employer for them to be shady with your money.

Also, don’t let your employer make you feel like you need them more than they need you. I promise you that’s not the case no matter how much they try to convince you. Schools don’t like it when teachers have to continuously be replaced through out a year. So at the very least know that the year is pretty much certain as long as you don’t screw it up.

What are the Students really like?

Thai students at first impression are extremely respectful. I remember how impressed I was when I first met my students. They’re all taught that the teacher is a well respected figure for obvious reasons.

Does it really apply to the foreigner?

Hmmm… A lot of passionate teachers are going to get at me for saying this but for the most part no it doesn’t.

Why?

The Thai teachers you see at your school are more than likely going to be there until the day they retire. That can’t be said for the foreign teacher, who probably doesn’t even have a degree in education nor a real desire to be a teacher. English teachers are almost something of a conveyor belt, in that they are constantly coming and going. In most cases, just when the students are becoming close with their English teacher, he/she already has one foot out the door.

So in my opinion the teacher is well respected but it doesn’t mean every teacher.

Some students can be a real pain as well but overtime you’ll figure out your own method for controlling your class. This is something that can’t really be taught to you. You’ll just have to get a feel for the class and take it from there. They will definitely gauge you as well. Testing your boundaries and seeing where you draw your line. For the most part though the students are great and will try to listen.

Thai Teachers

First thing I was taught was never to talk about your salary or say “No” to a Thai teacher. Bottom line is they work harder than you, they get paid much less and if you ask me it really doesn’t make any sense. I think there was an obvious tension at times at my school.

Most teachers are amazingly kind and helpful while others may seem distant and spiteful. There is a common misconception that all foreign teachers are “lazy” as well so don’t get sitting around. It all depends on the relationship you and your company have with those teachers. Speaking  from experience I’d say some teachers liked me , some didn’t and most didn’t care who I was.

My school had a bit of a generation gap in the office. The average age for foreign teachers was probably 30 with our youngest teacher being 22 and our oldest 37. While the average age of the Thai teachers was about 50. I think it’s normal that we couldn’t always relate.

Salary

You should make anywhere from 35-41k baht starting out. I’m too lazy to check the current rates as they always change anyway since the Thai baht seems to fluctuate up and down. You can live a very decent lifestyle and I believe this salary has turned a lot of temporary visitors into life longers. The cost of living is much cheaper here and it gives a really good feeling to know you can easily afford most essentials.It’s a combination of the weather, the purchasing power and of course the people.

Believe me when I tell you that 41,000 baht is not a lot of money. There are people who make that amount in one week, let alone one month. If you can make 70k+ baht per month then you’re living a quality life here. How you get there is up to you to decide but there are ways to Supplement your income abroad. I personally was fine making 42k per month living in the city and still saving money.

This was achieved through cutting back and scaling to find the perfect number. I found that I could spend 10k for my room and about 15k on food and night life adventures.

Your colleagues

Having a positive work environment is paramount to your happiness as a teacher. If you’re new to Thailand and a first year teacher then most of the what you do and learn will probably be the people you work with. My school had about 26 foreign teachers and it made for a great atmosphere.

I don’t think I would of lasted nearly as long as I did if it wasn’t for the other teachers I worked with.

They’ll be your guides, your ear to vent on and if you’re lucky, a good friend.

Closing

Teaching is by far the most easiest way to find work in Thailand. Not only that it’s perfect if you want a not so serious job with a good amount of holidays. We got a month off in October and two months of for March and April. That’s not including national holidays.

If you follow some simple guidelines for finding your job then half the work is already done. Don’t be too desperate to find a job because they’re in abundance. Maybe the one you want might not be available, but there are 100’s just like them somewhere else. What’s most important is that you have a great agency that pays you on time and a nice working environment.