Teaching ESL

ESL jobs are the easiest way for you to get a paying job with insurance abroad. You don’t have to just be a teacher your whole time here. It is not uncommon to find another job outside of teaching once your established in Thailand and have developed a solid network of connections.

You may be the only foreign teacher at your school or you may have an office full of other foreigners. It all depends on what your school deems necessary. In most cases you will be in an international environment full of expats from all over the native English speaking world. Even a few non-native English speakers will sneak through the cracks as well. Don’t worry though as most of the non-native English speakers will probably know just as much if not more about grammar rules than you do.



Qualifications

To become an English teacher you’ll need a bachelors degree from a internationally accredited university in your native country. Though this should be enough, these days the Ministry of Education is becoming more strict and requiring you have TEFL certificate for visa and work permit. If you are already aware you need a TEFL certificate but not sure which one is good for you, check out my review on SEE TEFL.




In the beginning if you want to get a non-immigrant B visa and work-permit you will need to be employed. Thailand has a law that no foreigner can hold a job that a Thai could otherwise do. This is why English is such a huge business in Thailand and allows a lot of native English speakers an opportunity to come here to work and travel.

Teaching English has its perks. It can be fun, rewarding and a great experience. Having on your resume that you traveled to a distant country to work with students is powerful. Being a teacher has its pros and cons as most things do.

Salary

The salaries in Thailand for English teachers have not changed for a long time now and don’t look like they will change anytime soon. The salary though, is more than enough to survive on but it definitely does leave much to be desired. If you want to be where all the action is at in Bangkok then you should not be accepting any job under 30,000 baht($1000) per month. At 30k per month you will able to pay for rent, take care of food and even have the weekends to go out and relax. It might be hard to save money until you get settled down and figure out your own system. As a new comer to Thailand I would aim for at least 33k per month and if you can get a travel stipend then all the better.

Hey… Why not?(shrugged shoulders)

In some cases you may not mind accepting a position for less than the standard 30k per month. When I was still in the initial interview stage I remember almost taking a job at an all girls private school in Lopburi for 27k($830)per month with a free fully furnished apartment and free food on school campus. I decided not to do it because I just felt like I was worth a lot more than that, but I did consider it. You may find a deal that is a little below your asking price, but stuff like the people you work with and the relationship you have with the Thais will all dictate what you deem “worth it”. I’d rather work for 35k per month in a fun laid back environment with no stress rather than getting paid 48k per month working in a toxic environment where you constantly feel under the magnifying glass. Again it really depends on what point you are at in your life. If you have a wife or kids then money might be more important than enjoying your job.

International school

If you are a top draw teacher with experience from back home you could be making anywhere from 60k-80k($2000-$2400) per month at international schools. These jobs usually come with a package where they will reimburse your flights and possibly give you housing allowance up to 20k($615) per month. In most cases though international schools prefer to hire you from your home country. On these types of wages you can live a wonderful life in Thailand. You’ll basically be able to live an almost financially unrestricted lifestyle and still save money at the same time.

Language school

If your not like me and don’t value your weekends you can work at a language school. Language schools are always looking for fresh faces and ambitious minds. The only problem is most language schools are busiest on weekends… Those are usually the days they will want everyone to work. When I worked at a language school I had one day off a week on Wednesdays. Let’s just say it got old pretty fast… but I’ve seen plenty of people who live by the language school lifestyle. One of the best parts is you don’t have to be at work if you don’t class. If you have 2 classes on a Monday that run from 9am-11am then your free to go on with your day! Language school wages can vary from 300 baht($9) to 700 baht($21) per hour. Jobs paying more than 500 baht($15) an hour are usually looking for experienced and well qualified teachers so if your new to ESL I would hold back on that for a bit. As well with what type of classes you teach will also affect how much your paid as well. My old language school paid 320 baht an hour and wanted me to do 100 hours a month. Needless to say I was still new in Thailand at that time and have since moved on to better.

Private Lessons

If you develop a decent relationship with your students they may inquire about private lessons. I use to charge two kids 500 baht($15) per hour. All they really wanted was someone to practice their English with. Easy enough ehh? If you could find a few students to pay that rate then you could be making some decent side cash. I’ve heard of people charging as low as 250baht(7$) per hour to 1000baht($30) per hour. It all really depends on where your living and what kind of kids your teaching. If your in Bangkok’s Thong Lor area you’re much more likely to get paid the 2nd mentioned price. If your on the outskirts of Bangkok you may find it hard finding private students at 1000 baht per hour.

Students

Most Thai students are taught to be very respectful to their teachers. When you walk into the classroom your students will stand up and address you,”Good morning/afternoon teacher! How are you?” and you will answer,” I’m good, thank you, please sit down/you may sit down.” This short dialogue sets the mood for the rest of the class as most of them are now engaged. At the end of class when you dismiss them they will stand for you again and say,”Thank you teacher!”

After sometime the class will become accustomed to your presence and you can work out a mutual understanding of what you expect from them. Me personally,I don’t require my students stand up and address me in a formal manner. At first I thought it was cool because it showed me how disciplined the children can be. What was really important to me though was how well the students were understanding what I was teaching them. If you can break through to them in that sense then they will respect you a lot more than the pretentious greeting you’ll get every morning.

Attendance

Don’t be surprised if Aom or Boss are absent every other day as the whole attendance system is non-existent at times. You will probably be expected to have some sort of record of attendance but don’t expect a significant amount of absences to greatly affect any student.

Class times in most schools run in the 50 minute range. If you have a big school(like mine) it can take children about 5-10 minutes to get to your class from the other side of the school. Not to mention if the teacher before is holding them after the bell. Once they get to your class and settle in, 10 or so minutes have already gone by. So, realistically you have about 35 minutes to teach your lesson with 5 minutes of answering questions and checking work.

This next part might make no sense but…

Thailand has a no fail policy

Well… technically no. You can fail a student but you have to give them the chance to make up their grade and retest them. This is really just a waste of your time as your company will probably tell you this as well as your co-workers. It’s not really worth it to fail Thai students. You can give them the lowest possible passing grade but don’t you dare write “F” for a final grade next to Thitiporn’s name.

The Problem…

See, the problem is English is a business and that business depends on the parents money. If parents see that their child is failing your course then they will take them out of it. Why should they spend money on something that isn’t personally benefiting their child’s development? Most parents have no real way of gauging how much their child is learning either. The only real way to show how a student is doing is through a letter grade. If your students are passing then the parents are happy if the parents are happy then the school is happy and if your school is happy then your job is safe and secured.

No wonder why Guitar has the English skill level of a pre-schooler but is in a class for intermediate speakers…

Thai Teachers

Thai teachers are hard working people. Often times they are working a lot harder than you are and being paid a lot less. Don’t ever talk about money as you will just make yourself look like a ungrateful pig. Just because they make less than you does not mean their influence and voice goes unheard. They carry a lot of prestige and its best to know your place around them. At my school a lot of the teachers are very helpful and kind. I never mind when a teacher asks me to help them with something. It can go a long way as word does travel fast about a foreign teachers character and involvement in and outside of school.

Thai teacher<Foreign teacher

The students will undoubtedly treat the Thai teachers with much more respect and reverence. It’s understandable as there are certain things that go without saying that Thai people expect from each other. This one being the respect of elders and hierarchy. Another thing is if you can’t speak Thai and your student has poor English it does make it a bit harder for him/her to relate to you. We are in Thailand after all and Thai is the official language. They are expected to speak some level of English but that’s not always the case.

Love Your Fellow Thai Teacher <3

The most important thing is to try your best to get on the good side of a Thai teacher because if they like you then you will have more freedom. What do I mean by “more freedom”? Well what I mean is pressure and expectations will be solely up to you and you can run your classes the way you want. If you want to watch movies with your class, give them free-time or let them out early it’ll be fine. It’ll be no problem if your sometimes late or want to leave early… this little perks can go a long way.

Holidays

A great perk to being a teacher is the holidays. As a teacher you will have most national holidays off. If you are in a government school you will also be given the standard 2-day weekend on Saturday and Sundays( I live for my weekends!). Most government schools have two-terms. The 1st term begins in May and ends in late September/early October. Depending on your hiring companies agreement with the school you’ll have a significant period of time off at the end of the first term. At my school the holiday is about one month. These breaks are usually paid as well(double score)! During that period it’s a great time to go back home,find a part-time job or travel Thailand and Asia.

Now the 2nd term goes from November to  late February. After that the school is on break again until the following May where the new term begins. Now in this instance my company still requires me to come into the office and brush up on our teaching practices and approaches. We are still given lengthy time off but they do ask that we develop course material during that time so it is kind of a half-vacation, but still paid!

Round up

Teaching ESL is by far the easiest way for you to find a job in Thailand. Unless you’re an experienced professional in a field that a Thai couldn’t otherwise do, finding a job outside of teaching won’t be so easy at first. After you’ve spent some time in Thailand you will meet new people and make new connections and maybe leave the teaching game for something more in mind. Remember its not about the money, it’s the experience.

Did I miss something that you believe should of been covered? As always I love to hear your feedback and criticism as long as its constructive. I just want to make this resource as informative as possible for viewers to read. As always any questions or comments please leave them below!