Are you a teacher who once taught in Thailand but decided to seek out pastures new? Has the grass been greener on the other side? Maybe you swapped Thailand for the financial lure of Japan or Korea? Read about those who have left Thailand, and their reasons for moving…
Inspired by our story about Julia, we're also tracking the progress of Dave Montgomery as he prepared for life in Thailand as a teacher. Dave's situation is slightly different to Julia's. He's married to a Thai lady already and he intends to teach in the city of Udon Thani - up in the North East of Thailand. And his father-in-law is also a teacher!
When your face just doesn’t fit
When a school wants to fire you, what can you do?
I had been working as a Maths teacher for just under four months at a Catholic school in Bangkok when the head teacher, who is always happy to deliver bad news in a very dramatic way, informed me that parents had complained about the homework books not being marked. This was just the beginning.
21st century education
A new and exciting approach to teaching
There has been much debate about exactly what a 21st century education should look like with academics producing long-winded articles packed full with migraine-inducing jargon... but not a lot of change has actually taken place in the classroom.
Some of the stranger folks I've come across during interview procedures
One applicant that I won't forget was a certain Mr G. Glitter who applied for a primary school homeroom teacher position in 2006 and claimed to 'love working with kids'. The application came complete with a picture of the glam rocker in full 1970s rock regalia
We’ve found paradise at last
Ignore the sob stories and the doom merchants - Thailand rocks!
We've both been here about six months, have only done two visa runs, had both our employers apply for our work permits for us, have started saving money as we actually make a little more collectively than we did in South Korea - and are both loving life again. Life really couldn't be much better.
The ties that bind
The strain of living miles away from ailing parents and loved ones
Listening to family members tell you about their serious health worries never ever makes for a pleasant telephone conversation and I'll admit to putting down the phone on such occasions and becoming a little emotional. You can offer all the support you can over the phone or even via Sype webcam but nothing ever beats being there with them in person.
Teacher employer etiquette
All we're asking for is a reply
I feel it is just unprofessional that if someone well qualified for an advertised job takes the time to research the job and your school, then you as an employer should have the courtesy (manners) to acknowledge that application even if the applicant may not be right person for the job.
What’s your bag?
Pay close attention to what you carry those textbooks in
Fashion guru, Sebastian Hawkes, joins ajarn.com to cast a critical eye over what teachers should be carrying their stuff in this coming Fall. Could it be time to ditch the backpack for something more trendy?
Why can’t Thais speak English?
Some of these students have had over 2,000 hours of English.
Considering that English has been the international language of tourism and commerce for I don't know how many decades now, and there are I don't know how many thousands of English teachers all over the country, why is the general level of English so poor?
The house of horrors (final part)
The fourth and final part of Ralph Sasser's amazing story
The third update to the story came in late 2010 when Ralph entered into a long court case (are there any other kind in Thailand?) and was left with a half-finished building. Surely things could only get better? So here we are in mid-2012. Did Ralph's house of horrors story finally have a happy ending? Read the fourth and final instalment.
The difficulties of finding employment when a teacher returns to the USA
I possess ten years of classroom EFL teaching experience, plus a solid education, and this was the type of work available to me. There were many moments, such as when I was cleaning a toilet bowl, or when a housekeeper ordered me to do something, that frustration welled up inside me.
Fear of change?
Why the reluctance to adopt English as an official language in Thailand?
In Thailand the government has set 2012 as English Speaking Year with a goal of encouraging students to converse in English every Monday. Such policies are useful but the major leap of enacting legislation to make English an official language for Thailand is also needed
Software for student tests
How to get the best from your students with on-line tests
The integration of internet and computers with education and English learning is something students find normal, and classrooms without some access to educational software may seem quaint. Some students may even feel they can get more ‘professional' teaching from the numerous online ELT sites if a school is behind in IT.
Whatever happened to the shopping mall teacher?
Teaching for 300 baht an hour as the rest of the world enjoys itself
They are the shopping mall English teachers - gliding like pale, undernourished phantoms amid the hordes of weekend Thai shoppers. The main reason I empathize with the shopping mall teacher is because I was once one myself. I know how desperate and soul-destroying it can be.
Should I stay or should I go?
Getting to grips with life as a teacher in Thailand
I flew in to Bangkok and spent four amazing days and nights there. I was about to head out towards Ubon to start looking for work when I was tipped off with a potential opportunity in the Si Sa Ket province of Isaan.
Things I won’t do for work
They say that everybody has a price
Although most of my TEFL experience has not been in Thailand, there is still a long list of things I won’t accept in a teaching job. Talk numbers and cross my palm with silver because these are the things I simply won’t do for work.
The teacher’s diary revisited
One teacher's descent into madness. Now updated for 2011
The diary is the heartbreaking four-week journal of Mr Jim Elmdon - a teacher who came to Thailand and failed miserably. Keep a box of tissues handy.
Quite literally a lucky career break
Be bold and ask your boss for a career break
Like many of you I work a regular job. For the last 8 years I've been a psychiatric nurse working for the NHS. Life is pretty good, I've never had as much job satisfaction as I do now (I'm not lying, honest!). But the lure of adventure is just too much.
Teachers sinking to new depths
Scuba diving is something anyone can enjoy on a weekend off
Teacher and fanatical scuba diver, Andrew Stanford, discusses the best diving spots in Thailand and encourages more people to get out there and enjoy a whole new world.
Whole brain teaching techniques
An amazing new approach to teaching that really works
Do you want to be able to control a roomful of pratom one students with one simple word? ? Would you like to get 99 per cent participation from your matayom class? Do you want an easy way to engage your adult students making learning fun for them and for you?
Failing students and the failing ESL industry
Failing young students is simply a poor strategy
Without a doubt the ESL industry around the world is primarily a scam that is governed by unscrupulous business people that rarely have any pedagogical knowledge or academic backgrounds in the field of education
Do students in private language schools have the right to choose who teaches them?
Should the most popular teacher get the largest share of the work?
The student was not happy with this arrangement and asked the manager why I could not teach her. The manager replied, 'You learn with who I choose, not who you want. And I have chosen the other teacher.'
In defence of the edutainers
A young teacher's perspective on teaching in Thailand
Most of the English teachers in Thailand seem to be slightly older so it’s understandable that they would view energy, positive reinforcement and affability in the EFL classroom with disdain and denial.
What it's like to start your own 'Thai-style' business in Thailand
When I visited Maesod for the very first time I decided to come and live here and start a factory. I was attracted by the town's abundance of cheap teak, cheap Burmese labour and OK its beautiful girls as well.
After the tsunami
Jorge Jo's moving account of one of the most newsworthy events in history
It’s only after six years that I’m able to deal with the pain of the injury sustained during the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 26th, 2004
House of horrors part three
An update on the perils of having your own house built in Thailand
After returning to Thailand, I found a contractor I thought was committed to building my house the way I wanted it. Finding someone to complete what had been started by another person, I knew would be difficult, but nevertheless I thought I had found the right man.
Leave teaching in Thailand to the hacks
This is all just ridiculous
I no longer teach ESL classes to Thai school students. I will never again work for another Thai boss. I now work for a Chinese man with Thai citizenship (caters to the Taiwanese test prep market) and a pair of foreigners. If you're smart and resourceful enough, there are thousands of opportunities out there
Of teachers and emperors without clothes
An ironic view of a job ad
Employment agencies in are in dire need of actors for live performances on stage. Body piercing, visible tattoos, drinking or smoking in public, or any kind of physical handicap, even if slight, will qualify the applicant.
Spice up your teacher threads
Alternatives to the shirt and tie combo
What can a teacher do if they are fed up with the standard 'teacher's uniform' of business shirt, necktie and trousers? Ajarn's man of style, Sebastian Hawkes, comes to the rescue with some carefully thought out suggestions. Mimi Rodgers offers her valuable opinions from a woman's perspective.
What to do and what not to do in the EFL classroom
Regular ajarn contributor Tim Cornwall is back with more tips and techniques for both experienced and inexperienced teachers alike from smiling to laying down class rules and from teacher movement to setting up activities.
Man and machine in not so perfect harmony
When a group of experienced motor-cycling friends suggest hiring powerful bikes to explore the beautiful Chiang Mai region and you know full well that you've never ridden a motorbike in your life, that crazy sense of adventure takes over.
Ajarn.com can go to Hell
You can please some of the people some of the time
Recently we sent out a teachers newsletter to let people know about all ajarn's latest developments and news. Although a lot of the feedback we get is complimentary, this letter from Dave Bryant proves that it's not always a bed of roses running the ajarn.com office.
Tips from the trenches
Tips to help a new teacher get through that very first day of class
Worried about that first day of class? The following compilation of articles might offer some insight into how to approach your students for the first time, regardless of their age, numbers and gender.
House of horrors two
Just when you thought it was safe to walk under the scaffolding
Teacher Ralph Sasser has now returned to America. After being duped by building contractors here in Thailand, it's the only way he can save enough money to get the job finished and realize his dreams.
People without formal teaching qualifications
I'm talking about those without as much as a TEFL or CELTA certificate
Some would say controversial words from 'Oooh that hurts'. What is it about untrained teachers that really gets his goat?
Oh, one more thing - you’re fired!
One teacher's account of being popular with students and getting fired
I found out later after talking with other teachers, that there were two teachers that didn’t like us and they were both on the “committee” The director couldn’t go against the committee because she would lose face.
You’re moving to where?
People's reactions on hearing that you're Thailand-bound
Leigh-Anne Hunter has found out that people fall into three distinct groups when you let them know of your ridiculous plans to move to Thailand. How do you know you'll like it if you've never been? Isn't that where the tsunami was? I guess these people mean well.
Look what I did Mom!
Take a look at what teacher Steve Salyer has done to his studio apartment in Sukhumwit 71. Let Steve be your inspiration. Now isn't it about time you paid more attention to your living environment and stopped your mother worrying so much?
How difficult is it to adjust to life back in the old country?
How easy or difficult is it to adapt back to a life in your native country after spending seven or eight years teaching in Thailand? Will jobs be easy to come by? Are your old friends still around, and if so, how will they react when the wanderer returns? How does it feel to suddenly find yourself thrown into a world of credit crunches, binge drinking, escalating crime rates and a world far removed from the one you left behind?
With a kid in tow
Loving parent Kirsten Jeffrey tackles the parent child issue
Kristen Jeffery came to Thailand for 18 months to teach English....with a husband and a very young daughter in tow. Kristen very kindly tells ajarn.com how her experience unfolded and needless to say, it's a must-read for anyone thinking of teaching English while caring for a young child at the same time.
A teacher in Chiang Mai
Is it paradise or pants?
Few teachers know Chiang Mai better than Andy B. Although he started working there for less than 10,000 baht a month, he soon found out that displaying a degree of professionalism reaped dividends.
Discrimination against Filipinos
Are the Filipinos getting a fair crack?
Straight-talking Australian teacher Ajarn X has written an excellent article on racial discrimination in Thailand, and also what makes the good Filipino teachers very good and the bad ones extremely bad. Not just a good read for Filipinos, but anyone who teaches in Thailand.
One of my favorite ever contributions to ajarn.com
Take a look at the ajarn.com art gallery. This is the place for talented teachers to scan and send us those little masterpieces that are created while students are busy doing tests or assorted gap-fill exercises.
No Saturdays, no kids, no evenings and no TEFL certificate
One woman's quest to find a teaching job through informal interviews
Kathy Willis from the USA contacted me to say that she was going to spend a whole week interviewing for teaching jobs in Bangkok. Yes sir, she was going to run a finger down all those banner ads on the ajarn.com homepage and hit the mean streets in search of suitable employment.
Cameroonian (female, 29 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Dane (male, 41 years old, native Danish speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Ugandan (female, 25 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Filipino (female, 27 years old, native Tagalog speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (3), Diploma (1)
Filipino (female, 32 years old, native Tagalog speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
American (male, 31 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Filipino (female, 28 years old, native Tagalog speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (4), MA (1)
Russian (male, 52 years old, native Russian speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
South African (female, 26 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (3), BA (1)
Ugandan (male, 29 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Ajarn.com was started as a small hobby website in 1999 by Ian McNamara. It was a simple way for one Bangkok teacher to share his Thailand experiences and pass on advice. The website developed a loyal and enthusiastic following. In 2004, Ian handed over the reins to Phil Williams and 'Bangkok Phil' has run the ajarn website ever since.
Ajarn.com has grown enormously and is now the most popular TEFL site in Thailand - possibly even South East Asia. Although best-known for its vibrant jobs page, Ajarn has a wealth of articles, blogs, features and help and advice. But one principle has always remained at Ajarn's core - to tell things like they are and to do it with a sense of humor. Thailand can be Heaven or Hell for an English teacher. It's always been Ajarn.com's duty to present both sides of the equation. Thanks for stopping by.