What happens when teaching in Thailand all goes horribly wrong
I started this section of the ajarn website because I simply felt it was needed. Although for legal reasons, companies and individuals cannot be named or implied, and details of stories are impossible to confirm, they are stories that need to be heard. If only because they serve as a warning of what can happen here.
Is there a definitive answer to this incredibly common question?
I wish I could look at the main scenarios, the reasons teachers ask if they will find work in Thailand, and give everyone a straight "yes, you will" or "no, you won't" answer. But unfortunately it's nowhere near that straightforward.
Will you be living well - or simply surviving?
Is it possible to live in Bangkok on a 30,000 baht teacher salary? OK, let's really drill down those numbers.
18 points to consider carefully when choosing a school
From unpaid mid-term breaks to having to pay for white-board markers. What are the things that turn teachers off the idea of working for a particular Thai school - and are they justified?
How to find a place you can call home
If you're searching for an apartment in Bangkok - or anywhere else in Thailand for that matter - know exactly what to look out for and what questions to ask when you go apartment hunting.
Teachers give their opinions on a couple of teaching in Thailand questions
This month's burning questions are a) Does a period of time spent teaching English in Thailand look good on your resume if and when you return home? and b) Does knowing and speaking Thai language in the classroom come in useful?
Teachers give their opinions on a teaching in Thailand issue
This month's burning question is 'what is your school's approach to making teachers attend extra-curricular activities and secondly, what is your attitude towards them?'
Teachers give their opinions on something related to teaching in Thailand
This month's burning question is 'does your school have a visa / work permit superhero?'
Teachers give their opinions on something related to teaching in Thailand
This month's burning question is what kind of state will the 'teaching in Thailand' industry be in five years from now?
Teachers give their opinions on a teaching in Thailand issue
This month's question - if you analyze your daily life as a teacher, what do you think your school could do better - or perhaps you would like to see it do better?
How to make sure your demo lesson goes as smoothly as possible
Now that the busy hiring season is almost upon us, many schools will be asking potential teachers for a demo lesson. Don't panic. Let them know who the professional is.
Where is the best place to do a TEFL course - Thailand or your own country?
A good question that occasionally pops up on social media is “should I take a TEFL course in Thailand or in my home country (USA, England, etc)? I’ve noticed that the question never really gets a decent answer, so I turned to a dozen or so of Thailand’s TEFL course providers and asked them for their input.
Having an interview on Skype is nothing to fear if you are well-prepared
Skype is now used by many companies as part of their recruitment drive. If you are faced with the 'ordeal' of a Skype interview for a teaching position, what can you do to improve your chances of performing well and landing the job?
Working your way through the teacher tax minefield
It is not unusual for certain schools to under declare a teacher's salary and consequently the tax documents provided to the teacher do not always agree with amounts paid to the Revenue Department. Sometimes the Revenue Department do not even know the teacher existed.
Ever thought about going it alone?
How easy is it to go the freelance route in Bangkok and make money charging students upwards of 500 baht an hour? Well, here are some of the perils and pitfalls of teaching from your home, the student's home or perhaps even in the nearest McDonalds.
Avoid falling into any of these teacher traps
Ajarn has put together a list of the most common mistakes that teachers make in Thailand - both new arrivals and those who have been here a while.
The problems with working for a great school but a poor agency
John loves the school that he works at but there are storm clouds brewing. He feels that the teacher placement agency might be in danger of losing the contract but he is 'legally bound' not to work directly for the school. John sees his long-term future in Thailand but doesn't want to continue with all this uncertainty. What would you do in his situation?
Are you a city boy or a country bumpkin?
Ajarn.com attempts to answer that burning question - is it better to live and work as a teacher in Bangkok or out in the boonies? We've decided to divide Thailand into two sections - Bangkok and everywhere else. Even the Thais refer to every city, town and village outside the capital as 'up-country' so who are we to argue?
Dress for success!
If you're thinking of coming to teach in Thailand then don't leave home without reading our indispensable guide to cutting a dash in the classroom. How many neckties do I need? Will the pony-tail have to go? From the moment you walk in the room, you'll be turning heads and not stomachs. On no, not all five Spice Girls please!!!!
Fashion tips for the female EFL teacher
What to wear and what not to wear in the classroom. A guide for lady teachers.
Doing it the right way!
One of the most soul-destroying things for many job applicants is to not receive replies to your emails. But are you going about things the right way? Read recruiter Chris's excellent guide on how to do it right.
Can you spare some time to help fellow teachers?
Whether you fancy putting yourself up for a hot seat interview, airing your views in the ajarn postbox, telling us about where you live in a region guide or spending a few moments over a great escape survey, we would really love to have your contributions.
Are you prepared for the unhealthier times?
As the old saying goes - don't leave home without it! Not your health insurance card anyway.
When you've had quite enough of apartment living.
For those getting tired of apartment life and the world and its uncle knowing your business - then perhaps renting a house could be the answer. It's not going to be the easiest thing you've ever done - but nothing is impossible.
What a load of bullshit!
Nothing irks me more than reading that statement and you see it all over the web wherever the topic of teaching in Thailand is discussed or promoted. It’s a statement that’s both grossly misleading and wildly inaccurate.
Do you approach those extra responsiblities with commendable gusto?
For those readers who have spent their teaching career cooped up in private language schools, gate duty is when a foreign teacher at say a government or Thai secondary school is told to stand in front of the school building – usually in the morning or at the end of the school day - and look like an asset to the institution.
Which age group do Thai employers really prefer?
It’s the argument that refuses to go away. Which teacher group do Thai schools really prefer to hire and for what reasons? In this light-hearted ajarn article, older teachers and their young counterparts square up to each other over 11 rounds. Seconds out!
Does racism exist in The Land of Smiles?
Over the years, ajarn.com has asked the question 'do black teachers have a harder time finding work in Thailand?' Racism? Xenophobia? Fear of the unfamiliar? These have been some of the responses from various teachers.
Do those who don't teach English in Thailand look down on those that do?
What do expats who work in Thailand but don't teach English think of us teachers? Are we ridiculed when out of earshot or do even the high-flyers afford us maximum respect. An invitation to a business networking evening and a chance to really find out.
Have you got what it takes to be a teacher in Thailand?
Why should women's magazines have all the fun? Try our ten questions and find out if you're cut out to be a teacher in Thailand.
What ten things are most important to you?
For some people it would be a good selection of restaurants, for others it might be a movie theater or perhaps a park or a choice of well-stocked supermarkets. What's most important for you when selecting a Bangkok neighborhood?
How to get the best from your ajarn on-line resume
If schools want to contact you about a vacant position and the e-mail bounces back, the teacher hirers won't make a note of it and contact you on another day. They'll move on to the next person and you'll be forgotten.
Is teaching English really all there is?
Is it possible to escape the teacher trap? If you think that teaching is the only thing in Thailand that foreigners can do (apart from own a beer bar in Pattaya of course) - well here are ten stories to prove you wrong.
A playful look at this sometimes crazy industry
Have we come up with the ultimate A to Z of teaching TEFL in Thailand. I'm sure you could add a few more.
Now you see it, now you don't.
A light-hearted look at some of the things Bangkokians once took for granted but are now nothing more than a distant memory. Your contributions welcome.
Why too much choice is not always a good thing
There's no reason why ajarn.com should have a monopoly on TEFL job ads in Thailand and I actually think that competition is healthy in many ways. But this is what happens when job sites steal ads from another job site.
Is teaching in Thailand a young man's game?
These are older teachers who have made their life in Thailand, perhaps even got married and raised children, and are now contemplating the unthinkable. Leaving the home they love. For many it’s either a case of seeking out pastures new or returning home to a country they left behind a long time ago.
Planning on coming to Thailand to teach? Don't leave home without them.
There are now quite a number of books written to help foreigners settle into life in Thailand and claiming that within these pages is everything you need to know. Actually that might not be just an idle boast for these two recent additions to the bookshelves.
The work permit application and renewal process
Mike, a teacher in South Thailand, takes us through the process of applying for your first work permit, renewing a work permit and also applying for the relevant visas.
Do they deserve such a bad press?
I first wrote about the topic of teacher placement agencies (TPAs) back in 2006. Back then, there were relatively few TPAs recruiting foreign teachers in Thailand compared with the number who operate today - but even in those early days, there were certainly a good few complaints about them.
When only a wise old head will do.
I am here to answer all those nagging ‘teacher etiquette’ questions that sometimes even your best friends and colleagues can’t or won’t answer. Please don’t be afraid to ask. With years of experience behind me, I’m hopeful that I can always come up with a solution that keeps a smile on everybody’s face and keeps the work-place harmonious. Best regards, Joyce Armitage
Straight from the horses's mouth
I wondered if our Thai students really had a true picture of the salaries we earn, the hardships we face, and the hoops we have to jump through? I put ten questions to a range of Thai corporate staff - male, female, single, married with kids. What do they really know? And is there any respect left for the 'ajarn farang'?
Be on your guard for anyone asking for an interview fee
We removed a bogus job ad from the ajarn.com job listings today for an international school in Bangkok. The job ad had unfortunately been on-line for several days and was offering attractive salaries of 50k plus. The scammer had gone to considerable trouble and even included the name of the actual person responsible for hiring teachers at the school.
What can you do when filling your teacher vacancies becomes impossible?
If you've been around teacher recruitment in Thailand for as long as I have, then you'll know that by insisting on too many requirements, a school is narrowing its field down to almost non-existent
These are the hilights
Here are some of the top quotes from members of various teacher discussion boards taken from over the past twelve months or so. Let's call it the best of the teacher's room
Is body art affecting your job prospects?
An ajarn reader wrote in to ask for advice. "I'm clean and well-presented with a good resume. But is the tattoo that covers most of my hand going to hold me back?" Over to you.
The essential guide to teaching English and living in Thailand
As they neared the end of their first year in Thailand, Michael and Sarah suddenly realized that while chatting with new arrivals, they were answering the same questions over and over again. So they began to compile a guide to help others who might want to give TEFL in Thailand a try.
What happens when teaching in Thailand all goes horribly wrong
More stories from teachers in Thailand who have found themselves in difficult situations often through no fault of their own. Can you offer them some good advice?
Where questions are thrown out to real teachers.....or just thrown out
Number one in probably a series of one. A teacher has a problem that ajarn.com just can't answer (it happens quite often to be honest) and we ask all you teachers out there to chip in with your two cents, particularly those of you who have been in the same situation. Who's been there, done that and bought the 12-piece gift set?
More worried teachers and their complex situations
More situations from teachers who plan on coming to teach English in Thailand and are looking for hard answers and stone cold facts rather than hearsay and barstool opinion.
Everyone's situation is a little different
A section of the ajarn website for those teachers looking to embark on a teaching career in Thailand and have so many questions and no real answers.
Are the job ads really that bad?
A disgruntled ajarn.com reader wrote in to say that he had never seen such low quality job ads on the Thailand TEFL websites. Is he right in his assumption? And if so, what are the reasons?
Are salaries really going down?
Ajarn.com asked about thirty recruiters, language school owners, government school hirers and firers, etc for their opinions on the TEFL job market in Thailand. So then - are teacher salaries really going down?
Could your teaching be inspired by this selection of cinematic greats?
Ajarn.com presents a selection of the greatest 'teacher movies' of all time and tries to figure out what you could learn from each one.
Making the most of your teaching time
By paying more attention to your teaching hours and your overall availability, it's possible to juggle teaching jobs around and watch your monthly earnings soar.
The flood disaster is heaping misery on numerous foreign teachers
Many teachers are unsure of when they will be able to return to work or even if they are going to get paid for the down time.
You develop a sixth sense for these online teacher scams
You need to develop a sixth sense when you run an online business that takes credit card payments. It can often be hours before a bank flags up a credit card as stolen and in those few hours, the scammer can use their credits to view teacher resumes and dupe unsuspecting victims.
All the rules and regs regarding teacher licences
Many thanks to Ajarn Forum member, Stamp, for supplying the following links to information on the complex topic of teacher licenses - and how you can teach legally in Thailand.
Recognize any of your colleagues from this list?
Nothing more than a playful poke at some of the teaching characters we've all worked with down the years. Maybe you can even recognise yourself in there somewhere?
What's the ideal hairstyle for a female foreign teacher?
I am coming to Thailand at the end of the year and would be grateful if you could advise me as to what's appropriate and inappropriate in terms of women's hairstyles (in relation to teaching posts).
Are teaching agents spelling disaster for hard-working chalkies?
The main problem that teachers seem to have with agencies is the salaries on offer. Teacher agents and 30,000 baht a month salaries have suddenly become the Siamese twins of the Thailand TEFL game. They're joined at the hip.
Tips for getting a teaching job in Thailand.
Thinking of interviewing for teaching jobs? What's the best way to go about it? What are the questions to ask at an interview and what kind of answers should you be looking for?
Macmillan Collocations Dictionary
I can see perhaps a very serious student of written English dipping into it if there is truly a word whose possible collocations they want to find out more about. And for any teacher with an intermediate class, they might take a word and use the collocations as a ten-minute lesson filler, but I'm struggling to see the dictionary's value beyond that.
What works when it comes to marketing yourself as a private teacher?
Teaching private students in your home, or even in the local McDonalds, can be a great way to put five to ten thousand baht a month in the kitty. The problem for many teachers is how to find private students - and then how to keep them.
Are we witnessing the start of a new trend?
In the 90’s, there was no shame attached to being a male teacher who smoked. You were part of the fashionable majority. But times have changed. As more and more teaching jobs are asking for 'non-smokers' only, is it time to say goodbye to the foul weed?
Stories from folks that have found things they would much rather do
Here are stories from a dozen folks who resigned themselves to teaching because they mistakenly thought it was the only job they could get in Thailand. Then lo and behold, Lady Luck came a-knocking.
Stepping back into a Thai training room after three years away
A two-day seminar on the topic of ‘Executive E-mail Writing' for fifteen participants at one of the world's largest auditing companies. That's what I had been asked to deliver. Despite having plenty of experience, it was still a daunting challenge given the fact I hadn't walked into a training room to conduct a workshop or seminar in almost three years. It was time to put my trainer hat on and get back into the groove.
Why the Thailand TEFL watchdog site is doomed to failure
Where can a teacher go to on the internet if they want to warn other teachers about a particular school and tell others how they have to work with an insane farang-hating nun, an alcoholic academic director who spends most of the day flirting with the Thai staff and a cross-dressing senior teacher who stands up in the middle of observations and shouts "you dare to call this an English lesson"?
How are you coping with the troubles?
Calling all teachers. How has all this civil unrest in Thailand affected you? Has it made you afraid to live here? What about those of you planning to come and work here? Have recent events put you off?
Is Thailand's TEFL market going to hell in a handbasket?
Job vacancies seem to be down on this time last year and we're hearing stories of some government schools slashing budgets and not being able to take on foreign teachers next term. In addition the corporate job market seems to have hit rock bottom. What do you teachers think?
Here's a well-used teacher scam that's doing the rounds.
Be careful. The world is full of teacher scams like this one. If you hear of any more then please let us know about them.
Five minutes of fame
The Bangkok Post ran a full-page article on the ajarn.com website as part of its Learning Post education section on 22nd February 2005.
Is it feast or famine?
With many teaching positions on the ajarn jobs page paying 30,000 baht a month (some even less) forum member Hollow has decided to put things to the test and record his daily spend. Many employers tell us that 30,000 baht a month is enough to live a very comfortable lifestyle - even in Bangkok. I've heard Thai people describe that kind of dough as 'luxury' Then again perhaps that's a load of old tosh. So does 30K a month enable you to lord it up right until the last day of the month or are you going to be stumbling through the final week on a diet of pot noodles and tap water? OK Hollow. Pencil? Notebook? Let's begin.
Take our fun quiz
Find out if you're the kind of teacher who any school would be proud to have as part of their team.......or perhaps why no one ever sends you a reply to your e-mail application?
What goes on in that cramped, airless little room?
For all those who have ever taught in Asia - laugh along at 'the anatomy of a teacher's room' from the water-kettle that's never full to the pot-plant that always needs watering.
As a refreshing change from someone writing about their ten years of hell in a Thai prison, you might want to take a look at Bangkok Exit written by Ryan Humphreys. Ryan gives readers a humorous warts 'n' all account of his first year teaching in Thailand at Sathit Wittaya School.
A tongue-in-cheek look at some rather eccentric teachers
I’ve always been wary of religious types. Let me be the last man to begrudge anyone the right to have a faith but there’s a time and a place. Sunday morning in church springs instantly to mind. But if I ever saw the name ‘Jesus’ written on a lesson plan I would subconsciously file the teacher under ‘one to keep an eye on’.
Give us your top ten of any Thailand TEFL-related topic
Nothing more than a bit of fun. Send us your 'list of ten' on any topic you like as long as they are in someway associated with the wonderful world of TEFL.
We asked the questions and you gave us the answers
We asked the teachers of Thailand to fill in a simple questionnaire about their jobs and their lifestyle. You answered the call in your thousands.....well, 98 of you to be exact.
Do you remember the moment?
The ink is still wet on your brand new teacher training certificate and you're suddenly faced with the prospect of standing in front of your first ever class and dishing up hearty portions of education and entertainment. We asked for your first lesson in Thailand memories. Were you as cool as a cucumber....or absolutely bricking it?
No degree? No teaching certificate? No experience?
All you've got is the language you learned as a baby. Is it still possible to get a job teaching English in Thailand? Ajarn.com picked eight random phone numbers from the jobs offered board and called them up. Dangerous things happen when ajarn.com's got time on its hands. (Names have been changed to avoid causing embarrassment. And there's certainly plenty of that)
Angels from the planet Xerox or Satan's snitch?
They are as much a part of a teaching package as subsidized health insurance, the occasional sports day and possible unpaid test-marking. We want to hear about yours. When asked to make photocopies does she say "coming right up oh great white-skinned one" or does she beat a path to the dean's door to remind him that slavery has been abolished?
What the hell do you think you're looking at?
Ever had a farang teacher look you up and down on the sky-train? It could be that they want to share lesson plans or maybe they're simply wondering what you've got to be so happy about. Either way - what's happened to the expat community spirit?
Is it truly 'the teacher's graveyard'?
Someone said to me the other day that if you're too old, too unqualified, and you're sick of constant interview rejection.....there is always Nonthaburi.
What you will need to do or have in order to become a legal teacher
With the help of one of Bangkok's top teacher recruiters and a few contacts at the Thailand Ministry of Education and The Teacher's Council of Thailand, ajarn.com has come up with the following information regarding what will be involved if you want to teach legally in Thailand as of mid-May 2009 (the start of the next academic year)
Where do they go and what do they know?
Ajarn takes a look at the Bangkok underground and sky-train systems. How has the average Bangkok teacher's life improved since the systems started operating?
There are always problems where you work
So there are 25 things wrong with your teaching job? Actually there are 25 things wrong with every teaching job - you just pray they don't all happen on the same day. As Phil explains, it's the way you handle these often 'minor inconveniences' that will make or break your time in Thailand.
Is there a severe shortage of warm TEFL bodies?
Is there really a chronic teacher shortage in Thailand? As 40,000 baht a month jobs go begging, Ajarn.com asked ten teacher recruiters their opinions on why there seems to be an acute shortage of quality teachers at present. Is it really a case of accepting the first farang that sticks his or her head around the door? No individual people or specific schools are mentioned.
Is it sometimes too easy to get a teaching job in Thailand?
A growing number of foreign teachers (particularly male) think that it's so easy to get an English teaching job in Thailand that all you have to do on interview day is turn up. Ajarn.com looks at a common mindset behind interviewing for TEFL jobs
Some brilliant answers to some frankly daft and predictable questions
We surveyed twenty-five schools and institutes that advertise regularly on the ajarn.com jobs board. Here is a selection of their answers. We fed the answers into the bat-computer and came up with an interesting combination of academic analysis and bullshit that does nothing else if not just fill up web-pages.
Is the end really nigh?
We'll send a teacher to your company two nights a week and after forty hours your employees will be gassing to each other like natives. Yeah, right. Why are so many Bangkok-based companies saying 'enough is enough' where English language training is concerned?
I lay myself prostrate at the threshold of your venerable institute
The Filipino teaching community is huge here in Thailand. But as many of them bombard recruiters inboxes with over-formal cover letters and speculative applications for jobs they are sometimes not qualified to do, ajarn.com asks the question 'can Filipinos make it easier for themselves to find jobs?'
Are those teachers over 45 suddenly too long in the tooth?
With one or two positions on the jobs board asking for teachers no older than 45, ajarn.com asks if this is the start of a terrifying trend and whether our middle-aged days are numbered? Is the TEFL industry about to be over-run with lantern-jawed buck studs who've barely started shaving? Your e-mails came in by the truckload but strangely no one under 45 years old had an opinion (well, only a couple). As someone who turns 42 next month, I'm already finding out the locations of reputable nursing homes. Enough of all this - I need to go again.
A question that will rage forever and a day.
Ajarn.com asks just how many teachers are teaching with fake credentials. Will schools employ teachers without a degree? And does a degree even make you a better teacher? Ajarn.com also braves the sticky, sweaty Khao San Road and comes face to face with not only foreign women that have let themselves go, but the degree makers themselves. Graduate for 600 baht? Surely not.
Surely you can't live on such a pitiful salary.
Numerous jobs in Thailand still pay around 25,000 baht a month. Is it really enough to live on? The fur really flies in our heated ajarn debate. So how much do you really need to earn in order to survive? A selection of teachers have their say on the whole issue of pay scales.
How does teaching in Thailand now compare to twenty years ago?
For those of you pissing and moaning about visa runs, the immigration department, the work permit process, the unpredictability of the consulates in neighboring countries - let me tell you this - it was no better in the early 90s. In fact I'd say marginally worse.