This is the place to air your views on TEFL issues in Thailand. Most topics are welcome but please use common sense at all times. Please note that not all submissions will be used, particularly if the post is just a one or two sentence comment about a previous entry.

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Teachers standards are dropping at my school

I'd like to share my observations of the teachers whom I'm tasked with observing.

Firstly, I don't employ teachers. I have nothing to do with the recruiting process (thank god) and I merely have to observe them when scheduled or when the teachers get complaints (it's happening a lot more now).

The standard of teaching has dramatically dropped at my school. Not just the teaching, but the quality of the teachers to come to work everyday, show up on time, not be doing something stupid at work, etc. My agency seems to be having great difficulty even employing the most basic teachers. They just seem to be employing anyone with a degree or anyone who can stay here longer than three months. And the results are getting my agency into hot water.

I've observed first hand how bad these teachers are. They should not be allowed to be anywhere near a classroom. We still have great teachers who've been at my school for years or who are new, it's just we are getting a lot more bad and throw-away teachers. It's painful watching some of these people teach and me having to observe them. Unless my feedback is good, my bosses don't wanna know. They just bury their heads in the sand or try to blame me. Again, I don't employ or supervise anyone. I've been given the task of doing observations simply because of how long I've been at my school and my experience.

I'm becoming fearful for where it's all going. I can't win. If I give them bad grades, I get told to to basically threaten them (not my job) and to 'guide' them. I'll help however I can, but the teachers have to want help. They have to want to better themselves. When they get a good grade, the agency pretends like there was never a problem until it comes back. There are complaints every single day.

Who'd want to be entrusted with finding teachers now? It must be impossible. I don't want to observe anymore. I feel I'm being used as someone who can take away some of the blame from the agency. When I took the role, I specifically explained how I will give them feedback but the agency have to address that feedback. I just want to be the messenger. No good deed and all that.

Dave


Filipino teachers need to get tougher

I work with about nine Filipino teachers. I'm one of only three native- English speakers left at my school. The school I work for only employ those with degrees or post grads in subjects related to education (for WP reasons), which is probably why we have so many Filipinos. not many natives with B.Eds or PGCEs/M.Eds would work here.

I only work here due to practical reasons at the moment (location due to wife's job), but we're off (probably back to the UK) when this contract ends.

On the whole, Filipinos are lovely people. Quite religious in many ways and always polite and helpful. However, they do speak their own language most of the time in the staff-room. Nothing wrong with that, but I've heard arguments saying that Filipinos who teach English abroad only speak English when at school. That is complete nonsense. They also speak a lot of Thai to their students too. I know of one 'English' teacher at my school who speaks Thai about 90% of the time to her pupils.

We make exams for each other (the school will not allow a teacher to make his own tests) and I don't get to see them until the exam day. Exams get 'passed' before the exam date by a Filipino boss. The last lot I got back were full of grammatical errors. To the point where I had to give the pupils a mark as the questions made no sense (sometimes more than one answer could be correct or the question made no sense at all). Of course, English is not their first language, so to expect them to get it 'right' all of the time is wrong. Even native-speakers make errors, of course. However, my experience is that they make a lot of errors.

They are also their own worst enemy (in my experience, which is fairly narrow if i'm being honest). The Filipinos at my school are overly obedient and never question management. To the point that they end up working evenings and weekends for free. The Thai management see this and now expect the same from westerners. Obviously, this is harder to implement. Not due to 'white privilege' or other such nonsense, but due to coming from cultures where employees have rights and will, if pushed, make their feelings known and move on to a different employer. We may be 'in Rome', but we won't be taken advantage of as easily.

This is why you will see more and more Filipinos and an ever decreasing number of native speakers of English in Thailand. China is now offering twice the salary and many of those jobs also offer free accommodation. The Thais either cannot (or will not) compete with this. Thai management love the bowing and scraping. In their eyes, Westerners are not very good at this and some are not afraid to 'answer back'. I've never seen a Filipino question a management decision. I've seen one agree to working three Saturdays in a row for free! They asked me too, and you can guess my response.

This has now caused me a few issues and I'm seen as a 'trouble maker' for refusing to work for free on Saturdays and Sundays, which is not part of contract. If, like me, the Filipinos stood up for themselves then perhaps I wouldn't be seen as 'the odd one out'. Of course, they whine constantly in the staff room about being taken advantage of, but never say or do anything to stop it! They had the chance when I spoke up, but they just put their heads down.

As I, said, I think they're all lovely hard-working people, but I just wish they would stand up for themselves a little more, because the Thais and at times, western agents, can (and do) take advantage of their good nature.

Joe, Bangkok


Thailand doesn't seem to want me

As a young 53 year old mature age Australian graduate with an Early Childhood BA major, I recently completed a short but enriching three years in the kingdom. A government anuban for a short three-month contract, a private bilingual school for a one-year contract and another small town P1 homeroom teacher job in the northwest.

I completed all contract years with good references and had always had happy students and parents. I had tried to give all my own learning and ability to the three cohorts I worked with.

I had been applying since February for new teaching positions as my last contract was nearing an end on March 31st, wherein I'd been advised I would be replaced by a non-NES and that the school director sought female teachers instead.

I'd followed all leads kindly afforded online and by word of mouth. Months of applying nation-wide to easily more than 100 employers saw me with one 25,000 baht high school offer. I didn't accept it on precedent value alone, for the benefit of future teachers.

Yesterday I landed in Hong Kong on my way to China. I miss somtum already but its clear Thailand doesn't care much about hiring me; the gaps between finding work were becoming untenable - months at a time, this time specifically five months without work.

I'd like to return to Thailand to retire, but sadly right now I must go to where the work is for the coming years. Thanks for listening,

Gary


Support your local Thai fresh market

Fortunately I've never had a hankering for Western food here and I think after three years in Thailand I've forgotten what the inside of a supermarket looks like. There is a wide selection of fruit and veg available from the plethora of local markets.

You're living in Thailand so learn to speak Thai. Even if it's just enough to do the shopping. If you were back in the Old Blighty, you'd be screaming about people who dare to come to England and don't speak the language. Same goes for you sweethearts. Show the same respect you'd expect and learn some basic communication.

Street stalls are great but be careful with the sugar and salt. Much more difficult to fix when soups are involved. However, freshly cooked veg and rice meals are easily solved.

Mai sai pong chew rot - no MSG.
Mai sai nam daan - no sugar.
Mai sai khem - no salt.
Nam man nit noy - just a little oil.

Try some of these phrases when you are ordering and hopefully it will help you to eat healthier. Or at least avoid some of the bad sides of the Thai food. They do go OTT with the sugar, salt and msg so you have to cut that when ever you can.

Apart from that the wonderful variety of fruit and vegetables make for wonderful eating. There are a few good Thai cooking schools around that can help you learn about the different ingredients.

Please head to your local market and try the plentiful, cheap varieties even if you only slowly expose yourself to new things. There are plenty of cheap, familiar varieties to chose from. Above all else learn to eat Thai. Eating western is far too expensive in this country.

Darron


Archaic ideas are holding the students back!

I have been working in Thailand for two years now, and with regret I have decided to bid farewell to a country that I adore. I have been working at a medium-size primary school in the north of the country. I have enjoyed teaching my students here and the majority of them have been a pleasure to teach! However, I have been continuously held back from nurturing my students even further, by the archaic ideas and nonsense from the school's hierarchy

I wish the school's director and other so-called management here embraced the foreign teachers ideas and shared some of theirs as well. Unfortunately , they are reluctant to change and to communicate, too.

I leave for Vietnam in a few weeks, but I will be visiting Thailand as frequently as possible; as I still have a deep affection for this beautiful country! Good Luck to you all!

Keith


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