More power to us

More power to us

I lay myself prostrate at the threshold of your venerable institute

An e-mail from a recruiter / academic director.
My questions for Filipino teachers:
Why do you flood my inbox with your resume 10 minutes after I post a job ad to Ajarn?
Why don't you READ the job description that explicitly states "only Native English speakers need apply"?
Why do I very graciously reply to their email with advice such as "please do not copy another Filipino's cover letter and pass it off as your own!"?
Why do I receive three resumes by the exact same person all on the same day? And sometimes on the next day as well?
Do you have special software that enables you to do this, or do you just not pay any attention?
Do you not think that employers will consider you totally ridiculous for sending a cover letter that is an exact match of another Filipino's cover letter?

And some e-mails from the accused.

This preference for native English speakers in language centers is not only true in Thailand but in many countries as well. On some level, this is also true in the Philippines: white teachers get a higher rate than the Filipino teachers. In fact, I have a white Costa Rican friend who earns more than double of what his Filipino counterparts are earning and he has yet to spend a day in school. Yes, his parents never put him in school! He does not even know what a dangling sentence is but he is already handling English group discussions. On the other hand, his Filipino co-teachers are earning a little more than the minimum wage even though they have university degrees.

Fact is many Filipinos are fluent in three languages: the dialect of their province (Waray, Bisaya, Ilonggo, etc.), Filipino and English (the two official Philippine languages). Many children of educated parents are actually raised knowing English only. They only learn Filipino in school and by interacting with other kids. All are required to be good in Filipino and English before we leave grade school.

The Philippines is currently competing with India as the call center capital of the world. 90 % of these companies are US-owned (some are Australian or UK-owned) so it is likely for American Express cardholders, Dell customers, and Microsoft clients to be connected to Filipino call center agents.

Being a former US-colony and having a government patterned from the US system, the Philippines has its constitution and laws originally written in English. All of our street signs are in English. Court hearings are in English. Public announcements in malls, train stations and car parks are in English. Many of our TV programs and advertisements are in English. We use this language everyday.

EFL teaching in the Philippines is a booming industry. Every year, thousands of Koreans (students and professionals) fly to Manila, Cebu, Baguio and other Philippine cities to study English. Many of them take their undergraduate courses here as well because it is cheaper in the Philippines than in South Korea and they are forced to interact with English speakers (the Filipinos) everyday.

I have been to Bangkok a couple of times as a tourist and I am planning to come back to teach but I am very nervous. I have a degree in English Studies but I am afraid that the Bangkok schools will find it lacking. I am a published writer in English but I am afraid that my color will be a problem. I have already taught Koreans for a year but I am afraid that inexperienced Brits or Americans will be considered more qualified than me.

English is not a white man's language. I have met Singaporeans who can spell better than my Aussie friends. I have met American teachers who almost piss in their pants after being told that they'd have to take some grammar tests. I hope Thais and schools in Thailand will realize that race or nationality has nothing to do with how qualified a person is in teaching this language.


I don't usually interact with this kind of issue and I guess this would be the first. Honestly, I'm surprised with the huge numbers of Filipinos come to Thailand day after day. The act would literally tell you that employment is really not easy. Pressures and politics in that matter, but I don't really have to talk about it.

I just want to say that there are a Filipinos who are also qualified to teach take in to accounts. And that schools should give them a chance, on probation perhaps rather than totally shutting them off. Schools shouldn't be biased and that discrimination must not be practiced.

If qualifications are not met then, that's the time to share the bad news...
I have nothing against Native Speakers over powering Filipinos but the main concern is probably the chance for others as well native or non - native speakers.

Guilty. Yes, I am indeed guilty of massively sending out resumes to all job posts I see over the internet for TESL whether Thailand, Japan, China even as far as Mongolia. It's basically under this universal premise - the more resumes sent, the bigger the chance for responses. You have to take into consideration that our second language is English. Even kindergarten pupils speak perfect English. Apart from that we actually have some kind of joke here - you can practically bump into a Filipino whichever corner of the world you're in. Every deserted island from Africa to Oceania, there is 100% chance that a Filipino is making his living there. It goes to show our resiliency. This trait is actually one of the findings that I got when I conducted my college thesis on popular culture.

I don't think Filipinos are shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to Thailand job hunt. You said it yourself, the Filipino teaching community is huge out there. So flooding recruiters' inboxes with emails aint bad after all. It works!


Although I would like to express my opinion on this matter, I'm afraid that this site is biased and sides more with the recruiters/employers and the native speakers of english with white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair.

But it's worth a try. Let's see...

I've been working in a school for 5 years all of which I must say has given me an insight about teachers from different cultures, Thai, Indian, Filipinos and Native Speakers, (British, American, Australian, New Zealand, Canada etc.) including Russian, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch.

I am a Filipino and my school has a policy of recruiting only native speakers preferably white skin and blonde hair. And yes, I receive 50 e-mails everyday for the first 5 days every time we post an ad. And there are many Filipinos answering the ad as well as other nationalities. But between receiving an over formal cover letter and receiving a cover letter that writes "I've taught english to a Friend in Thailand and I'd love to work at your school" - I'd definitely rather like to read the over formal cover letter which at least shows respect to the profession and to the school. Mediocrity is a work of lazy people.

A Cover letter is an important part of a CV. One must be able to write a good cover letter especially if you're a teacher.

The issue of qualification:
Between an Asian/Filipino and a native speaker's resume.
I have two resumes in my hand: one from an Asian lady who taught english for two years in Thailand and one from a native speaker who taught english for 6 months in a language school.

After presenting it to the employer of my school, needless to say - she chose the white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair candidate. And why is that?....

So it comes to my mind: What about the quality of the school? Should we pursue the famous I have a "farang teacher" rather than the quality of teaching which reflects the school? If it's all about the image, where will the quality of education be in the next ten years? Unfortunately, it's all about the image. And that is something that Filipinos or other Asian nationalities can't do anything about.

International schools are springing out like mushrooms in Bangkok alone. And all have the same idea: to have a farang teacher - regardless of qualification. And oh yes!!! what about the fake certificate one can easily get at Khao San road?

A principal from one of the popular international schools in Bangkok admits that while their students do speak english fluently, they can't write equally good as they speak, and its far different. So, what do you think of that?

Then there comes the issue of equality, and fairness.
The issue of quality not quantity.
The issue of racism.
The issue of good to excellent educational leadership.

So before you start to think of anything else. think of these matters first... because they do count more importantly. . .

Cho, a Filipino.

I am a Filipino residing and working in Thailand. I say Filipinos are getting discriminated against in getting a good teaching job in Thailand. I had to admit that we have our share of failures. More and more Filipinos are coming to Thailand untrained and not really qualify to teach English. But what about those Filipinos who are qualified? Those Filipinos who got a degree in Education and those who passed their TOEFL/TESOL/CELTA certifications. Yes, Filipinos are not native speakers and regardless of how we try we will not be (not if we live in an English Speaking country). But WE can teach. Grammar wise, I say we are better than "real farang". Conversation wise, some are as competitive as any "real farang".

Our education in Philippines is solely based on American curriculum. English subjects were taught early on. And most of the other subjects like science, math, music, computer and even our history are being taught in English. English Language is everywhere - music, movies, videos, books, newspapers, shooping malls, fast food chains, just to name a few. Our experience in learning the language is far better than any Asian countries. And we speak better too. We can easily loose our regional accent in a month or two. American outsourcing companies are all over the Philippines. Companies like American Express, Sykes, People Support are investing heavily to trained Filipinos to answer phone calls and inquiries coming from the United States. There was an article in some Washington newspaper about 3 years ago asking Pres. GW Bush to stop the outsourcing companies to hire Filipinos because American residents needed jobs too.

Currently, I am teaching in a small private school in Phatthalung. This is my first teaching job and I like it. The school doesn't have any English Program so I have to work from scratch. But we had some succees. My students did very well on the English Proficiency Test. We are number 1 in Phatthalung province, number 12 in the south and number 81 in all Thailand. There are about 12,000 students who took the tests this year. In one local English contests here in Phatthalung we beat the school who have a "real farang" to handle their English Program.

Again, Filipinos are being discriminated for just being a Filipino. I want to ask the employers, the school supervisors... please have a second look at our application. We may not be as good as any "real farang" in paper, but we always get the job done.

I'm a one time teacher, Chaiyaphum, decided teaching wasn't for me at the time and that the agency I was working for was sub-standard, so I left it.

During my short stay there as M.2/M.5 English teacher, I saw the agency mistreat Filipinos in a way that seemed to be taken for granted as being perfectly just and the norm. Filipinos are subjected to blatant discrimination in Thailand in the English teaching racket on top of often coming from such dire economic situations in their country, and schools and agencies often would never consider paying Filipinos wages on par with those made by Falang and don't seem to view this type of behavior as being in any way unethical.
This is well known.

An additional angle I'd like to tack onto this discussion is that of the Falang view point when confronted with this kind of activity. I personally felt very uncomfortable living and working with a woman from the Philippines who was working hard to support her family that she was separated from, who had eight years teaching experience and a Master's Degree of some kind who was making quite a bit less than I. I, by the way, had no experience teaching, and still have no degree! To top it off, when they offered her a contract extension, accompanying it was a pay cut! I also noticed that she wasn't invited to many outings and English Camp gatherings and so forth.

The agency deemed it none of my business when I voiced my feeling about this. It feels awkward at best to teach and live with a second class citizen when you're considered to be first class. I wonder how Filipinos might better their cause, and hope they find and implement a way to do so.


I am bothered about hearing so many sad stories of Filipinos teaching English in Thailand. First, they have gone through this process called "discrimination". Second, they have to try very hard to prove their capability because of, again, discrimination. They are not native speakers and so they have to prove they're good. And it's a pity because, even how hard they try, still, they are being turned down because they are not "native".

What do they have to do? Appeal in the UN so they would be recognized as another English speakers? Yes, they don't own the language, but for God's sake, English has been a part of their lives so many centuries back. And they become ally of so many English speaking countries. They are ranked third largest English speaker after UK and US.

If the only way for them to get recognized is to rally in front of the UN Headquarter, then they have to do it.

And for the Filipinos who are being discriminated because of the 'Filipinized' English...long live the battle for recognition!!!! You have to march in front of the UN Headquarter, so you would be noticed.

I am Filipino student who is planning to teach in Thailand right after my graduation. Now, with regard to the questions you posted regarding the preponderance of Filipino teachers in Thailand, my answers to the questions are as follows:

Can Filipinos make it easier for themselves to find jobs?

Filipinos are extremely adaptable and talented people. This is the reason why most Filipinos who go abroad succeed. This is also the reason why most employers prefer Filipino workers to their Asian counterparts. While other nationalities suffer from culture shock and other migration-related problems and even need months or years to adjust to their new environments, Filipinos readily adjust themselves to the culture i.e. lifestyle and language of their host countries.

They do it through learning the language including the accent (that's how intrinsically motivated Filipinos are), befriending with their hosts and establishing a good relationship with them. The flexibility of the Filipino self can be indirectly accounted for the fact that the Filipino race is a product of many races. Also the Philippines is a very multicultural country; its more than 7,000 islands are inhabited by people with distinct cultural practices and languages. Filipinos get to expose themselves to other cultures and languages in the Philippines when they visit different places in the country and when they go to cities like Metro Manila, the so-called melting pots of Filipino culture, to study, work, conduct business, etc. In these cities the hosts (city people) and the guests (those from the provinces) adjust with each other in terms of language and practices. In short, Filipinos have already learned and exposed to such types of adjustments even before going out to other countries

Filipinos are also talented and creative people. Most of them can be considered jack-of-all-trades considering the variety of tasks they can do. Filipinos also have a known work ethics marked by their sincerity and passion for their work Sadly, they only manifest such work ethics when they are in other countries probably because of the more motivating work atmosphere.
Filipinos are also humble. They are willing to start with the most basic of salaries and be assigned to inconvenient areas.

What about the English-native speaker status issue?

Undeniably, Filipinos are among the best speakers of English in Asia. Some Filipinos even speak the English language as fashionable as the native speakers. However, it can't also be denied that some Filipinos particularly those who did not attend good universities speak Filipino English, which like any English varieties around, is a bit different from international English.
The ability of Filipinos to communicate and teach in English excellently should be the most important thing to consider not their non-native English speaker status. After all, it's not the knowledge about the English language (or any subject for that matter) that only counts in language teaching or any field of teaching but more importantly is the ability to use or share this knowledge with other people. Filipinos make the perfect package because aside from their good knowledge in English they also have the passion for imparting this knowledge to their students.

I am very surprised on the very high level of discrimination other ASIAN countries had with Filipino teachers. The idea of hiring only native speakers to teach english and other subjects in their country seemed to be a good option in realizing their dream of having an english speaking citizens. Since the coming of the Americans way back 1800s here in the Philippines, the speaking of english by a Filipino had become part of its culture and everyday dealings.

Right now, western countries like the US, Canada, Europe and other english speaking countries in the world have opened more doors for Filipinos to teach their children. Just recently, The US states have hired more than 5000 Filipinos and the demand grows higher and higher every year. These opportunities for Filipino Teachers would not just come overboard without due planning and thorough evaluation of the Filipino potentials by their experts and planners.

There is now an existing paradox: Caucasians are hiring Filipino Teachers to teach their kids while Asians are hiring native speakers to teach children. With the demand of hiring 2 million teachers in the US for the next decade I think Thailand, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and other asian countries should reconsider their selective(racial)preference in hiring teachers. A good educative processes/programs by a country should eliminate biases and disciminatory approaches. Education should cater to all walks of life and races.

The next thing to watch in the coming few years will be the migration of Filipino Teachers in America, Canada and other English speaking countries because their expertise and experience are sought for and their qualifications stand out among other nationalities of asian origin.


Been in Thailand for almost a year but the issue of discrimination bothers me. I am an English major and been teaching the language on EFL and ESL context for 8 years now. There are plenty of Filipinos teaching English here in Thailand. There's no problem with that. The problem is there are those who have the guts to teach the language but they don't have the skills and training to do so. With this premise, you can't blame Thai adminstrators if they prefer Native Speakers.( I am not really comfortable using the term "native speakers" because they don't exist. Its a myth. Ask the socio-linguists and they will answer " fluent user of English" )

Remember: You can't give what you don't have. You can call me biased or whatever but let me tell you this fellow Filipino teachers.


Do I have the bragging rights. What do you think? To Thai Admin.: IF YOU WANT A GOOD ENGLISH TEACHER THEN HIRE AN ENGLISH MAJOR FROM THE PHILIPPINES.

Sorry about this but those non-english majors are doing injustice to us English teachers. Why? I don't have to explain because its common sense.

I think that we are over simplifying the Filipino issue in Thailand. The attitude that if we throw enough mud against the wall, some will stick just does not work. Many might not view that as resiliency but a lack of professionalism. Parents want their children to speak English with proper pronunciation. This is why most schools let Filipinos teach grammar and the Westerner's conversation. This might be why many children speak very good English but lack writing skills as many schools do not have the budgets at time to afford both so they choose conversation over grammar as it shows progress to the parents. Teaching is a market, and you have market forces at play. With so many qualified and unqualified Filipinos in Thailand, the supply of Filipino teachers far outstrips the demand. This imbalance causes people to abuse the situation as they take the view that there is more waiting outside to come in and mass mailing your CV just reinforces this perception. Yes, Filipinos do shoot themselves in the foot both here in Thailand and in Dubai! As for an existing paradox, I see none. What I do see this is global economics at play. Western countries "pouch" staff from less fortunate countries as it decreases their salary bills. How many nurses in the UK, Middle East or even Holland are from those countries? Welcome to Global Economics 101.


It's comforting to know some people care about what's going on....
Discrimination per se is not new so who cares? We weren't born yesterday. Filipinos almost all over the world are considered 2nd class citizens and I am not bitter about it, I have been to other places and I kinda like it here (been here for three consecutive years now).

Speaking from experience I attended a workshop/training seminar ( I was part of the team of trainors) most recently where the opening speech from the chairman was I should say, purely anti - filipino and pretty offensive too because he said filipinos are "kikiat" and "ngong" that the trainer from the British council came up to me and was very sorry some people had such views.

Teaching English in Thailand is no joke that nobody has the bragging right. "Native speakers" can be rightly preferred because they are born with the language and the idea of perfection that comes with it but teaching could be another angle. Filipinos can teach the language purely owing to the reason that we learned it and it was taught to us. But then again experience can be the best teacher. There is always that big sphere of learning and improvement and please note there is no perfect language.

Secondly, finding a job is no joke either and everybody has the right earn a living, let us stop discriminating and on the sad note kababayans please don't discriminate your kababayans. Please do care people here mean serious business because they are paying serious money, if you don't have what it takes please don't. Ruining the "Filipino Values" could mean a downfall to everybody.

Thirdly, employers please don't seal the fate of an individual simply because he is a filipino... Germans, Dutch and French are not in any circumstance native speakers. Proper screening could help at least do away with the so called "rotten ones" and make use of the "good ones". Give us a chance to prove our worth.

I am presently working with the english program in one of the best government schools in Thailand happily being paid a "falang's" wages with all of the benefits not to mention housing allowance, paid leaves and vacations. And writing lesson plans for a year now for an English program in another school in Bangkok. I should say, Angel or whoever you are I am not an English Major and so are my other foreigner friends be it filipinos or westerners. Please stop this seemingly unstoppable bad attitude towards others after all we are all but humans if you know what I mean.

I sincerely worked for where I am now and everybody deserves his or her own chance...



I am writing this comment on behalf of all Asian teachers. I feel you..although I may not be Filipino but I am Asian. I have been brought up and educated in international environments with a Masters degree in Education. I have a teaching license. And yes, I am Asian but I speak English fluently with no accent.

Recently, I applied for a teaching job in Thailand but one day right before the interview, I received an email asking me about my nationality because the school's policy is to only hire native speakers. Really? Honestly, I am frustrated as hell that I am being discriminated in my own country. Thai education system (and other Asian countries) have failed. And trust me, throughout my career, I have worked with teachers of all races. I have seen great and bad teachers. A lot of the Asian teachers out there deserve a better pay and treatment as they have even more experiences and qualifications for the job. They don't mind staying an extra 30 minutes to help their students...not everything is about money. As funny as it sounds, I have also met 'native speakers' who can't even spell words correctly.

Oh have a long way to go. I will continue to laugh at you and see how far you can get. Apologies to all the good teachers out there who have been mistreated by the Thai education system.

By Sandra, United States (13th December 2012)

filipino english teachers should unite anfd just build english tutorial centers. they can earn more and the rent for commercial spaces in thai provinces are cheaper. filipinos are good english teachers and thai students can learn easily the neutral way of speaking english. learning from filipinos is very affordable and quality teaching is assured.

By roger, bangkok (23rd April 2012)

non-native teachers like filipinos may join together and set up an english tutorial center in the provinces of thailand. rent of space is cheap and filipino english teachers can set up their online english tutorial business. filipinos can beat the high prices too of foreigners who own language businesses. you will see the results. try it.

By roger, Philippines (15th March 2012)

quote: "to find a job on October?", "i will be in thailand on september to look for an ESL job"
You pinoys are such a joke! We dont need your pathetic piony-English here in Thailand. Go figure!

By Sam Khun, (29th September 2011)

i don't know what to feel after reading all of these things..but still i want to be in Thailand.I want to share my knowledge in teaching to Thai kids it possible for me to find a job on October?

By fetzcy, Philippines (10th June 2011)

i will be in thailand on september to look for an ESL job...any tips? i have been reading your concerns and i agree with jessie. learn how to sell yourself. and most robably youll get what you deserve...i know it doesnt work here in P.I. but im assuming that its different htere in thai.

By alexa, P.I. (7th August 2010)

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