They had no hands-on training. They were never observed and didn't observe others. They never learned how to lesson plan.
They fell into the job and have been stumbling through it ever since. Purely on the grounds that English is their first language. That is their qualification and the sum total of their experience.
They exist in a void of having always done things their way and will not be told otherwise. They rarely [scrub that, never] ask for other teacher's opinions and react negatively towards any sort of feedback on their styles.
It is nigh on impossible to try and streamline anything with them, such as a structured reading program across different grades.
And they shy away from anything that looks remotely like extra work or career development.
This is their logic. What doesn't get the attention of the head teacher is taken as a cue that they're doing things right. 1 + 1 = 2.
Why are they here? Because their significant other is a Thai. And that's the only reason. Oh, and it's good fun and relatively cheap to live here, too.
Why do they teach? Some have no other means of income. Others don't want to dip into savings and early retirement plans. And they intend to keep this practice up for as long as possible. It makes sound financial sense.
Screw the quality of teaching and the dubious value that schools and students gain from their contributions. This is about good ol' farangy and his/her other half. And only about that.
What do they bring to the role? Every lousy habit and routine way of working that they held in their previous careers and the methods that they can remember their own teachers using from when they were at school.
They shout over students as a means of getting more of them to listen and are too set in their blinkered ways to realise that it doesn't work. If anything, it further alienates students and makes their lessons even more tedious.
They write in block capitals on the board AS IF EVERY LESSON THEY EVER SAT THROUGH AND EVERY TEXT THEY EVER READ AT SCHOOL WAS PRESENTED IN THE SAME MANNER.
Many are obsessive grammar bores because of the websites that they routinely grab their dreary material from. They believe that being able to memorise unusable grammatical terminology is as or more important than actually being able to actively understand and use the language itself.
They're not teaching their students English, they're teaching their students about English. Guilty until proven innocent.
Most of them don't even know their students nicknames, or care too it seems.
Those that can be bothered to give a hoot about grades hold up their test and exam results as a sign of their ability to deliver, ignoring the fact that many of their students were good at English in the first place and would have undoubtedly scored higher with a properly trained teacher.
If their jobs are not simply a means to an end, some of them even read academic texts that were not written in, for or about teaching in Southeast Asia. And they swallow these texts verbatim despite the fact that they have no real idea of how to actually adapt and apply them to the classroom.
A few even go so far as to take up distance-learning degrees. Round of applause over, there is still not an ounce of hands-on experience or real-time feedback in sight. And that means the acquisition of nice-to-have information and knowledge vs. invaluable understanding and wisdom.
An online TEFL would be a lot quicker and cheaper and just as useless. They get a pretty piece of paper with their name on it too, just to show how diligent they are.
What really niggles me about all of this is that the educational and immigration authorities swallow this mediocrity. Wholesale. Because it's easy to rubber stamp. Where's the quality control in that?
It is both sad and worrying that people without proper teacher training behind them are so easily able to infiltrate the system. To be brutally frank, it sucks.
For me, the true mark of an untrue teacher is one that gets hung-up over things like punctuation and perfect nouns. All they're doing is rehashing what they themselves were taught at school. Yes, these things are important... but to native speakers in their own home countries. Whoever's selling red biros in Thailand must be making an absolute killing.
But to hell with communication. It's the latest Google search and downloadable lesson plan that counts, right? Wrong! Very wrong.
Note to readers. This is what I have observed on numerous occasions in numerous locations in Thailand. It does not refer to any one particular school and its hiring policy or to any one particular individual. It's called the plain truth.
I suspect that this article will ruffle a few collars. Swallow this as a finale. A degree in English Literature is unusable in Thailand because English is rarely if ever studied at such a high level and only an education-based degree could possibly make up for a lack of having been properly trained to teach English, and even then...