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. It's also a section for those that can't be arsed to look through the 'your questions answered' and 'newbie guide' parts of the website - or any of the other thousand ajarn web pages lovingly put together over the last decade or so. E-mail us with your situation if you don't know which way to turn and all your friends (at least those staying back in your hometown) think you are absolutely nuts.
Jay from England
First off, your site has been really helpful, however I am still left muddled and confused over certain things and if anything I am seeking your advice. I'm planning on heading to Thailand at the end of December this year. A couple of my friends are heading out in October and have asked me to go join them after a couple of months. How can I refuse?? I hate my job, my flat and this bloody country at the moment (England) so I have decided to go.
I'm planning on going for about 4-6 months, and after buying my plane ticket I'll probably have about £2,000 (sterling) saved up to take with me. Do you think as a little back-packer living life on the cheap this could suffice for around four months or would I need to work?
I'm interested in teaching (I have a bachelors degree) and my friends tell me this woud be enough for me to approach a school and get work. We are however planning on travelling around so I don't know which area of Thailand we would be in at this point. We don't have an iron clad itinerary. (is this bad?)
What visa would you recommend? And would I need to sort a work permit before I jet off or can I sort that there if and when I need one? Any help/answers/advice woud be greatly appreciated. Sorry for waffling.
Jay, you're woefully underfunded. 2,000 pounds is just 100,000 baht at the current exchange rate. You say that your objective is to stay in Thailand for 4-6 months. Even at four months, you're only averaging 25,000 baht a month. That's just over 800 baht a day! Don't even think about travelling around Thailand looking for week on such a meagre daily allowance. Forget what it says in dog-eared Lonely Planet guides from several years ago, Thailand has definitely become more expensive of late and that includes accommodation and transportation across the country. If the 100 baht a night fan bungalow ever existed, you'll have a hell of a job tracking them down now. And those aren't going to be areas to look for teaching work anyway.
My advice - save at least three to four thousand quid if you can. The only answer to the question "how much should I bring?" is "bring as much as possible". When you're travelling around Asia on the bones of your arse, all you need is one accident or one disagreement with a nasty local to financially wipe you out. And that can happen to the best of us.
December is also the worst month of the year in Thailand to look for teaching jobs and it's closely followed by January. Get the picture? If you're coming over with two thousand quid, I think you've enough money to tide you over for a month or two and then you are going to have to look for work. Remember that if you are going to settle down here for a while and teach, you're going to have to stump up deposits for apartments, etc. You might have to wait a month until you get your first paycheck. All that has to be done with your 2,000 pound nest egg. Screw a sense of adventure. I wouldn't do it.
I would hold off until early March and then come over. Early March is when the job market picks up so at least you have the security of knowing that you'll find teaching work easier if thise funds start dwindling faster than expected.
I'm not worried about you finding a job. You've got a degree. You're qualified enough. You'll find work no problem. But I am concerned about your financial numbers. Don't let the fact that you hate everything about life in England cloud your judgement. Always stay focused.
I would get a tourist visa (60 days) but try for a non-immigrant B visa (unlikely without a firm job offer)
Tam from Scotland
I'm a 30 year old male from the UK. My highest qualification is a Higher National Diploma: Communication with Media. I spent two years (2009-2011) as a TEFL teacher in provincial Thailand at various establishments and teaching all age groups. The second job I landed was at a university where I was assured that my four years at college were equivalent to an Associates Degree, which was equivalent to a Bachelors Degree. The president of the university wrote a letter claiming I had a BA, with which the university obtained a work permit and non-B visa for me.
I left Thailand in 2011 because the school I worked for at that time could not provide adequate documentation for me to get a non-B visa, and the embassy kept demanding a letter from the Thai Ministry of Education, which the school did not obtain on my behalf. (I believe this was because the MoE wanted to see a copy of the degree certificate, but I heard that as long as the school vouch for the teacher then everything should go ahead without a hitch).
I am currently in the UK working and saving to return to Thailand within a couple of months. I am studying a TEFL certificate online and considering various life degrees (I know several teachers who have had no problem finding work with life degrees from the University of Dublin, but have been informed that Almeda University are better 'accredited'...). I am also considering taking a CELTA or TESOL course at some point, or studying for an official BA with the Open University, although these are both expensive and time consuming.
Naturally, I would like to take the easiest path with the least amount of hassle which enables all processes to happen above board. I have contacted the relevant qualifications authority to see if I am eligible for BA accreditation or suchlike, but am curious as to what other options would best suit me otherwise?
I really enjoyed teaching Pratom classes at the Tessaban schools, but also enjoyed university and adult classes as well so I'm open to pretty much anything and am aware that there are different requirements for different types of teaching.
Hi Tam. You spent two years teaching in Thailand very recently, and at various schools and universities by the sound of it. You obviously know how things work here - or you certainly should by now. To be honest, I'm a little surprised that you're asking these questions given your experience. Perhaps you're looking for some kind of reassurance? Let me say one thing right from the start - things haven't got any easier for teachers without degrees in the short time you've been away.
You've experienced both sides of the coin here. You've worked for the university with 'connections in the right places' or simply an instititute that knows what it's doing - and they managed to get your paperwork and work permit all sorted without any hassle. And you've also worked for a language school that failed with the same task. That's still the case here and always will be - some schools can and some schools can't.
One thing I wouldn't do is go down the 'life degree' route. I don't doubt for a moment that you know or have heard of teachers beating the system in this way but we all know that life degrees are a scam. Cassandra James, an experienced Thailand teacher, wrote about the perils of using life degrees in Thailand back in late 2009. Nothing's changed. If you come up against a foreign or Thai interviewer who knows his or her job well enough, all they have to do is tap the name of the university into Google and you could find yourself in serious trouble. OK, you might find a rural school desperate for teachers, who is willing to play along with the whole life degree thing, but that's your call.
And even your TEFL certificate sounds like an online one without any observed teaching practice I assume? Tam, go for an interview for a decent job with a life degree and an on-line TEFL certificate and you're going to find yourself right at the bottom of the pile I'm afraid. That's if you even get as far as the interview stage. But you already know that.
I admire your desire and passion to get back out here, but is it for the right reasons and not just because you can't stand being back home? You need a plan. OK, you mention studying for a proper degree with the open university and getting a CELTA, but you also mention them as being 'time consuming and expensive' so I'm guessing that you're not flush with cash right now. So is coming to Thailand really the answer? How much money are you going to put away towards future degree and TEFL certificate study on a 30K salary (possibly the best you can hope for) and with Thailand's rising cost of living? It's something to think about.
Perhaps some other teachers might like to leave their comments, particularly if they think there are other options open to you.
Have a read of some more 'teacher situations' from 2012 and 2011. Erika in England wonders if she will be able to survive on a salary of 50,000 baht a month, That's the salary package that she's been offered. Will Freddy from Nicaragua find enough work in Thailand as a Spanish teacher or is it going to be a case of "no way Jose!" Joanelle wants to experience the fresh air, peace and harmony of a Thai rural village. Is this a possibility or just some tree-hugger's fantasy? And of course, the teachers who want to know if it's possible to find work without a degree.