After graduating from my university in 2013, I was ready to experience the world.
A few months later, I packed my suitcases and traveled alone across the Pacific where I would be spending the next year teaching English at a private school in Bangkok, Thailand.
Since my experience teaching English in Thailand, I have transitioned to teaching English online. Rather than going to a brick and mortar school each day, I login to the classroom from my home and help children learn the English language through video calls.
I am frequently asked by aspiring teachers, which is better: teaching English in a Thai school or teaching English online? The answer to that question is complicated.
Teaching English in Thai Schools
My time spent in the Din Daeng neighborhood of Bangkok was a learning experience; it is something I will never forget. Teaching in the Thai school was my first exposure to classroom teaching and it was an adjustment.
While teaching in the Thai school, I was expected to write lesson plans and create a course curriculum with very little direction or information about my students. There weren’t many teachers or staff in the school that could speak English, so it was difficult to ask for classroom or curriculum help. This was one of the most difficult parts of teaching English in a Thai school.
If you’re a new teacher in a Thai school, I highly recommend reading through these excellent and useful tips and applying them to your classroom. Any information you can gather before start will be extremely helpful.
As a classroom teacher in Bangkok, I was also restricted to a tight and busy schedule. I worked 40+ hours per week, which put a damper on traveling and seeing more of Thailand. I was confined to only travel on the weekends, which, as an avid traveler, was a hard pill for me to swallow.
Although I couldn’t go out and explore Thailand as much as I wanted to, I was blown away by the cultural experiences I was able to take part in at my Thai school. Experiencing Loi Krathong, Father’s Day, and all of the festivities that took place at my school was one of my favorite parts of teaching in Thailand. Not to mention, I was introduced to all of the popular and amazing Thai dishes by my teacher friends.
On top of that, the support I received from my school was extraordinary. The staff helped me find a suitable apartment, paid for my health insurance, and offered extensive emotional support as I adjusted to life in Thailand. My Thai teacher coworkers became my best friends and they helped me tackle every hurdle that was thrown my way.
Teaching English Online in Thailand
A few years after teaching in Bangkok, I decided to try my hand at teaching English online. I was so excited about the opportunity to work online and travel wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
I currently teach for an online English teaching company called VIPKID. Securing this job allowed me to travel back to Thailand for extended stays, visit places I had never been before, and spend more time at the beach or in the mountains of northern Thailand.
There is much more flexibility with teaching English online than there is teaching at a brick and mortar school, however, there is far less stability. I’m able to choose my own teaching schedule with VIPKID, but I’m not guaranteed classes. When I don’t teach classes, I don’t get paid. Alternatively, teaching in a Thai school provides a stable work environment; I always had classes and I was always paid on time.
One of the things that drew me into teaching English online was the pay. The teacher salary for VIPKID is great. I am able to sustain a life of travel. However, on the other hand, VIPKID does not provide health insurance or cover the cost of an apartment. In contrast, my Thai school handled and paid for all of these necessities.
Although VIPKID doesn’t give me many of the things that teaching in a Thai school did, they do provide all of the course materials and lesson plans. Instead of preparing for classes, I just show up and teach. This saves me a lot of time throughout my day.
Teaching English in Thai Schools: Pros & Cons
1. Stable pay and routine
2. No TEFL required (at least not at my school)
3. Fully immersed in Thai culture
4. Excellent community of teachers and students
5. Essentials were provided (health insurance, apartment, etc)
6. Can teach more than just English (science, math, etc)
1. Not a lot of flexibility with hours
2. No curriculum or lesson plans were provided
3. Lower pay than teaching English online
Teaching English Online: Pros & Cons
1. A lot of flexibility; choose your own schedule
2. Curriculum and lesson plans are provided
3. Higher pay
1. No health insurance provided
2. Cannot fully experience Thai culture
3. Job stability is questionable
4. Staring at a computer screen for hours at a time is difficult
Conclusion: Teaching English in Thai Schools Vs. Teaching English Online
For me, it’s very difficult to compare teaching English in Thai schools to teaching English online. They are both very different and offer two different experiences.
I loved being able to truly experience Thai culture and meet so many new friends through my job at a Bangkok school. The support my school offered was unfathomable and I appreciated their willingness to help me overcome the adjustments of moving to a foreign country.
On the other hand, teaching English online gives me the opportunity to see new things and experience new places each day. I love the flexibility of creating my own schedule and traveling to the far corners of Thailand whenever I want.
I recommend trying both online teaching and teaching in a brick and mortar school in Thailand. You won’t regret either of these amazing opportunities.
Laura runs a great travel website with her partner, Mike. Read more about Laura and Mike's adventures, extreme travel hacks, remote work guides, and budgeting tips right here!