The Burning Question - What's the future for Thailand TEFL?

The Burning Question - What's the future for Thailand TEFL?

Teachers give their opinions on something related to teaching in Thailand

OK, here's a very serious question to all you teachers out there. I want you to look into your crystal balls. What changes do you see as regards teaching in Thailand over the next five years?

I think it's a given that salaries won't increase that much (or you may well disagree with that statement) but what other changes might there be? (you guys know better than me because you're in the front line)

Will Filipino teachers or other ASEAN nationalities be filling more positions here? Will ASEAN make a difference at all? Will schools that find it hard to recruit teachers just simply give up? Will the short-term volunteer / gap year teacher become more popular? Let us know what you think.

Derek says.....

As the West becomes less and less attractive to live in thanks to collapsing birth rates, low social trust, race/class riots, decay of traditional values, high cost of university education and suffocating political correctness, more people will emigrate for the charms of the East.

This overabundance of westerners (many of whom will teach) will keep salaries down, because let's face it, a 30,000 baht salary in the sunshine is preferable to most than staying in a decaying post-industrial wasteland for the dole, endless political bickering and the faux outrage of the millennial generation.

Mike says.....

There's no strong reason to think it'll be much different than it is now. The laws and requirements will continue to change around fairly pointlessly every six months or so (so that teachers are forced to jump through hoops just to understand the current laws). The industry will continue to have a large turnover due to typical problems like lack of professionalism and senseless constantly changing requirements.

ASEAN will probably change things very little. Thailand is typically a bit xenophobic and it's doubtful there'll suddenly be a strong demand for English language skills taught by foreign teachers.

Translation software is constantly improving, but it's a long way from perfect. Its improvements will delude some learners into thinking they can translate any Thai they want into English and it'll be intelligible.

Arto says....

In five years time, I see huge amounts of Thai teachers retiring, thus creating even more demand for the English teachers.

Within the next five years the ASEAN will be probably be up and running for visa/work permit related issues, making it virtually a breeze to hire other ASEAN nationalities (Philipinos, Singaporeans etc). Some countries from the African continent will also be contributing towards the teacher pool.

As for the westerners, Thailand will continue to attract more and more people from the Western countries. Unfortunately, I do believe they will be mostly just here for a few semesters.

I do not foresee a big increase in the salaries paid to teachers (government schools mostly), and given the 3% annual inflation in Thailand, the cost of living is getting more and more expensive for foreigners (who have to take care of farang-specific costs as visas/work permits, visa runs, extensions of stay etc).

Thailand will probably try to implement new nationwide curriculums and standards, but within five-year's time, things will be back as they are now.

As the students have more opportunities to move and work within the ASEAN community, the demand for English teaching and tutoring will increase.

Aaron says....

If ASEAN is ever going to be of benefit to Thailand, then they will seriously have to step up their game because they are lagging well behind other nations in terms of general capability with the English language. I imagine there will be a lot more government investment into English teaching if they want to keep up with the ASEAN integration.

It will be very interesting to see what Thailand's approach to the situation will be.

Chris says....

We all know that teacher salaries have risen very little over the last 15-20 years. Why should the next five years be any different?

Thomas says....

I've been at the same government school for three years now and every single year it gets tougher for the recruitment department to find and hire teachers. There's a sort of 'fuzzy logic' going on. The school thinks that teachers should just be grateful for the opportunity to work in this amazing country but they don't really appreciate how much money a foreigner needs to earn in order to survive here. So the result is fewer and fewer teachers applying for vacancies.

Carol says....

Five years ago, I worked in a staff room with about twenty teaching colleagues. I would say that 80% of them were Westerners here for the long haul and looking to stay in Thailand for as many years as possible. Now I work in a staff room with a dozen teachers, most of who are here for just one semester. I think we're certainly seeing the end of the teacher who wants to work in Thailand and make the country their home.

Dave says....

I think that EFL will actually be a growth industry within the region (and in Thailand) BUT...

Professional teachers (trained as teachers) will become more the norm than the exception.

ASEAN nationals (real teachers who speak English at a competent level) will take a larger slice of the lower end job market and the writing is already on the wall that overpriced, under qualified, long-nosed-white-faces will, more and more, be on the way out.

ASEAN "English teachers" whose English skills are sub par ie: lower than TOEIC-700+/IELTS 6.5+ will also be hard pressed to find work or stay employed as will those with unrelated degrees and no professional teacher training.

As to the issues with the TCT and waivers ... I see those becoming more entrenched and more fluid (constantly moving goal posts for a waiver). If you plan to stay here as a teacher then get qualified (able to get licensed) or look at China, Cambodia or Laos to continue your TEFL run abroad.

There has been and will continue to be a place for qualified teachers - those folks with education related qualifications & certifications (EFL and subject related) and their pay will continue to stay at the top of the heap. Once you get your license, there has never (until you age out) been an issue with non-b visas, waivers (no longer needed), work permits (you are qualified to work) and there is no need to even look at those 30k jobs.

If you look at the job posting boards, forums, and social media there is a steady stream of job postings in the 35-50k range for BA holders and no shortage of jobs over 60k (plus benefits) for anyone with some teaching qualifications beyond a BA and a white face.

For the gap year teachers there will always be the 30k option.

EFL is still a growth industry.

Dan says....

I see a new generation of Thai teachers coming into Thai schools to lessen the need for foreign teachers - but there will still be plenty of work for foreign teachers, especially those with qualifications & experience.

English language learning is on the increase the world over. Furthermore there will be a lot more international schools in Thailand & SE Asia.

ISC predict - "by 2024, Asia is forecast to have well over 7,000 international schools and over 5.5 million students," - there will be a huge shortage of qualified teachers in this part of the world. If you have the qualifications, the future's looking bright.


The upcoming ASEAN integration may have a slight effect in terms of hiring non-native speakers as English teachers, just like in my case, being a Filipino, I am given equal opportunities and benefits in the school that I teach as same as the native speakers. Likewise, English will be more in demand as Thais would want to also seek opportunity throughout Southeast Asia and the rest of the world, with that demand being said, they might keep the salary rate to where it is now (or maybe even lower, HOPE NOT), especially now that with the ASEAN, they can hire a lot of Filipinos who are as par with native speakers as well.

By Nathan Sison, Bueng Kan, Thailand (9th July 2015)

With regards to the upcoming ASEAN or AEC community, it does't take a rocket scientist to predict the future. Digital teaching will indefinitely be put into effect, as the majority of South-East Asian countries entirely rely on their technological items to keep them up to date with the world and they definitely intend on keeping it that way.

Most, if not all private schools (not including the international schools) and language centers, will be allowed one foreign teacher per entity. The rest of the teachers will indefinitely end up being South-East Asians as the digital community begins to make a trend for itself within the education industry in South-East Asia.

The entire education system is currently under reform and will be presented to the government for evaluation and debate in either November or December, but not later than the end of 2015. Thailand desperately needs to teach it's people to communicate, not just in English, but in various other languages such as; Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and various other South-East Asian languages.

Thailand is becoming an independent nation and soon it won't have such a large demand for foreign teachers as it had in the past, the proof is in the pudding. There are many reasons for this, some of which are mainly related to security concerns as Thailand has been made aware of the large scale illegal activities caused by foreign people within Thailand.

Thailand will slowdown it's international exports and focus on South-East Asia, China, Russia and various other markets. Thailand's need for independence is much greater than any of you could possibly imagine. I mean, what country in it's right mind allows a military to take control of an entire country and then shifts the gear into total reform? On a global scale, there are only a handful of them. Many of you have learned that when in the range of a Thai firing squad, you need to steer as clear as possible as they will do whatever it takes to reach their goals which are all in the best interests of Thailand and it's people.

Those who have jobs in language institutes or private schools will be scanned and very well monitored. If you live you life in such a way that isn't the life of a role model in the eyes of education and reform, then you become vulnerable to being a victim of Thai justice. Which usually ends up getting you on a very dark blacklist along with many other names. If you live your life which seems acceptable in the eyes of say for example, the Lord Buddha, then you are well on your way of having the best life any foreigner could ever ask for here in Thailand. Unless you have 500,000 Thai Baht to pay for a Thailand Elite Membership, which gives you a 5 year access to Thailand, well, then that's a totally different story.

Take Phuket for example, look what went down in Phuket and how many foreigners are struggling to retrieve the huge amounts of money they paid for land or housing. Thais can be very friendly if you really get to know them. I am not talking about knowing the girls and their friends, I am talking about knowing the locals personally. Become friends with them and chat with them without having to drink a beer. I usually begin a conversation with any Thai person I meet, including the 7-eleven staff and the staff at the gas stations, policemen, soldiers, and I sometimes even help the old ladies cross the road. Thais like to see foreigners love their country and respect them as people.

Many foreigners have made many obscene and very sensitive comments on-line, which they probably assumed would never reach the eyes of the Thai locals, though the things that are said and talked about are a bit harsh and did get the proper government attention. If you know nothing about the history of Thailand and what the root causes are of why Thai people are the way they are and why many Thai locals treat foreigners and their own kind with disrespect, then maybe you shouldn't be coming to Thailand expecting to have a good life and then end up judging Thai people for their mistakes.

Instead of making biased judgments based on a bending of the truth which was mostly caused by British, American, Irish, Australian and Scottish influence, you should try to understand Thai people and all that they are. The question on the Thai government's mind right now is, "Why has it taken us so long for our students to learn English?".

An unknown entity came up with an answer while pointing fingers towards the West and it's political involvement within Thailand. The West has suppressed and oppressed Thailand for over a century for it's own personal vendettas. Now, try and read the future in that crystal ball of yours and ask yourself these two questions (for those big-mouthed smart asses flashing their judgments around and those co-inspiring individuals who seem to believe that Thailand is probably the stupidest country in the world for not seeing what we did to Thailand); What exactly does Thailand know and what are they willing to do to cope with it?

I am in total support of Thailand's reform, transformation, security, prosperity, stability and success. Long live the King.

By Anonymous, SE-Asia (11th June 2015)

Great delivery. Solid arguments. Keep up the amazing spirit.

By Joellen19590, Great delivery. Solid arguments. Keep up the (9th June 2015)

The Ministry of education don't recognise my three year qualification because it does not contain the word "Bachelor". When I receive my PGCEi in October, I will not be able to use it. Then I will continue to watch younger, less qualified single people earn 20-30K a month more than me, whilst I raise my two children on 35K a month ( a salary which has not increased with inflation, or at all in 11 years).

This country shall remain in an intellectual black hole for a century to come.

By Dara, Nowhere fast (8th June 2015)

Five years time ?? Clearly the decision to require all English teachers (NES) to have the same quals as a Thai Native is unrealistic, given the number of NES required, and the number of people holding PGCEs,/QTS, BEd etc ., it looks like Filipinos will benefit most.

After 11 years here, I am now looking at China/Cambodia.

By Ajarn D, Chonburi (8th June 2015)

Thailand won't change in the next five years. It won't change in the next 50 years. It is what it is and if you are smart you can make it work for you.

By Mark Newman, Thailand (8th June 2015)

Thailand is as Thailand does ... after almost 19 years on and off in this country it seems clearly entrenched in its ways and proud of it, arrogantly so and to its own detriment.

Teaching in Thailand remains a pedagogical wasteland of primarily unqualified people, not all but far too many, who simply have no business standing in classrooms in any country in the world; a short TEFL makes not a teacher and neither does standing in a classroom allow one to be entitled to the title "teacher". That being said, there is a pool of talented dedicated teaching professionals in Thailand, so what future lays on the horizon for teachers of all ilk?

Will Thailand attract pedagogically knowledgeable professional teachers over the next few years, perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel. Highly educated, experienced and professional Filipino educators are available and coming in droves to lift Thailand out its quagmire of Anglophone linguistic incompetency, and thank God they are doing so because Thailand needs a pool of talented qualified pedagogically trained teachers standing in its classrooms, not the rabble that currently dominates too much of the field. So as Filipinos move in to become a significant part, possibly the dominant force, of the teaching community in Thailand, how will Thailand respond over the next few years with regards to fair and reasonable compensation packages for those with serious teaching qualifications coming from their ASEAN community neighborhood?

It seems abundantly clear that Thailand's leaders and the business community are extremely motivated to integrate the country into the ASEAN community, mainly as a result of perceived economic benefits that Thailand will achieve as industrial leaders within the region. The question thus seems obvious, why are Thai government officials, business leaders, and the citizenry so unwilling to compensate foreign teachers, especially Filipinos, for the professional work they are doing to ensure that Thailand itself can succeed economically with the ASEAN framework?

And will this unfair and unreasonable attitude of indentured servitude change over the next five years? I think not. Thais remained committed to one thing and one thing only, Thailand. Foreigners are to be used for the benefit of the development of Thailand and Thai people, not for the gain and development of the external "others". Foreign teachers in Thailand need to face reality and understand that expectations of change, in my opinion, are simply unrealistic. For the foreseeable future it seems we will still see salaries sitting at an average of 22,000 baht per month for arriving Filipino teachers and 30,000 baht per month for "falongs" when working for Thai government schools and teacher placement agencies. But here is the kicker folks, there is a ton of money available in the Thai education fund to compensate foreign teachers fairly but it is being skimmed off the top by Thais at every level and at every opportunity; a symptom of Thailand is for Thais.

One significant cold sore contributing to low teacher salaries in Thailand is the rise of the teacher placement agencies (TPAs). Will this change in the next five years, not in my opinion. In fact, the next five years seems set to see a continued rise in the TPAs as the dominant recruitment force in landscape of Thailand teaching. Forget the reasons, it is what it is. The important issue here is, this is one of the fundamental factors as to why teacher salaries will remain low in Thailand for years to come. The Thais have yet again seen where money can be made at the expense of the foreign "others" and there is little hope that now that the pot of gold has been discovered that Thais will let go of the honey pot. Rest assured this situation will get worse before it gets better. Note that up until a few years ago when TPAs became a huge factor in the Thailand teaching market, teachers received 12 month contracts with several reasonable benefits. So how is that we have all taken a step back towards the middle ages in salaries, contract stipulations, and the cutting of benefits while being tagged with expenses that were traditional born by Thai employers? Likely this is a direct result of the rise of TPAs and their desire to profit in every possible way.

Thailand continues to face many challenges in its drive towards ASEAN integration and linguistic development over the next few years. The country's failed efforts to bilingualize its citizenry seems to lay in its xenophobia and fear of colonialism; Anglicization of the nation may just touch too many raw nerves in a nation that perceives itself as above so many others in the region and beyond, a sort of "Pum jai or die" attitude seems to prevail. With this dominant attitude within the populous, is it ever likely that foreign English teachers will be sincerely welcomed into Thailand and compensated not only in a manner commensurate with our qualifications and expertise, but also in a context relative to the significant contributions we bring to Thailand and its people and the massive economic benefits that the country receives as it bilingualizes its citizenry? I'll leave that up to you to predict, but my hopes are not high.

By David, Thailand (7th June 2015)

i have just moved back into the Thai government system. I worked in an EP program 10 years ago where I was the homeroom teacher with an aging Thai teacher. She had many problems with the way I taught because I was using the curricullum and western teaching strategies and was always being told to learn and teach the Thai way.

Now I am in a similar situation but a third teacher has been added. We have a young assistant teacher. My classroom teacher leaves the room when I teach (we get on fine) and it is me and the assistant teacher. I am so happy that when i introduce pedagogies in the classroom she knows exactly what I am doing.

The change is occurring slowly. As much as I like the older teachers I hope they retire soon. The new young ones seem to be learning a great deal at some of the univerisities in Thailand but many are now trained overseas.

I am optimistic that we create a new generation that does not believe the lies and control over knowledge strategies the older members have had to endure.

Technology will not allow Thailand to live in the bubble of the past. Remember it was never a European colony.

By Asian Aussie, Chantaburi (7th June 2015)

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