Tossed on the TEFL scrapheap

Is teaching in Thailand a young man's game?

Well, we're barely a month or two into the year 2015 - and while it's always difficult to predict how Thailand's TEFL industry will shape up in the coming months, in terms of job vacancies, etc - I am definitely noticing one very disturbing trend. I am getting inundated with teachers asking if I can help find them work. And the teacher group that seems to be suffering more than any other in these uncertain economic times is those over the age of fifty.

Sad stories

Many of the e-mails I receive border on heartbreaking. I truly wish I could do more to help but all I can offer in most cases is a sympathetic ear. These are older teachers who have made their life in Thailand, perhaps even got married and raised children, and are now contemplating the unthinkable. Leaving the home they love.

For many it's either a case of seeking out pastures new in countries such as China, where the more mature teacher seems to be welcomed with open arms, or uprooting their family and returning home to a country they abandoned a long time ago - a country they no longer recognize or feel a part of.

Furthermore, these are not unqualified teachers who have spent the last decade bouncing from private language school to private language school picking up a few hours here and there. In many cases, their resumes indicate a long work history of quality employment in the academic sector. Many have been lecturers, professors and trainers at universities and top-end language institutes and held positions of considerable responsibility.

It's almost as if Thailand has brought in a new rule while my back has been turned - no teachers over the age of fifty thank you very much.

Where to next?

It's natural that many of these older teachers, having invested much of their lives immersed in SE Asian culture, would want to stay in the region. But what are the options? China seems to be a fairly attractive proposition as mentioned earlier. Many TEFLers have swopped Thailand for China and consider it to be the best move they ever made.

What about moving next door? Cambodia, Vietnam and even Laos are distinct possibilities but all three have major drawbacks. Japan's heyday seems to have gone forever from what I've heard. There's always The Middle East of course, and while the streets might be paved with gold, it's not exactly party central is it?

Not the greatest of choices if truth be told? Not after you've spent years and years living it up in Thailand. I'll resist the temptation to imply older teachers are stuck in their ways and other clichés, but who really needs the hassle of adapting to a completely new culture and way of life in their twilight years?

I can certainly sympathize with those reluctant to make such a big move. We all like to cling on to the familiar and comfortable to some degree. But there are still mouths to feed and bills to pay.

Time for reflection

Perhaps it's got something to do with reaching the big five-oh myself, but I've started to look back and analyze my twenty plus years here and how things might have worked out differently had I not been fortunate to find work outside of teaching.

I've tried to put myself back into the body and mind of the skinny 26-year old who rolled up at Bangkok Airport in the early 90's looking to seek his fortune (OK, maybe just the mind part)

The problem with being in your mid-twenties - carefree and single and all that - is that you consider yourself bulletproof. You are ready to take on anything the world can throw at you. Your parents are still relatively young people themselves so no need to worry about them much. You don't have a pension plan but what the heck! - you can take care of that in a few years time.

Worrying about retirement funds is for cissies, or at least folks a good ten years older than you. As far as the future is concerned, it's all about choosing the right bar to kick off that night's entertainment.

The reality of the hour

Then something strange happens. Twenty years pass in the blink of an eye and you are suddenly a middle-aged man in every sense of the word. And for all the classroom experience, the hours spent devising and marking tests, the help you've given with extra-curricular school activities, the training and advice you've provided to other teachers, you're suddenly no longer as marketable.

You're no longer as ‘in demand' - in a country that you thought would provide you with a decent living for as long as you could draw breath.

Suddenly your world can start crumbling around you. Apart from the difficulties finding work, there are other areas of life that may need your attention and before you know it, the reality of the hour kicks in.

I have a good friend in his mid-50s who has been a teacher here for almost fifteen years. His mother, who he is very close to, is now living in a nursing home back in The USA. Not only is she struggling to pay the cost of the sheltered accommodation - and her son is having to help out - but she recently suffered a major stroke. The woman is 92 years old I believe.

My friend spent six months flying back and forth to America as his mother got increasingly more fragile and when he's back in Thailand, it's an endless round of international phone calls to the duty nurse to check on mother's condition. There is certainly no time for teaching work. That's if he could get any in the first place.

This is a situation that is slowly developing for many teachers here. Sad but true. To go back to those older teachers sending me e-mails, the final sentence is usually "what advice can you give me to improve my chances of finding work?"

Thanks but no thanks

One teacher, now well into his sixties, wrote to me and said he had been interviewed for dozens of jobs in the past year but nothing ever materializes.

"The interviewers genuinely seem impressed with my experience and I always offer to give a demonstration lesson so they can judge my ability as well. They tell me there's no need. They can see straight away I would make a decent teacher. Or so they say. Then they promise to get in touch and more often than not, the phone never rings. I'm never surprised. I can see in the interviewer's body language that he or she doesn't feel I'm the man for the job. And it's simply because I'm construed as being too old. It's all very frustrating"

The teacher contacted me again recently to say he had decided to go back to the UK and live with his sister.

What more can you add to that?

Your comments are most welcome. And of course your advice would be priceless.

I'd love to hear from you older teachers as well. Do you agree that things are getting tougher in terms of job vacancies?

 


Comments

Hey, this blog post is ancient but I'd thought I'd comment bc plus 60s cannot go to China. Not only that but new bureaucratic measures are costly and time consuming.

Hey, if you have a shit ton of experience and you can't find work maybe it's bc you look old from a life of cigarettes and booze, gross and overweight or the most likely of scenarios you just plain suck as a teacher.

Years of experience mean nothing here. It's all about where you teach, who you teach and how well you present yourself. I'm well over fifty, burned through more than half dozen waivers in barely four years and teaching at a great school. I'm literally offered 75% of the jobs I apply for. I need to pre screen before interview and turn down half, easily. I've had good schools in Bangkok offer me jobs straight up on the phone for jobs paying 38-45. I'm working at a great school I love. I'm so happy and making well over 50k.

If you like teaching or more likely just a broke ass punter in need of 30k a month to keep you in LM reds and Lao Khao best you shuffle on over to Cambodia. You won't have any luck in any other neighboring country so don't even try.

So obviously you're not half the teacher you thought you were. It's definitely not about your age gramps.

By Jack Sparrow, The Big Mango (3 days ago)

"Twilight years" at over 50? Even at 90, "Twilight years" is an insult to the 90-year-olds I know. Wake up to your own age-prejudices so that you aren't part of the problem.

By frea, Arizona (1 year ago)

A year later from my previous comment and not happy with my current work. I have started thinking about teaching again. As I am four years away from retirement, I really don't feel like being stuck in work I don't enjoy. I've been looking at courses to help me become an online English but I'm not sure if this would just be a waste of time and money. It would be great if it worked and would give me great freedom of movement.

By Naomi, Ireland (1 year ago)

I have a Thai teaching license, have done substantial extra study, have really good English, the kids like me and the schools don't want me because I am over 60. I just took a 2 week job, in a school that needs teachers and they have new, read younger teachers starting 1 July. They asked me to stay an extra week. My response "If I am not good enough to stay I am not good enough for another week." Dark skin,not wanted, over 50,not wanted, 10 on IELTS non-native, not wanted. I have some great Thai friends but their education system is hopeless. Worst English and going backwards.

By Jill Robertson, Thailand (1 year ago)

I am a 60-year-old woman without a degree but with some college time and an online TEFL course. I also have a couple of months teaching experience but spent most of my life in health care. I would love to spend the rest of my working life as an English teacher but have not been able to get any. About 2 years ago I had some interest from an 2 academies in Spain. One of them wanted me to be already residing in Spain. The other asked me to send them a photo which I did. They never replied so I can only assume they did not like my appearance. I am mixed race.

By Naomi, Ireland (2 years ago)

@ James Baker, I agree with your comment. I think your Thai (Female) teacher friends are just being polite and inviting- as are the students. When you've had a couple of years experience at holding down a salaried position, you will be in a much better position to comment on the "bigger-picture." :)

By Cliff Carbaugh, Thailand (2 years ago)

I don't understand. I'm not a teacher and never want to teach. However I have two Thai female friends who teach "English" in village schools in Isaan.

I have visited both of those schools for a couple of days and both times I was asked to teach English for a day. This was with my friends, the real teachers, observing.

Neither of those schools has ever had an NES work there. The kids were happy and paid attention as I moved around finding things in each of the primary colors, holding them up and saying the words, and writing the words on a chalkboard. The kids tried to repeat what I was saying and did pretty well. I improvised other such "games."

In both schools I was offered a full time job and I'm 68 years old with no degree. However I am in shape, clean cut, and showed respect.

Are people looking in areas in small town Isaan?

By James Baker, Isaan Thailand (2 years ago)

If they don't reply back to you, they are doing you a favour!
I've had 13 jobs in 5 years here in Thailand and every job has been a pointless pile of shit!
I've dealt with everything from: no work permit, being lied to, extra work, pointless activities, complaining about teachers, not getting a contract, etc.
Why are you so eager to work in Thailand?
No more of this bullshit for me! Thanks! Lol!

By Trevor Bailey, Bangkok (2 years ago)

Lots of interesting comments and advice. Not much in the way of inspiration for the over 50's though and especially in Thailand. That's fine, leave the young ones to it on their 30k a month, standing outside the schools and waving madly at the arriving students, or jumping up and down in class and having 'fun' . . . . . Then listen to the 'burned out' comments a couple of years down the line . . . . .

Yes, China is a lot better even though they do restrict from the age of 60. Getting the 'Z' visa is a nightmare, dealing with officials ditto; but the working conditions and pay are far superior to anything Thailand has to offer and in my opinion, is because Thailand doesn't want people who aren't in the prime of youth. China does and recognises the value of experience over looks. Thailand loses every time and again in my opinion, is fast becoming the dustbin of education in Asia.

By James, China (5 years ago)

Wow! This article really threw cold water on my considering moving from Beijing to Thailand to teach English. My willingness to tolerate the never ending pollution, increase in cost of living, building boom, etc. has been slipping lately. From what I read here I should be thanking my lucky stars I have it so good compared to some others. Glad to read it though. I had no idea Thailand is so biased against the older than 50 crowd. I`m 55 and I`ve been teaching English here for the past 7 years. I went from working at various language schools in the Beginning to only doing my own private classes now and making good money. Around 80,000 baht for 15 - 20 hours a week. I`m entrepreneur minded though so not the path for everyone.

What I would like to say though to those of you over 50 who can`t find work is that maybe you should seriously consider China. English teachers here are still in high demand. Especially if you know what you are doing. Native English speakers fresh off the plane with no experience are finding it harder to get work as people are demanding more. Almost everyday I get emails about job vacancies.

The going rate at language training schools or jobs without contracts and benefits is anywhere between 450 - 900 baht an hour (1 RMB = 4.5 baht +,-) However, the price of housing keeps going up and up. Probably need 3500-5000rmb/month for a 1 bedroom fully furnished apartment. However, there are lots of schools that provide all the benefits: visa, health ins., accommodations, paid vacation, return trip, etc. if you sign a 1-year contract. The pay there is maybe 10-15,000rmb/mo. for maybe 4-5 x 40 minute classes x 5 days a week.

I know it may be unsettling to have to pack up and move to a new culture but in this day and age when things are always changing so much you have to go where the work is. Also the visa rules here are as well. Now to get a 30 day extension on a 30 day visitor`s visa you have to get an official statement from a bank saying you have at least 20,000rmb(90,000baht) on deposit to get a 30 day renewal. You can take the money out the next day but it has to be there for the extension. What I say is only based on my knowledge from me only living in Beijing. I hope this may help some of you with tough decision making.

By Dave, Beijing China (6 years ago)

I am gratified to have found this article, especially to have noticed the link "Fetch more comments". Click, click, click. I only wish there had been even more than the wry comment by By Stevie G, BKK on 2011-02-03. Are there more? I would very much enjoy reading them. I once considered the possibility (only last week) of a TEFL teaching job in Thailand...but I must admit that the beach-side hut sounds more enticing...unless I established a small school teaching Microstation, with the stipulation that all students sing in my Josquin Choir....yes, I believe I would be coaxed out of retirement by such pleasures.

By lutiusmaximus, USA (6 years ago)

Yes, I am a certified teacher from America but it seems that once they see "57 years-old" on my resume, - no phone call! :( I've been here 3 years and I'm still looking!

By Cliff ( คลิฟ ), Bangkok (6 years ago)

Interesting to read the comments. I am over 50 and have worked in Thailand, Bangkok before. I have just returned after 3 years teaching in the Middle East.

Before coming back to Thailand I applied for several vacancies, pretty much a wasted exercise I know, because Thai schools rarely recruit anyone who isn't already in Thailand, but I was just interested to see if I got any replies. I didn't, not one. I assumed that this was because I was still overseas. That was a wrong assumption, because since my return I have applied to lots of other job postings including some I applied to before returning. Still the same result, not one reply.
This I find perplexing and disappointing. If I wasn't qualified I would understand, but I am well qualified, have many years experience teaching, including in schools in Thailand. To not get even one reply is, well disappointing to say the least. I feel almost like I have done something wrong, but I assume it is because of my age.

Secondly, the point about teaching in the Middle East after teaching in Thailand as being difficult, well not in my experience. If you have the right qualifications and experience there should be no problem and they will not discriminate against you even if you are over 50. Before I returned to Thailand I was working as a DOS for a training organisation in Saudi. We recruited teachers from UK mainly and we wanted teachers with experience, which tended to mean older teachers we even recruited a teacher who was over 60 and he has been there for over 3 years now. This was unusual, but not unknown. Furthermore our teachers had previously taught in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. I myself came from teaching in Thailand to work in Saudi and I didn't experience any problems applying. Usually the biggest problem is having to return to your home country for the visa processing and because of the way visas are allocated by Saudi immigration dept companies are restricted in which countries they can recruit from. But this is not the case for all Middle Eastern countries.

So, I am actively looking to return to teach in the Middle East. At least there 50 isn't too old and at least I will have students who are respectful and management who want me. I am tired of the narrow-mindedness of recruiters in Thailand who seem to assume that over 50 is "dead".

By Pat, Bangkok (6 years ago)

Before anyone out there takes China as the next green valley, do a little real homework. For a real EFL job in China you need a Z visa. Provinces and officials vary, as things do in China, but the general rule now is that you will be pushing it to get a Z visa if you are over 60. The process is getting harder rather than easier. The whole thing is bureaucratized. It has nothing to do with your actual physical or mental condition. I spent 5 years in China (and 7 in South Korea), out of a 34 year career teaching and lecturing English and Linguistics. I've been distance running daily for 50 years (7km a day nowadays) and lift weights. In March 2010 I was awarded a PhD in language teaching productivity from an Australian university. My students in central China loved me. In September 2010 I turned 65 and the Chinese administration flatly refused to renew my visa. End of story. Well, not quite. Now the Australians pay me an age pension on condition that I don't leave Australia for 2 years. Why? Because I was wickedly living in China and sending IELTS students to Australian universities, contributing to the 16 billion dollars a year that country makes out of the international student market. If I'd been a serial wife beater and drunkard living on unemployment benefits in Australia, they'd pay me a pension to live anywhere in the world. Ce la vie. Don't look for logic or decency in the ways of governments, bureaucrats and employers.

By Thor May, Australia (6 years ago)

The Middle East has been mentioned as a possible refuge for older teachers, and while I agree that the region is generally less ageist than many other places (older employees are often perceived as being more stable and reliable), someone who has spent a lifetime working in Thailand would be very lucky to get anything other than an entry-level or bottom-feeder position in one of the Gulf States; though even these positions will likely be considerably better remunerated and offer more benefits than 95% of the jobs in Thailand.

Thai 'education' and the Westerners who work in it are, for some very cogent reasons, not held in particularly high esteem by employers in the Middle East, even the mediocre ones. Anyone whose teaching qualifications and experience have been obtained almost exclusively in Thailand is likely to find that their application goes straight into the 'recycle bin', except perhaps at places where they probably would not wish to work.

By Glub_Pasha, Phnom Penh (6 years ago)

If you're willing to work for peanuts, Thailand is a good place to teach. I can't imagine an older ex pat who comes to Thailand then whines about low salary or retirement benefits. A perusal of ajarn jobs gives a very clear picture of salaries and job expectations. I have no sympathy for teachers who expect Thailand to conform to their Western standards of remuneration. And the last time I looked at jobs in the US, the over-50 group - let me restate that - the OVER-40 group - is the unwanted orphan of the US job market.

By Guy, bkk (6 years ago)

Being an old EFL teacher in Thailand is a crime. No pension, retirement savings or job security for future is possible. Basically if you are over 50 years in Thailand and a Farang you should think about entering monkhood for a scrap living!

By John Doe, Khlong Toei (6 years ago)

Bertie Bassett of BKK is right. Only in Thailand do looks count for more than ability, qualifications and experience in the recruitment process. Of course, we can all see the results in the average Thai's ability to speak English or even do a mundane task efficiently.

I was in a bar recently and got talking to a teacher. He had worked in Chonburi region for 3 years and just got sick of the low pay, awful organisation, low motivation from students and the ridiculous "mustnt lose face" factor interfering with getting the job done. He is now in China and very much happier, better job, better students, better benefits (free apartment), better salary, no stupid visa runs or reporting. I worked in China and I agreed with everything he said.

My advice to you older guys is if they are discriminating against you, move on, take your family with you. The Middle East offers family contracts for example, and other SE Asian countries will welcome your family.

By Bob, Suvarnbhaumi Airport (6 years ago)

The trend reveals perhaps that Thai schools believe that younger teachers are more pliable and malleable in terms of fulfilling their needs. Older teachers have more knowledge of the tricks of the trade and therefore are not as easily duped or manipulated. All teachers in Thailand should be required to read the extensive descriptions of Thai education on stickman.com (these descriptions truly reveal the state of life as a teacher in Thailand).

Once you've taught in Thailand for a few years you can see that generally the Thais are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole: they are trying to use their traditional Chinese/Buddhist system of teaching (which is infused with Confucian principles such as "Copy the Master") which flouts the rules of the language as far as academic honesty and plagiarism go. However, the Thai national teachers are trained in this system so they cannot really write with any proficiency nor can they speak (hence the need for Farang). It is a political battle because the Thai national teachers are desperate to keep their jobs even though they don't have the skills that the Farang do in terms of speaking and writing and teaching thinking.

In addition, no one seems to want to take on the task of properly integrating the Farang into the system using team-teaching in alternate classes, for example, despite the successful models in both Japan and South Korea (I realize that these cultures are different from Thai culture but the idea is that Thai National teachers can teach grammar/structure and the Farang teachers can teach function/speaking). So, once the older teachers see the situation for what it is, their enthusiasm can become blunted because they know that they are a threat to their colleagues and no one is taking the lead in bridging that cultural divide.

Younger teachers are naturally more inclined to put up with the nonsense because they either are serious teachers (and will probably continue their careers in other locales) or caring but not so serious teachers who probably are happy as long as they get their weekends in Koh Samet. The other trend that seems to be taking hold is the recruitment of Filipino and Filipina teachers who regard the salaries and opportunities here as godsends and are equally malleable to the needs of an extremely politicized educational system. It would be great if team-teaching could be used more extensively as a way to maximize the talents of all the teachers of all nationalities.

By mike, BKK (6 years ago)

I'm 57 and I got hired sight unseen by Khon Kaen University at a reasonable salary because of my background and the way I interacted with the director through my emails. It helped that I was (and am) teaching at a prestigious language school in San Francisco. I think if you come off as intelligent and sensible, with a spark of something other than self pity or whatever I'm picking up from comments above, then someone will pay attention to you. Some people are just not suited to teaching, young or old. I'd say most people really, if the truth is known. In Thailand, they do like the pretty people, youthful, exuberant - who can blame them? However, I taught literature, English literature, at a university in Thailand from 2004 to 2007, at the ages of 51 to 54, and we did Beowulf to the American novel Grendel, as well as T.S. Eliot, Shelly (Ozymandias) and others, and my students were really involved. I did dramatic readings of poems and Shakespeare, and we analyzed what was going on in works line to line, sentence to sentence. They were rapt. Naturally not all of them, but a significant portion of them in classes of thirty and more. Anyway, I met some of the people who claimed to be teachers, both young and old, interviewing at Khon Kaen when another position opened up while I was there, and they sent shivers down my spine. A teacher, unfortunately, is often looked on as some kind of reject in other areas, when in fact, when I see a teacher I generally know one. It's kind of like if I'm expecting a surgeon to walk into a room and some guy walks in bleary eyed and kind of slow on the uptake carrying around some kind of attitude with him, or, he looks like and acts like somebody's grandfather. Teachers are of the same cloth, as any other quick witted, savvy thinker, either of caliber or not. Age, not really the issue. Having said that, I'm trying to return to Thailand, now, and we'll see if I have to eat my words or not.

By MDH, U.S. (6 years ago)

Last year the M.O.E was saying that they wanted to attract more qualified teachers to Thailand. Retired teachers from U.S,U.K etc.over 60's.was going to be the source. Obviously there was not a horde of teachers banging on the door
I myself am over 60 and have stayed with the same school for more than three years. For the most part, enjoyable. Would not think about leaving. Over 50 not easy. Over 60 near impossible. I do a lot of extra classes, adults who seem to appreciate an older teacher. I need the full time gig to get the WP/VISA, in truth would prefer teaching adults.

By Ibark, Krabi (6 years ago)

A lot of this has to do with energy and enthusiasm and not age - though I do take that point about age and in my twenties in Thailand I found it easy to get work. What I saw over the years in Thailand though were a number of older teachers who had, over the years, gained a lot of experience but somehow lost their love of teaching along the way and had failed to realise it or, if they had, they were often in denial about it. But this much was clear from the way they conducted their lessons - well structured, linguistically meaningful sessions, as their experience would suggest, but conducted on auto-pilot - as well as their general conversation relating to their profession which lacked passion or was even downright negative. Students and collegues pick up on this and often, no-doubt unfairly so as regards well qualified, experienced older teachers, this leads to the hiring manager not wanting to make the same "mistake" twice. This is like any hiring situation - it's risk management and the perception of risk is often rooted in past experiences, whether the fundamentals upon which this belief system is underpinned by are real or imagined.

Let's also remember that it's all very well comparing a 20-year old layabout to a 50-year old with a degree in education but I also encountered a lot of 50-year olds without a degree in education - or a valid TEFL qualification for that matter. Indeed, I remember one such 50-year old criticising me to my colleagues behind my back because I had chosen to go and get my CELTA. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the older teachers saw less value in professional development and had a track record that struggled to point to any - afterall, they are native speakers - what possible benefit could they have gotten from a TEFL course? Also, a lot of older teachers wouldn't teach if they could get away with it. This, I find is less pronounced in younger teachers, who are still enjoying finding their way in life and collecting experiences - not a bad thing as long as they are doing so in a way that facilitates their learners' development.

I also encountered seasoned teachers but their enthusiam had gone or they were wanting to slow down. Trouble is, your audience doesn't get old with you - it rejuvenates on an annual basis and is always going to be 10 years old or whatever age group you teach. So whilst that combination of qualified, incredibly experienced and enthusiastic does exist - it is less common than you might think.

David

By David Fahey, UK (6 years ago)

I'm 40 and I'm planning ahead already. Thailand doesn't show ageism towards its own but does towards foreigners.
Best thing to do is start a PGCE. If you want to stay you should be able to. If not, you can shrug your shoulders find work anywhere (Singapore, Japan etc).
Only a Thai school could take on a 22 year old, good looking guy with no GCSE's and let an excellent 55 year old with a degree in Education and 20 years experience go (I have seen this happen).

By Bertie Bassett, BKK (6 years ago)

@ Pendant
Wow! Are you telling me that every year on renewal, a person has still not been able to come to terms with the way it is! (as you consider the school to have mistreated you in some way) No! Unless you believe a reduction in salary to be mistreatment? (Well, I don’t wish to call you a hypocrite - but maybe those “frequent-movers” also saw things at certain places that they did not like too?) Why are these teachers always becoming available every year? Is it their fault or the establishments? How does that make me a hypocrite by voicing my statement.
Note: When I ran my business in the UK, I would look poorly at applicants who at a long history of 'moving on' and of course the reasons. Sure! if one place proved unsuitable for whatever reason, But, four or five on the trot? or could you be one of these people who can't bend enough in the wind?

By Lomsakpeter, Phetchabun (6 years ago)

@ Lomsakpeter:
You openly criticise people who look for new contracts annually (when generally most contracts are only for 1 year, no?) yet it is fine for you yourself to switch institutions after an ENORMOUS 3 years (wow!) as you consider the school to have mistreated you in some way.
Well, I don't wish to call you a hypocrite - but maybe those "frequent-movers" also saw things at certain places that they did not like too? - or is it only your prerogative to exercise the luxury of choice?
Instead of labeling some individuals who seek higher-standards as "bad-eggs", and refusing them future employment, wouldn't it be better to confront the real issues -which caused the person to not want to renew a contract - or have you been living in Asia a little too long and forgotten that most problems are best solved directly - not by trying to solve 100 other semi-irrelevant problems......and saving 'face'.
2 pennies for today,
"Gotta love this place!"
Peace, out!

By Pedant, in the sky with Lucy and her diamonds (6 years ago)

I understand what you are saying, but something jumped from the page which put up a flag for me. Why are these teachers always becoming available every year? Is it their fault or the establishments? It may be impressive to show all the establishments that you have taught at, but I would think it would be wiser to show length of service. That the school will know you will want to stay for more than a year or two! I moved after a 3 year service because the director wanted to reduce salaries. I could have gone along with it,and used the legal system of assured service agreements. (No change in work and conditions etc..) but, I used the situation to get another job.

By Lomsakpeter, Phetchabun (6 years ago)

I concur with all of the above, for the most part. However, I must say that until the 2010 teaching year, I (a spry, energetic, highly-qualified 57-year-old)did not encounter much in the way of age discrimination. 2009 was a good year for me in terms of securing all sorts of full-time and part-time employment.

2010 was much less acceptable. I was (and remain) the same person, physically and psychologically. I am merely one year older. So, I blame "economic conditions" within the TEFL industry here in Bangkok. I could very well be wrong. Hence, I will welcome many more comments.

It seems, perhaps, that when the TEFL market in Thailand is especially distressed (as in post-riot torn 2010 Bangkok) older teachers suffer the most in terms of last-hired and first-fired.

Still, I have encountered many Thai and Farang directors of study who PREFER older teachers. However, once again, those "DOSers" seemed to have become much more scarce in 2010.

Does anyone believe that there is a strange correlation between the current political uncertainties in Bangkok and lesser TEFL opportunities here? Maybe that is merely a "far-stretch" of my imagination. However, again, my 2009 Bangkok TEFL opportunities were amazingly better than those offered (and accepted) in 2010.
Is age 56 that much younger than age 57, I wonder?

By Jackdiamond, Bangkok/USA (6 years ago)

"You can jump onto a web forum and find 100 people who’ve done it who will happily message you about what to do / how easy it is etc"

Johnny, I think you make some good points there, but I always think the problem with the internet is that there's sometimes just too much information, especially on discussion forums. For every good piece of information, you find three pieces of inaccurate rubbish.

By philip, (6 years ago)

Unfortunately, that's reality.

I have just turned 40 and don't have any trouble getting work, but I've realised things will change and prepared accordingly. I can't believe the amount of teachers who are in their 50s and have very little. It's as though they never thought more than a day ahead the whole time in Thailand.

Reality is that more and more 20 somethings are coming to teach and with the economies in Europe and the USA struggling, more will keep coming. Add in the internet and the way it's made the industry so open to younger people. There's no longer the 'fear' of leaving your home country and going abroad to teach. You can jump onto a web forum and find 100 people who've done it who will happily message you about what to do / how easy it is etc.

Times have changed. I've been at schools where the DOS has openly said "no one over 45". People need to prepare for it.

Besides which, does anyone 'really' want to be teaching ESL to large classes when they are 55 years old? Surely a beachside bungalow is the aim by then?

By Johnny, (6 years ago)

I have been monitoring job ads on this site and a few others with a view to becoming an English teacher and making a permanent move to Thailand (Khon Kaen, where my wife is from) and there are an ever increasing number of ads that are now stipulating an age range of between 25 and 45. I, by the way, am 57.

I am now seriously looking for an alternative source of income.

By Paul C, London (6 years ago)

Isn't it much easier to screw the newbie (still drooling and ready to work for beer money) than actually pay a proper salary for a proper teacher?
Lucky that no-one is really interested in the "quality" of education - what is that anyway?
Look around you - would you really want your kids to be taught by most of the "wonderful people" you see employed by "learning institutions" here in the land of fake-smiles?
Really......? I'm not sure I would...
Sorry for the students though...

By Stevie G, BKK (6 years ago)

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