Two essential reads
Planning on coming to Thailand to teach? Don't leave home without them.
Becoming an Expat in Thailand by Laura Gibbs
'Becoming an Expat in Thailand covers everything a potential expat (or some that are already here) needs to know - from what to bring, how to ship your car / dog/cat (or why not to), moving with families and even visas and how to get a job here!
This book is actually part of a 'becoming an expat' series. Other editions focus on places like Ecuador and Costa Rica with Brazil and Mexico in the publishing pipeline, but this is the first time I had seen or flicked through the Thailand edition.
The problem I have with many Thailand guidebooks is that they spend far too much time and too many pages rambling on about history and politics. And this is what I enjoyed most about Laura's book. Very early on, she says "I'm not going to bore you with the Thai political situation" and true to her word, she devotes a paragraph or two to the topic but gets quickly to the nitty gritty - content that the majority of readers are most interested in.
If you are thinking of moving to Thailand, the chapters are presented in a clear logical order beginning with what you should and shouldn't bring along with the best ways to prepare yourself for your life ahead. Once you've arrived, you'll need to find apartments, find schools for the kids (if you have any) and learn some of the local lingo. All of these issues are covered of course.
There's an extensive section on working in Thailand including the different types of jobs foreigners can do and brought right-up-to-date with the digital nomad age and also a section on working with Thais and what things to look out for in the workplace.
Other sections include banking, retirement (for the older reader) and culture shock.
To keep the book interesting and 'different' to other Thailand guidebooks, Laura slips in the occasional anecdote or observation from people she's met in Thailand along the way and I assume while she was writing the book. It might be an English teacher commenting on the downsides of renting a cheap apartment or a computer programmer talking about his love for Thai streetfood, but Laura has at least attempted to cram as many real-life opinions into the book as possible. And of course they are the opinions of those on the frontline.
A very enjoyable, some might say more 'light-hearted' read that manages to stand out in the crowded 'expat moving to Thailand' book market. Available on Amazon.
Teaching in Thailand: A Practical System (Davis Pisarich)
Davis, the book's author, makes a very bold claim early on - "no one has ever written a book like this on the topic of teaching in Thailand" I was immediately skeptical but having read the book cover to cover and thoroughly enjoyed it, I confess that he could be right. Here's a teacher with at least seven years experience of teaching in Thailand, who has found himself in many different situations at both government and private language schools.
This is someone writing about teaching in Thailand as it is at this very moment.
The book begins with a useful section on preparing yourself for life as a teacher in Thailand. There is plenty of good advice there including the fact that you should never set up a job before you arrive in Thailand. Then it moves on to choosing the right kind of school to work at. What are the upsides of working at a private language school? What are the downsides of being at a large government school?
Then there is the task of applying for a job. David is on hand to give you resume tips and what about those all-important interview questions you should be asking?
Once you're on the job, what are Thai students like? What about the foreign colleagues you are going to work alongside and what problems are you probably going to face with Thai admin staff and school owners? David pulls no punches. Anyone reading this book is going to be well-prepared even before they've set foot in a classroom.
I would say every important and essential aspect of teaching in Thailand is covered in this book. There are sections on classroom management, the best cities to look for work, writing tests and exams, choosing activities, using technology in the classroom and lesson planning.
This is the book I would have loved when I first began my career as a TEFLer in Thailand. It's sure to be a very wise investment for any newbie.
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