This is the place to air your views on TEFL issues in Thailand. Most topics are welcome but please use common sense at all times. Please note that not all submissions will be used, particularly if the post is just a one or two sentence comment about a previous entry.

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Be prepared for a much slower life

I moved from Bangkok to teach up-country but I wasn't ready for how chill village life would be. Moving to a village means everything slows down, which isn't all bad. Coming from the city, it was nice not always feeling like I had to rush somewhere or do something. But, slowing down can sometimes get a bit dull.

Living in a village doesn't offer as many hobby options as living back in Canada did. There, I could go rock climbing, hit up the library, catch a movie, shop at the mall, play paintball outdoors, watch volleyball, hang out at the city square, or take guitar lessons – endless possibilities! Now, even a walk after 8 pm is a no-go thanks to the dark and the mean stray dogs. In the village, it's either stay home and read or hit the local watering holes for a drink. That's where you'll find the town's quirky characters, like the part-time police officer and mechanic who's also the town drunk.

Living in a village means embracing the slow life, for better or for worse.

Katrina


Learning Thai requires effort

Learning Thai requires effort

I'm not judging or criticizing those who choose not to learn Thai or listen. I totally get where they're coming from. Thai is a tough language and don't buy into the nonsense about its simple grammar making it easy. Especially for older folks, learning a new and tricky language can feel like a nightmare. And for many, it's just not necessary if they can get by in English and plan to move elsewhere in Asia soon. But what really bothers me are the folks who pretend they've tried to learn Thai but can't make progress. They act like I'm some kind of miracle worker when I speak Thai fluently, but I always tell them I'm not a linguist and I don't have some special talent – I just put in the effort... and I listened. It's so frustrating when I hear English speakers repeat a Thai word I've said to them, but they say it with a monotone English accent!

Abi


Downsides of a foreign teachers union in Thailand

While the notion of a teachers union in Thailand might seem like a no-brainer, let's consider why it might not be the best move:

Firstly there's the possibility of a cultural clash. Thailand's got its own vibe, and adding a foreign teachers union into the mix could stir up some serious cultural turbulence. Setting up and running a union means wading through a swamp of paperwork and bureaucracy. In a foreign land like Thailand, where rules might seem like they're written in invisible ink, it could turn into a real headache.

A union could create rifts between foreign teachers and locals or school administrators. Nobody wants to see a friendly game of tug-of-war turn into an all-out war. Trying to fix things might just break them further. Demands and disputes could end up doing more harm than good, leaving teachers in a sticky situation.

Foreign teachers come from all corners of the globe with different needs and wants. Trying to cram everyone into the same group might leave some feeling left out in the cold. Thai laws might not play nice with the idea of a foreign-led union. Trying to dance around legal hurdles could lead to a game of legal limbo that nobody wants to play.

Maybe there's a better way. Instead of going down the traditional union route, maybe it's time to think outside the box and explore other options like advocacy groups or informal networks. Bottom line? Before jumping on the union bandwagon, it's worth taking a step back and considering whether it's the right move for everyone involved. Sometimes the best intentions can lead down a bumpy road, and it's better to tread carefully than to rush in blindly.

Winston


Thailand is becoming a letdown for teachers

Thailand is becoming a letdown for teachers

For teachers from abroad who want to put their heart into a job here, Thailand can be a real letdown. Salaries are dropping (or certainly not keeping pace with inflation), perks like healthcare and housing help are getting more and more scarce, and the cost of living keeps climbing. That's why veteran teachers are packing up and leaving. If they keep getting offered contracts like the ones I've seen lately, who could blame them for splitting? Thailand's got a lot going for it but schools and the government need to get with the times. Look at how modern businesses and forward-thinking governments hire people. Understand that when foreigners come here, they're looking for the good stuff, not the hassle. Putting more rules in place is just going to make people feel trapped and push them away. Treating experienced pros like they're up to no good right off the bat only drives away the best and opens the door to the chancers. Teaching's a skilled job that deserves respect and decent pay. It's about time we recognize that.

Stephen


Why not live your best life?

For years, I'd been stuck in a rut, going through the motions of work, family, and responsibilities, but deep down, I knew there was something missing. I craved excitement, challenge, and a sense of purpose that seemed to elude me. Then, one day, it hit me like a ton of bricks: why not teach abroad? It was an idea that both terrified and excited me. But as I mulled it over, the thought of leaving behind the mundane for the unknown began to feel more and more appealing.

Thailand had always held a special place in my heart based on a few holidays there. So with a mixture of trepidation and determination, I took the plunge. The process of finding a teaching job in Thailand was anything but smooth sailing. There were countless hours scouring job boards, endless emails to potential employers, and moments of doubt that threatened to derail me. But through it all, there was a desire to find a job that was suitable. And slowly but surely, things began to fall into place.

I'll never forget the day I received the email offering me a teaching position in a small town in northern Thailand. It was like a validation of my decision to take a chance and follow my heart. And as I settled into my new life, I felt a great sense of freedom and possibility.

Teaching in Thailand has been an experience unlike any other. From the moment I stepped into the classroom, I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be. The connection I've formed with my students, the friendships I've forged with fellow expats, the simple day-to-day adventures I've had. It's all been fantastic. Sure, there have been challenges along the way - moments of homesickness, cultural misunderstandings, and the occasional bout of self-doubt. But each obstacle has only made me stronger, more resilient, more grateful for the journey I'm on.

So here I am, a man in his 50s, living out a dream he never knew he had. Teaching in Thailand has changed me in ways I never could have imagined, reminding me that life is meant to be lived to the fullest and embraced. I'm hoping the best is yet to come.

Ricky


Please sir, could I have a little more?

Please sir, could I have a little more?

Upon my recent arrival in Thailand, I've been actively engaged in job interviews, drawing on my considerable experience as a teacher along with holding a degree and a TEFL certificate. Despite it not being the most opportune time to seek teaching positions in Thailand, I've found myself inundated with offers. Having attended five interviews already, I've been offered a position at each one. It begs the question: Is there a shortage of qualified teachers?

I'm particularly interested in knowing how many teachers attend interviews and negotiate for higher salaries. Upon my arrival in Bangkok, I swiftly determined that I needed to earn a minimum of 50,000 baht per month. However, the best offer I've received thus far stands at 40,000 baht, with the school unwilling to budge on the figure. While a couple of other schools hinted at the possibility of a higher salary, they never followed through with an improved offer. I wonder if any fellow teachers have succeeded in negotiating better wages during the interview process?

Christopher


My students will tell you I'm as good as an NES teacher

My students will tell you I'm as good as an NES teacher

It can be incredibly frustrating when your qualifications are overlooked simply because English isn't your native language. Despite sending numerous job applications to international schools, I've often been disregarded due to this factor. But why should being a non-native speaker diminish my experience? I've successfully taught English to Thai students across various age groups, from M3 to middle-aged, at a language center. Throughout my eight years of teaching, I've received no complaints from either my colleagues or students. In fact, my students have expressed appreciation for my teaching style, finding my instructions clearer and tasks easier to grasp compared to those delivered by native speakers.

Many of my students continue to seek private tuition from me on weekends, and I've witnessed substantial improvement in their English proficiency. Experience, not native fluency, should be the primary criterion for evaluating educators. I urge for a fair chance for Asian applicants to showcase their skills during the interview process, rather than having our applications dismissed outright.

I kindly request the publication of my statement on ajarn.com to advocate for equal opportunities for Asian educators based on their abilities, rather than their appearance.

Benny


Teaching in Thailand with Aspergers

Ever thought about trading in your daily grind for exotic adventures and teaching English in the Land of Smiles? Well, I did just that – all the while doing the cha-cha with Asperger's!

Imagine, every day is a spicy som tam salad of experiences, where you're never quite sure if you’re the teacher or the student. With my trusty sidekick, Asperger's, we took on Thailand's vibrant classrooms – a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, and unique challenges. Teaching here is not just about conjunctions and verb tenses; it's leading a full-on educational conga line!

My first big revelation was how universally heartwarming a child’s laughter is – it cuts through any sensory overload like a hot knife through mango sticky rice. The key is embracing the unpredictability. Creating lesson plans that have flexibility built in like an acrobat means that no two days are the same, and boy, do my Aspie traits actually help keep things structured yet spontaneous!

Then there's the art of communication – not just the language barrier, but the whole nine yards. Weaving through cultural nuances, non-verbal cues, and the dance of social interaction takes some fancy footwork. But guess what? Those wizard-like focus powers often tagged 'Asperger’s traits' let me deep-dive into Thailand's unique communication style.

Finally, navigating the sensory marketplace of experiences, from bustling streets to classroom celebrations, gives 'living in the moment' an entirely new perspective. With mindfulness and a dash of humor, those sensory fireworks became a cause for celebration – a symphony of experiences only enhanced by my Asperger’s lens.

So, in conclusion (cue dramatic flourish, venture into the heart of Thailand and its classrooms? Check! Do it with Asperger’s adding color to every corner? Double Check! It's a journey filled with more twists and turns than a Bangkok street market, but oh, is it worth it! Until next time, keep your pencils sharp and your sense of adventure sharper!

Obie


From TEFL teacher to ELL Director

From TEFL teacher to ELL Director

When I started working in Asia back in 2012 I didn’t have any long term plans or visions for the future. I was in my 20s, I had just graduated from university and at the time I didn’t have so much as a TEFL certificate to my name. I figured I’d live in Asia for a year, then return to the US. In reality, I ended up spending a decade working in Thailand, China and the Philippines before finally getting married and heading back to my country of origin.

I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but somewhere along the way I ended up in possession of a master’s degree, a teaching license and the title of ELL director for a school district in the midwest. Somehow, a year in Asia had morphed into a professional career. The process had happened so slowly that I was barely aware of it until I woke up one day unsure of how I’d stumbled into such a situation.

The transition between teaching in Thailand and teaching in the U.S. wasn’t easy. But, without hyperbole, I can honestly say that I love my job here. It’s demanding, often stressful and there are issues that pop up here that you just never see in Thailand. Still, after ten years as a TEFL teacher I’ve found myself in a world of competent, dedicated professionals and even more oddly, found myself to be fairly competent, dedicated and professional as well. Contrary to my expectations, the whole experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

I never had any intentions of teaching in the U.S. but now that I’m coming up on my third year (two in a metro area and one in a more suburban/rural district) I have to say that teaching in the U.S. has defied my every expectation. I thought I’d be dealing with uncontrollable students, underfunded facilities and bad admin. Even at the worst inner-city school I worked at during my first year, the students were great (mostly) and the admin team was nothing short of amazing. We were very underfunded, though. That part is true.

At the end of my first year, my district stopped receiving ESSER funds and on top of that the distilled spirits industry managed to weasel its way out of paying school taxes, so the budgetary drop was quite significant. Now I find myself in charge of an entire ELL program and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. Thanks to my decade in Asia and my two years in urban schools with huge ELL populations, I feel like I have skills and strategies for anything I might encounter. The learning curve has been massive, but the payoff has been immense.

A large part of me wants to return to Thailand with my bright and shiny credentials. But, I just can’t bring myself to leave. My colleagues and work environment are too good, the pay and benefits are too good and the stability is too good. I don’t have to worry about trips to immigration and no one is going to arbitrarily fire me. I miss Thailand, but not enough to warrant leaving everything I have here. My wife and I will ABSOLUTELY be spending some of our summers in Thailand, though.

So, if you’re like I was back in 2020 and terrified of returning to your home country because you can’t even imagine trying to fit back in after so much time away, you might want to reconsider. Teaching in the U.S. isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. Plus, if you don’t like it you can always take your teaching license and work at a top-tier international school. That’s been my experience, anyway.

Cliff


What makes a likeable teacher?

What makes a likeable teacher?

I would say that when evaluating a teacher, you need to know something about their knowledge base, and, if possible, ascertain their level of caring for the students. (In response to a previous post, a PGCSE may not all be a guarantor of a good knowledge base; this is not always easy to predict based on one's CV). Another very important quality of a teacher is their ability to communicate their knowledge clearly. Being pleasant and likeable could also be important, but i would say it's less important than the previous qualities I've mentioned. Student opinion can be taken into consideration, but I would say you need peer observations along with observations from a knowledgeable supervisor order to make an accurate assessment of a teacher. As an example, I remember two of my main 6th grade teachers well. One was wildly popular, yet looking back on it, he often tried too hard to be our friend, whilst the other teacher was considered bland, but I ended up learning much more from the bland teacher as his lessons were full of information and well thought out; however, this insight came to me many years later.

LG


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