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.
I understand the people who say it is wrong to change the Thai education system or to want to change it and that you should just go with it or that it's wrong for a Westerner to try to impose something on a developing Asian country. Thai people do not like confrontation or causing trouble and to make changes to something as big as the educational system would cause them to do a lot of both. I am not a Thai teacher but I would think those two things, along with their low salaries, would cause them to not want or care enough to change the status quo and the politicians working in the education department are probably not the best people for the job. However, there are some Thai supporters to overhauling the education system. They just haven't gotten enough support to create any change yet.
Mistakes and problems could be avoided if teachers coming to Thailand held a teaching degree. Many people think they are teachers of anything because they come from an English-speaking country. Thailand is changing its teaching requirements from no degrees in education to degrees in education needed. If you want a great teaching position in Thailand then do the following:
A. Pick up a teaching degree in education from your home country.
B. Apply for a job via a good job services program.
C. Come to Thailand qualified with at least 3 years of teaching experience.
If you follow these steps then you can land a wonderful job in one of the many international schools. Do your homework and check out the international school before you sign a contract. Some of the lower rating international schools pay very little but expect a great deal of work. If the school is decent and trustworthy they will tell you the starting salary and all benefits upfront. The ones that do not tell you the salary upfront are usually low paying and not worth your time. Working in a Thai school can be very satisfying and rewarding as long as money is not an issue.
Hate to say it but it's time for folks to jump ship. I love Thailand, but myself and other friends have long since left for pastures greener. Between the coup, visa nonsense, stagnant salaries and ever increasing anti-farang sentiment, Thailand's long had its day. I'm in Vietnam now, earning nearly double my Thai salary for significantly less work and lower living costs. Plenty have also made the move to Korea, Taiwan and The Middle East. I forecast many more "Great Escape" stories if Thailand keeps up this charade.
I have trained corporate clients on report writing and effective business English in my country and very often, management does it simply as another box to tick off, while the employees see little relevance to their actual job. The trainer often has to train in an animated, enthusiastic way, and perhaps even find the relevance for them. I did pretty well, and learnt much from their lived experiences, that could enrich my training, both in presentation and content! I'd be interested in corporate training in Bangkok, if I knew where to start looking, especially since I'm not in-country.
Finding the right teacher is more about finding the only teacher available right now. We are romanticizing the idea that your average school or agency for the most part puts any real thought into who they employ. Young and good looking are usually the biggest qualifications one can have when teaching in these dime-a-dozen 30-40k a month jobs. I can't imagine schools or agencies having lengthy meetings, with teachers' CVs strewn across the table. while deliberating with real integrity about who is "right" for the job. ha ha.
In reality, and so often is the case, new teachers are typically first come first served. Then they are told they will receive no paid sick pay, lied to about their contract and its length, and told that they'll have to wait for their work permit as 'Prim' in HR is very busy. Busy doing what? Busy wondering if the school should actually get a work permit for the new teacher as they're not sure if they will leave or not and don't wanna pay the money. Either that or wondering if they should let the teacher go as they're not fit to be around the general public, let alone children. What an absolute shit show.
For those worried about finding work in their sixties and beyond, I am 65 and work full-time with a work permit and visa in Phuket. Hitting 60 in Thailand is a problem because the government stipulates that you cannot be employed in any Thai state school. Therefore, no contract, work permit or visa. My solution was a private school. If they are reputable in the area, then the Thai Labor Department and Immigration Department can rubber stamp it. However, I am fully qualified and experienced which also helps. I have three months to go until my UK pension kicks in and I leave the farce that is Thai education. I can't wait.
Having been in the edutainment game for most of the last 17 years, the key, I find, is find a good balance. You have to find appropriate activities that stimulate enjoyment amongst the students AND reach a focused end grammar, listening, and/or conversational goal for the class. One of the things I love to do is bring as much realia into my classes as possible. There is no point just entertaining for entertainment sake. If you are talking about food in class, get the students to show you how to make their own recipe - better still, get them up in front of the class to do it! Once they have done that, set up a class menu on the board and then - restaurant time! Get students to play waiter and customers and set up real restaurant situations. Its all about how YOU make it.
Regarding the teacher who asked on Ajarn how difficult it would be to find work at 60 with no degree, my university asks for a Masters but accepts Bachelors. I know this as I only have a Bachelors myself. However, at 60, he is probably too old to be accepted, but they will keep people on after 60 if you are already in the system and on the payroll. The problem universities have is that their job promotion is poor, and they advertise the salary they are allowed to by the government. However, most positions have many extra ways of making cash, such as marking exams, grading essays, and attending events.
I know people who are 60 years old and over working in shopping malls in Nonthaburi. As long as you look presentable and can deliver classes they don't care too much about age. If someone younger interviews at the same time then you will probably lose out, but in Nonthaburi there are lots of malls and not so many NES teachers.
I always check Ajarn.com, seeking a dream job. What starts bells ringing for me, isn't the agency advertisements as they are expected to recruit all the time to replace teachers and offer new positions. But when I see schools advertising often, I begin to think the dream jobs they are offering is too good to be true. I think why are they still looking or re-looking? Sure I know teachers move on or perhaps let go, but, I have to ask myself why so often? Could it be that the dream job is ruined by some horrendous bosses or just more admin staff? It certainly makes me not to want to try and apply, when I see the same schools still recruiting, and there is no way of knowing if I am missing out, or just being over careful, what do you think?
I think it's reasonable to ask foreign teachers to participate in something like this once a week as long as it's included in contact time or their contracted times. It's when you're maxed out at 24 classes (your Thai colleagues are on almost half that) and rostered to do 5+ hours of rostered duties (including half an hour of lunch or playground supervision each day, snack time supervision twice a day and cleaning up) and then another 5+ hours of 'unofficial' supervision, so you've got effectively only one planning period a day on average and you've got to pretty much resource the classes from scratch as there's virtually no text books and no multimedia resources, that you realise even if your school are paying you very well compared to the average school, that you're be treated as a slave!
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