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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Handling the pandemic

I have been teaching English in Thailand since 1994 and I have now been out of work for four months due to the pandemic. My elderly mother lives alone near Liverpool. Getting home to visit her and also attend an important family wedding is just not possible due to the large expense, quarantine arrangements, vaccinations, difficulties in getting back into Thailand and last but not least, leaving my wife for just how long?
I am sure Thailand will get it right eventually and even all us expats will get vaccinated. In the meantime, we all have to deal with the stress of living in the current situation just as best as we can.


Little hope for a teacher in lockdown

Little hope for a teacher in lockdown

I am in Phuket and I love living here. I adore the lovely school I work at and I genuinely feel blessed every day when I can work. The problem is that schools are closed again - for the 4th time - despite Phuket opening to the world with the Sandbox scheme. It is becoming impossible to survive as a teacher. I don’t want to go home but if I have to because of the lack of work, it will be the ultimate defeat and one I will not cope at all well with. I want to stay here.

Online teaching is not an option sadly. I am a kindergarten teacher and working for an agency at a government school. Many families do not have a wifi connection or a suitable laptop for this to be a possibility. The agency refuse to pay teacher salaries during lockdown, despite me having worked loyally for them for two years. This is particularly frustrating as the school is valiantly paying all their own workers, caretakers, teachers, cooks and Burmese builders - and the other agency supplying teachers to our school are also paying their teachers during this lockdown period.

I have also had my social media posts copied and sent to me by post by the agency - with a threat that anything I say is potentially libellous. This is despite never mentioning the agency by name or directly referencing them. I have simply pointed out it is a depressing time and one with little hope. I have therefore had to change my name and profile and picture on social media and even writing this post is a worry for me. I hope things will get better. It feels like a long road sometimes and one filled with much worry.


Times have changed

In my two decades of living in Thailand, I have experienced some occasional prejudice, but no openly hostile racism. This has changed, from what I can see. The Covid virus has legitimised more aggressive hating on foreigners. Society has somehow allowed this to creep into acceptable behaviour. Part of this may come from deflection of the nation's inability to get control of the pandemic effectively and looking silly on the world stage; the other part may always have been there, under the surface, waiting for an excuse!


Be cautious around teacher agencies

Be cautious around teacher agencies

Be cautious of Thai teaching agencies because they are notorious for not doing the correct paperwork, supporting teachers, and doing as they please just to secure the contract at client schools. If possible, look for direct hire options with a school as you will not have as many problems or face as many salary deductions. If you relocate to Nakhon Nowhere, you will be at their mercy. Thai agencies prey on new teachers and their lack of knowledge about how things work over here. Speak to as many teachers as possible at the school/agency and get a feel for whats in store.


Smarten up!

When it comes to male teacher attire, it's gotta be a crisp shirt, smart pants and smart polished shoes. That is not a lot to ask. You see so many ajarns out and about and some look bloody disgraceful. Decent clothes are worth spending a bit extra on because they look good. Bargain supermarket brands are not the way to go. Never understood why so many teachers get this basic thing so wrong - as if it's a deliberate attempt to say "pay me shit so l dress like shit"


Looking for some advice

Looking for some advice

Looking to retire in a few years and also interested in teaching. My retirement income will be $10K USD per month. Are there any special considerations for people making substantially more than the average citizen when moving to Thailand? Any places I should avoid or places I should try to live?


Is this lawful?

Is this lawful?

My boss gave me permission to return to England while my school are currently having to work online from home. I verbally agreed to return to Thailand if the school reopened. He said it looks ‘likely’ the school will reopen 14th June (even though the situation is very serious and there’s no confirmation the school will open). I said I am happy to continue working online from the UK but do not want to confirm returning to Thailand until there is full evidence and confirmation that the school can safely return. He declined my offer of continuing to teach online (despite the fact we have at least 2 weeks left of online teaching) even though it is becoming clearer everyday that things don’t look hopeful for reopening and has instead terminated my contract. We get paid at the end of each month and I have worked up to the 21st May which means I will be owed almost a full months pay on 31st May. However, the school are not going to pay me because I wouldn’t return. Is this lawful?


Native speakers are tops!

When I'm learning a foreign language, I want a native speaking teacher of that language. Native speakers breathe their language 24/7, so it's a native speaker's energy which I the student want for a language parent. That's not to say any native speaker will do; it must be a smart native speaker with many interests who has knowledge of the process involved during language learning.


A reluctance to question the teacher

A reluctance to question the teacher

I've found one of the most challenging aspects of being a new teacher in Thailand is the students' reluctance to ask questions in class. I'm still learning about the complex aspects of Thai culture but it feels like young Thais, teenagers let's say, just don't feel comfortable questioning someone older, especially a teacher. I rarely have this problem with adult learners in fact. Younger students are conditioned to just soak up the information given to them, write it down commit it to memory and then hopefully be able to remember it when test time comes around. I work with foreign teachers who call the Thais stupid but I genuinely think it's because they are scared and don't want to challenge the social norms.


If you're white, you're alright

I am Canadian born and educated with an Indian background. Despite the fact that I have two degrees (one of which is in English), have a TEFL/TESOL certificate, and have over a year's worth of experience teaching in four different countries, I cannot find a job in Thailand, and have spent two months, sending out over 60 applications.

I stopped attaching my picture to my applications and instantly started receiving more responses. However, in every case, when they inevitably asked for a picture, I was not contacted again, or told that there was no work - by the same organizations that had just posted messages saying they needed teachers...???

In one of the only interviews I've had, the woman interviewing me told me that I have an Indian accent, despite the fact that I have never lived in India, and was born, grew up and educated in Canada!?

Is there a bias towards non-white English teachers in Thailand? Without a doubt, YES!!! I even know of a few Germans, who are obviously not native speakers and who obviously do not have TEFL/TESOL certificates, but have received teaching jobs quite easily.

It is quite obvious that Thailand does not care about the quality of education in this country and is only concerned with bringing as many white people in as possible. Actually, this surprises me very little since I have traveled through Thailand many times and have noticed that in almost everything, Thai people always favour whites and will do anything to look, act, think as white as possible.


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