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've been working at a Thai government school for three months. The foreign teachers feel like they are tolerated, not wanted. Every month they ask us to do more and more work like running spelling bee competitions, standing at the front gate in the mornings to wave at students, creating curriculum etc. The director of my English program where I work comes to work two hours late every day, but only stays for 30 minutes. One day she came in during our lunch break, and told me to get to work! We don't have teacher's editions of textbooks, no internet in the office, and the six of us have to share one computer to write lesson plans, tests, etc. How can the school management possibly be this incompetent?
The agencies in Thailand are an absolute blight upon the whole hiring teachers from overseas scheme of things. Thailand is turning into Japan in terms of the cowboys operating to maximise profit. Many Japanese kids have been through the whole school system with ALTs in the classroom but have no ability to speak the language.
Thailand seems pretty much the same - trashy operators selling karaoke boxes and scripted trash as communicative education. Oooops-almost 'named names' there.
I was apply for teaching jobs in Chiang Mai whilst still living in the U.K. I got a Skype interview with a well known private school there which went well and I was told I had been successful. They wanted me to leave the UK a month before I had intended, so I booked flights and off I went.
When I arrived the school said they wanted me to come in for a tour and a meeting, however when I got there I was met by a panel of five senior members of staff. They asked me to show them how I would teach (which was not mentioned beforehand).
After a panic and trying my best to improvise, which I did with some success, I was then told that they couldn't employ me because I wasn't American and they thought their students wouldn't understand my accent.
It took me two months to find another job, meaning I spent a big chunk of my savings.
In response to "Get more realistic Thailand" (Postbox 16th June)
"I think Thailand needs to be more realistic about what it's looking for with TEFL teachers..."
I don't think that Thailand has much of an idea what it's looking for. There's certainly no practical vision for the future in this area of education.
A 'realistic' approach would be to find all the native English speakers who want to live here (that have a verifiable four-year degree) and give them a simple hassle-free residency visa which is valid for as long as they are in full-time employment at a school.
Then train them to teach the Thai English language curriculum... after it's been designed to be fit for purpose of course! Once trained, the farang graduates would be posted around the country as and where needed.
Pay them a set salary into their own special teachers' Thai checking account directly from the Department of Education. Leave the schools and agencies out of the money equation. It's simple and it would generate an army of willing and capable teachers. And it wouldn't cost much either!
I don't see any reason to raise the rates of pay. The new teachers would be saving a fortune in visa runs and legal expenses, etc.
I think Thailand needs to be more realistic about what it's looking for with TEFL teachers. You don't really need any qualifications to teach TEFL at the real TEFL level other than being a native-speaker and having a CELTA, etc.
Take Spain for example; a great place to a take a year or two out and have a working holiday. At the time I was there they only requested we had some kind of TEFL cert. No degree was needed. You weren't sold the job as being a a real or serious teacher. You were sold it as helping students improve their English. This was generally done by practicing conversation.
They wouldn't have dreamed about asking you teach math or science etc, in a real school. We were restricted to the TEFL level language centers and rightly so.
Thailand needs to be more honest and open if they're serious about improving their level of language. There's no career here for the most part, but if you want a year or two out, regardless of your age, come here and have a working holiday. We can't pay you much but you'll have holidays and be able to get by.
Thailand seems to be looking for properly qualified teachers for less than TEFL level standards. It ain't gonna happen.
If you're a properly qualified teacher, I wouldn't recommend Thailand for the most part. I've known properly qualified teachers here earning 100k a month and they thought it was a lot. But in the grand scheme, it really isn't. Try having kids and growing old here on that.
I knew a guy who came here with a degree and wanted to get qualified. He ended up doing his masters, and maybe even a doctorate here, and then realized that even within Thailand, it was pretty worthless. They wanted qualifications from western universities etc. He ended up starting an agency and basically just lies for a living. Selling an idea of professionalism to people who simply aren't, being instructed how to teach by people with inferior qualifications. Just one big factory of teachers.
If you're a real teacher in the sense you wanna help people, god bless you. It's one of the most noble things you can do in life. You'll always be a teacher so make sure you invest in yourself. If you like teaching but are doing it mostly to stay in Thailand, do not waste thousands of dollars on teaching qualifications that restrict you to teaching the rest of you life. That is awful investment, especially in a place like Thailand.
Online work is the way to go. Affiliate marketing etc. There's a lot of money to be made if you're reliable and hardworking. You need zero qualifications other than a fantastic work ethic and knowing where the money is. I'm not going to tell people how to do it, but there is money online to be made. It's definitely the way forward for people who wanna live abroad.
When Thailand pisses me off, I just hop on a plane with my laptop to somewhere else for a week. I soon miss Thailand and return to her. But as in life, familiarity breeds contempt and I need my away time sometimes.
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