Don't get angry, just have an escape plan

I think the biggest issue with TEFL (in Thailand in particular) is the use of agents. Agents, of course, skim off the top of everyone's wages for every single payment from start to end of employment. They are parasites. Every single one of them - no matter what BS they try to pull to convince you that they are 'more than just agents'.

Agents seem to dominate most of the jobs on offer in Thailand so they're kind of difficult to avoid. The agent I work for does things like make all the foreign staff come in weeks before the Thai staff each term to decorate their classrooms (!) Obviously, this is just to make the agent 'look good' to the owner of the school. Rumors abound of agents giving 'kickbacks' from staff salaries to the owner(s) too in many cases. I wouldn't doubt for a New York minute that such a thing goes on.

Salaries have been frozen here for years, the cost of living has rocketed and the workloads have increased. I now have to work online too to make a decent salary. I get about 65,000-75,000 baht a month and it's still not all that great. It's certainly not enough to think about retirement plans etc.

Add to this frustration, a proliferation of Pinoy teachers who have bowed and scraped and enslaved themselves to such a level it has impacted on everyone else.

Let's face it, TEFL as a 'career' of any kind in Thailand is over. Unless you're prepared to work 60 hours a week with few benefits (the 'health insurance' packages are a joke in most cases) forget it.

Stay out here too long and you risk being booted out of the country if you fall ill (no matter if you've got a wife and kids and ten years' of 'helping the nation' by teaching in the government schools). Yup. Time to think how 'valued' we really are to these schools/countries.

Despite this, I don't get angry anymore. The best thing to do (if you enjoy teaching, which I do) is to get qualified. I have obtained an M.Ed now and will return to my home country to get properly licensed. If anyone is in the same boat, you just need to take a deep breath , relax and plan your escape. Everyone is different, but I'll need about a million baht to return and start teaching in my country (apartment / flight / money to support myself whilst I train. etc).

Just choose the path of least resistance when it comes to earning cash to save. For me, that means either The Middle East or China later in the year once I've saved a little.

So please everyone in the same predicament, don't get mad. Don't cry. Just plan your way out and don't get angry at how the education systems in faraway lands work. Do you think they'll ever listen to Mr Farang? You might as well bring your cat with you and ask them to listen to Mr. Tiddles' opinions. It's all about the money and status I'm afraid with many Asian education systems. The desperately sad thing is that the kids' education is barely important to many (not all) schools.

Just do what you can (your best for the students) and don't get angry or upset at things that you will never be able to change. Believe me, I've got myself into really angry moods (punching walls at home once!) at the frustrations of the Thai education system and feeling 'trapped'.

There are ways out if you need one. Find them and use them. Because nothing will change.

On a final note, TEFLing is great for a youngster wanting to try life abroad for a couple of years. Probably unfair on the kids in some cases, but I don't think the (now diminishing) presence of Western teachers makes this education system any worse.

Some TEFLers find that they enjoy teaching and return home to teach in their own countries. But as a career? Well unless you're talking about some of those high paying jobs in The Middle East.

Oh, I forgot. You might make a career out of TEFL if you become an agent. Personally, I couldn't live with myself if I did that. I do have some morals left, even after living in Thailand for a couple of years!


Read more letters

Featured Jobs

English Conversation Teachers

1 day, 5 hours ago

฿35,000+ /month


Male NES ESL Teachers for Saudi Arabia

1 day, 23 hours ago

฿80,000+ /month

Various locations

Head Librarian (Beijing)

2 days, 7 hours ago

฿80,000+ /month

Various locations

AP Courses Teachers for Beijing

2 days, 7 hours ago

฿90,000+ /month

Various locations

English Teacher Position for Beijing

2 days, 7 hours ago

฿90,000+ /month

Various locations

Qualified NES Teachers

3 days, 3 hours ago

฿40,000+ /month


TEFL Courses & Training

Get off to a good start...

Take your course
in Thailand!

Training Directory

Featured Teachers

  • Dr. Frank


    British, 66 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Frans


    Dutch, 56 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Zowee


    British, 40 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Francois


    South African, 33 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Timothy John


    Australian, 49 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Mylem


    Filipino, 26 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Mpho


    Mosotho, 27 years old. Currently living in South Africa

  • Jenna


    South African, 22 years old. Currently living in South Africa

  • Ivy


    Filipino, 26 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Suthichai


    American, 35 years old. Currently living in Thailand


Sine Education

No TEFL required.

Mediakids Academy

Top TEFL job placement provider with competitive benefits and an unforgettable experience.

English Planet

To be internationally recognized as the leader in quality English language training.


Vacancies for in-house and corporate teachers at the finest schools in Suphanburi City


We get you a job! Options for school placements all over Thailand

BSI Broker

Brokers for ajarn health insurance and for all your Thailand insurance needs.

Siam Computer & Language

Competitive teacher packages with benefits and bonus incentives

Kajonkietsuksa School

First bilingual school in Phuket. Vacancies for kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers.

Kasintorn St Peter School

Progressive English program school near Bangkok employing NES and Filipino teachers

Inlingua Thailand

Premier language school with many branches and corporate training.

The Hot Spot

The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?

Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.

Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.

Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?

Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.

Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?

Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!