Ignore the negativity

Ignore the negativity

NES teachers come from individualistic, moderately egalitarian and risk-taking cultures while Thailand has a more collectivist, hierarchal and risk adverse culture. Add to this the differences in languages, levels of economic development and political systems, it is not surprising most NES teachers, even those of us who have spent years here, never completely understand the underlying aspects of the environments we work and live in while in Thailand.

Thailand is an extremely different place than countries with Anglo-American cultures and traditions most NES teachers come from.

Any value judgment or value comparisons between cultures is purely subjective. Some people claim Thailand is a wonderful place to live and work and others claim it is a horrible place to live and work. Both are the “truth” for the individuals making the judgments but are not true in an objective sense.

Reading constant one-sided stories of the horrors of teaching in Thailand and about how Thais are bad and NES teachers are good is not helpful in gaining a deeper understanding of our surroundings.

Having been an expat for many years in many countries, and having done extrusive research on the topic, it appears the overwhelming results of studies show individuals who are less judgmental, open to new experience and eager to learn the language of the host country enjoy their overseas assignments more and are more professionally successful.

Most of the research in expat adjustment has been done with business people, but it is likely we would find similar results when looking at the experiences of teachers, NGO workers and even long-term tourists or retirees for that matter.

In my overseas work experience, I have run into office politics, incompetent co-workers, shady characters and other challenges. But I suspect I would have run across about the same amount if I had decided to have a domestic career and stayed at home.
Just because you hear a rant in the teachers lounge or read a rant on ajarn.com or face; it does not imply you automatically have enough unbiased information to make a value judgement on the situation.

Although there are exceptions, in general schools want to retain good teachers, but what the school considers a good teacher may not be aligned with the individual’s evaluation of his or her own performance.

If you are going to read any of the online discussion forums for teachers in Thailand or occasionally take a seat in the teachers' lounge between classes you will be exposed to Thai-bashing and rants, but one does not have to allow all the negativity that the ESL industry in Thailand is so well known for to pull you down.


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