Thailand is just doing what Korea did

These complaints about the Ministry of Education's changes to teacher requirements remind me of my early teaching years in Korea, when Korea started cleaning things in their ESL education environment, weeding out those who just didn't make the cut that Korea had established for itself. Lots of moaning and high horse I-know-betterism from the underqualified who Korea just didn't want teaching in their country any longer.

Korea held firm and now they've reached the higher level they set for themselves.

I lived and taught in Korea when it was under military rule (Chun Doo Hwan, Noh Tae Woo (nominally "the first democratically elected president"). Saw the nation develop to a regular, predictable democratically elected government. No matter who was in charge though, Korea just kept on rolling.

And for sincere expat teachers, nothing but regulation here and a rule there changed. The sincere ones accepted that it was what Korea wanted and adapted accordingly. The losers got weeded out.

After three decades teaching at universities in Korea, I now teach in Thailand at elementary school level in a kind of retirement. I've been here four years and find the country a wonderful place to live and teach. Yes, there are a lot of paper work hoops to go through, but it is what Thailand wants and I adapt accordingly.

The raising of standards doesn't impact me as I'm fully qualified. I support Thailand's goals to improve the quality of the foreign teacher pool. And I would even if I weren't "fully qualified" and had to get additional education to be so.

There will be bumps in the road, but Thailand has set itself on that road and doesn't intend to stay put in the status quo. At each bump, it'll shake off those teachers whose tenuous qualifications didn't give them a firm grip on a career in teaching in Thailand anyway.

Thailand's effort in this regard did not start with the present government. It has been in the making for years, across three governments at least and it reflects an overall trend in ESL education in Asia.


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