Thailand so far behind

I have very recently moved to Vietnam after four years spent teaching in Thailand. The level of English here in Vietnam as their second language is way ahead of Thailand. Thailand hasn't left first base yet. I'm not saying the Vietnamese have mastered the English language, but their basic knowledge and understanding is like a breath of fresh air. The first thing you notice is that you are not addressed as a farang every few minutes of the day. The Vietnamese address you as 'sir' or 'madam' or by your name, which they pronounce correctly. And the Vietnamese are generally a lot more pleasant and approachable compared to Thais.

At my last school in Thailand, which I found bearable by Thai standards, the students were the main feature of the school. They were the best students I had ever taught in Thailand and the teachers were pleasant enough. But after the usual honeymoon period was over, the school started demanding the farang teachers work the same as the Thai teachers in every respect, which for me didn't go down to well, considering they would only pay my salary for nine months of the year.

The phrase 'fast track' was being flung around as if you were working in a postal office. I don't know about you but, fast track and education for me should never be used in the same sentence where Thailand and its education are concerned. "Slowly slowly catch the monkey". We all know these initiatives come from Bangkok, as they have only just realized how far behind they really are on the education front - especially compared to other countries that will be joining them in the Asean in three years time.

I'm not saying I will never return to Thailand but trust me -. don't spend too long there in one period. You definitely need a break from the Thais. Anyway good luck to all my fellow TEFLers and remember one thing in Thailand - he who dares, always loses.

Mr. Russell


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