The plight of slaves

The plight of slaves

Re: Living on the new wage mentality, Ajarn Postbox 1st March) Good letter by Bob there about the low wages paid to Western teachers in Thailand. Everything Bob has said is frank and honest.

Let's face it, you spend a fortune at home getting a degree - in most Western countries anyway - and then they offer about the same money you get for being unemployed in Australia if you go to work there.

There are few benefits - 10 days holiday a year I used to get - you cannot afford to fly home for a visit, and you certainly cannot save enough to ever have any sort of future in your own country.

Unless you just want to have an adventure or get started in your career, for most graduates Thailand is a very unattractive place to work.

Like Bob said, then they treat you like absolute crap as well. The more educated you are, the more you are going to rub up against the educational establishment in Thailand. Thai 'educators' prefer people who do not challenge them intellectually, and who do not care about academic standards - that is, about aiming for the cognitive and language skills benchmarks for smart people, and about the principles of academic integrity. Most of the time they are more happy with unqualified and/or inexperienced teachers as a result.

Wages have not gone up in the twelve years since I was there either. I actually did some Thai studies courses at university, or took an interest in their country, which was a complete waste of time career-wise. It never helped me get a better job. All it did was add to my workload, because everyone was constantly creeping to my office for translation. (It is an odd thing, too, that Thai educators who are completely unable to write a coherent sentence, and who can be barely understood - and who are supposed to be foreign language teachers, or recognize how hard learning another language is - it is an odd thing they should be so disrespectful to people who are trying to grapple with their language, or so self-assured that they can speak English better than any foreign person could ever speak in Thai.

Plain disrespectful they are, a lot of them. But that is the national ethos, isn't it.

Sure enough, Thailand is a 'poor' country, in terms of the wages people tend to make. Although we should not forget some of the world's richest people come from Thailand - say no more.

A lot of the reason salaries are so low for Western teachers, however, is simply that the Thais, as we have touched on already, do not appreciate the value of a good education. They think the money they pay is a fortune to have someone come and conduct a few sing-alongs, which is what their idea of a good English class entails. They think it is a fortune to pay for a lot of the types that such low wages attract.

But that is how it is. Certainly no use getting any of them to listen to reason. You might as well speak to a piece of wood. Or you could write a letter here and vent your spleen to everyone else who does not matter, or who is powerless to effect change.

You have the choice of enjoying some time there for reasons other than the salary, and the accolade of your peers - and certainly Thai university students, at least, can be a lot of fun to teach. It is a good way to garner some experience. And there are a lot of nice people in Thailand, the teaching establishment is not everyone.

Or you can just head off to any one of the other many countries that hire English teachers, and that offer very good wages and conditions. And, if you like Thailand, just spend your three months holiday there every year instead.

Captain Haddock


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