The South African viewpoint
As a potential farang in Thailand, I have found your website most informative. I would now like to add my twopence worth.
Firstly, the debate about whether native English speakers make better teachers than non-native English speakers:-
I am, what the advertisements presumably hope is, a native English speaking South African. In South Africa we have 11 official languages: English, Afrikaans and 9, so-called, indigenous languages (the languages spoken by the 9 Black tribes in the country.) This does not take into consideration all those thousands of South Africans who are of Hindu, Tamil, Urdu, Dutch, Portuguese, Greek, Lebanese, Italian, German and French descent, and who probably regard themselves as native English speakers, although they still speak these languages in their homes. It is quite obvious therefore that the vast majority of South Africans are not English first-language speakers and that many will not have the language skills necessary to teach English here in South Africa, let alone anywhere else. So, how does one define a South African native English speaker, and how does one determine if he/she is fit to teach this most diffiucult language to others?
Secondly, the issue of having a qualification that says one can (supposedly) teach English to foreigners:-
Following on from the above, it is quite obvious that most South African English teachers will have taught English to second-language students at some stage in their careers, and that most South African teachers will have taught other subjects (in English) to second-language students. So why do we need TEFL or TESOL qualifications? We get enough experience right here in our own country!
Thirdly, the issue of the Thai Government's licensing requirements for foreign teachers:-
In South Africa (currently), the B.Education is a post-graduate qualification originally introduced (many years ago) to encourage people with Bachelor Degrees to teach (most teachers studied for the B.Ed.part-time while teaching.) Otherwise (currently), all high school teachers are required to have a Bachelor's Degree plus a Teacher's Diploma (4 years of study) and primary school teachers simply have a 3 year diploma. BUT, when I qualified, all we needed to be able to teach was a Bachelor's Degree with a teaching subject as a major, and on the strength of this, I taught for 4 years, before entering the field of librarianship. So where do I fit into the Thai scheme of things? I do not have a B.Ed. but I do have a degree in English, a post-graduate librarian's diploma and 4 years' teaching experience. I do not mind the concept of the Foreign Teachers Thai Culture Training Programme (if it is worthwhile), but I am not interested in spending another year and thousands of Baht on getting some qualification which will probably duplicate what I have already learned in my own country. According to the official I spoke to at the Royal Thai Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, the employers should be paying for these courses anyway, not the teachers.
Fourthly, the issue of "visa-runs":-
Again, the Royal Thai Ministry official told me that this is nonsense. As a South African, I purchase a Non-Imm.B.Visa here in SA, which I then renew (for a fee) after 3 months in Thailand, and Thai Immigration then gives me a 9-month extension. At no time do I have to leave the country on any cross-border visa runs. If I renew my contract for another year, I simply request another extension. So why are you ex-pats chasing visa renewals across the border?
He did warn me however, that private schools in Thailand must have a certain income to be able to employ foreign teachers otherwise these teachers are illegal. So it appears that teachers should ask to see balance sheets before accepting teaching posts.
Finally, are there any South Africans in Thailand who can share their experiences?