This is the place to air your views on TEFL issues in Thailand. Most topics are welcome but please use common sense at all times. Please note that not all submissions will be used, particularly if the post is just a one or two sentence comment about a previous entry.

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Bitter aging one

@Old Bloke (I can't get the top teaching jobs anymore, Postbox 2nd March) Just don't worry about age, I'm still here well past my retirement age and I love it. The jobs are there. So what if some younger cowboy got the job. It shows them up for the kind of school they are for not hiring you, right? With your credentials you could be doing well and at 50 still have plenty of time.

Tony Roberts

But why Thailand?

Regarding the teacher who said that he can't get the top teaching jobs anymore (Postbox, 2nd March), why is it a binary choice between Thailand and going home to teach? There are many countries in the world that need native English speaking teachers and don't suffer from the pig-ignorance that Thailand has and will never rid itself of.

I have a Thai friend who works as a PA. She's 40 years old, she's been in the same job for 12 years and is bored stiff. However, once you get to 40 nobody new will want you, so your only option is to rot away in the same job for another decade or two. No wonder so many Thais think of their kids as a pension fund that will support them to retire in their 40s.

No middle-aged foreigner should be working in Thailand in my opinion. It's asking for trouble and almost guarantees misery as one moves into later life.

Tim, Kaohsiung

I can't get the top teaching jobs anymore

I can't get the top teaching jobs anymore

Ageism has been an issue in Thailand for a while and it's not going away, sadly. It's even worse for Thais. Just go on any Thai jobsite and try and find jobs for anyone over 35. It's similar for us foreigners too, but the 'age limits' vary and aren't nearly as downright nasty as they are for Thai nationals.

I'm 50 now, have an education degree and twenty years' teaching experience. However, I can't get a 'top job' anymore, despite excellent references and experience. Recently, I applied for a job paying 70,000 up. It stated that you must have an education degree/QTS etc. I applied and they didn't even reply to my email. However, they did reply and offer a job (at 85,000 a month) to a young handsome chap I know with no B.Ed or QTS. Fair play to him for applying without credentials deemed 'essential' in their advertisement.

There was no 'age limit' mentioned in the ad, but obviously there was. There was no other reason to reject my application out of hand (they just asked for Certs, CV and a photo to be sent). And yes, I know how to write a good CV.

I'm happy for the chap. Good luck to him. But it has made me realise that I need to look at going back home to teach there. In Thailand, it's all down to private schools wanting pretty young faces representing their schools on the website, on the billboards and just for the parents to swoon over. Young, fresh-faced teachers help to sell the schools here. And money is important to those running some of these rackets, I mean schools.

I'm still getting some good offers, but not at the level I'm used to. And it's only going to get worse as I get older. I've now realised that you can't help feeling angry and frustrated at times due to the rampant ageism here, but that you need to just let it go. They aren't going to change. Cash is king.

Old Bloke

Poor pay means a higher turnover

Poor pay means a higher turnover

When you pay poorly you will always get either lower level candidates or high turnover. Teachers, like the rest, need money to live.

Years ago, I delivered sailing yachts all around Europe, the Med, from Europe to The Caribbean and the States, etc. The vast majority of these deliveries were through agencies. The pay meant it was long-term, non-viable. However, it was always sold as "But it's the lifestyle, right?" Sure, for a time. Long-term it was unsustainable though. Same with any job the world over. In that industry, there was always a fresh and regular turnover of yacht skippers sold on the lifestyle. Dress it up how you like, but until that underlying issue is addressed, it'll be same-old, same-old.


Ways to recruit more foreign teachers

(Regarding the news that the Thai government wants to recruit thousands more foreign teachers) I sincerely believe that the issue isn't just one of pay. Of course, professionally qualified native English speakers demand high pay, but that's not what 95% of Thai schools actually need. You don't hire chefs at MacDonald's.

More (and better) people willing to teach would be lured to Thailand AND STAY LONGER if the conditions were changed. And there are many ways this could be done. Offering a path to citizenship, reducing the ridiculous red tape and expenses, having government-approved contracts covering hours and pay, etc, offering health and accident insurance... the list goes on. Despite what you may have heard from one government official, there are no serious, meaningful attempts to recruit able 'teachers' from abroad - and there never will be.


Vietnam is calling

Vietnam is calling

(Regarding the news that the Thai government wants to recruit thousands more foreign teachers) First of all, you need to increase the pay with inflation. Consider the countries you're competing against for teachers, which are paying higher. Also, you need to make it easier for teachers to stay. As it stands, there is an education degree requirement for the teachers license; teachers with no degree in education can only get a couple of waivers, and then have to leave after a few years thus depriving the country of individuals who have a few years experience under their belt, who are familiar with the culture and the language, in favour of backpackers who mainly just want an extended working holiday. As it is, having no education degree, I have one more year here and then I'm going to have to bid my home in Chiang Rai a fond farewell, and set my sail in the direction of Vietnam.


Please support The Hope Fair

The first Hope Fair of 2020 will be hosted on March 26th at the prestigious Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, in the center of town, a few steps away from BTS Ratchadmri.

The Hope Fair is renowned on the Bangkok scene for its selection of 100 artisans and entrepreneurs offering quality products and services which can not be found elsewhere.

For the past 5 years, the Hope Fair has provided a unique shopping experience to the public offering crafts, art, fashion, and delicacies such as smoked fishes, foie gras, cheese, tamarind vinegar, vegan bread and pastries along with other treats prepared with love for all to enjoy!

Don’t hesitate to indulge yourself with clothes, accessories, home decor, and organic cosmetics. Or make your life easier by learning about innovative tools to support your daily life. Parents can also spoil their little ones with educational games, clothes and fun accessories .

Furthermore, all the vendors - designers, artisans and entrepreneurs - donate to the Mercy Centre, an orphanage in Klong Toey which supports the kids of the slums with financial and material aid.
During the fair, the foundation will be collecting shoes, clothes, or anything useful that can be reused by the less fortunate. Make some space in your cabinet and bring your donation treasures on March 26th!

Stay tuned! :

Posted by Ajarn

I made far more as a postman!

Most government schools here are paying about 30,000 baht a month - and they want you to have a degree! When I lived in Australia, I worked as a postman for a while and I was paid $27 an hour, then after 8 hours it went up to 1.5 times your hourly rate. After 10 hours it went to double time. The problem in Thailand is that the students want everything to be fun but do not want to put in the hard work. Thailand has caused it's own problems and there is no easy fix. If you are wondering why I didn't teach in Australia, go and ask any teacher what it is like working there!


Name calling

Name calling

I have been called a farang, barang, gaijun, laowei and probably a few others (I was always struck there does not seem to be any catch-all informal phrase for Westerners in Vietnam). I find these terms are used far more often in a descriptive than an evaluative way. I have used them myself often enough. But of course they can, like any word used to classify people, be used as an insult.

It is probably a good idea to acknowledge the differences in acceptable behaviors coming from a more racially heterogeneous country where race and nationality are considered separate and a more racially homogeneous country where race and nationality are intertwined.

I remember one time I was in China (in a fairly small city without many foreigners) at a zoo. There was a little girl who was pointing at the animals and calling out their names (In Chinese of course). She would point and say, tiger, bird, monkey, and then pointed at me and yelled LAOWEI. Her mother tried to apologize, but instead we had a good laugh about it. Take your kids to the zoo and see all kinds of exotic animals, lions, tigers, monkeys and white people!

Maybe I should be more judgmental of the local cultures where I live, work and travel and be offended more often, but I am not sure how that would make my life here in Asia more profitable or enjoyable.


Whiteboard work

It’s interesting how we often take issues around boardwork for granted, even little things like how best to stand and write. Of course, so many seemingly ‘little’ things can end up being consequential.

I’m also reminded of a post by Anthony Ash called “Whiteboarding: the input session the CELTA forgot” which points out how this area can be neglected on TEFL courses and presents some really excellent whiteboard techniques. Finally, there’s an interesting resource on Twitter: the #ELTwhiteboard hashtag. It’s got about 600 posts tagged that way, most of which consist of EFL teachers the globe over sharing snapshots of their own whiteboard work from a lesson.

That hashtag shows how much of a class often goes ‘through’ a whiteboard, and how many different things it can end up as a canvas for. For example, in some of these pics you notice what is clearly students’ writing, perhaps from a board-race or class presentation. So there is another suggestion about how to approach your whiteboard: be careful not to guard it too closely; perhaps set a target of getting students using it at least once per class.


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