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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Cycles of Poverty

Wealthy foreign businessmen and women own a number of pseudo-International schools in Thailand. They charge the locals exorbitant tuition fees. The outer construction of the school buildings are well maintained but inside there are dirty, unclean desks and chairs and restrooms. The learning materials are 20 years old. Worst is that the majority of staff at these schools are untrained Filipinos making 20-something thousand baht per month. These teachers give 50-minute lectures to lower primary students and the students do not learn much. Certainly the Thai parents do not understand that they are paying a premium cost for a low-quality service.

Sadly, the tuition money does not remain in Thailand. The owners send it back to their own countries to support other industries; that, and more specifically, they use the money to operate World Class IB schools. Then, after a few years of experience, the Filipino teachers price themselves out of a position / they are let go so that HR can hire the next (unfairly) low-salaried employee. If a teacher is good they will not work for low money. If a school is good they will not have bad teachers. The problem is that companies foreign to Thailand employ the former and the latter to make money. This at the expense of the Thai and Filipino people.

It is a very sad, unfortunate situation. Any solutions out there?


Why TEFL course training can be essential

Why TEFL course training can be essential

TEFL courses and training can provide English teachers with valuable skills and knowledge that can significantly enhance their teaching abilities. There are several advantages to having a TEFL certificate compared to not having one, including increased employability, improved classroom management, and a deeper understanding of teaching techniques and methodologies.

One of the main advantages of having a TEFL certificate is that it makes you a more attractive candidate to potential employers. Many schools and language institutes require teachers to have a TEFL certification before they can be considered for employment. By having a TEFL certificate, you demonstrate that you have a solid understanding of teaching methods and techniques, which can give you a competitive edge in the job market.

In addition to increasing employability, a TEFL certificate can also help teachers improve their classroom management skills. A good TEFL course should cover topics such as lesson planning, classroom management, and student engagement, all of which are critical skills for any teacher. By learning how to effectively manage a classroom, teachers can create a positive and productive learning environment that benefits both themselves and their students.

Finally, having a TEFL certificate can provide teachers with a deeper understanding of teaching methodologies and techniques. A good TEFL course should cover topics such as grammar, phonetics, and pronunciation, as well as teaching strategies for different levels and age groups. By gaining a deeper understanding of these concepts, teachers can become more effective at delivering instruction and helping their students to achieve their language goals.

In conclusion, TEFL courses and training are essential for English teachers who want to improve their teaching skills and increase their employability. By obtaining a TEFL certification, teachers can enhance their classroom management skills, gain a deeper understanding of teaching methodologies, and demonstrate their competence and expertise to potential employers. As such, a TEFL certificate can make you a better teacher than those who do not have one, providing you with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in your teaching career.


Don't accept ridiculous salaries

When I see offers for Filipinos (15,000+ baht) or native English speakers (30,000-35,000 baht) I wonder if the advertisers are serious or maybe they are looking for people with elementary school diplomas? The most embarrassing are the schools that have EP/MEP/IEP programs and offer this kind of ridiculous money. I appeal to all teachers: do not be robbed and do not accept derogatory job offers. Also do not accept contracts shorter than 12 months and visas after 3 months of illegal work. 24 lessons a week are also a sign of poor working conditions.


How contacting employers about job opportunities really works

How contacting employers about job opportunities really works

In my experience of contacting employers and sending resumes, etc, things look like this:

1) Agencies mainly collect resumes to find naive native speakers who will accept their embarrassing job offers. This can be seen especially on Facebook groups and sometimes on Ajarn. The goal of the agency is to find naive, inexperienced native speakers ready to accept the worst conditions. "You live in a paradise, mate, so accept 30K salary and a 10 month-contract".

2) If a Thai teacher is in charge of recruiting, most often we will not get any response and if we do, it is 1-2 sentences long. Thai English teachers are generally afraid to write in English.

3) If a Filipino is in charge of recruitment (because a Thai teacher had the ad placed on the internet), we will get answers to all possible questions, in a very short time.


Basic advice for beginners (and not only beginners)

Basic advice for beginners (and not only beginners)

1. Beware of agencies that offer a visa and work permit after a 3-month probationary period. A 3-month "probation" is nothing more than illegal work and forcing teachers into visa runs. Serious and credible agencies do not force their employees into visa runs.

2. Beware of agencies and anonymous accounts that advertise week after week on Facebook without any specific job offers. They only collect resumes and other documents. If you see the same ad week after week - it's a sign that someone is fishing for resumes.

3. Remember that schools offer 12-month contracts. An 11-month or 10-month contract means someone is taking your money. Of course, employees of the worst agencies will claim otherwise. Another bad sign is the need to teach, for example, 6 different grades (for example P1-P6, M1-M6).

4. Remember that every month you should save at least 15,000 baht. You need to keep your future in mind and save money for retirement.

5. Before signing the contract, check the reviews of the school in question. On a certain well-known website it is very easy to find reviews of various schools in Thailand.

6. Don't waste your temporary waivers on lousy schools and lousy contracts. Today you can work in Thailand but by choosing bad contracts you will waste your chances very quickly. TCT will not understand your explanation that you accidentally wasted your temporary waivers.

7. If you are from a certain well-known island country, don't write "How to apply?" or "Interested" under every possible job offer on the internet. Don't ridicule yourself and your country. The same goes for accepting job offers of 15,000 - 18,000 baht. Respect yourself.

8. Remember that you can't fail your students. If you fail someone, you will still have to pass everyone during the "magic weekend". What's the headache for?

9. The best way to survive in a Thai school is to do your job and keep other teachers at a distance. Don't open up, especially to Thai teachers (who, despite good salaries* and great social security, are usually jealous and love to gossip).

10. Do your job, try to be a good teacher and enjoy life. Don't worry about school affairs, because here all institutions are empty. The form is empty. Whatever you do it won't change anything anyway. Focus on your happiness. Good luck!

* there are many 40-year-old teachers who earn 40,000 baht and more; there are many 50-year-old teachers who earn 50,000 baht and more.


Go for the adventure, not to try and change things

Go for the adventure, not to try and change things

The one big thing that I've learnt being in Thailand is that farang teachers won't make a difference to Thai society. So many guys I know, myself included, came to Thailand with the best of intentions and the rosiest of glasses, hoping to "make a difference" or "save those poor kids from their oppressive culture", only to end up frustrated and bitterly disappointed. Thailand doesn't want to nor should it change or modernise simply because a few western, white knights want it to. Word of advice- go for the adventure, go to travel, enjoy and work hard but don't expect to make a difference to Thai society.


We're choking to death

We're choking to death

After teaching here in Bangkok for five years, I'm finally going to have to call it a day. The air pollution is starting to affect my health and I've had to make my third visit to a doctor in as many months. I'm constantly suffering with a runny nose, cough and overall chestiness. Why don't the authorities do something about this when it must be literally killing so many people on a daily basis, or at the very least speeding up their departure? And at my school, the situation has become so grim that the students can no longer go outside at break time. It's becoming ridiculous.


Native English-speaking teachers should respect themselves

Who will pay for your airline tickets? Who will pay for your children's education? Who will save money for your retirement?

Don't let yourselves be exploited and milled by the system. Do not accept job offers below 70,000 baht per month. Do not accept contracts shorter than 12 months. Don't allow yourselves to be exploited just because you live in a country with nice views. Don't sell your best years of life for a pittance. Always think about your future.


Experience trumps qualifications every time!

Experience trumps qualifications every time!

I did a TEFL course because I actually wanted some idea of what I was supposed to be doing before I entered a classroom. I had no experience of teaching; therefore, I didn't think anyone would employ me. I've had three jobs in Thailand and not once did anyone ask to see the certificate. They only cared about my degree for work permit purposes. Even after I did my course, I was still completely useless. I look back at some of the things that I did and I'm embarrassed. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

I see many jobs on ajarn now require a degree in education. That's fair enough, but often they say that no experience is required or at least a year. Sorry, but even with a degree in education, you're still going to be fairly useless with zero or one year's experience. I've worked with newbies with education degrees and even they'll admit they need guidance and to gain experience.

Experienced teachers who actually try are worth their weight in gold. You can only learn so much from a book and then you really need to just get your hands dirty. Also, a degree in education is very general and usually more accustomed to the West. Certainly not countries like Thailand (unless you're working in an international school).

For your bog standard teaching jobs, I'd choose experience over qualifications every time. For international schools, of course an education degree. As for some kind of TEFL, I'd say do it for the experience. But when starting out, know that you'll get the same pay as someone starting with no TEFL. Like most people I worked with.


How important are accents?

I'm a Filipino and have been an English teacher here in Thailand for many years. As a Filipino we can talk to or teach our students with different kind of accents but the question is 'does the accent really matter in education? Some people want to learn what they feel is the correct accent but they don't know how to read, write or construct sentences, especially how to spell simple words. And how many native speakers here in Thailand are really educators? They can teach because English is their mother tongue but "do they really know how to teach and handle the kids? Are their kids learning from them?"


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