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.
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!
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?"
To use Thai or English in Kindergarten?
I speak Thai constantly every day because I work at a bilingual kindergarten that leans much more towards Thai than English and I'm the only native English speaker. There are some other English teachers, but English is their second language so they lack confidence and don't really know how to manage or just casually speak with the kids in English outside of lesson time.
When I'm teaching regular lessons I use pictures, songs and TPR to keep it immersive, so once the students have learned their basic classroom commands I speak almost entirely English. But outside of lesson time, when I'm carrying kids throwing tantrums into school in the morning, calming kids down so they can sleep at naptime, talking to their parents about what they did that day when sending them home or explaining things throughout the day to coworkers, I do it mostly in Thai or kind of flip/flop between languages.
Admin wants me teaching the other teachers English, but if I speak only English to them they do that Thai thing where they just smile and nod and I can't tell if they understand what I'm saying or not. So usually I'll speak English and then repeat myself in Thai if they don't say anything.
I do the reverse when I'm casually speaking to the kids outside of class. I have a pretty good understanding of what English the kids do and don't know so I can mostly stick to English, but if I'm communicating something they haven't learned I'll say it in Thai once and then repeat it multiple times in English. I'll also translate things I hear the kids saying in Thai into English, which usually gets them excited and shouting new English phrases at their friends.
I've also had students who used to go to international schools, but were switched to my school because their parents don't know much English and were worried their kids wouldn't be able to speak Thai at all. The kids are so excited when they start coming to a school where they actually understand what people are saying to them, and they love talking to me because I'm the only farang they've ever met who understands them when they're speaking Thai.
I had this one student who would keep testing me to see if I would respond to things he was saying or not in Thai and then yell my name and hug me. After about a week of this he started speaking to me only in English and excitedly repeating all the new English words I would teach him. He liked speaking English, but liked the security of knowing he could speak Thai as well if he needed to.
A large part of kindergarten is relationship building. The kids need to love and feel safe with you in order to respect and listen to you. It's hard to do that when you're a tall, pale alien ignoring everything they say and making strange noises they don't understand.
Kindy TEFL Teacher
Native English speakers: start respecting yourselves!
1. Earning a bachelor's degree is very expensive.
2. The cost of living in Thailand is getting higher.
3. Getting a license from Krusapa is much more difficult than in the past.
It is high time for native speakers to start respecting themselves and stop accepting ridiculous job offers. Stop allowing yourselves to be exploited by schools and greedy middlemen. Native speakers should not accept offers below 60,000 Thai baht and insist on 12-month contracts.
The tables have turned for NES teachers!
The C-19 pandemic and changes in the global labor market have resulted in fewer NES teachers coming to Thailand to seek work. Where once potential recruiters appear to have held all the cards, resulting in low wages and poor working conditions. It seems like the tables are turning, certainly for those of us that are NES teachers. Across the board, wages have certainly risen over the past two years, and one can find a relatively well-paid position if they exercise some patience.
I am teaching in a tier 2 international school with a package that includes a 70k baht monthly salary, yearly return flights to the UK, excellent health insurance and a provident fund. This is in Chiang Mai where the wages are lower than Bangkok. I have no doubt I could find a position in Bangkok that pays 80k baht or more. I have friends that have acquired similar positions over the last couple of years. That’s despite none of us holding QTS, though we all have some sort of teaching qualification, be it a PGCEi or a Masters. For too long we have under-valued ourselves, and under-valued the demand for NES teachers here in Thailand.
We have been fed the myth that a ‘low cost of living’ and Thailand being a ‘developing nation’ are reasons for paltry wages and poor working conditions. For those of you that are NES teachers, the time is now for you to make the change and improve your lot. There are plenty of positions out there, and you are much more sought after than you think. So, don’t be afraid to ask for an extra 5-10k baht a month, demand the best health insurance, and stop being taken advantage of!
Any cricketers out there?
For anyone who loves their sport, do you know there is a thriving cricket scene in Bangkok? Currently, there are about 30 teams competing in three separate leagues. The type of cricket played ranges from 50 overs-a-side Premier League level to the less demanding 25 overs-a-side A and B divisions. Added to these there are T20 competitions and various 6-a-side tournaments. So basically for cricketers from all backgrounds there is plenty of opportunity to play and enjoy the game which took up your summers back home.
Siam Cricket Club - or the Siam Parrots as we are commonly known - is one of Bangkok’s oldest existing clubs with a history going back to the beginning of the millennium. We are a club founded by ex-pats and pride ourselves on our family atmosphere and our spirit of community. Many of the original Parrots were from Australia, New Zealand, UK and South Africa but over the years the club has attracted players from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Caribbean United States and even Canada. The club has also been instrumental in promoting youth cricket in Thailand itself and, for this reason, is well respected within the broader Thai cricket scene. Currently our club contains members from all around the world and in this sense we are a truly inclusive international community united by our love for the grand old game.
Perhaps most importantly, the Parrots are a club that places great emphasis on enjoying the cricket we play. We are a social unit that displays great camaraderie toward each other whether we win or lose. Our culture is rooted in the rituals and traditions of club cricket and we are open to players of all ages and all levels. Our ethos is cricket’s ethos – that of fairness and honesty.
The Parrots are on the look-out for players to boost membership and to help both our Premier League and Second XI teams prepare for the upcoming Bangkok cricket season. So if you want to play cricket, make friends and generally improve the quality of your social life, in your home away from home, we would love to hear from you. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch.
Necessary qualifications for teaching?
Hi there, my partner and I would be very interested in teaching in Thailand. She has a degree but I am only degree level via a UK, NVQ level 6. This is officially seen as a bachelor degree level of training and I include the UK government paper to say this. https://www.gov.uk/what-different-qualification-levels-mean/list-of-qualification-levels. I have had conflicting reports that yes this is fine and no it is not. Does any one have any recent experience with this?
Any advice for teaching young learners?
I am facing difficulty with my 4-year old students who can't seem to hit that light bulb moment from what a letter sounds like and comprehending the meaning of the word. Jolly phonics is big on my school but I think it's lacking terribly in teaching the kids to listen, talk, ask questions. I feel like Helen Keller's teacher most of the time. Any sage advice would be greatly appreciated
No effort can still mean a good grade
At my school everyone gets a grade of at least 50%. We have two written exams that make up for 60% of your total score (30 each). Then there's 15% for listening, 15% for speaking and 10% for work effort. Smart kids who don't make the effort know they can just do well in the exams and their final score will still be good. Lazy students will always get 50% for every category. Students who are smart and work hard only score a little higher (relatively speaking) than the smart and lazy kids. Weaker kids who try very hard also only score a little higher than weaker kids who don't care.
So for example, lazy kids who do nothing will get 50%. Lazy kids who are smart often get between 70-80%. I still have to give at least 5% for work effort. Meanwhile, the students who try the hardest don't really get much of a reward. A kid can do literally sod all and still get 50%. Actually, that's a lie. If they're late paying their tuition fees, they get sod all until they've paid.
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