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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Tourist to non-B visa?

Tourist to non-B visa?

Has anyone had any success or know of anyone who has managed to change a tourist visa to a non-B visa yet? Rural immigration offices have refused and advised it can only be done in Bangkok. Just gathering information for a couple of schools who are in desperate need of appointing teachers they brought over for 'demonstrations' or already in-country that have been waiting months for a resolution, not being allowed back out/ in.


The health insurance runaround

The health insurance runaround

I am getting frustrated at how the requirements to enter Thailand just aren't clear enough! I have called the Thai embassy on the phone, only to get told off for asking too many questions and that I should accept the "rules in Thailand" I am curious to find out if any of these schools looking for teachers (with teaching degrees) are willing to cover the health insurance policy showing a minimum medical coverage of 100,000 USD in Thailand and covering the Covid-19 Disease. Mine isn't.

The only health insurer I found that covers the requirements to enter Thailand is Pacific Cross at a price of $1800 NZD per annum! They do not offer monthly coverage nor travel insurance, which sucks! The government school I have been offered a position at deducts social security off the teachers' pay. I do understand that it's important to have health insurance until you are granted the full work permit, but why would I have to pay for a full 12 months health insurance policy when I am already paying for social security?!

I pay 700 NZD bucks a year for mine here in New Zealand with Southern Cross and it is unlimited! I am really hoping that the government makes some adjustments to the requirements for skilled migrants, at least for those wanting to move to Thailand to genuinely teach/work and not just there for a few weeks holiday or plastic surgery


It's not about being liked

It's not about being liked

One thing that I think is grossly overlooked is comparing teachers and using being 'liked' as a measure of anything.

What about comparing a teacher who has a good work ethic, a diploma possibly from a decent university, years in the game, a PGCE, a professional license. In short, someone that has something behind him and something to offer? Then you have the edutainers and the frauds. One, by and large enjoys the job. The other is just a means to an end, much like every hack job before. They spend as little time on campus as absolutely possible. They hate the work. Well, they hate any work. It shows. Often, these teachers are liked because they are slack, waste time, give ridiculous assignments and easy grades. What's not to like?

At the better schools, the students know the difference. At one very good school, I had students complain to me about teachers just taking the piss and cheating them of opportunity. At my current school there is a teacher who seemed to be well liked at the beginning of the year. Throughout the year he was never prepared, called class early, never had quality materials and made a bunch of promises to help students with this and that unfulfilled. His concept of grading was lazy. When the students came around he was gone early. Soon they didn't bother. I rarely ask students about what they do in another EFL class but the few times I did, it was met with eye rolls. The class was often just one big chat session. He ran out of games midway through the year.

His personal touch wasn't about caring but about sharing a superficial laugh. If they were a few years older they'd see how shallow the act is. Children will often be grateful for wasting time and a lack of homework.
Winning hearts and minds is about genuinely caring for students. That might mean helping with some writing, a scholarship essay, practicing IELTS. In the better schools when you help students achieve, really achieve something, you get something better than merely being liked, you get respect.

Teachers that are merely liked never go anywhere unless they've got a friend with an inside track. Luck, pure insufferable luck. Being liked I guess if that is a strategy, lets them live another day. You want job security? Achieve respect. Change lives and I mean that with the deepest sincerity.

Ice cream is liked. Pizza is liked.


Online teaching is useless

Online teaching is useless

I'm sorry, but after a lifetime in education and a keen inspector of all methods of sharing the knowledge, on-line teaching simply isn't effective at least not for kids. You may as well show them cartoons all day. Learning on line is next to useless for kids. Just because people do it and businesses profit from it doesn't mean it's any good. It's about as effective as a healthy person taking vitamin tablets. I've written about this at length before but in a nutshell....because of the impersonal nature of online contact teaching, there are many physiological and psychological issues that can't be overcome to provide an efficient learning environment. Sure companies are making money doing it, but for kids, it's not something a parent should embrace with any high expectations of academic progress.


Covid health insurance info for Filipino teachers

Covid health insurance info for Filipino teachers

I was asked to find insurance for my teacher friend from the Philippines trying to return to Thailand and who needs Covid insurance in order to return. Here is what I found.

Trawick International seems the cheapest and easiest with Covid coverage to obtain, plus it is headquartered in USA and their policy is in English. Trawick International policies do NOT cover pre-existing conditions, which is one reason they are cheap, but I don't think any Thai company policies cover pre-existing conditions, do they? You have to get a complete physical for many Thai policies and the reason they make you get the physical is cause they want to eliminate coverage for anything that shows up in your blood work, etc.

For a 55-year old Filipino, Trawick International is around $700 for a year of coverage of $100,000, choosing the highest deductible, $5000. I think it will be less the younger you are. You can cancel at any time and they refund the balance, pro-rated by the day. Their policies cover Covid but no not cover pre-existing conditions.

Note there are two different names for health insurance policies they offer. 1) Safe Travels International and 2) Safe Travels International Cost Saver. I spoke with a phone rep from Trawick International and she told me both policies offer the same benefits and she said fill out both forms and then choose whichever is cheaper. (If you want the cheapest price on either policy make sure and choose the highest deductible you can, $5000).

Anyway, I priced two Thai company policies that will cover Covid for a returning-to-Thailand 55 year old female Filipino teacher: 1) Magellan and 2) My Health (by April International) and they are both very expensive, at least $1500 up to around $2000. I don't know if they refund anything if you cancel, say, 6 months down the road.

Note: the company I use for my insurance is IMGlobal, a USA company, but as of March 26 they stopped covering Covid on new policies written, so this company won't work for a Filipino teacher trying to return to Thailand to teach at her job.

Harrell Guy Graham

Tread carefully when applying for teaching jobs

While I don’t blame the schools, I would think twice before accepting a position with schools at the moment. It seems likely they are recruiting teachers on either a temporary basis until their existing teachers and new hires can return, or on a contingency basis if their existing teachers or new hires are unable to arrive or decide not to come.

When you recruit/hire two people for one job it is likely some people are going to get thrown under the bus, either existing and already hired teachers or those now being recruited. Before accepting a position like this, it is probably a good idea to be assured the school plans to throw the existing teachers under the bus before doing so to the new recruits. I suspect many of the job ads we are seeing from agencies are following a similar strategy, recruiting applications in case there is a need to replace existing teachers.


Are English teachers non-essential right now?

Are English teachers non-essential right now?

I am sure there are people in very different situations, but the information/rumors I have heard is at least some private schools and universities have seen a pretty substantial decline in enrollment for the coming term and the personnel concern of the leaders of many organizations here in Thailand is to try to not shed too many jobs while cutting costs elsewhere.

Although I am sure enrollment might not be an issue at government schools, budgets will be. We are currently in a situation where there are hundreds of millions of unemployed people globally and governments and other organizations have incurred additional costs and are looking for ways to cut expenses. This doesn't seem like the time most English teachers in Thailand are in a strong bargaining position. Although if you are in the field of medical research I suspect you would be in a much stronger position.

It is always difficult to give general advice as each person has different goals and opportunities, but it might be a good idea for many teachers to take what is offered, within reason, and wait until the situation approves before expecting to be able to bargain with employers from a position of strength. Like at all times, one should take the best offer one has, but I suspect there will be fewer and fewer attractive offers for English teachers in Thailand in 2020, English teachers are non-essential personnel right now.

Being an optimist is helpful to motivate oneself but it does not change the economic and political environment we are working in.


International schools and Summer break

International schools and Summer break

I would say it is highly unlikely that international schools will make up for lost time during the Summer break. I work at an international school in Bangkok and I am not aware of any schools that will do this. I can only see this happening with smaller schools that have had parents complain about paying full fees for online learning.

Most of the feedback I have seen online from parents with students at decent schools has be very positive and supportive of the distance learning that their children have received. Additionally, a lot of teachers are planning to move to new schools over the summer and will not be available to continue working at their current schools. I, for example, have accepted a job in Vietnam and hope to move there in June/July, covid permitting.

I will add this may be the chance for someone with a little teaching experience and a degree in a specific subject to make the jump into an international school as a late hire because someone from abroad can't make it to Thailand in July.


Beware of the sinking economy

The sinking economy in Thailand is going to put a huge dent in the future of TEFL teachers here. People will be out of work, lots of them. They won't have money to pay language school fees, let along regular school fees and many university students will have to take an unplanned gap year. Unemployment could be hitting 20% by the end of May, and the economy here is expect to contract around 6 percent, the highest of any ASEAN member country. Foreign teacher pay is the LAST thing they will be thinking about. They will hire Filipinos on the cheap and that will be the new normal. Khrusapha rules will stay the same.


A positive picture for TEFLers

A positive picture for TEFLers

With regards to university admission numbers, as someone who works at a high level government university, I don't believe that the numbers in Thailand will decrease too much.

The big decrease will occur in the numbers of Thais going to universities in the UK, USA, Australia and other countries. They will have less money and have the risk of CoVid as a good excuse, so Thai universities could benefit this year.

As Chinese universities are oversubscribed, more Chinese students are also choosing Thailand. My workplace has certainly seen an increase in applications. Some private universities - those providing weekend and evening courses - may suffer as their students are at the bottom end and maybe won't have funds for tuition. However, a number of private universities might pick up students who move down from slightly better institutes.

Fewer Thai children are going to schools overseas, but some do and more of this group will stay in Thailand, which will filter down the ladder. Maybe some of the "the owner once went on holiday there" international schools or private schools in tourist areas will suffer, but overall I think that numbers will be dissimilar.

Also, I think the potential decrease in teachers will match the reduction in schools. Many teachers went home for natural reasons and many more because of the CoVid situation. With no new teachers arriving before July, teachers already in the country will see more and more opportunities. I work online and my hours have increased 6-fold since January. This might be reduced as the Chinese go back to school but if you have experience and are being badly treated by your agency then there are many more agencies and a seemingly endless supply of kids.

If you are negative, negativity will find you. Be positive, look for the opportunities.

Rob, Bangkok

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