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.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't find it that hard to have the students like you. If you're a genuinely nice person, the kids will obviously pick up on it.
Now, the tricky part is getting the kids to respect you. You can be the nicest person in the world, but if you can't manage and control your class well, the kids will take you for an idiot. They may well still like you, but they won't respect you properly and that lack of respect will feel like they don't like you. It's the same dynamic as being a boss and dealing with your subordinates. Being nice will get you so far, but you do need to know what you're doing.
As a teacher or a boss, don't fall into that trap of thinking that you need to lay down the law unfairly and assert yourself in order to get respect - you won't. Students and adults will pretend to respect you, but deep down you'll know they don't; and that will just fester inside and bring out the ugly sides of your personality (similar to small-man syndrome, but respect can be earned if you apply yourself honestly)
If you don't have what it takes to be a good teacher or boss, that's okay. Find something else to do. Just don't stick with it and become an arrogant asshole whose ego is actually just detrimental to your school or business' performance. Know your limits.
Oh, if you're a P6 or M1 teacher, you have my sympathy. They're just at that age where they really can be little shits!
There are good teachers and bad teachers from all over the world. Country of origin makes no difference in your ability to teach. Your actual skills and how you are perceived, however, are different stories. There is a lot of understandable bitterness in this post ('Filipinos do it better', Postbox 13th November) especially if Danielle is as good as she thinks she is, and I get that. But you won't get far attacking people because the country you have chosen to work in, generally, prefers to hire NES teachers. Those institutions probably believe that doing so is good for their business.
Unfortunately, there are many things that aren't fair and aren't as simple as saying "X is better than Y". There are too many variables to consider. Better for whom? At what time? To achieve what goal? There are many amazing Filipino teachers who don't get their fair chance. Point taken, and I agree. You won't, however, get me to agree that one group is superior to the other; that is a very simplistic way of thinking.
Danielle is correct about the native speakers teaching better pronunciation ('Filipinos do it better', Postbox 13th November) There are many students that have learnt with Filipinos that I had to correct with their speech. As for Filipinos being more dynamic and better grammar teachers, that is quite narrow-minded and selective. Did she do her sample of native speakers teachers from the backwaters of Nan? Again, a statement that most students choose Filipino teachers over English speakers - please! This post smells like a hidden agenda and someone who is bitter that they don't get paid (and to send as much money back home) like a native speaker. The real reason native teachers are better than Filipinos for the English language are because they feel the language, it is second nature to them, and it is natural for them. Some Filipinos don't even know the difference between a brownout and a blackout!
I have been teaching in Thailand for more than 10 years. I came out here for a year initially but that has turned into more than a decade (where has the time gone?). When I started my second year here, all my friends and family told me I should just go home and that English teaching isn't really a career. I was having too much fun to take any notice of this unsolicited advice.
Fast forward to the present day and Thailand has definitely taken it's toll on me. Not even two trips a year home and numerous trips to neighbouring countries are enough to alleviate the feeling I have. I have also realised that the only thing that matters in this life is relationships, and all the people I love are back in Blighty.
I am not a qualified teacher in England (BA and TEFL only) and have no intentions or desires to become one. Teaching in England seems like such a draining career.
With all that being said, what is left for me? My BA is pretty useless and my experience doesn't really count for anything if I'm being brutally honest with myself. So where does that leave me in terms of work opportunities?
I have been living in luxury condos in Bangkok and enjoying 10 weeks of holiday every year with what I would call a nice salary of 60k (£1,500). Going back to England to stack shelves or sell insurance over the phone sounds horrible considering I'd be making less than £1,500 more than likely and struggling to make ends meet in a housing estate.
There must be some others in a similar situation to me. Where they want to return home for family reasons and/or had enough of Thailand but just can't see a decent life for themselves back home. I understand this is something I can only work out for myself, but hoping Phil posts this on his social channels so others can offer their insights?
I have been teaching English for 8 years and I started from a small English academy owned by a Korean. The truth is 'native speakers' can only teach pronunciation and communication. Of course, English schools across Asia prefer 'native English speakers' because Filipinos and even Singaporeans cannot teach American and British pronunciation. Honestly, in my experience, native English speakers are only hired as a marketing strategy, only as a face to attract more students. In reality, they cannot teach grammar to students who are learning English as second language or even as a foreign language. Most students choose Filipino teachers over native English speakers because the former are more creative in delivering classes. They are also dynamic compared to some NES teachers who just depend on their passports. I am not saying all but mostly as a basic observation.
It seems that many schools in Thailand follow the pattern of asking you not to leave the premises in between lessons, even if you have huge free periods such as three hours or more during the day. They say you should use it for planning. However, I find that the environment is not always the best for planning and I like to organise my own time and planning when it suits me.
There is an irrational, feudal style loyalty model of being where the boss wants you, regardless, yet as some teachers have said, it is flouted in more roundabout ways and, yes - if you want to get away with it, never be confrontational (opposite of union style). Whoever says go to Vietnam and sample a better mode is right. You don't need all the extra 'padding' and really it's about obedience and qualities which aren't ideally suited to teaching or lecturing as a profession.
I remember being a 16 year old in Scotland looking for work during the summer. I walked past a building site and asked if they needed any labourers. The guy looked me up and down and asked me if I was reliable...... I got the job.
"Can you start on Monday?" is what I'd expect someone looking for a labourer or kitchen hand to say. There are zero qualifications needed and you can't really do much damage. If you're crap, you're out on your ear by the end of the day, but there's no real risk taken by the employer.
"Can you start on Monday?" isn't something you should be hearing from a school, or any place, where your job is to take care of 'children'. If you have someone start off so quickly without doing at least some basic checks, you're putting those children's safety at risk. If my Thai wife knew that we were sending our daughter to a school who weren't doing a police-check on their teachers, our daughter would be pulled out quicker than you can say, "gross negligence". Yes, we can afford to send our kid to a good school, but that still doesn't make it okay or justifiable for others to be doing this.
If schools here don't mind employing any Tom, Dick or Harry who applies, that's up to them. I won't actively protest it. But dear God, don't celebrate it. It's up to schools how to run and manage themselves, but if you're employing random people without due diligence, you are putting children's safety and well-being at risk. That's a fact.
Celebrating (please note that this word has more than more definition) someone's right to put a child at risk because, "that's how they do it" isn't being open-minded and adaptable. It's actually looking down your nose at the local culture. Or to articulate it better, "it's the soft bigotry of low expectation".
Dear Ajarns, I made the mistake of working for an agency after many years of avoiding them. As they moved me from school to school I did not realise they were burning up my waivers as they did so.
An international school contacted me about a position that had opened up (I was on file with them) and I jumped at the chance. Whilst processing my work permit for the new job, the Thai MoE said I had been at three schools in a year and they were refusing me a permit. I (and my two children) were dismissed without compensation the same week and before the end of the month.
Does this mean I can never teach in a school again, or is there a time period which must pass before I can try again and hopefully get my license then?
After a decade spent teaching in Thailand, I've decided to call it a day. The fact is that in almost every position I've held (and it must be at least half a dozen) I've been mislead over vacation time and salary. It's just so easy here, in fact almost accepted, that employers can be economical with the truth about these matters.
I've started jobs where I've been promised eight weeks of vacation (even in a written contract) and got far fewer weeks than that. I've even quit jobs to start at other schools offering a higher salary, only to find that suddenly 45,000 a month has become 35,000 a month.
Preventing ageism is more about taking the lead and applying standards that are right for everyone in your community. Here's an example of equal opportunity standards applied to jobs in the USA; this was taken from an ESL job announcement for the Providence Public Library in Providence, Rhode Island, USA:
In order to provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals, employment decisions at the Providence Public Library are based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. PPL is committed to a policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity for all employees and qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth or medical or common conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, familial status, national origin, ancestry, age (40 and above), disability, veteran status, military service, application for military service, genetic information, receipt of free medical care, or any other characteristic protected under applicable law. PPL will make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with known disabilities, in accordance with applicable law.
No discrimination against people age 40 and above! Ajarn.com should have this standard, because ageism in Thailand is mired in the culture or in Thai society. Someone has to take the lead to prevent ageism in Thailand! For years, ajarn.com, eslcafe.com and other ESL job websites have carried ads promoting or supporting ageism. It's time for ajarn.com to have better standards. Lead the way!
Teachers in their 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond can be wiser and have more experience. Very importantly, the older and wiser you are, the more likely you are to have genuine compassion for students... especially important with all the possible roadblocks students can encounter, learning a second language!
Michael Heaney, Providence, RI, USA
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