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.
I teach English at a private primary school just outside Khon Kaen and I feel like the dust on the shoes of Thai education. This was well illustrated by an incident which occurred last Thursday.
After handing out worksheets to the pupils I asked the regular form teacher if she would explain in Thai that I planned to circulate around the classroom and try get each student to read with me, She flatly refused shouting NO!! in a strident voice and proceeded to flounce out of the classroom. She would not behave like that in front of her Thai colleagues.
Unlike my other colleagues I do not have my own classroom. I am routinely referred to as 'the farang' by a senior teacher. It took a major effort not to tell them to take this job and shove it. At times I feel I am just pissing in the wind here.
1. Take the job seriously, each and every day. Teaching is serious business. You are charged to mind and educate minors. You see Thai teachers screwing around? You're at the wrong school - or the right one.
2. Wear professional clothing. A button down collar shirt at the very least.
3. Don't show up a few minutes before class or worse, late.
4. Don't show deference especially to admin and head teachers. Even cleaning staff you should be polite to.
5. Don't turn on the air-conditioning before 8 am unless it's expressly allowed.
6. Never do anything to Thai staff that would allow them to lose face.
7. Don't play games in class unless they are connected directly to a learning objective and lesson plan.
8. Plan. Plan. Plan.
9. Try not to give your lesson plans to the school if at all possible.
10. Don't give lazy teachers anything. You'll never get anything in return except headaches and more work. Sideline them fast.
11. If you work really hard in your first year, you still don't get to be head teacher.
12. Figure out fast where the pay scale tops at.
13. Never work more than 20 hours a week.
14. Never do more than three courses.
15. Don't work in a school that does not have functioning LCD and audio in all its rooms.
16. Remember all your kids names. Every single one.
17. Never drink more than five drinks the night before work. 0-2 is preferable.
18. Get a good night's sleep and never look like you've been out all night when you step in the office or in class.
19. Tell the students your door is always open - and mean it.
20. Learn what the TCT is and does. Become an authority on it as well as your visa type.
21. Don't stop caring. If you run into trouble, care more.
22. If it's not working for you, get out. You're not fooling anyone.
23. Never do anything, ANYTHING, creepy towards the students. Never make off color comments or mention the Royal family or politics.
24. Don't bring sandwiches to work. That's just gay.
25. Love your students.
Finally, learn wtf you are doing in a classroom immediately. Learn about the four skills, pronunciation and yes grammar. Learn how to properly run skills assessments and how to write a lesson plan.
It always cracks me up just how heated these debates get on what a person can or cannot live on in Bangkok (or Thailand in general). And of course people frequently have these same arguments when it comes to what a “livable wage” is in their own countries as well.
For example I constantly get into heated arguments with my sister over her insistence that it is not even in the realm of possibility that she could ever afford to move back here to California - where she was born and raised by the way. This despite the fact that millions of people manage to live here just fine while making even less money than she does.
In any case, naturally you CAN live in Bangkok on 30K a month. After all, there are currently millions of people doing just that. For a foreigner living in Bangkok however I think the real question is; is 30k enough to live in the manner to which you have become accustomed back in your own country? And I think the answer to this question for most people would be a resounding “NO”.
Living the same as you do back home of course means that you live in an apartment or house that is just as nice and just as large as what you had back home (and in as nice an area). It also means having your own car, or at least a motorcycle, and being able to pursue all the same hobbies and other interests that you enjoyed back home. For me personally this would mean making an absolute bare minimum of about 60,000 baht a month, which is about what you would earn per month working a 40-hour a week minimum wage job here in California.
And of course, since I have spent pretty much my entire adult life living on the coast, this means I would need to live on the coast in Thailand as well and unfortunately properties in coastal areas in Thailand are extremely overpriced relative to the Thai economy. In fact, condos in Patong or Kata Beach in Phuket cost nearly as much per square meter as they do right here in idyllic San Luis Obispo, California. When my girlfriend and I were living in Phuket we actually got by fine on 60k a month but we were also not able to put anything aside for emergencies. And we certainly did not have enough money to travel around Asia much or to buy any luxury items.
The bottom line is, if I were forced to move to Bangkok with only 30k a month to live on I could definitely make it work. But I would never in a million years CHOOSE to move to Bangkok with only that much money to live on.
I am so thankful for ajarn.com that I was able to get a job the very first time I came here in Thailand and I am still using it until now to find a much better career. I am just so disappointed to see posts that are only offering 15,000 baht for Filipinos. Why? Is it because we are Filipinos and we only deserve this kind of amount?
We are also living in this world, we buy food, rent apartments and pay bills and we even send money back to our loved ones. How far do you think 15,000 goes?
I am not disappointed with the ajarn website but I am disappointed with the job ads from whoever posts them. We are here in Thailand because we want to earn a living and we want to have a better lives compared to our lives back home.
Some Filipinos would rather grab at these small salaries than to have no work at all. But do you think they are reasonable enough? If schools can't offer higher than 15,000 then don't hire a Filipino, they shouldn't offer such low amounts. It's just so degrading for me.
I'd like to share my observations of the teachers whom I'm tasked with observing.
Firstly, I don't employ teachers. I have nothing to do with the recruiting process (thank god) and I merely have to observe them when scheduled or when the teachers get complaints (it's happening a lot more now).
The standard of teaching has dramatically dropped at my school. Not just the teaching, but the quality of the teachers to come to work everyday, show up on time, not be doing something stupid at work, etc. My agency seems to be having great difficulty even employing the most basic teachers. They just seem to be employing anyone with a degree or anyone who can stay here longer than three months. And the results are getting my agency into hot water.
I've observed first hand how bad these teachers are. They should not be allowed to be anywhere near a classroom. We still have great teachers who've been at my school for years or who are new, it's just we are getting a lot more bad and throw-away teachers. It's painful watching some of these people teach and me having to observe them. Unless my feedback is good, my bosses don't wanna know. They just bury their heads in the sand or try to blame me. Again, I don't employ or supervise anyone. I've been given the task of doing observations simply because of how long I've been at my school and my experience.
I'm becoming fearful for where it's all going. I can't win. If I give them bad grades, I get told to to basically threaten them (not my job) and to 'guide' them. I'll help however I can, but the teachers have to want help. They have to want to better themselves. When they get a good grade, the agency pretends like there was never a problem until it comes back. There are complaints every single day.
Who'd want to be entrusted with finding teachers now? It must be impossible. I don't want to observe anymore. I feel I'm being used as someone who can take away some of the blame from the agency. When I took the role, I specifically explained how I will give them feedback but the agency have to address that feedback. I just want to be the messenger. No good deed and all that.
I work with about nine Filipino teachers. I'm one of only three native- English speakers left at my school. The school I work for only employ those with degrees or post grads in subjects related to education (for WP reasons), which is probably why we have so many Filipinos. not many natives with B.Eds or PGCEs/M.Eds would work here.
I only work here due to practical reasons at the moment (location due to wife's job), but we're off (probably back to the UK) when this contract ends.
On the whole, Filipinos are lovely people. Quite religious in many ways and always polite and helpful. However, they do speak their own language most of the time in the staff-room. Nothing wrong with that, but I've heard arguments saying that Filipinos who teach English abroad only speak English when at school. That is complete nonsense. They also speak a lot of Thai to their students too. I know of one 'English' teacher at my school who speaks Thai about 90% of the time to her pupils.
We make exams for each other (the school will not allow a teacher to make his own tests) and I don't get to see them until the exam day. Exams get 'passed' before the exam date by a Filipino boss. The last lot I got back were full of grammatical errors. To the point where I had to give the pupils a mark as the questions made no sense (sometimes more than one answer could be correct or the question made no sense at all). Of course, English is not their first language, so to expect them to get it 'right' all of the time is wrong. Even native-speakers make errors, of course. However, my experience is that they make a lot of errors.
They are also their own worst enemy (in my experience, which is fairly narrow if i'm being honest). The Filipinos at my school are overly obedient and never question management. To the point that they end up working evenings and weekends for free. The Thai management see this and now expect the same from westerners. Obviously, this is harder to implement. Not due to 'white privilege' or other such nonsense, but due to coming from cultures where employees have rights and will, if pushed, make their feelings known and move on to a different employer. We may be 'in Rome', but we won't be taken advantage of as easily.
This is why you will see more and more Filipinos and an ever decreasing number of native speakers of English in Thailand. China is now offering twice the salary and many of those jobs also offer free accommodation. The Thais either cannot (or will not) compete with this. Thai management love the bowing and scraping. In their eyes, Westerners are not very good at this and some are not afraid to 'answer back'. I've never seen a Filipino question a management decision. I've seen one agree to working three Saturdays in a row for free! They asked me too, and you can guess my response.
This has now caused me a few issues and I'm seen as a 'trouble maker' for refusing to work for free on Saturdays and Sundays, which is not part of contract. If, like me, the Filipinos stood up for themselves then perhaps I wouldn't be seen as 'the odd one out'. Of course, they whine constantly in the staff room about being taken advantage of, but never say or do anything to stop it! They had the chance when I spoke up, but they just put their heads down.
As I, said, I think they're all lovely hard-working people, but I just wish they would stand up for themselves a little more, because the Thais and at times, western agents, can (and do) take advantage of their good nature.
As a young 53 year old mature age Australian graduate with an Early Childhood BA major, I recently completed a short but enriching three years in the kingdom. A government anuban for a short three-month contract, a private bilingual school for a one-year contract and another small town P1 homeroom teacher job in the northwest.
I completed all contract years with good references and had always had happy students and parents. I had tried to give all my own learning and ability to the three cohorts I worked with.
I had been applying since February for new teaching positions as my last contract was nearing an end on March 31st, wherein I'd been advised I would be replaced by a non-NES and that the school director sought female teachers instead.
I'd followed all leads kindly afforded online and by word of mouth. Months of applying nation-wide to easily more than 100 employers saw me with one 25,000 baht high school offer. I didn't accept it on precedent value alone, for the benefit of future teachers.
Yesterday I landed in Hong Kong on my way to China. I miss somtum already but its clear Thailand doesn't care much about hiring me; the gaps between finding work were becoming untenable - months at a time, this time specifically five months without work.
I'd like to return to Thailand to retire, but sadly right now I must go to where the work is for the coming years. Thanks for listening,
Fortunately I've never had a hankering for Western food here and I think after three years in Thailand I've forgotten what the inside of a supermarket looks like. There is a wide selection of fruit and veg available from the plethora of local markets.
You're living in Thailand so learn to speak Thai. Even if it's just enough to do the shopping. If you were back in the Old Blighty, you'd be screaming about people who dare to come to England and don't speak the language. Same goes for you sweethearts. Show the same respect you'd expect and learn some basic communication.
Street stalls are great but be careful with the sugar and salt. Much more difficult to fix when soups are involved. However, freshly cooked veg and rice meals are easily solved.
Mai sai pong chew rot - no MSG.
Mai sai nam daan - no sugar.
Mai sai khem - no salt.
Nam man nit noy - just a little oil.
Try some of these phrases when you are ordering and hopefully it will help you to eat healthier. Or at least avoid some of the bad sides of the Thai food. They do go OTT with the sugar, salt and msg so you have to cut that when ever you can.
Apart from that the wonderful variety of fruit and vegetables make for wonderful eating. There are a few good Thai cooking schools around that can help you learn about the different ingredients.
Please head to your local market and try the plentiful, cheap varieties even if you only slowly expose yourself to new things. There are plenty of cheap, familiar varieties to chose from. Above all else learn to eat Thai. Eating western is far too expensive in this country.
I have been working in Thailand for two years now, and with regret I have decided to bid farewell to a country that I adore. I have been working at a medium-size primary school in the north of the country. I have enjoyed teaching my students here and the majority of them have been a pleasure to teach! However, I have been continuously held back from nurturing my students even further, by the archaic ideas and nonsense from the school's hierarchy
I wish the school's director and other so-called management here embraced the foreign teachers ideas and shared some of theirs as well. Unfortunately , they are reluctant to change and to communicate, too.
I leave for Vietnam in a few weeks, but I will be visiting Thailand as frequently as possible; as I still have a deep affection for this beautiful country! Good Luck to you all!
I'm a Filipino and I worked in the BPO industry for more than 6 years. I and my colleagues were trained by Filipinos both in product and English. I can say that they are the best teachers because they explain everything in detail. The clients who happened to be native English speakers from The USA never had an issue with it while they were observing the class.
It's funny to imagine people who barely speak or understand English would say that they don't understand us when we speak, while it's they who struggle with comprehension in the English language.
Thailand sets its own rules and it's understandable why they prefer Caucasians to teach them but ultimately, the purpose is to learn. If they don't want to be taught by a Filipino because we aren't the epitome of a native English speakers, that's cool. It won't diminish our language/teaching skills.
I'd suggest to my fellow Filipinos to not constantly seek validation from foreign people of our self-worth and ability because they will never do the same for us. It makes us look pitiful in their eyes. We should show them that we don't care about their negative opinions because we know ourselves and our capabilities.
It's better to do our own thing and be good at it than seeking attention from people who look down on us. Success is not determined by praises and fame but rather results.
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