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.
A long time ago I used the services of one agency and got a 9.5 month contract. It was my first job. A year later, my school resigned from the services of the agency and offered a 12-month contract. Was this some kind of miracle? No. Simply put, the money for my hard work went to me, not to a greedy middleman. Of course, some agency employees will claim that 9 or 10-month contracts are the norm, but this is obviously not true. They just want to save their faces. Good schools and good agencies take care of their teachers and offer 12-month contracts.
An 11-month contract is real good if you can get one because most are around 9.5 months - so if its 10 it's okay! Virtually every teacher I've ever worked with in my 53 teaching positions has told me that their last school or agent paid on a 12-month contract, only later to confess that it was not in fact a year's contract but often a school year's contract, which is around 9.5 months. All that glitters is not gold. I once answered an advert on Southeast Asia's most prominent teaching website, (True International, 50,000 baht, 12-month contract) however at the interview it turned out to be 34,000 baht on an 8.5 month verbal contract.
Example red flags:
- 22-24 classes per week; more than 20 classes per week means the school has no idea how to manage teachers;
- dealing with all levels of primary school (P1-P6) or dealing with all levels of secondary school (M1-M6);
- 11-month (or shorter) contract; does the school expect teachers to make a visa run to Laos each year?
- the information that the school does not provide any teaching materials, only curriculum ("It's up to you, teacher");
- lack of air conditioning in classrooms (especially in English Program or Intensive English Program);
- constant search for new teachers (what happened to the previous ones?).
Would you add anything else to this list?
As a teacher, I have friends who have received little to no salary hike this year and what's worrying is the rate of inflation going on. Currently as of writing it is 7.7% year on year. My monthly expenses have gone up by 10,000 baht and I always try to save everyday. My friends in the IT industry in Bangkok have received raises called inflation adjustment of 10% on their base salaries. It certainly helps.
International schools are even worse. True they have higher salaries to start with, but almost all have a 2-3.5% maximum yearly salary hike on their pay scale. So I am sure international school teachers are feeling the pinch as well. Some have pointed out to me that their pay has been frozen by the school since 2020. Plenty of reason to not stay at your school for long, and run away after the contract is done.
Will Thailand still be able to attract teachers on the bottom of the barrel 40k salaries anymore? On top of the new licensure requirements. I don't know how many teachers can still hold on to Bangkok, let alone the rest of Thailand.
Just saw an ad for a qualified math teacher at an international school for 75K a month. That's just over 400 quid a week and it's in Bangkok. Bangkok is not all that cheap. This is an international school, so they'll be asking for all the best qualifications and experience.
At the very least, the candidate will be expected to have a degree in maths and a PGCE (or equivalent). They will likely have to have several years of teaching experience in their own country. They probably aren't going to be provided with a pension (I am almost certain of this). They won't be entitled to any form of social welfare (despite paying taxes out of this measly sum) and they'll likely be worked to the bone.
I have a friend in Vietnam who works at an international school as a maths teacher and he's on double this salary. He doesn't even have qualified teacher status but he is good at what he does.
My friend, who is Thai, has recently qualified as a teacher and got her first job in a provincal school in southern Thailand. She is a sweet, kind and funny girl, keen to be a good teacher and loves kids.
Recently I spoke with her about how important and satisfying it must be to be able to nurture, support and guide young people through the learning process. Unfortunately she was horrified at the thought of this, "no no no, we are not allowed. We must be strict and control the students" she has, in the first few days, seen teachers hit a student and another teacher call a young child 'crazy' because they didn't understand the question and asked for help. Is it the teaching system that needs to change or is it the culture of the teachers?
I came to teaching as a second career. Teaching got me out of the condo and the additional money buffeted all my cash burn. Having said all that I almost went to teacher's college after university. There were a lot of difficulties along the way but to be honest most of the pressure I placed on myself.
In my opinion 80% of teachers don't care and never will. Paying them more than 35K per month is just money in the bin. 10% care somewhat and 10% take it on as a career and profession. Here, I'm discussing EFL and all schools sans true internationals. I'm amazed at the full grown shirkers and artless dodgers. Having done this for a decade I shouldn't be but as we start the new year, I am.
Professional development is not easy to come by but few have any interest. It's all about silly games, methods to waste time, nailing down a staple of activities and tired worksheets so as to place a water bottle and your school owned notebook on your desk and slip off somewhere for an hour or three or...simply head home. Year on year they learn nothing new then gripe about their pay. They've become accustomed to the school and when they weigh a pay package at 42k compared to the 37k they've been making as long as they can remember, they decide that the effort is just not worth it. So, there they sit.
Another thing I have noticed that teachers never do is help students on their own time. It seems that any moment that could be spent off campus is better so than time spent helping their students. It's so self serving. New teachers bring in a bit of freshness and positivity but I'm struck by the false pride. Even when I started at 50 + I knew I hadn't a clue how to teach and was constantly searching for mentors and ideas. So few and far between I had to train myself. It's even a bit shocking as I see many of these younger teachers having gone through these limited programs playing games and doing board races but all that stuff academically speaking it's just purely a waste of time.
Moreover, with few exceptions I'm absolutely stunned at the lack of depth that most teachers have related to technology.
It's not been an easy road. One needs to constantly be searching for a school that's a fit for you personally. It will never be perfect and nothing even close. In the end, I traded my perfect school for money and although I am making approximately 20k + per month more at this new school plus bonus + perks, it is a bit of a lunatic asylum.
Why in world would anyone be teaching students with such abysmal English abilities? Not only are these poor kids challenging in themselves but the classes are complete headaches and the schools are generally disasters. This is precisely where a person with any sort of talent and career ambition does not want to work. There are better schools with far better facilities, students with exceedingly better English abilities, his students with grand ambitions and motivation. If you are sincere and genuine about your career then seek to educate yourself to a point where you can provide the best students something of value. Then, go make yourself 80,000 baht a month.
I know times are hard and the lack of teachers may cause suffering for some schools, but the number of so-called agencies offering teachers' work seems to be more than there are teachers and the new title of 'Non-NES Teacher' is impressive.
Like the agent who advised teachers in a school near me, offering 35K with no mention of other benefits including insurance payment or work permit or assistance with accommodation, and also not knowing that the school had been offering 45K inclusive for three teachers. What's amazing is that they were explaining to me that they only make a little money from acting as the school's agent.
Still, the school has no one with the qualifications required at present and certain other agencies still offering very poor monthly returns with few legal benefits. And they wonder why we are happy to stay teaching online to international students because we can earn more or the same and stay at home. Alas the schools are getting what they deserve and hopefully the agencies will wrap up and disappear
It is time for Thai parents to realise they pay for the teaching and not the grades. Too many kids get high marks for literally doing nothing. In old days everyone got a passing mark. Now that is not good enough they still want 80% even when they do not deserve it. Wonder when that will change?
Usually your experience doesn’t matter too much as long as you’re likable, preferably younger and enthusiastic towards the students. The degree matters but here in Thailand the TEFL doesn’t matter as far as obtaining a job but will help you in the classroom with lesson planning and classroom management. Don’t accept a lower wage in regards to your experience. 38-43k is the usual “fair” wage. Don’t work for less, it’s not worth the time or frustration.
If you've never worked in Thailand before you'll probably see a lot of things you won't like (6-year-olds drinking Pepsi at 8am, teachers turning up stinking of beer and/or cigs, teachers being told to ''just pass them'' in exams even though in reality they can't answer the question 'What is your name?'...the list is endless). My best advice is try not to rock the boat or change anything...unless you work in one of the very top international schools, your well meaning advice will be ignored. Just come and enjoy your time here!
Do try and be nice to your Thai co-teacher if you are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have one. They are the boss make no mistake about that. Be nice to all your Thai colleagues. Don't tell them what to do. Don't come in with a superior attitude. Beware your foreign colleagues, they can be very slimy. Don't take work home with you. Don't do extra if you dont want. Don't think you're going to get anywhere unless you train yourself. CPD is nonexistent in the typical EFL Thai schools. None of this applies to international schools obviously, Have fun, try to get out and meet as many people as you can and travel at each and every opportunity.
Cary, Ed and James
Showing 10 Postbox letters interviews out of 727 total
Page 4 of 73