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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You can live in Bangkok on 30K a month - but I wouldn't

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.

Ken


15,000 baht a month is degrading

15,000 baht a month is degrading

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.

Loy


Teachers standards are dropping at my school

Teachers standards are dropping at my school

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.

Dave


Filipino teachers need to get tougher

Filipino teachers need to get tougher

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.

Joe, Bangkok


Thailand doesn't seem to want me

Thailand doesn't seem to want me

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,

Gary


Support your local Thai fresh market

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.

Darron


Archaic ideas are holding the students back!

Archaic ideas are holding the students back!

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!

Keith


Be a proud Filipino teacher!

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.

Elena


Is it game over for native English speakers?

Is it game over for native English speakers?

'No poop, Sherlock', I hear many cry.

I have a degree in education and I was planning on returning to the UK to end my teaching career there in about five years' time. Even though I have an education degree, I actually still need to do my 'QTS' which would take almost a year (my Ed degree does not carry full QTS). Obviously, this will incur costs so this is why I wanted to work a few years out in Thailand first in order to save (my wife is Thai and will be coming with me).

However, after landing a job recently in Bangkok paying around 55,000 baht a month, it appears all is not as it once was here. My current job has required me to pay for all of the following. It appears many schools are doing the same after other interviews I had. Anyway, check these costs out!

1) Visa run to Laos for 60 days = 11,000 baht all in
2) Non B visa - 2,000 baht (refunded only at end of contract)
3) Work permit - 3,100 baht (refunded only at end of contract)
4) Official sealed copy of degree and transcripts sent from UK by DHL - 5,000 baht all in
5) Degree 'true' copies from my embassy - 2,300 baht
6) Translations of degree/transcript - 1,000 baht
7) Degree legalisation at Consular Affairs = 800 baht (three visits required)
8) Taxis for such trips = 4,000 baht
9) Various gadgets needed to wire up my laptop to their TVs - 600 baht
10) Criminal records check - 2,500 baht
11) I've also been told that I 'should' get a good printer and Microsoft Office 2016 (I have an older version) so I can do my many spreadsheets at home. This is so I can just print them off at school instead of waiting until 8.00pm to use the shared computer at work. This is going to set me back another 4,000 baht up.

I'm pretty sure I'll be the one paying for any TCT course requirement too.

Over 30,000 baht just to get legal now and have the 'privilege' of working in Thailand.

My employer stated in the contract and interview, 'full assistance with work permit and visa. All fees paid.'

What they really meant was, 'take these papers with you, go to such and such, look on google maps for it and do whatever it is you need to do. And we'll give you back 5,000 baht maximum only after a year, but not the rest of the cash you forked out.'

Other schools I went to for an interview with were pretty much doing the same thing too.

I've also noticed that the forum for this website has gone, as has the unofficial 'replacement', 'TeachingThailandAsia'. Probably due to teachers realizing that Thailand is dead for teachers (unless in international schools) and them moving on to China, Korea or the Middle-East.

I can understand why.

I honestly think most Thai schools do not want Western teachers anymore as they can get cheap and obedient Pinoys instead. Some of them are excellent to be fair, but my experience is that most of them make a lot of mistakes when it comes to teaching English. However, Pinoys are willing to work until 9.00 pm at night during the week and to come in on weekends for free. For 16,000 baht a month!

Because they are doing this, the Thais are fully expecting Westerners to enslave themselves too, it seems!

I can't compete with that! I'm not doing 70 hours per week and being dragged in at weekends at the drop of a hat for 16,000 baht (or even my 51,000 baht net) Sorry.

A real shame but it's over. Leave the Thais to it.

China here we come, once this contract ends!

Ajarn dot com says - I need to correct you on the part about discussion forums. Ajarnforum.net (which I think is the forum you mistakenly refer to as 'the forum for this website) was never part of the ajarn dot com website and was a completely separate business with different owner, domain name, server, etc. Ajarn dot com ceased to have a forum as part of the website as far back as 2004. Nor would I say that the TeachingThailandAsia discussion forum was a replacement either. Again, it was a completely separate business.

Anon, Bangkok


Myanmar is definitely not for you, Lydia.

Myanmar is definitely not for you, Lydia.

Wow! Myanmar obviously didn't agree with Lydia. But don't use that reason to 'slag off' teachers and schools in the country (Ajarn Postbox 5th July)

I've been teaching in Myanmar since 2012, and like me, there are many dedicated and very good foreign teachers (and local teachers) working hard to improve the education of the students.

Unlike the government in Thailand, the Myanmar government recognises that the educational system needs to be overhauled, and they are very happy to accept advice from foreign experts to achieve this goal, (unlike Thailand, which often refuses advice from foreign experts - remember the flooding in Bangkok a few years ago and the government's refusal to accept advice from Dutch flood avoidance experts).

Just a few weeks ago, a new Primary Grade 1 curriculum for learning English was introduced in Myanmar state schools, having been created with advice from Japanese educational experts. That new curriculum will be rolled out to higher grades over the next few months.

'Democracy has a long way to go'? At least it is going in the right direction, unlike another country I could mention.

Many teachers drink in bars, (I'm not one of them). Come to think of it, many people who are not teachers also drink in bars. As long as they do not become dependent on alcohol, and as long as it does not interfere with their work, then I can't see the relevance of your statement.

"... and ignoring the massive poverty and broken down infrastructure around you". One reason why many foreigners come to work in Myanmar is to try to alleviate the poverty and to improve the infrastructure. I teach in Naypyidaw on weekdays, and then join local volunteers to teach free at the local orphanage during the weekend. Other foreign experts that I meet are helping the Myanmar government to improve the sanitation systems in Yangon, or to analyse and advise on improvements to the electrical grid network.

"The authorities often do not check credentials or criminal record backgrounds of teacher - a number of whom come with fake qualifications". Er hello!! Are you talking about Myanmar or Thailand or Cambodia or .....?

The rents are high in Yangon, due to the shortage of available accommodation. That's why many schools pay to accommodate their teachers in hotels. I have several friends who stay in 4 and 5-star hotels at their school's expense.

The frequent power cuts are due to the weak electrical grid, which cannot yet meet the growing demand. As for the long rainy season, I'm afraid that is one issue that no-one can change.

"It is kind of the dumping ground for teachers who can't get well-paying jobs in Thailand". Perhaps you need to ask why they can't get well-paid jobs in Thailand. One reason often mention is because of the age discrimination against experienced teachers that many schools in Thailand are famous for. I'm 58 years old and hold down a $3,000 USD/month teaching job in Myanmar, teaching kindergarten and lower primary. No school in Thailand would entertain my employment because of my age and, well that's their problem, not mine.

As in any country, there are some schools that are run purely for profit. Lydia, don't tell me that schools of that type don't exist in Thailand.

In conclusion, it sounds to me that Lydia didn't do her homework before accepting her job in Yangon. I can also suggest that Lydia is a 'glass half-empty' sort of person, which really is not the right attitude to have when working in a developing country.

Good luck with your freedoms in Thailand :)

Naypyidaw, Myanmar


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