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've been working in Thailand for 2 years now, attempting to run a high-quality English Program at a government school. Regardless of the curriculums I write, teacher trainings I administer, textbooks I research for months before selecting, communication with the parents, or the amount of time I put into the process and procedures for running our program - our success (or lack thereof) relies on one thing - the teachers we recruit.
Forget my standards of wanting someone with a BA in teaching, a TEFL certificate, a native-speaker of English, and some experience teaching in Thailand - I'm to the point where I will recruit anyone - qualified or not - who will take the time to submit a decent cover letter and resume. If you cannot even type your name with the correct capitalization (i.e. John Smith not john smith) or reference the job correctly ("Third Grade Teacher" not "Third Grades") or properly address my job posting (i.e. your resume is full of references for teaching at a university when I'm recruiting for a primary school teacher) - then you have no business applying for the job to begin with. And I won't even mention the horrendous spelling mistakes (for crying out loud - we have auto spell checker - just click the icon). Too many foreign teachers in Thailand have been wasting my time.
The biggest mistake people make on their resumes is they forget to indicate the locations of their employment and education. Please do not assume that everyone in the world knows that Moloy Elementary is some school in the Philippines. Do not assume that if you write Jackson University that I will know that means you were in Poland.
I have received approximately 40 resumes in the past 2 days, and only 3 of them had the caliber of a professional. No lie....
For anyone seriously trying to land a decent teacher position, here are my Top 3 tips:
1) Read the job posting. Don't blindly send your resume to a hundred schools. If you're worth it and think highly enough about yourself and believe in your qualifications, you will be selecting only those jobs that truly meet your expectations and have high standards.
If I say I need a cover letter and your photo to accompany your resume, this means exactly that. If any of these items are missing, your resume is immediately deleted. End of story....
2) Write a brief cover letter specific to that job posting. This demonstrates you are taking the time to be a professional. (And believe me, with the poor pickings we have for teachers lately - this extra step goes along way in getting my attention).
3) Be sure you indicate the city and country locations for all your employment and education line items. Your resume shouldn't be a guessing game. I shouldn't have to comb through it to try and decipher where you've been. You state your a Canadian, yet you speak Spanish, and have been working at Yokomoto University and volunteered at the Tsunami Childcare Center. This tells me nothing without knowing where these places are.
Now, the sad thing about this situation is I shouldn't have to state the basics of "Resume Writing 101 for Dummies".
Please, someone tell me where are the great teachers in Thailand are?!?!
Do you know of any groups of people who devote any of their time for bridging the gap between degree and no degree. I am looking for people who are open-minded too. I hate seeing the two sides argue when they could be working together to accomplish something. I spent four years studying chemical engineering at UCSB. I then had to drop out due to financial problems. No degree for me because I didn't take Art History and Literature 3. Does this make me any less of a chemical engineer? I've never even had an interview. Some companies have called me though saying that they would love to hire me just for my personality over the phone. Unlike most engineers, I am not socially retarded. Usually, after winning every argument against why I am still a better candidate than all others, people will finally use the excuse of not being able to finish something that I started. This was true (TEN YEARS AGO)! Aren't we all different after a decade has gone by? I have everything that any other engineer has except for a framed piece of paper with signatures on it hung on the wall behind me. I two lovers get stranded on an island before they get married, does this mean that they will never love each other as much as they could have? It is JUST a piece of paper.
I have nothing against people with degrees. In fact, having to hire before, it is an amazing attribute, and it distinguishes them incredibly between those without . . . usually. Not always though. American Universities are a bureaucracy. We stress that we want our children to be well rounded, but we drive them into insanity with tons of homework in mathematics and English only. There are other kinds of smart. Now our schools have no music, art, or sports. Kids are only going to excel in what they are interested in (unless you are an amazing teacher). Amazing teachers do not motivate, although most will say that this is the most important thing that a teacher can do. Amazing teachers inspire. But you cannot inspire when having no creative freedom. People don't become teachers, or doctors, for the money. It's the passion.
In Brazil, they let their high-schoolers choose their own classes. True, some never take Portuguese, and some never take math. We can all teach ourselves these thing later though if we finally want to learn. Patch Adams stated a free hospital. I would like to start a free university. He had 4000 doctors in one week apply to help him. This is because doctors are tired of there situations. I know many Mexican now who go to med school to then practice medicine in their homes under the table. Regardless of how good they are, this is what happens when people do not have insurance. And I am glad the government would never be able to fully regulate this. I wouldn't be surprised one day though if a law was passed saying that everyone who is alive has to pay for health insurance. No matter what age or if the even have a job.
Many companies legally cannot hire me now because laws are passed that say people need degrees to work for them. If they get audited, and the powers at be find that their best employee has no degree, everybody else has their paychecks stopped.
The fact that a college is accredited means very little to me too. Like I said before though, I don't think that degrees and certifications are bad. I just think that people and companies can teach themselves skills and reach levels of experience that can even surpass those constrained by educational algorithms.
I've taught English, Spanish, French, mathematics, physics, chemistry, soccer, photography, art, and scuba diving under the table in over ten countries for the past ten years. I have no certificate in any of these fields except English. I received my ESL certificate only to find out that no company can hire me. Some of them have offered to pay me under the table, but I won't do this anymore. They gasp when they realize that it would be illegal to hire me. This is America's fault. We think that this is such a great country that everybody would try to come here if they could (I know Mexicans who want to go back to Mexico now). There is an increasing amount of people who want to leave this place now. All of you out there do not have to understand why. You just have to accept it. I am not 9 out of ten people. I know that I have always been different. I do love how clean America is, how I can be rescued if I am in a car accident, and how I can be given antibiotics for an infection. But all of this does not outweigh the freedom I feel in third world countries. Here in Ecuador (where I am now), I can drink a beer walking down the street. And I can ride on a motorcycle without a helmet. You might think that these things are small, but they mean the world to me. I spent 350 dollars on forms trying to renounce my American citizenship. They said no. I owe no money and am on good standings in all areas of life. They use the excuse of where will I go? This is bogus. A free country is somewhere that you can go to legally and prosper. They other side of a free country is somewhere that you can leave. Is there a price for freedom? If so, then it shouldn't be called FREEdom.
I just read a description for a ESL (I'll say it again - ESL) teacher need. The only requirement is a degree in ANY field. At the bottom it says that no ESL certification is needed. Ten years experience teaching abroad, dozens of references, and some guy who has never been out of his own state who just finished four years of studying software programming is going to get the job.
I hope to be teaching in Thailand this coming school year, and want to encourage Black teachers to LEARN THE LANGUAGE. Just a few words makes such a difference. I have visited Thailand twice, via Taiwan, taught in Korea for a year and have been to Japan 4 times. My experiences have been that most people from these countries don't expect foreigners to speak the native language. A basic sawat-dee (khrap/kha) and a smile has gotten me pretty far. I feel more welcome in these countries than at home in the USA! Probably because I recognize how this culture conveys racism, covertly or overtly.
Speaking of home culture, has anyone else found it funny that a lot of people in the world want to be light-skinned, but white people don't even want to be white? Asia sells skin whiteners, America has tanning booths, and beach bums working on their tans all day... My grandfather has told me plenty of army stories about how black soldiers essentially had double requirements, meaning the army only really had the cream of the crop soldiers from us, when just about any white person could be a soldier. Reading this forum, and having my experiences, I've learned that the English teaching job market in Asia is the same--we just gotta one up everyone else!
Learn some of the language. Know something about His Majesty. Smile and dress nicely, and, while it sucks that we have to take that extra step, everyone will get the point and word of mouth will do its work.
It has come to my attention (from my school) that the MOE has made a decision where educators will only be able to teach in the area that their degree specifies. I would like to know the truth about this new rule.
If this is true it would mean that any degree is not enough criteria to teach English in Thailand. Educators will have to teach in the area of expertise as their degree states. Moreover, I have been informed that I must (and all the other teachers in my program) attend a training seminar that involves teaching in Thailand and whatever other blah blah blah that the MOE thinks teachers should know.
These demands do not affect me personally as I already teach in my area of expertise. What bothers me is that legitimate ESL teacher training courses offered from universities as "After degree certificates" are in fact worthless pieces of paper (CELTA included) since they are not recognized in Thailand (2000 dollars and over two-three months of study for nothing).
In my opinion, Degrees do not show full expertise--it is the transcripts that show the major and minor concentrations of the degrees quite specifically to make things clear. If this new rule is actually true I would find it very problematic. It would, however, solve the life degree problem as their are no courses called "life" offered in Thai schools.
My bags are packed and I'm on my way, and I won't be back for many a day. I will never work in Thailand again. I say to all just like me get up from your bended knee and stop kowtowing to the Thai. It's time to get a decent wage for what we endure-- oh baby I'm glad to go.
I'm leaving on a jet plane-going to another land, where the air is clean and the people not mean - where the schools are eager to have you stay, and give you a package and reasonable pay. The province is cold but I don't care, the room is free and has heating and air. The salary is small, but I don't care - because I'm sick of the government here. Treating us bad, and enjoying it so.
The teachers are so lazy, I could scream.
I earned my degree and don't show off , and worked for years for what I have got - did not cheat and yes - I could have failed.
The students here have no heart-they sit in class but do not care,- and study for a test - you must be joking -
I am the best - I will not fail
I tried my hardest-- but not good enough, the arse lickers here - can beat you every time.
So stuff it - I'm on my way.
Working in this third world, is much harder than it seems. It's not the land of my dreams --There is always a problem waiting for you. The corruption is just a way of life. They complain and groan, but shut their eyes -yes another thing that I despise - they couldn't manage the toilets at Hua Lampong.
The agents don't care - suck up the schools and lowering the pay. They want the best, but pay peanuts and after you finish your two terms - the agents KINDLY give you a bonus from your salary.
I'm leaving in 3 week, writing this letter tongue in cheeck, for all the dedicated teachers who are stronger than me.
- And to all those who have no guts-well-just plod on.
The visa rules always change and give everybody such a pain - the government gets revenue - but show their contempt, and service - well that's another thing.
Continual changes are no good , our life in turmoil and misunderstood.We are strong but do not speak -- they think we are weak, but the facts are clear.
When they have problems where do they go? We are kind and give them the aid. But our charity is quickly forgotten, because the government here is truly rotten. Thailand wants their future to be good - so pay the money that you should - oh baby I'm gone. I'm leaving with no regrets, the experience I will never forget - but baby it's over.
I have "some" moaning and groaning to do, so I guess I'm here at the right place to do so!
Teaching in Thailand at high school level is a farce and complete bullocks. In 2 years time I taught at 6 different high schools, ranging from the rich, private school to the poor government schools. Teaching at high school could better be referred to as teaching at "hell school". I came to Thailand on 7 separate occasions, 7 consecutive years. I saw students everywhere in their cute white/black, white/blue uniforms. I saw great respect for their King and for monks and Buddism in general and I thought it would be a teachers heaven to teach such respectful and obedient people. I have some very good Thai friends and so I was so naive to think everybody was like that.So.....as soon as I started to teach in Bangkok, I saw that my dream became an absolute horror movie.
Children at school (high school that is) have no respect whatsoever. Don't get me wrong, not every student was bad. I had some nearly perfect classes like Mathayom 6/1, 5/1, 4/1 and these student were obedient and respectful and did what I asked them to do (doing their assignments, reading texts and so on) and it was a real pleasure to teach them, but unfortunately 90% of the classes following slash 1 (Mathayom 6/3, 5/3 whatever.....) were most of the time absolute hell. Especially the Mathayom 3, 4 slash 4,5 where pure hell.
My biggest frustrations at school:
- classes ranging from 30 up to 50 students in one class (impossible to handle and to teach)
- Thai substitute teachers sometimes present, sitting in the corner of the class, who were
supposed to help keeping order, doing nothing, just hang behind their desks without interfering
- fighting, phoning (with their mobile phones), playing music on their mobile phones, playing soccer
in the class room etc., you name it, I have seen and experienced all of it
- people enter the classroom far too late and start to create chaos among the others
- complete and utter disrespect in some classes because they think you are a farang, a white
monkey (this was said to me in my face on several occasions)
At all schools I had no right to straighten them out. There are no rules whatsoever. Yes, I went to the head of department and the director on many different occasions and they came with me to the classroom and then after some "harsh talks" with the students, they were quiet for 5 minutes and then everything started again. I had classes full of wannabe pop stars, checking their faces and their Korean/Japanese soap-styled-hairdo's in their little pocket mirrors every single moment, just sitting there chewing gum and laughing about me. I had some very hard confrontations with them, telling them that they could laugh about me and disrespect me but at the end of the day I would still make my money and that is far more than they will ever make at the 7-eleven when they leave school.
Wise ass little shit-heads everywhere. They leave their books at home on purpose and just sit there wasting their time while chewing gum and completely disrespecting you. I had a Thai teacher, she was one of the English teachers that taught them 3 hours a week, and this woman always came to my worst classes, just to have a "peek". These classes were absolutely disastrous, no books, no understanding whatsoever of the English language, you name it.....
She used to come to my class and ask me: "what are you going to teach them today?". I said to her:" they didn't bring their books again, like every day and they don't understand a word of English, so I can not read with them and practise pronunciation, so there's nothing much I can do". So she used to react a little pissed at me every time and so one day she started to get on my nerves and I told her:"Why is it, that these children have no understanding whatsoever of the English language while you, a Thai teacher who speaks Thai perfectly and also English perfectly teaches them 3 hours a week?".
"If I would be able to speak Thai perfectly like you do and had the ability to explain them every single word, I bet your ass they would speak English quite well within a year". Yeh, bingo, she silenced....but didn't like what I said. Yes, and I didn't like it, this same questioning routine several times a week while they don't handle any set of rules to straighten these children out who are unwilling to learn.
Yes, nice line-up every morning at 8. Nice pep talk every morning at 8, but nobody gives a shit.
I see 60 year old teachers who are working for the same school for more than 20/30 years and they don't have the energy anymore to do anything to improve the situation. At one school some Thai teachers told me in my first week that my next 2 hours that day would be absolute hell and that no teacher could handle them, but that day I handled them perfectly, but every hour is a struggle, a war of words and mimic, a complete and utter headache crash course.
The list of what is wrong in the educational system in Thailand is endless and this is due to the system, the parents and the teachers.
The system: at most schools were I was there were no exams! People just pass to the next year. No pressure, no study, no nothing.
The parents: they don't give a shit and lack any substantial knowledge whatsoever to motivate and educate or force their children to study. School is just a building where you drop your pain-in-the-ass children and have some hours of peace and quiet. Later in the evening? Let's watch some soaps: evening long, brainless entertainment with beautiful-bad-acting-screaming-white-skin models (in whatever word order you want...).
After school they eat and then most of the children disappear again in the soi and go to the game-shops and play computer games till midnight or after, nobody gives a shit.
The teachers: most Thai teachers don't care anymore, they just make a living and get their money anyway. Almost every farang teacher that I know does the same (and I know at least 30 in Bangkok). They tell me:"what the f*ck do you get angry about? The are just monkeys......take your money at the end of the month and just don't care about them! That's Thailand! It's a joke!
At the expensive private high schools they don't do much also, otherwise Hi-so daddy will take his child from school and put them somewhere else and teaching is big business in Bangkok, for the schools that is! Rich parents pay a lot to see their children off at some Hi-so school where the real native English speaking "monkey" teaches and where you have "English summer camps". They all want "the real deal" to teach their children English.
My list is endless. And also this "native English teacher" bullshit. The Thai still thinks that everyone coming from a native English speaking country is top and anyone else, non-native speaker is not good enough. What a big laugh! It's such a farce! I had a conversation with a guy from Manchester the other day and the day after with an Irish guy and don't forget the Cockney accent or Aussie..... God help us! Even I could hardly understand them!
There are native English speaking teachers around for more than 20 years and what is the level of English till now among the common Thai? Zero and non-existing! Only some rich Thai people who have the money to go to some of the better schools, or the ones who can afford to go abroad, are able to speak English to a certain extend.And yes....all these little hustlers in the tourist areas like Khaosan and Silom/Sukhumvit, bar girls and such, they know to a certain extend to "use" the English language, standing or horizontal. It's one big joke and unfortunately a sad one.
I see teachers getting hired and getting paid 40/50.000 Baht a month, who have absolutely no good knowledge to be at these positions. But just because they are "handsome" and/or know the right people, schools and universities offer them a job (even ask them to marry their daughters...).
Why do I get angry? I came because I like Thai people, I came to help them, no problem if I have to stay longer to teach them as long as they are eager and willing to learn, I will stay, even though it's my own time, nothing paid, I don't care.
I am a real teacher..
I have read the FAQ section and have seen the information on the life experience university degrees people have posted.
I agree with you that using the life experience degree for the purpose of proving your skill to get a higher paid position is pretty pointless, as a potential employer will check where the degree came from and know this is not a degree earned by spending time in education. They are a con and useless as you say, but useless depends on the purpose.
My friend now teaches in Vietnam and used a fake degree while previously working in Thailand but recently decided to move on. Vietnam also has the same requirement for a university degree but they are a lot stricter with checking degrees than Thailand so no fakes. He applied for a life time bachelor degree in teaching English and gained his VISA successfully by using this degree. It was his experience and professionalism that counted for the school, not the degree technicality.
Although the life time degree is useless none the less it does provide you with a bachelor's degree. As long as you are only using the degree to get through the technicality of the requirement to possess a degree to gain a work permit it has its uses. It is especially useful if you want to teach English legally in Thailand but don't already have a degree or the time and money to spend 3-4 years studying to obtain a degree.
Ok so someone with a proper degree rightly deserves the better higher paid jobs, however there are many lower paying schools that only ask for a degree as a technicality to process Visa's even though they are not bothered whether or not you posses a degree so long as you have a TEFL. This would especially be true of schools that point you in the direction of Koh San for your degree. Possessing one of these life degrees at a bachelor's degree level at least makes the schools daunting job of making their teacher legal easier for them.
So people with degrees gained by going to Uni can carry on taking the higher paid jobs and people with the lifetime degrees can replace the fake degree with their real life bachelors degree. Besides as I said at the beginning, if you went for a job where the employer really does require you have a degree whereby you actually attended uni they are not going to hire you if you have a lifetime degree after they have run checks.
Possessing a life degree won't get you a better paid job but it will legally get you a work permit and teaching license for the places that would otherwise allow you to supply fake degree credentials. Possessing one of these degrees to gain a work permit also means the teacher does not potentially run the risk of being thrown in a Thai jail for 10 years on a fraud charge for possessing fakes and the school does not run the risk of being caught out accepting fake degrees. The life degree is fully checkable, accredited world wide and also provides transcripts.
Is it cheating? Some people may feel this way, but read through this website and there are many posts supporting the fact possessing a university degree does not make you a better or worse teacher than the next teacher, it's down to proving yourself as an individual in the classroom. Many people feel it is a crappy law requiring a university degree to obtain a teachers license anyway.
I guess I come under the “moaner and groaner” category. After living here in Thailand for almost two years it has appeared to me that there is something wrong with a society and culture that it is not only accepted, but family’s actually encourage their male children to be ladyboys (gay), and everyone that knows them are proud of them for being so. There is also something wrong with a society that it is ok to drive one the wrong side of the road. So much so that the police even do it. Something’s wrong when people do not even look to see if anyone’s coming when they enter traffic and when you blow the horn, they look at you like YOU were the one in the wrong. Busses, taxis, and others do not mind if the run you off the road as long as they can get ahead of you. Why is it so important to a Thai to be first in everything? If you stop at a traffic light and you are the first one there, you can bet there will be five or more motorcycles that will get in front of you. If you are in a line anywhere, someone is going to try and get in front of you. It doesn’t matter if there is no room to pass, they will just push their way through.
Something’s wrong when a culture and society puts religion above anything else, builds elaborate houses for ghosts to sleep in and puts food and drink out everyday for them to consume. Don’t they ever wonder why the food and drink is never consumed? Hello! They will take food from their children’s mouth and give to a Monk or the Temple. Fully support the Monks who do not work. Yet, they have mobile phones, travel constantly, have money and food when they need it and many have girlfriends and children that they do not support and give them whisky and cigarettes A culture where it is ok to commit bigamy and the ones that do often brag and boast about it. A culture where a business does not ever say thank you even in their language and doesn’t really care if you come back. A culture that it is normal to be arrogant and just plain rude. A culture where it is normal to interrupt someone’s conversation because they want to say something and do not want to wait until you are finished.
Something’s wrong when people only think about themselves and have no concern for their fellow human beings and worst yet is, they teach their children to be that way. And, all this is accepted. I am sure there are exceptions to my observations but they are certainly not the rule.
I read the hilarious articles "who do I work with" and laughed. But, you left one kind of teacher (I use the term loosely), out. We have another kind in my school. Mr. Wunder-ful
He's the one that secures a job over the Internet, promises to be here on a certain date and comes a month later claiming he had some problems leaving his other job. He arrives in Thailand fresh off the turnip truck with 500 baht in his pocket. Contacts his supervisor, checks in to a seedy hotel and spouts about he WAS an pilot trainer for a major airlines in the west. he has no pilot license because he wasn't required to have one, and a two year Junior College degree in flower arranging. He borrows enough money from the school to get him by until payday, (or was supposed to get him by), that didn't happen and borrows more money from his supervisor and anyone else that will loan it to him. He realizes he needs a place to stay, so he elicits help from the school to find him one. Walla, he finds a house. Oh! Did I forget to mention he gets his supervisor to put up the deposit? Shame on me. He moves in and again realizes he needs everything for a house, so he, turns on the charm to his neighbors and gets enough furniture (to get him by until payday).
He elicits help in doing his laundry , again from a neighbor on the "when I get paid" payment plan. He is a instantly a teacher assigned to teach Kindergarten. Never mind that he has never had any children, nor ever been around any, he'll learn. He realizes the first day, he is not a teacher, so he turns on the charm and gets his supervisor interested in him. She helps him teach the little darlings. Realizing he needs a way to get around town, he turns on the charm again and gets his supervisor to pick him up and take him where he needs to go everyday. He is also assigned to teach second grade. Again, he elicits his supervisor to help him teach because he doesn't have a clue what to do.
Payday finally comes and he can't afford to eat, so yep, you guessed it, gets his neighbors and anyone else he can to feed him. He goes all out with his charm and has the unsuspecting Thai teachers bring him food everyday because he spent all his money on getting set up in his new home. All is well now, but he doesn't have any furniture for his new home. He's "in love" with his supervisor, so she buys him furniture. He's on a roll now. His cousin comes to visit and she doesn't have a bed to sleep in, so again, you guessed it, the one he's "in love" with buys her a bed and a TV to watch while she is here. He doesn't need a motosi or a car because his supervisor takes him everywhere he needs to go and of course he doesn't have to pay any gas or repair bills.
I read with interest Dave's and Julia's articles. I too, had many concerns when I decided to leave my home country, the United States. I went to Iraq for three years and worked. During that time I would visit "home" about two times a year. When I finally had enough of the problems in Iraq, I returned to my "home". Except, home wasn't home anymore. Sure, the buildings were still there and there were more every time I visited, but the people that attracted me there 37 years ago, had changed. I realized I didn't hardly know anyone. I felt like I was a stranger in the town I grew to love and made my home in. I guess it is human nature to want to be around familiar surroundings. In my case, something was missing.
I had been to Thailand many times on vacation and met several people that later became close friends. So, being at "home" wondering what the next chapter in my life was going to be, I decided that "home" isn't about familiar surroundings. It's about where you are the most happiest. So, I decided to sell the building I called "home" and all the furniture and move to Thailand. I had heard horror stories about securing a job before I arrived, but being some what of a rebel and not taking any one's advice, I secured a job over the Internet. No contract, just an email telling me I had a job when I arrived, the details, and a contact phone number. I had never heard of the city I received the job offer from, so a friend met me at the airport and assisted me in getting to Suphanburi.
After checking in a hotel, I called my contact number and in 10 minutes, I had my supervisor picking me up. I was shown the town and all places I might need to go, IE; Tesco Lotus, my school, etc. My supervisor assisted me in getting settled in every way possible. She even arranged a tuk-tuk to pick me up every day, take me to school, and home in the afternoon. Later, she assisted me in getting an house and moving in, finding a house keeper, buying furniture, etc.
I have been at the same school for two years. There is a lot of things I do not like, but the things I do like far out weigh the things I don't like.
So, to Dave and Julia I would say, you only live once, so take the chance and enjoy the ride. Hopefully they will have the same good fortune I had.
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