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.
Site gets better and better...treat yourself to a sangsom and coke. You've done a great job.
Phil says - Thanks a lot Titch. Actually there are still a number of changes we want to make over the coming months but glad you like the current version at least.
In response to 'Traumatized by Thailand' (Postbox 24th May 2010)
Who is Mickey Davenport – really - Maria Diaz or Miriam Divero perhaps? I am curious why this poster would feel ‘traumatized’ for being paid 15,000 baht per month, when certified teachers in the Philippines typically make about 10,000 baht per month (12,500 PHP). It would seem then that a Filipino/a working in Thailand as a teacher is making 50% more than they would back in their own country. By contrast, an American working in a Thai school making 35,000 baht per month is making the same wage as someone working full-time flipping burgers for McDonald's back in the USA. An American or other native-speaker with a Western university education who is working in Thailand is typically making 1/3 of what they could earn at home. Supply and demand are partially responsible for salary variations here in the Kingdom.
Furthermore, in contrast to a Filipino/a teacher working in Thailand, Westerners generally spend most of their salary inside Thailand. People from the Philippines typically send a significant proportion of their earnings back home, which does not benefit Thailand.
Finally, any university-educated Westerner reading the Davenport post can easily spot the clues which suggest that it was written by a non-native speaker of English. Thus, even if a native-speaker is not a certified teacher, she/he can still produce and recognize a well-written English text. Without the ability to produce models of good writing and/or properly evaluate student writing, a teacher's value is considerably diminished.
The Thai education system is certainly far from perfect, and, being a human creation, imperfection will likely continue to feature.
I Worked in Thailand for nearly ten years before I made the decision to move to Dubai. I have a masters degree and landed a position at a college. I am a husband to a Thai wife and I have two kids. When I worked in Thailand the last salary I had was 75,000 baht. I can tell you that with a wife and two kids in school after the bills there was very little left over for savings. One time my father got sick and I had to return to North America on short notice. In order to be able to do this I had to borrow money from the school I worked at.
When I made the decision to work in the UAE I was contacted by a college and the process went very quickly. The salary was $5000 US tax free with many incentives. I had to provide translated documents for my wife and kids as per what was required by UAE law. I quickly sold everything and it was hard to watch years of items disappear as I sold the things I collected to make a home for my family.
At first I found the process stressful because the money was tight to pay for a lawyer and translation fees for my family. Thailand has never been a good country to build a savings for the family. Once everything was finalized I was relieved to receive plane tickets for all family members, a free home when I landed in Dubai, 300,000 baht to furnish the home and my kids get free education at a good school. In addition I was told I could get a car loan so I did. For the first time in my life I have a new family vehicle. Every year in Dubai I get a plane ticket to go home and see my family in North America. Moreover, my one month yearly bonus is kept as a savings for my retirement.
I have been here over a year and I have a good savings for my future. When I decide to leave I will also have my monthly bonus accumulated over the years for retirement. I can say that I will work a long time in Dubai and when the time comes to return to Thailand with my family there will be enough money to buy a good home and I will have a comfortable secure retirement.
If a person has any education at all the UAE has excellent opportunities if one wants to teach.
I believe Thailand is still a safe country. Thai people are gentle, kind-hearted and peace-loving. Given all these good things that teaching in Thailand could provide, I still hold on to my principle NEVER to teach in Thailand again! A few "powerful" and "influencial" people in that country caused me too much pain - mental, pshychological and emotional suffering.
I used to teach in Thailand. I loved working with my Thai collleagues and students. However, I couldn't imagine insulting myself and the nobility and diginity of the teaching profession by embracing a very rubbish system. You see, there is too much discrimination. I worked under this agency managed by a wicked woman. I received 15,000 baht per month. I had an American colleague who was never a college degree holder, was never a teacher in the US, was never a good teacher in that Thai school where we taught and even a grade school student in my country could tell that he is stupid. But then that same agency which sent me to that school asked me to assist him anyway. And he was very lucky. He received 25,000 baht! No sweat.
This is just one. In another school where I taught, another stupid guy from New Zealand enjoyed his no-sweat 35,000 baht, while I had mine at a much lower amount. this is with another agency managed by a Thai teacher.
All these things because these people, who are not even qualified to teach in kindergarten schools in my country, are the so called 'native speakers"! These are just tourists who go to Thailand, enjoy the bars, night life, beaches and God-only-knows. These are tourists who just want to earn something to sustain a good life. These are tourists who have no heart for teaching and the students. these are people who say all the bad things about Thai teachers and students. And these are the same people who enjoy the money from the sweat of the parents of these students they love to mock and criticise.
I know a lot of other stories about discrimination. And I know that it is a fact that Thai agencies, and other agencies put up and managed by Thais and "native speakers" practice such. Even Germans, Dutch, Italians, Nigerians, "white" and "black" people presented as "NATIVE SPEAKERS"! How could some people afford to fool others? Of course, most people, especially those who are not that educated nor learned, believe and see these people as "native speakers"
It is a shame that these good Thai students and parents are being fooled. So I can't afford to work there anymore. I don't want to prepare mateials to be used by these "native speakers", assist "native speakers", and be a part of that rotten system anymore. It is no wonder, wherever you go in Thailand, you ask people with "How are you?" and they will automatically answer, "I'm fine thank you and you?" You ask them, "How do you do?" and they will respond, "Alaina?" What do you expect from people taught by fake teachers?
No offense meant to real teachers. Of course there are good, real, caring teachers who are native speakers. As I have said earlier, Thai people are so nice.But I don't want to take the risk again. I don't want to go through those traumatic experiences again, of being discriminated against and collaborating with agencies and somehow taking part in fooling these lovely Thai people.
I work full-time at a university in Phitsanulok, Northern Thailand. From time to time, when needed, other establishments of higher learning such as smaller affiliated universities, contact English teachers of my university to enquire about their availability to teach a few hours in theirs on an hourly rate.
About a year ago, I was contacted by the Head Monk of the Foreign Languages department of such an affiliated university, to teach 6 periods on extra pay. I discussed the days, times and the rates of pay and agreed to take up the offer. The following Wednesday I went along to the university. I was told that I would be teaching 3 periods on Saturday mornings and another 3 on Wednesday morning.
The Head Monk’s Assistant was a layman in his early thirties, who I gathered was an ex-monk. He took my certificate copies, documents and photos and then said that no register was available for me to sign that day but would have one ready next time. He then took me to my class room in an adjacent block. On the Saturday after, I went along to the office to sign the register, which I hoped would be available. There was no one to be seen for about 15 minutes. Just then the assistant turned up and apologized for being late and then asked me to go to Room 203 in the next block. I went, but could see no sign of this room anywhere in the block, so I came back to see the assistant. By now I was perspiring profusely and had my neck-tie hanging loosely on my neck.
The assistant apologized and said that he meant the third block and agreed to take me there. As we had to go upstairs I asked the assistant whether I should take off my shoes. His answer was: ‘of course you should, you should know’. Then seeing that I was sweating so much and my face full of exasperation, he said ‘you are not happy here are you? If you don’t like to work here you need to tell me’. I said that it was none of that, but that I was tired and hot trying to find the class room.
After the lesson I phoned up the Head Monk and related to him what happened and pointed out that the assistant was speaking somewhat out-of-order to a person who was doing nothing wrong. I apologized for taking up the Head Monk’s time and asked if I could see him the next day at 4 p.m. He agreed.
When I saw the Head Monk as agreed, he sat me down courteously and apologized for what happened and the rather chaotic state of affairs. He said that he was to blame for not getting things in an orderly state. I said that I accept that these can happen anywhere and I thought nothing of it. The Monk then handed me an envelope with some money in it and said: ‘thank you sir for your understanding’. Seeing that I look puzzled he went on to say ‘last evening the six member Directorial Panel discussed what happened and decided that they should clear the bad air between two people for the sake of the university and have decided to terminate my employment’
Recovering from my shock and dismay, I replied in the following manner: ‘you have taken a decision against and to the detriment of the complainant and in his absence but with the participation of the offender/accused. Altogether you had 7 Thai men making a judgment against a foreigner, whose voice was never heard. I too am a practicing Buddhist but am appalled at the abysmal standard of procedure, conduct and justice of a Buddhist Institution of this stature – finding someone guilty of complaining about unfairness’.
As of Ministerial Regulation, B.E. 2541 (A.D. 1998) Issued under the Provisions of the Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541 (A.D.1998) issued by Mr. Trairong Suwannakhire; Miniser of La bour and social Welfare on the 19th of August, B.E.2541 (A.D.1998) Page 60 of the Thai Labor Protection Act. it say, QUOTE: "(1) The Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541 (A.D. 1998) shall not apply to an employer who operates a private school under the law relation to private schools but only in respect of principals and teachers."
The authority was given to this one man under section Section 4 of the act page 1, which states "Apart from the previous sub-sections, Ministerial Regulations may be issued to any category of employer whatsoever and exclude the provisions of the Act, either n whole or in part."
This act exemption appears to be an outright example how the elite control information taught in the schools and how teachers are kept under control. With many foreign teachers teaching at private schools the access to world news and free thinking is a danger to the status quo. Therefore by having such a law that will effectively deny the teachers any rights of redress in the labour system or benefits granted under the law, it is a great tool to keep the teachers under the thumb. I even had Thai teachers come to me and beg me not to mention their names as they had too much time in and did not want to get fired. They knew that they are not government employees and also have no rights under this act.
There are seperate laws also for international schools which I have not located as of yet. Anyone that knows where to find this law, please post it so we can look it up also.
The only way I know of to get this law replaced with a fair and just one is to get the present Minister of Labour to repeal it. Evidently, they don't need anyone's permission to do anything and are above the law. Maybe another administration fee is in order.
Justice for Chalkies
Private School Act
B.E. 2550 (2007)
Given on the 30th December B.E. 2550 (2007);
Being the 62nd year of the present Reign
“Formal School” means a School providing education with definite objectives, educational methods, curricula, period of study, measurement and evaluation which are conditions for finishing education.
Section 86. Business of a Formal School is not subject to labor protection law, labor relations law, social security law and compensation law. However, the persons performing duties for the Formal Schools shall receive remuneration of not less than those prescribed in the labor protection law.
Working protection, the adoption of Working Protection Committee and the minimum remuneration of the persons performing works for the Formal Schools shall be in accordance with the rules prescribed by the Commission.
***Labour Law Reference:
An employer is not required to pay severance pay to an employee whose employment has been terminated for any of the following reasons:
2.Dishonest performance of his duties or the intentional commission of a criminal act against the employer;
3.Intentionally causing loss to the employer;
4.Performance of gross negligence which result in severe loss to the employer;
5.Violation of the employer's work rules or regulations or order which are both lawful and equitable when the employer has already issued the employee with a prior written warning, except in a serious instance when the employer is not required to give a warning.
The written warning shall be effective for a period of one year as from the date of the commission of the violation by the employee;
6.Neglect of his duties for a period of three consecutive work days without reasonable cause, whether or not a holiday intervenes;
7.Imprisonment by reason of a final judgment.
8.An employment contract shall be terminated when the specified period in the employment contract expires, the works related are as follows:
8.1 Employment on a special project, which is not in the normal way of business or trade of the employer, where there is a fixed schedule for commencement and completion of work.
8.2 Work of a temporary nature with a fixed schedule for its commencement or completion.
8.3 Seasonal work in respect of which employees are only engaged during that season; provided that the work most be completed within a period of two years and the employer and employee have entered into a written agreement at or prior to the commencement of employment.
The Dude is Going To Labour Law Korea
I am very happy to see that many foreign teachers are now becoming aggressive with Thai school compulsive thieving ! Several years ago, I had a conversation with one of my Canadian friends, a Brit and myself. I wanted us to start a Foreign Teachers Association. In which we would retain legal counsel ( on retainer ), have two general meetings per year, and it would be the attorney’s job to act when it’s required. He would also draft up our work contracts. Therefore when one of our members when to a job / interview, and the school liked him or her, they would produce their contract. I loathe the pathetic foreigners who bow before Thai directors such as Thai people do. Look at it this way, if your were at home, and an employer didn’t pay you as per normal, would you not file charges with the Ministry of Labour ? YES you would !
If Thailand gives you a teaching license and a work permit than every teacher has labor rights.
I have met with my lawyer and two letters will be sent to two schools for money I am owed from severance pay as per Thai labor laws. The letters will have to be signed as received and the schools will have seven days to respond to the letters regarding severance pay and 7% interest as the law specifies. If they don't respond the lawyer will take action and it will quickly go to the labor court.
There is a labor law book in English that is available in Thailand but it helps to have a lawyer take action. The process is simple and inexpensive as actually most lawyers don't do this kind of work as Thais just go to a labor office and submit forms themselves. Then a labor inspector will go out to the school and collect the facts. The school will either act to avoid labor court or they will have to face a court which will follow the laws in place. The process doesn't take long as specified in the labor court book.
I will see how long it actually takes. My lawyer is interested and hungry for a victory because he realizes the future work in this area with regard to foreign teachers. If everything works out his name will be included in Part two.
The Dude Abides
John’s Sad Story
Chapter 1: History
John is a student at big city school. He lives with his father and mother. John’s teacher is Ms. Jones and the head of the department at big city is Mr. James
Chapter 2: The perception
Ms. Jones has been teaching English at big city for several years. Mr James is proud of her because the students always get good grades. This pleases Mr. James and it also pleases John’s father and mother.
Teacher Jones uses text books provided by the Department of Education. Some of the workbooks are new and some have been used. The workbooks come from well respected publishers. There are many examples of vocabulary and grammar. The books are designed so that each student, alone and on his/her own enters answers in the workbook. (This is called the self learning process)
The school system is wonderful. Teacher Jones’ status in the community is high, and she makes sure that all the students pass her course. She is the only one who determines the grades of each student, so it’s easy for her to make sure that everyone passes. The test she gives are multiple choice so they are easy to grade. It doesn’t take much of her time. She also likes it because she can focus on grammar most of the time. Grammar is easy to teach. There is always one correct answer and this is easy for her to explain using the Thai language. Teaching grammar means that she can avoid speaking English most of the time and still teach.
Mr James is pleased with this system too, because he doesn’t have to get involved. When all the students pass, people in the community see him as a good person. If all the students pass, then he is a good departmental head, Big City is a good school and he has many good teachers.
When teacher Jones conducts her English classes, she speaks Thai most of the time. That’s because her English pronunciation is very poor, and she is afraid of teaching her students “poor English”. Some of her students have contact with foreigners and they might laugh at her, so she avoids asking questions in English. But this is a false fear, because she has a big stick and the students know better than to laugh at her. They know they must pretend to understand what she is trying to teach them. And the best way to do this is to say nothing, fall asleep or play with their mobile phones.
Chapter 3: The reality of the situation
Student John was put in a class where the group of students stay together for many years, he has joined a “Group bond” who are his close friends, and that bond may last a lifetime. John makes sure that he does not bring shame to his group bond so he buys a workbook from last year’s student that has already been filled in and shares it amongst his group. If the workbook has been changed, the school system always has some good students in each class that can give him the answers. This is a good because when the teacher asks a question the good student always shouts out the answer first, this is a good thing because the group can then concentrate on doing other more important activities. John has also learned that when the teacher asks him a question directly he doesn’t have to answer the teacher he will first ask another student what the answer is.
Teacher Jones sees the workbooks turned in by her students. It is obvious that some of the workbooks are from last year, because all the exercises are completed. And it is obvious to teacher Jones when one student gets the answer from another student because the wrong answer is identical down to every letter every punctuation mark. It is of little concern to teacher Jones that the answers are “nonsense” English. The main thing is that each student turns in something, right or wrong. After all she is her surrogate mother, and they are her adopted children. She lives in a culture where discipline is avoided, so she is reluctant to scold her “children”.
Teacher Jones sometimes comes up with new ideas for her students, that may help his students understand English better. But if those new ideas mean that the students will no longer use the materials selected by the Department of Education, then she will not do it. Her rejection of the choices made by the Department of Education would be viewed, not in their merits, but as insubordination to higher authority. After all, the executives are higher in status then she is, and she wouldn’t ever consider criticizing their actions.
Chapter 4: the Misperception
John’s mother and father are happy because their son gets good grades. However John’s mother and father also know that he seldom studies. Instead he spends his time playing computer games when he is not visiting his friends. Mother and father know that John copies his homework from other students just like they did when they went to school. It’s called “information sharing”.
Somchais’ mother and father have now decided to “upgrade their status” as well as their sons’ and have decided to enrol John into the English Mini program at Big City. When John takes the performance tests, his scores are low. But that means that there is something wrong with the test, because John is a good student, Teacher Jones is a good person the head of the department is a good person, and John’s mother and father are good people.
After much persuasion John is in the English program. John has already developed a strategy for the English program. Here he will join a new group, the group is his extended family, and he will work hard to help his family members get through their studies, just as they will help him get through with “information sharing”.
John’s new Thai and ferang teachers know John’s system and many go along with it. But “wait” that is not true of all his Thai teachers and ferang teachers who are concerned about the welfare and the future of their students.
Unfortunately John is in one of these classes with a teacher that knows the system and certainly doesn’t agree with it. That’s when John’s fantasy world begins to unravel. John must now learn to learn.
Chapter 5: The conclusion
A dedicated teacher never lies about a student’s grades, it is considered shameful, unethical and punishable by instant dismissal in the western world. The teacher would be charged with unbecoming conduct and blacklisted
Should a student fail his exam, time and a separate classroom should be allocated for a re-test consisting of 2 hrs of study prior to the re-test; this usually takes place during the week after last class or on Saturday mornings.
Should this not be possible then it shows the true character of the Education institute, who are not serious about educating students.
The norm of the student has failed because of a poor teacher, without the proper assessment done, is utter nonsense and encourages a teacher to be unethical and dishonest.
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