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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Racism in job ads

Racism in job ads

Two years ago, I saw an ad here on from a school that was looking for a native English speaker (NES). I was interested in applying for the job but I did not email my resume to them. Instead I applied in person, and got the job, although on a "non-native English speaker" wage. I am still working in the same school, but now I wish to find a new school that can hire and pay me based on my skills rather than my race.

I prefer to apply in person than through email because I am a Filipino. I’m a non-native speaker of English (NNES). Whenever I go to the jobs section of this website, I am saddened (and somewhat irked) by the fact that most of the ads posted are for native English speakers. That makes the job ads service here "somewhat" helpful for people "like" me. Just because I am not Caucasian doesn't mean I am not qualified. For me, that is racism in its purest form.

I landed the job not because I was lucky, but because I have the skills. And my English is even better than some native English speakers (I can spell words correctly without using MS Word's spell checker). I can speak in neutral or American accents even though I haven't set foot in the US. My employer doesn't complain about the way I work. He even seems happy with the results I produce (else he wouldn't say "excellent" all the time). So did the job I applied for two years ago really require an NES? No!

Okay well, some would say they need a NES because it helps the school get more students to enroll, because that is the demand of Thai parents. I think that's plain BS. Why not hire a Caucasian model instead of a teacher? I'm sure Thai parents won't really think that way after they see the results, right? I even heard there was an American (born and raised) who had a hard time looking for work as a teacher just because he looked too "Asian."

Yes, there may also be a lot of non-native English speakers who do not have the skills I have. I even agree that some of my Filipino compatriots pronounce "V's" with "B's," or the have the familiar Filipino accent and wrong grammar. But those traits do not generalize all Filipinos who are looking for work here in Thailand, nor people of other races who are also non-native English speakers.

So this letter is for employers who post their job ads here on I hope that you will consider "some" non-native English speakers. Changing "NES only" to "NES preferred" can make the ad more sensitive to NNES like me. That way I would be happy to email my resume first and make use of

You see, we the skilled NNES, won't send you our resumes if you are looking for "NES only" You will only get emails from the less skilled NNES who don't understand what "NES only" means. You might end up hiring someone less capable of the job and regret not hiring us. Well, in the first place we won't get the chance to be heard and hired because you put "NES Only."

And another thing, once you hire a skilled non-native English speaker, offer the wage as you posted it on Setting a lower wage for us during the interview is demeaning and very racist. And we really don't like surprises like that. We are also human beings and also foreigners in this country. We also get duped once in a while because we speak Thai "nit-noi." You will get your money's worth with a skilled NNES more than a good looking Caucasian NES. Some of us skilled NNES may accept your low racist wage for the meantime, but we will always be looking for greener pastures.

I will be closely monitoring job ads this month in and will be looking for a new school that is willing to hire and pay me for what I can do, and not how I look like. Wish me luck.

If you find this letter too racist, sarcastic or both, I apologize.

Sar C. Astic

Ministry of Labor hotline

Ministry of Labor hotline

If you need help from the Thai Labor Department. you can ring 1506.
Labour Minister Somsak Thepsuthin on Wednesday launched 'Hotline 1506' for callers to ask about matters as varied as giving helpful answers to questions involving their working conditions to Ministry of Labour affairs. The toll-free hotline service operates seven days a week and 24 hours a day.

The labour minister said inquirers may dial 1506 to query regarding health care benefits, social security coverage, job openings and placement, immigrant workers and work permits, skills development training, and grievances or complaints about problems at their workplaces, among others. People may not only lodge petitions affecting their personal interests but they can also provide suggestions for the Labour Ministry to consider, Mr. Somsak said. With 120 telephone lines connected to Hotline 1506, Labour Ministry remains responsive to callers from 7am until 7pm weekdays and from 8.30am until 4.30pm on weekends and holidays.


Age discrimination and stagnant salaries

Age discrimination and stagnant salaries

I have two simple questions. Firstly, why does there tend to be a cap of 55-60 for the hiring age, regardless of excellent qualifications and experience (including in my case, a current PhD candidate plus 13 relatively recent years in-country at the top universities - Chula, Thammasat, Silpakorn, Bangkok U and even Vajiravudh College? Secondly, why have salaries on offer remained in the same range, more or less for the last 15 years - mostly a laughable 30,000, and hardly ever exceeding a still paltry 60,000 except for the relative handful working at top international schools? I have my opinions about these questions. But, I would like to hear from others. I should also note that in my case, I am not an English teacher, but a subject teacher with specialties in such areas as technology, multimedia and animation, subject areas where I should think there's a dirth of qualified people in this country.


Agencies and monthly salaries

There is something that i don't quite understand.
1. The teacher has a contract with the agency.
2. The contract states that the teacher gets XXX B every month.
3. The contract also states that the teachers salary gets paid on a given date.
4. The agency has a contract with the school.
5. The school pays the agency every month.
6. Why is it when the school does not pay the agency on time the teacher does not get his salary as per contract?
7. For an agency to state that it has financial problems is not good enough and should not be in business.
8. Is the agency not subject to an audit on a yearly bases?
9. Does the agency not have to submit income tax returns?
10. Does the agency not have to deduct tax every month from the employees?
11. Or is an agency above the law?????

Teacher Andries

British nationals transferring a visa to a new passport

Just thought I would let you know about a recent problem my husband had transferring his visa to his new passport. When he arrived at immigration the staff refused to transfer his visa as they said they had no proof that his old passport had been cancelled. Luckily we had an email contact at the passport office in Hong Kong and explained the problem. She sent a reply via email which he printed and took to immigration the next day. After much ado the staff agreed to transfer the stamp over but advised my husband that in future they would not do this without written confirmation from the British Embassy that old passports had been cancelled. The passport office website clearly states that once a new passport is issued the old one is cancelled however, quoting the words of the member of staff at immigration "it may be cancelled British style but it's not cancelled Thai style". It is worth alerting other British Nationals that they will have the same problem.

Catherine Brown

A request regarding letters to Postbox

Hi. This is Phil, the webmaster of Can I just remind everyone that although we value the contributions to the ajarn postbox, not every letter will get used - especially if it's going to take me an hour to edit, or in many cases, to re-write the whole thing to make it readable. Someone under the pen-name 'flex-time' sent a letter today on the topic of 'working overtime' (at least that was the title) I read the letter. I read it again. I scratched my head a few times and then decided I couldn't use it simply because I couldn't make head nor tail of it.

If you are going to submit a letter to the ajarn Postbox, could I ask you to take a bit of care over punctuation and grammar. I don't have the time I'm afraid to edit or re-write contributions. Sorry.


Its that time of year again.

I liked Phil's comment about the prospect of rule changes to teachers employment being like the FA Cup draw. I find this time of year like the summer transfer window, lots of moves, contract changes, promises that get forgotten or ignored, the loss of a few friends to ventures new, and the new contract.... if you're lucky!

We all seem to be scrambling for something. It all depends on if that something is actually worth having. I count myself lucky inasmuch as I work with a very good group of people, plus there's a lot of variety. There is a lot of hard work put in by everyone and the responsibilities are shared. That's not saying there are not times when I don't become frustrated or annoyed at last minute changes, still its all part of the package one comes to accept.

Anyway this is the reshuffle time, the awaited new contract for some, bonuses for a few, and the Spanish archer for others. Sometimes I've seen some very good teachers cut, but that is the game here. More and more, your face has to fit regardless of ability. I know that the odd friend or two will be looking for something new, either by choice or by necessity and there is always that final option of going back from where we came. So now the jobs are appearing thick and fast, I take a inquisitive view on what's being offered, not because I want to move, but more to see what is being offered and where. Much will depend on your own personal circumstances, like I said, I like my flexability and variety with my life, but there are still some very good oppertunities out here.

Firstly though, please don't consider money as everything, a job is a package deal. Yes its nice to earn as much as you can, but there are some real gems where the pay is maybe not Premier League. I have always found that who I work with and the enviroment are the real deal and its worth knowing that the school will support you. My only bit of firm advice is, don't travel to far to and from work, unless you're a travel junkie, even with a good road, just remember the season's change here as well, wet and dry Bangkok/ Thailand are very different places.

Little things are important. Have a retreat somewhere where you can just be you, a place for some peace and clear thought, something from home to lift your spirits, an emergency supply of favorite food (chocolate for women) and a very good friend, sharing your woes with that friend will reduce your stress.

Above everything else, do try and keep your sense of humor. There will be good days and bad, times when you think its not worth it and you've been burnt in the pocket or in other ways. Life is different here, it will always be different here. You need a certain amount of self esteem, but with luck your friends and co- teachers will get you through when life sucks, and when its good it is good.


Is it the end of the 20-hour Thai culture course?

This e-mail from the PSTAT was forwarded to me by one of the schools on its mailing list.
"Dear Teachers,
Please be informed that the Teachers Council of Thailand is making a new policy regarding foreign teachers’ teaching license requirements. And because of this, all seminars / training particularly the 20-hour Thai culture course has been suspended until permission will be granted by their office. Therefore, please inform your friends and colleagues who haven’t taken this course yet to attend this last Thai culture course we are conducting on February 18-20. Kindly give them my number indicated below for registration or forward this e-mail to them.
Sorry for this short-time notice. Thank you
P.S. I will post new policy when finalized
Kind regards, Training Organizer,PSTAT

Bangkok Phil

Teachers and their legal standing

Teachers and their legal standing

I know a group of teachers last year that tried to take a well known private school to court over various acts of blantant labour abuses. They fell like rocks when a well known law firm (which also wrote the law book we were using to find information) told them the law they published did not apply to us. Since then I have been very cautious about my work contract.

I have been at one school now for a year and a half and have been told that I would be offered a new contract within the month. During a conversation about the changes in the contract which are minor. I ask how that applied to a spacific right. It was about giving a months notice to resign and the principal could reject it. If you left you would pay month months pay for damages and lose all bonuses etc....Now I know they can not do that because of the pay cycle but it is in the contract for a teacher at this private school. They want 90 days to allow them to hire, advertise, and do paper work blah blah blah. O.k. in a way that makes sense. They even tell you at least six months in advance you will not be rehired. So fair is fair.

The surprising thing I was told (and the reason for this writing), is the Human Resource Director who is very knowledgable said, "This is only a work agreement but you have a license from the Government of Thailand as recognition you are a professional teacher. That means we are bound by the Thai Labor Laws and the MOE Profession Teachers Labour Law. We must use them combined for you if you have a license. If you do not we do not have to use the law. I immediately began to think that foreigners can not hold a government position by law. So how can we be viewed as a equal to a government employee with rights guaranteed because we hold a license from the government? That sounds confusing I know. Especially, when the Thai teachers are also exempt from the law at a private school. (However, the Thai teachers have a different contract at most schools anyway.)

Thinking this was bull I asked her if I could see it and behold she had it. Quite plainly it said, "Profession Teacher Labour Laws" with Thai Ministry of Labour, MOE, Counsel of Teachers, etc.....all over it. She let me thumb through it and I did notice specific things like 30 days sick leave, 30 day notice to resign, professional development and payments for various situations. I admit I did not get a chance to absorb much as it was a fast thumb through. This book is not allowed out of the office. Does anyone know where it would be available as I can not find it on the web by the name I have?

Also, Attached in the front was a PDF file that caught my attention. Apparently in 200? (forgot the date, 2006 I think??) a revision endorsed by the king amended the Labour Protection act and specifically said all teachers and principals were covered by the same laws as everyone else. All persons working in Thailand were to be covered. I am home now and I appologize for not giving the correct title here. This I did look up. I have it at work and will post where to get it later. Note: In this amendment there is a article that does mention something that rings of the exception to teachers but it is very ambiquous and not forcefully stated as in the act of 2551 (1998). This makes me think that many of the clauses and conditions in the contract are there because we don't know about the laws and this protects literally 100% the school against a teacher that knows nothing about rights. Most foreigners do not rock the boat and do very well teaching and rights are not a big issue but when it does become an issue it is usually at the worst time. So you need to know just where you stand if you need to.

I am not wanting to ignite the rights of teachers again as it was a very emotional and stressing experience but it is important to know what is out there. Also, the law firm we used could also be working for the school we tried to address and did not want to go against them. What this means is the information is out there but as foreigners we are placed in a gauntlet at the very bottom of hell and told if we can find the map we are free to leave. This is why some teachers win and some lose.

As is a very well known and connected/established web site and/or company I am sure they have reputable and experienced legal staff or mimimumly competent representation. In addition, it confuses me as if this is the case and so many issues in this area come up constantly, why is there not a site, link or available access to finding these PDF, legal postings, etc...... for us to see. This is not for commentary of complaining but a directory that much like a search engine will direct you to the page that you can read and know it exist not just a mythical creature of knowledge. My own example: I have the PDF but forgot to bring it home. Why shouldn't we as advance professionals have access to an informational site that would show everyone what I have so my word is not the only thing you read.

Seeker of Knowledge

Nothing but misinformation

Nothing but misinformation

Okay. Ajarn. I followed your advice. I saved some money, packed all my certificates, transcripts, police criminal record check and impeccable work references, and headed to Thailand to work as a TEFL teacher. I thought I had everything covered, except just one thing. Nobody actually tells you the truth here. Nobody. I'm actually quite impressed by the amount of total shit spoken by institutions. I signed up to do a TEFL course in November. I was assured by the chap who interviewed me before I even left London that I would "have a full time job and permit within about 3 weeks." Okay, it's not their responsibility to find me work, they provided an excellent teaching course and the instructors could not be faulted.

However, The fact that they must have known that NO schools or institutions actually hire people full-time until at least March means they were proactive in offering us misleading information simply to fill their November course placements. That's £1000 well spent! As a result of this misinformation those of us remaining in Bangkok following the course have wasted hours and hours of our time, and thousands of baht of our money looking for jobs that are simply not there. My advice. Just ignore the advice completely when training providers inform you that it is easy to find work in Thailand - and simply sign up for the February course instead.

Part two of my whinge. Many teachers inform us on this site to steer clear of agencies. Um, not too sure whether or not you've had a chance to check the vacancies on your website yet, but they are all linked to agencies. ( yes, even the ones that list the contact as the name of a school!) Simple fact being that you pretty much don't get to work in Thai state schools unless you go through an agency. Just try it. You will be referred to an agency and the school will inform you they have nothing to do with the hiring of foreign teachers. I know, because it's happened to me pretty much every job I have applied for. The upshot is - 3 months after successfully completing my TEFL course. I am still working part-time for agencies and schools - getting an excellent reputation by the way - my permit is about to run out, and every job I apply for is another agency apologising for not being able to offer full time work. Simple fact is, it's really hard to get a decent job here. Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

Phil says - thank you for your letter to the ajarn postbox. It's a shame that you couldn't put your name to it but never mind. Having read your letter twice, I'm convinced it's written out of anger rather than by someone who has a full grasp of the facts. After all, you've only been here a matter of a few months. It would be impossible to become an expert on the Thailand TEFL scene in such a short time. Incidentally, you have been working here and applying for jobs during what is undoubtedly the quietest period of the year. Very few schools hire in December and January. And that is also written on and something it seems you failed to read and take on board.

I deleted the part of your letter where you claim that the TEFL course certificate you obtained is hardly recognised by any of the schools in Thailand. In my opinion (and that of many others) the TEFL certificate you obtained is probably the most recognisable and widely-accepted certificate in the world. To say it's hardly recognised by any schools here is completely inaccurate. And how many schools have you applied to and actually got an opinion of whether they value the certificate or not? Fifty? Hundred? Because that's how many you need to survey before you are able to make such a bold statement. I could go on but if I analyzed every sentence and pulled apart what you've written, I would be here all night.

Mr T

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Air your views

Air your views

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