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 just spent a few hours perusing through the articles on your web site. With all the talk about teachers not getting paid enough, schools taking unknown taxes out teacher’s pay, or even school scamming to not pay a teacher’s his or her end of the year bonus. I’ve never come across an article on a positive note regarding the money or Baht a teacher can make with the right drive and personality here in Thailand. So, I decided to write this email to you and who ever wishes to read it.
I recall hearing about a teacher some years back, 3 years to be more specific, who was making over a 100,000 baht a month teaching, and as I said…this was three years ago. And get this; I heard that this guy was an African American. Now, I have nothing against African Americans. I’m a firm believer in equality for everyone, heck, I’m from California and you know we are a rainbow of cultures out there which is great, but with all the age, color and nationality limitations I read about on Ajarn.com, if this guy is real, and I believe he is, and can make that kind of baht. Why do I get the impression, and I think most people would if they started reading your articles or just talk to teachers in general, that working in Thailand as a teacher is primarily for backpackers and ex-pats who are just trying to stay or live here - which is my main point.
Of course there are a few that get into management or administration that make a little bit more. But, as I said, if this guy can make this kind of baht…then teaching in Thailand can be a very lucrative opportunity. Lets see, now a 100,000 baht is about 2,500 USD and that’s a pretty good living here in Thailand. If you paid…lets say 5 – 8,000 for a room, 3 – 5,000 baht for food, 3 – 5,000 for misc., and 5 – 10,000 for entertainment, that would be between 16 – 28,000 baht a month. You could then save almost 75,000 baht a month. Now that’s enough to save for retirement even in the states. Ok, let’s add that good old Thai Insurance plan that you mentioned awhile back at 500 baht a month. You would still be in the ballpark. So now all we have to do is find this guy and ask him what is his secret…right? Not at all, I watched Jerry McGuire on HBO last month and I love that phase “Show me the Money. So, here it is or were/how I think a teacher can get it.
Well, I live here in Thailand going on 5 years and when I first came to Thailand, the average starting monthly salary was between 20 and 25, 000 baht. In my first job, I started out at 30,000 baht a month, and at a Thai Government school. I found that many people found this amount at that time to even be some what unbelievable. In fact, a friend of mind in Pattaya, and he was quit insulting at the time, thought I had to be doing something sexual with somebody to be get this amount. I didn’t tell him at the time, but I was actually making a bit more by doing a few extra classes on the weekends. My average take home baht was around 40 – 45,000 a month and I was only working 24 hours a week.
Since that first job, I have entered the business IT environment/corporate world here in Thailand. I make a lot more in comparison, but I’ve continual to teach part-time because I love it. It’s still relaxing and enjoyable to me. I teach corporate classes now in the evenings and some classes on the weekend, but I’m still making more than many of the full time jobs I see posted on your website. First let me say that I’m not trying to make myself out to be some kind of superstar teacher, because I think I’m quit average and I’ve met plenty of outstanding teachers in Thailand that I consider much better than myself.
The point I’m trying to make is that teaching here in Thailand in a great living. I could go back to the USA and make over a 100,000 USD (4,000,000 baht) a year in IT, but Uncle Sam (taxes) would take 38%, it would cost me another 40% if I wanted to own a home ( 28% if I only rented) and to eat and drive around would eat up the rest. If I want to save as much as I could here in Thailand making a 100,000 baht, I would have to make at lease 20 – 25,000 USD more a year. Hey…maybe my numbers are wrong…no, they’re not, unless you are spending a lot more on entertainment…if you know what I mean.
Recently, I just sat down and calculated what I could make if I went back to teaching full-time and continued corporate teaching part-time at the same time. I realized I could get pretty close to the salary of that guy I heard about three years ago. The English industry here in Thailand is on the move, and the direction is up. I just heard from teacher friend of mine this week that the Thai government is on the move again to increase English competency in Thais and I’ve noticed myself that corporate teaching has increased 30% to 40% over the last three years.
Three years ago, I had to struggle to find a part-time corporate teaching jobs on Ajarn.com. So, why do I get the impression that the teaching industry here is a some what an ok career to have when it’s actually it's great and better than some jobs many of us could get in our own countries? Maybe, I’m just nutty and blowing the whistle on something we, us ex-pats, are trying to keep a secret. If I am...ok, I’ll keep it to myself, but can we stop complaining so much about the money. Because teaching here in Thailand…can “Show you the Money”, if you really work at it with the right attitude and love it.
In conclusion, I’ve had people ask me how much do I make, how much rent do I pay, or how much does this or that cost . But, I have to say that, although I’ll always try to help out new comers to Thailand or my friends. I’ve had to come to the conclusion that the answer to these questions varies from person to person. What I mean is that if you walk into an apartment building or job wearing saddles, a T-shirt, and holes in your jean when I walk in wearing nice pants, clean shirt, and closed toe shoes, when we start negotiating a price for rent or pay, and it is negotiable, we may get different amounts. I’ve stayed at a places where there were people paying different amounts for the same room.
Some of you may say this is unfair, but I believe that this is because Thailand is a culture that is based on relationship not fairness. If you don’t know this by now, then keep living here, reading Ajarn.com or the newspapers. You will soon wake up. The first impression has a higher impact then other places/countries. In your own country you may have laws to protect you from this type of unfairness, but not here. Just read the paper and see all the advertisements specifically requesting a male or female age 22, or less than 45. Another important area is attitude. I have met countless people who think that Thailand should change…and I’m one of them too, but I must first remind myself that Thailand was here before I came and will be here if I choose to leave. So, I try not to focus so much on what needs to be change, but rather focus on my job and teaching English the best I can to my students. I came here to live and enjoy life, not to change a country. I’m not that important nor do I have that much clout. But, what I can change is my style, to be respectful, my method, to be more successful at teaching, and my attitude, so I can enjoy living here. I can always go back to the USA and complain about my president.
Believe me; he’s given me enough to complain about for a lifetime. Ok, I think I will stop here, but one last thing. I’m sure we all will agree that Thailand is great place to live. If not, we can always go home. But let’s realize that for native English speakers/teachers. We have it pretty well here. So, let’s make sure that we can see the forest through the trees. Then Thailand can “Show you the Money”. I’m not rich by any means, but I’m not living at the poor house either.
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