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 am a Black American ex-pat (African-American? I'm not African, dude). I do not teach in Thailand, because I work in the Middle East. However, Thailand is like a third home. Yes, racism exists everywhere and in many different ways. However, there is one thing Americans need to know and this applies to every country where they are an ex-pat. If you choose to work in a foreign country, this means that you are going to have to adapt to the foreign country (values, morals, culture and non-existent civil rights). It's not your country, you cannot expect or change it to be like your country, and you cannot enforce this country to immediately embrace your American values...unless you're a multi-billion dollar conglomerate or fascist military. You can only enlighten some people and let them take it from there. Yeah, Thailand can be racist and racism is ignorance, but obviously it's not bad enough to make you go back to Uncle Sam.
Whether in the Middle East or Southeast Asia, my fellow Americans have made an art of bringing self-inflicted headache and drama overseas. Try to avoid it...or what are you doing overseas in the first place? However, this is a good discussion forum. In a world where almost everyone wants to be White (except for rebellious Japanese youth) Black people will always need a place to vent. When African-Americans go to Africa, they leave the 'African' at home - Anonymous
I have just completed the Thai Culture course and I am at present waiting for the Teacher Council of Thailand to make a decision as to when and where there will be courses run covering the four modules of the test, which is the next step toward obtaining a teaching license. I have now been told that due to the fact that there will be a staff reshuffle within the Teacher Council, this is supposed to take place in May of this year, all decision making regarding any arrangements concerning courses, tests or any other business pertaining to the new licensing laws have been postponed, until after the reshuffle.
The point I am leading up to is this, everyone on the course run by Rangsit university were told they had one year to obtain the new license, which effectively meant that everyone who wanted to continue teaching would have to move up into top gear and start preparing themselves for the 27-hour course and home study, which is virtually compulsory if you want to stand a chance of passing the test. Consequently, those of us who did the course in March 2008 only have until March 2009 to comply with the new regulations. But, the council have put everything on hold until May, which means that those of us who attended the course in March are going to be held up from doing any studying for at least 2 or more months.
It was made very clear to all of us that it would take about a year to complete the 27-hour course with as much home studying as one could manage in order to pass the test, but now I am being told by a council official that I cannot do anything to prepare myself until at least May or June or God knows when, which means that I am being penalized for something that I have absolutely no control over.
How the hell is anybody supposed to do in ten months, or less, something that actually takes twelve months?
Tired and confused
The new academic year is approaching again and many teachers are flocking to the country to find their chance of getting employed in their profession. However, I heard about a certain kind of scam on October last year about a certain recruiter of teachers from the Philippines. This might expose the Filipinos to another bad image again, but it might even be worst if more fellow, poor, Filipino teachers will be losing their hard-borrowed or loaned (not earned) money to such unscrupulous people. It took me months to think about this, and balance the situation, before I finally decided to inform Ajarn. What this person allegedly did was to contact more that 20 teachers and required each one to pay 50,000 pesos (about 41,000 baht) for a guaranteed teaching job here in Thailand. I'm not sure if this included the air fare or not, although I strongly suspect that it did not. Apartment rent along with food allowance were not also included. So these poor teachers had to bring additional money that will sustain them until they will be lucky enough to find their employers. If when, only God knows.
On arriving here, this recruiter started bringing this platoon of teachers to the different advertised teaching agencies and schools. Of course each one had to undergo interviews along with other normal procedures that should be done when a teacher applies for a teaching position, which was contrary to what the recruiter promised. It was supposed to be a GUARANTEED WAITING TEACHING JOB. The recruiter also applied and had to undergo interview himself/herself (not sure if it’s a male or a female). The group was just lucky enough to find a newly opened school needing more than twenty teachers, and so they were all hired. Well at least, just for that semester. I just hope that these already got their job contract for the next academic year. Otherwise, you know what I mean.
I tried informing one of the TV stations in the Philippines about this but I still got no reply from them, nor any acknowledgement that they received the information. To my Kababayans, please find ways to inform everyone back home about this scam, and if possible help in the arrest of this/these person/persons, to stop it from becoming an organized scam.
I've noticed a prevailing difference in attitudes toward fallang depending on where you're at (in respects to both location and social standing). But one theme that often surfaces in Thai media is their subtle attacks upon anything fallang. Positive comments are made 'tongue in cheek' at best. I am fairly fluent in Thai and often watch Big Cinema movies budded in Thai by Thai translators and am both amazed and perplexed at their deliberate attempt to cast a dark shadow upon Western culture. The translation is occasionally slighted to make us look bad. Last year some fallang pop stars came to Thailand and there was a live interview and the pop stars were cordial in saying that they liked Thai culture and food, but the Thai interpreter added that they really like Thai girls. The pop stars never said that.
Recently there was a talk show on Thai TV about why Thai woman marry fallang. The audience were university students and they had this 'so-called' expert on Thai-fallang relations on the panel making outlandish comments about the dangers of marrying a fallang. He said some fallang force their wives into prostitution to get money. The girls in the audience were horrified. The panel concluded that Thai woman marry fallang so they can take care of their family. Little emphasis was made on the fact that some couples seek to have a real, loving and meaningful relationship.
In short, Thais are jealous of fallang and so they try to cut us down with negative comments and media in general
Many jobs I read on ajarn.com request native speakers, i.e. people from English speaking countries. However, I have lived in the UK for the last 25 years and have good command of the English language, originally from Holland. I have studied in the UK, been to college, polytechnic, and I worked there. Since 1987 I taught at a further education college, though not English, but computer literacy. What I am trying to point out, you can have people from a native speaking country and from a region thereof with a very strong dialect.
In England, take a Cockney, someone from Yorkshire or Newcastle. No criticism against people from those areas. But people in other countries will find it hard to understand them, or ask someone from Glasgow or Northern Ireland to teach here if they speak with their local accents. The students will be totally lost. When I lived in England (before moving to Scotland), I knew many people from those areas, and with time you learn slowly to understand a little what is being said. When I lived in Scotland, I had plenty of friends who originally came from Glasgow.
Personally I love the English language, it has got a rich source of literature. I think that people from non English speaking countries who have spent such a long time in an English speaking country are very capable of making themselves understood. Of course, one must not speak in the local accent of the area where one has lived. I lived in Birmingham, England, and started to pick up the local accent. No, it is not a rant and rave, or even a moan, just a general statement, and trying to find out what is really a native speaker.
I have been teaching overseas for many years now. In fact, I have 31 years of overseas experience. I have mixed feelings about Thailand and the schools. The United States has had its similar problems in education about the time that the society went from agriculture to industrialization. Few were highly educated and those were mostly in the Northeastern parts of the country. But technology forced the system to change. Thailand is now faced with the same pressures as society is moving into the industrial era. Don't get things wrong. The number one problem is culture. Many of our cultures from the west are a mix of ideas and influences that immigration, conguest, colonizations, etc... brought into our countries. We were exposed and through assimilation adapted many ideas and ways into our cultures that are who we are today.
Thailand is just now realizing it has a problem with identity among the rest of the world. That is o.k. for them as it is natural at this time. Our countries are demanding, fast and pro-active. This will happen in time to Thailand. There are many good students and schools. I have been very fortunate but did not realize it until I looked back on a position that I did not understand at the time. If we wait China will force many changes in the thinking of Thailand. As other Asian countries prosper and move ahead Thailand will reluctantly move ahead. It will pick up speed and get with the world program. I am sorry to say it. In many ways the west could learn from the Thai ways.
A great river starts with a single drop of water. Perhaps only a few drops pass each of us but one day they will join together as elders of society and form puddles and small tributaries that will eventually find each other. Time will cure all. I am finally happy with the students now. I understand them. I look beyond the classroom into their fears, hopes and dreams. They are just like me when I was them. We are all one.
My biggest problem now has become the foreign teachers on the ajarn forum. I am an educated man and I am also a student learning daily lessons of life. I expected that people here would be professional as they claim to be. Sadly, when I came back to the forum I was let down. I did make some comparisons once. They were not at individuals but as a general observation. Yet, people think everything is personal. Well, an observation is just that. We see what we see. Our truth is what we understand and perceive it to be.
As educated people we should present a supported argument to something we have a difference with. Here however; it is easy to red mark those with whom you disagree without regard to professional reputation to the forum. Yes, I have been red marked and I only realize that the people that did it are insecure and sensitive in their own person. They label me a non-reputable person not because I posted lies about Thailand or teaching. They labeled me because I made a remark about their heritage, culture, or race not because of them but of an observation of those that attention gave notice to me and the rest of the world. I have never met anyone here in ajarn. So how could I direct it to you. I can substantiate my observations in the general not the personal. They offer no rebuttal but only a red mark and a label of racist. I am not a 100% racist although I, like everyone else, do have some prejudices.
Everyday, people demean the United States and its people. I understand that. I am a US citizen. I also agree with many things they say. I am also man enough to understand that while I have to carry the passport, I am not the people that many hate. I am me. I do not get upset because I know me and I can stand as an individual on my own merit and support criticism. Yes, support it. I am free and have the right to free speech but not to judge without support and then it is only viable to me individually.
The ajarn forum is controlled in my opinion by a few people that want to direct the forums their way. Well, so be it. But when someone is trying to open the curtain to observations it is better to offer communication, debate and proof before you try to destroy this person you never met. I am here in Thailand because the quality of life is so much better than where I have lived before. I do not feel my home is home to me now. My home is where my feet are. I can live on 1/4 my US salary here and I am married and happy. I appreciate ajarn for the job listings and those I will search only to better my position.
One other thing, I let cynicism pull me down and my teaching suffered. I will not be reading many forum posts now because I realize most of my cynical thought came from listening to people like those found here. Next time you have to put someone down or play the superior being ask yourself this question, "What hurts you so bad that by hurting someone else will make you feel better?" Be a teacher be a part of the great river that is coming. Support each other and quit complaining. This is my goal as I walk across this desert of knowledge looking for an oasis to rest and drink. (Maybe, plant a few vegetables)
I completely agree with Mr. John's letter dated February 4, 2008 concerning the MOE's new regulations. Just another way for the government to tighten the screws a little more trying to make it as difficult as possible for farang teachers to want to come here and teach. Let all the farangs leave and see how fast they change their position and requirements. We all know that isn't going to happen. They need the money we spend too much.
I have been told I am too critical of the Thai government when the are "trying" to improve the system. I totally agree the system is broken and the John Mark Carrs of the world slip in and I fully support all the efforts to keep those types of seedy characters out. Don't forget that John Mark Carr had a BA and was qualified according to the MOE standards. There are caring, wonderful, and dedicated teachers that never had the opportunity to attend a university because of the expense and various other problems. Does that mean that if a person didn't attend a university isn't qualified to teach? Of course not. I have known "teachers" with education up the gazoo that are totally lost in a classroom without a clue about what to do or even say. I wonder how many of the ones that are making the changes at the MOE actually attended a university or have any type of formal education? I feel sure we would all be surprised to find the truth. I do however, agree with the TESOL training requirement. It made me a better teacher with fresh ideas and it is my belief that it would probably help everyone be a better teacher. With the world today, if the students do not know English, in ten years all they will be able to do is a medial job with no future. In the end, who is going to suffer? The students of course.
It's funny, I haven't looked at Ajarn for a very longtime and it seems to me everybody is still talking about the same old sh*t. This problem that problem, this rule that rule. Well, why did you come to Thailand? Just ask yourself this question. I've looked at the amount of resumes that have been downloaded and to be quite frank, it's pathetic. Out of a global population of 6 billion, there are less than 500 resumes. I think it's 4 people from New Zealand, 11 from Australia, another 8 or something from South Africa and about 84 and 91 from America and the U.K respectively. The U.K being the most because it's colder. Teachers have had enough because of the constant politics between teachers. The only thing wrong with Thailand is the foreigners. They aren't sure why they are here because there really can't be a real reason why somebody would want to teach for a fraction of what they could earn in the west.
Most anal retentants leave the comfort of their own homes and move 10,000 miles away for reasons that have nothing to do with wanting to be a good teacher. Utter crap if you ask me. Supreme Educators get the real jobs with prestige and a high salaries the rest come to Thailand. Teachers are just like "normal" people, trying to make their way through life which as we all know can be difficult especially with all the rules and jobs-worths blocking us. Get over the culture difference, get over the system, get over yourself and enjoy life more.
As far as rules go, well, let's say they are their to be broken with plenty of assistance from the rule makers. Education is business. Nobility is noble and Thailand is Thailand. unless you have spent a considerable amount of time here and you have been through each and every scenario that is known to a teacher, you probably still won't get it because in most cases, it's you. If you want to be a good teacher and do the right thing then help your fellow teacher no matter who they are or what circumstance.
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.
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