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.
Well I like the nice new colours on your revamped website, but in my opinion you missed the opportunity to make your site more teacher-friendly by increasing the number of days that resumes stay current from five days to seven i.e. weekly. Previous feedback from ajarn.com on this issue has been vehemently against such a simplified once-a-week procedure on the grounds that it makes it TOO easy (for teachers, presumably) - to which I would respond that life is hard enough already, so why make it any harder than it needs to be? I would be interested to hear ajarn.coms reason for keeping the counter-intuitive five-day requirement and whether I get a prize if you do change it.
Why the difficulty?
I am a teacher in Thailand. I have been teaching here legally for 5.5 yrs now. I hold a BA in TESL (teaching English as a second language). I am being told that I have to study this foreign teacher education course if i want to continue studying (which I have taken already... but for some reason, what the Thai government required and accepted before is no longer acceptable). So I decided to go the whole say and try and enroll in the Chulalongkorn University Masters of Education program. I would have thought that would be better... I mean, if a B.ED. is acceptable, why wouldn't a M. ED. be acceptable (even one from Thailand's top university). But as I am being told now, that is also unnacceptable. I must only take this certificate thing, only good here in Thailand, which may or may not change again in the future, and it is only offered in one place across from Ramkamhaeng University. Does anyone have any thoughts or information on this? i tried to call the MOE and no one answers the phone. I dont know who else to call. I have been teaching legally with my degree in 5 Asian countries for fifteen years now. Why is it all of a sudden so difficult to be a teacher? Please let me know anything that may be useful in any way. Billywjr@hotmail.com.
Phil says - while it would be great for someone to get in touch and give Billy some feedback, I won't be putting answers in this postbox section of the ajarn website. To be honest Billy, you might have been better off putting questions such as this on the ajarn discussion forum and having some of the members help you out. Please think about this everyone before you submit an entry to the Postbox. Does my enquiry or my questions, etc belong in the Postbox or on the ajarn discussion forum?
Whites or native speakers?
I just read Mr. Spectre's post and how he's being treated. For me, eveything is just based on race and not your skills. I have nothing against white people and I dont blame them for what is going on anyway. It is the thai mentality that only whites can teach english, and for them being taught by a white is just great.
I have been teaching here for three years and i have been through a lot. I was the first black man to work in my first school.
My agency sent me to substitute someone from the US. I taught for a week and surprisingly the school liked me. I worked from Monday to Friday and was supposed to remain there since the old teacher was not coming back. My agency then called me on Sunday and lied to me that the teacher was back. I didnt go to school the next day and my agency sent another teacher from England. The school said no to him and they were all shocked. They called and they were all like, Sano what did you do?? the school said no to a native speaker, they want you. I went back there and started teaching again. The parents were informed and they all had a meeting. I was lucky that they all loved me there.
If you are white, or have a white skin you are fine. They talk about native speakers and there you have Russian, Algerians, Arabs teaching or working for them. I just tell them not to write "we are looking for whites" There are many agencies out there doing that but i dont blame them much. It is the Thai mentality and I dont think we can do much. The parents want their children to be taught by white skinned people no matter what qualification they have. The agencies or schools are looking for money, so they have to do what the parents want. It is a simple analogy. It is just good we all know about this and maybe something can be done. Lots of people go through this. I see Filipinos working for just 15000. they are being judged by their race and ethnicity and that is not fair. Some of them are great.
I worked at ECC before as a part time French teacher. I am fluent in both French and English. My students were told I was French but I always told them I was African - born and raised in France. If you dont like my teaching methodologies, they can bring in another teacher but i am not gonna lie about anything.
I dont think people here care so much about education anyway. I wish everyone out there best of luck. I believe we are here for a period of time and just try to make it. It might be easier for some and hard for most of us but we will all survive.
Good women are hard to find
In response to "Where are all you good people?" (5 Jan 2010): I have been living and teaching in Bangkok for three years and I would love to know the answer to that question. When I first arrived here, I actually met a woman friend through the ajarn.com blog. We lost touch, but through her I met another woman who has become a very good friend. She's since left Thailand, but we email often and I know we'll see each other again.
So if you're keeping track, that means I have zero friends in Bangkok right now. Pitiful, huh? And sadly, that's the way it is here. Oh sure, I have lots of teacher room friends, but they're mostly male and mostly have Thai girlfriends. So, Vicky, I don't know the answer to your question. I wish I did.
Where are you good people?
How does a woman make friends in Thailand? Two weeks off the plane, did the fun part the first (er...end second, as it was the holidays). Found a lovely apartment at a good price by walking around Huay Kwang area as recommended by some locals on couchsurfing.com. It's Tuesday, the second day of my job search. Sent out five emails with resumes etc. yesterday. Is it true what they say that emailed job applications never get answered? Well, it's been less than 24 hours so I give them a chance.
So yes, things seem to go OK. I got a real degree and a real CELTA certificate as well as two very real years in Seoul teaching Koreans the finer points of articles and prepositions. I'm not too worried about getting a job, rather that I'll be lonely. People I met so far were couples and guys with Thai girlfriends. Couples seem to prefer hanging out with couples and guys, well, they seem to prefer hanging out with Thai girls. Thus my question. Where does a woman find good people who like to think, talk and laugh in Bangkok?
There are teaching jobs out there
I've been reading your posts and those from the other contributors on your site for some time now, and feel that maybe I have something to offer back regarding finding work in Bangkok at the moment. The following is my story of arrival in Bangkok: I arrived in Bangkok at the end of September with bounding enthusiam and my degree and TEFL certificates. Having left England on a quest for a more enjoyable life, I was extremely keen to find a job and get started.
Things however didn't go exactly to plan. I gave myself a week to acclimatize (get drunk and party) before starting my hunt for a teaching position. Of course, the first resources I went to were job message boards. Everyone I had spoken to, and everything I had read led me to believe there would be plenty of jobs to be found during the month of October. Unfortunately this didn't seem to be the case.
I emailed the schools who were advertising and made little headway. By the first week I had been offered two jobs, but neither were particularly attractive, more down to the school and their working conditions rather than salary. Another week passed with another offer from a similar school. A further week passed with nothing. Not a interview, not a job offer, nothing! By the end of that third week I was becoming concerned. I was meeting many teachers (both employed and unemployed and some newbies like me) who were bemoaning the lack of jobs. Their attitude began to make me feel despondent.
I realised I had a choice to make. I couldn't carry on searching for work if I wasn't going to do it with a clear mind and a vision of what I wanted. So I promised myself two more weeks would either get me a job, or force me to look at teaching somewhere else. At the start of my fourth week of searching, I started googling "Bangkok schools" and other keywords and emailed schools directly. In two days I must have sent over 100 emails. Friday rolled on and still nothing. My luck changed on Saturday morning when my present employer phoned me.
I've just completed my first month at this language centre. I waited for a good job rather than accepting one I wouldn't be happy with and I'm very pleased with my decision. I've earned just over 40k this month, and I am very confident my income will rise in the coming months. While the school is owned and run by Thais, the DOS and all the other teachers are native English speakers. The atmosphere is pleasant at its worst and friendly in the staff room.
Why have I written this? I promise it is not to rub job-searching teachers noses in it. I've written this because one simple aspect of finding a job seems to be escaping many of the unemployed teachers I've met in the last two months. You have to want the job. If you write polite emails, eventually you will get an interview. If you get an interview, you have to make the employer feel like you actually want the job (that is obviously assuming that you do really want the job!). If not, someone else will get the work.
There is probably less work out there than before. Everyone seems to be saying that, so I can't disagree. What I can say is that I am not surprised why so many teachers I meet are unemployed. Their attitudes are all wrong. Before I get feedback complaining that not all job-seekers are the same, I do know that. I'm not painting everyone with the same brush, I'm just painting the majority.
Ajarn.com supporting ageism?
Dear Philip, I hope you can to publish this letter in your postbag section for public access.
I have enjoyed reading your website for its informative and helpful advice for years not to mention its useful jobs section. However, I think you are doing a disservice to teachers by allowing your website to be used by institutions that promote age discrimination when they advertise for English teachers.
Surprisingly, a respected top university in Thailand was one of the first to promote this kind of blatant prejudice against teachers. Someone there has decided for some reason that anyone over 50 is braindead and incapable of teaching English to undergraduates! Usually teachers at this age are experts in their profession and are quite capable of working for at least another 10 years. I can understand why a profit orientated language school would prefer to hire cute young studs or pretty gals to entertain their students and get them to keep signing up for another course as they are in the business of edutainment. In developed countries with just labour laws it would be unacceptable for an institute of higher learning to publicly discriminate against older teachers. So why is this happening in Thailand?
An institute of higher learning ought to act as a role model for society by avoiding discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, skin color, (or in Thailand’s case skin complexion!) religion, race or age. It's time Thailand became serious about teaching English. For too long the teaching of English, even at college level, has been tokenistic and pretend. Teachers should be judged by their work record not by their age or how pretty,or “ribroy” they look on the outside. Would a Thai institute of higher learning have employed Professor Albert Einstein if he had applied to work here. His hair may have raised a few eyebrows or he probably would not even have got to the interview stage because he was over 50! Students can actually enjoy studying when they are learning something serious. They don't need to be entertained by bright young things all the time.
If one college decides on 50 as the cut off age this may set a precedent or even worse, other colleges may decide to bring down the age. Actually, recently another third level college has done just this by advertising for teachers between the ages of 23 and 37! Where did they get these magic numbers from? From scratching the bark of a sacred tree? Ajarn.com is a service to help teachers, not to make life more difficult for them. These colleges of higher learning could be persuaded not to be so blatantly ageist in a public forum if their ads were to be politely rejected and hints given as to why, so as to put a stop to this unfair employment practice that makes no logical sense.
Phil's response - Thank you for the letter KD. As a man of 45 years old, I know what it feels like to suddenly realise you just might be on the wrong side of the tracks. However, I'd like to make a few points. Firstly, this 'ageism' thing in ajarn.com job ads is NOT something new. I noticed the trend and wrote an article about this topic over four years ago. Personally, I don't think the trend ever became par for the course. You will always have the odd employer who is looking primarily for the younger teacher but that doesn't mean every employer and job advertiser follows suite. There are still many employers out there who recognise the value of experience and usually they are the ones worth working for. I've always had a saying where teaching jobs in Thailand are concerned - what schools want and what schools get are two entirely different things. I'm willing to bet that your 'respected university' changes its tune when it realises that there probably aren't enough good teachers under fifty years of age applying for the positions. We'll wait and see shall we?
In ajarn.com's defence, your idea of me, little old me, trying to educate these establishments not to be so ageist just won't work. I'm sorry but it won't. Advertisers will simply lose face and stop placing job ads altogether. And of course we haven't got into the issue of how time-consuming it would be to contact these 'rogue advertisers' and actually talk to the target person. Then again, perhaps refusing to post their job ads until the employer sees sense will serve as a form of punishment? But what about the teacher who is aged between 23 and 37 and who is desperately looking for a job? Won't they get punished as well if the job ad doesn't appear at all? Let us know your thoughts.
A job gone wrong
In March I was offered a job through a teacher placement agency. They offered a great package which included free accommodation, a great placement, a decent salary and 50% insurance. This gave me another opportunity to live and work in Thailand; a country that I love. However, it it turned into a nightmare that I will never forget.
I had visited Thailand once before in October 2008. I did volunteer work for three months and I was desperate to return after several months living back in the UK. I did loads of research to get the right information on the company and I got friends to double check on this research. At the time everything looked fine. I sent off for all the documents I needed to start the job, signed the contract and received the Non-B visa. I was finally ready for a fresh start in Thailand and to continue my work as an English teacher. I booked a one-way flight not knowing when I would be returning.
I arrived in Bangkok a few days prior to the training course to settle in. The agency had already arranged the hotel so I started to relax. A few days later I met the agency staff and the training course commenced. The first day of the training went fine, however on the second day around 2pm, they asked to speak to me in private. At the time I thought this was odd. They sat me down and told me they didn't like me and that they wanted me to leave.
After speaking to some friends, they liased with the agency on my behalf and the company managed to find me a suitable position. However, they were unable to tell me the conditions of work. On arriving at the workplace, I was told that I'd be working 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week and for a salary of just 5000 baht per month. I have been struggling to find work ever since and as a result I am returning home to UK next month. This is an important lesson for me and I hope that others don't make the same mistake.
Phil's comment - Please note that under no circumstances will ajarn.com actually name names in postbox entries of this nature. So the post will be edited accordingly. You have to appreciate that I only have one side of the story and the company concerned rarely / never has the right of reply.
Teaching in Phuket was a costly mistake
I was recruited in Bangkok to teach at a well-known university in Phuket. Unfortunately, I failed to ask myself an important question. That being, "Why would a university in Phuket come to Bangkok to recruit when Phuket has so many teachers?" The answer, of course, is because no one in Phuket wants to work for them. Failing to realize this proved to be a very costly mistake. My meeting with the school representative involved promises of two incentives. The first was being able to live in an apartment on campus and the second was a guarantee of overtime (work after 15 hours) to make up for the below average salary of 35,000 baht. In Phuket you need at least 40,000 baht to live in the corruption. The school's representative also boasted that many corporate hotel contracts become available so teachers may earn extra money (you find out that it's for pathetic wages).
My investment to move to Phuket involved losing an apartment deposit in Bangkok (7000baht), paying for a non-B visa run to Penang Malaysia (3000 baht) and then losing another apartment deposit to leave Phuket (7000 baht). Then I had to pay another apartment deposit to relocate to Bangkok (7000 baht). Grand total 24,000 baht and it gets worse.
When I arrived at the university, I was told no apartments were available and I had to live off campus at an inflated price. Then during our first teachers meeting the Thai manager of the department (hospitality and tourism) didn't want to pay overtime wages and tried to say that it was the recruiters mistake to offer this (apparently the recruiter was fired and not paid and they didn't tell him he was fired). After three months of working overtime I had not received anything (a loss of 18,000 baht). New grand total of losses: 42,000 baht.It gets worse.
It didn't take long for teachers to get upset as three months had passed and nobody had a contract. Moreover, it began to surface through office tension that this university in Phuket knowingly and willingly hired teachers without documents. This resulted in terrible work relations. One day the Thai manager brought a few hundred 13-page work internship essays in to be marked for 20 baht each (they took 30 minutes to mark one). No one was marking them so he threatened to fire people if they didn't do what he asked. This was enough for me. No contract, no overtime and threats equals no teacher.
Many schools in Phuket operate with a factory worker mentality and it is obvious as they are constantly advertising for teachers. I find it hard to believe that a so-called prestigious university operates without following basic Thai labor laws or MOE standards. This was a very costly lesson for me and I hope no one makes the same mistake.
Derrick the trusting fool
African Americans in Thailand
I am an African American woman. I traveled in Thailand and throughout Asia in the early nineties and will be returning to Thailand this month to consider retirement there. I did not teach in Thailand, but I did for many years in Japan and for about six months in Taiwan.
I had lovely experiences and no shortage of employment at all levels at any time. Within two days of my clueless and broke arrival in Taiwan, I had two jobs. I'm certain it did not hurt that I am actually qualified to teach EFL, but I do not believe those hiring me were initially aware of that.
I just want to say that prejudice is everywhere and some whites who traveled before me had definitely tried to pollute the waters and some, I know for certain, actively campaigned against hiring African American teachers. It is sad that some people think the world is so small and life so mean that they have to hog what little joy there is for themselves. I did not find this to be common, but it was not rare either.
Thankfully, to me, the world is wide and full of joy and opportunity. If we want Thais and others who have little experience of African Americans to know us, then we must travel and make our own mark and not bemoan the lack or negativity thereof.
In my experience, it is easy to turn a suspicion into a phantom or a confirmation, depending on what sort of encounters people have with the unknown. I, too, have had the experience of following in the wake of an African American who was well liked and reaped the benefits. I'm sure it could work in the reverse. People are people and tend to generalize there experiences, however, all people are malleable. Thais are nothing if not innately averse to personal misconduct and there is your 'in'; just be normally civil, knowing a bit about their ideas of civility of course, and I believe you should be able to do just fine. I believe it so strongly that I am considering making my life there!
Good luck to all the beautiful young ambassadors of light of whatever color who travel and in doing so, expand their own minds and the minds of others.
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