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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Learn the lingo

Learn the lingo

I hope to be teaching in Thailand this coming school year, and want to encourage Black teachers to LEARN THE LANGUAGE. Just a few words makes such a difference. I have visited Thailand twice, via Taiwan, taught in Korea for a year and have been to Japan 4 times. My experiences have been that most people from these countries don't expect foreigners to speak the native language. A basic sawat-dee (khrap/kha) and a smile has gotten me pretty far. I feel more welcome in these countries than at home in the USA! Probably because I recognize how this culture conveys racism, covertly or overtly.

Speaking of home culture, has anyone else found it funny that a lot of people in the world want to be light-skinned, but white people don't even want to be white? Asia sells skin whiteners, America has tanning booths, and beach bums working on their tans all day... My grandfather has told me plenty of army stories about how black soldiers essentially had double requirements, meaning the army only really had the cream of the crop soldiers from us, when just about any white person could be a soldier. Reading this forum, and having my experiences, I've learned that the English teaching job market in Asia is the same--we just gotta one up everyone else!

Learn some of the language. Know something about His Majesty. Smile and dress nicely, and, while it sucks that we have to take that extra step, everyone will get the point and word of mouth will do its work.


More MOE demands

It has come to my attention (from my school) that the MOE has made a decision where educators will only be able to teach in the area that their degree specifies. I would like to know the truth about this new rule.

If this is true it would mean that any degree is not enough criteria to teach English in Thailand. Educators will have to teach in the area of expertise as their degree states. Moreover, I have been informed that I must (and all the other teachers in my program) attend a training seminar that involves teaching in Thailand and whatever other blah blah blah that the MOE thinks teachers should know.

These demands do not affect me personally as I already teach in my area of expertise. What bothers me is that legitimate ESL teacher training courses offered from universities as "After degree certificates" are in fact worthless pieces of paper (CELTA included) since they are not recognized in Thailand (2000 dollars and over two-three months of study for nothing).

In my opinion, Degrees do not show full expertise--it is the transcripts that show the major and minor concentrations of the degrees quite specifically to make things clear. If this new rule is actually true I would find it very problematic. It would, however, solve the life degree problem as their are no courses called "life" offered in Thai schools.

Morgan Rock

Leaving on a jet plane

Leaving on a jet plane

My bags are packed and I'm on my way, and I won't be back for many a day. I will never work in Thailand again. I say to all just like me get up from your bended knee and stop kowtowing to the Thai. It's time to get a decent wage for what we endure-- oh baby I'm glad to go.

I'm leaving on a jet plane-going to another land, where the air is clean and the people not mean - where the schools are eager to have you stay, and give you a package and reasonable pay. The province is cold but I don't care, the room is free and has heating and air. The salary is small, but I don't care - because I'm sick of the government here. Treating us bad, and enjoying it so.

The teachers are so lazy, I could scream.
I earned my degree and don't show off , and worked for years for what I have got - did not cheat and yes - I could have failed.
The students here have no heart-they sit in class but do not care,- and study for a test - you must be joking -
I am the best - I will not fail
I tried my hardest-- but not good enough, the arse lickers here - can beat you every time.
So stuff it - I'm on my way.

Working in this third world, is much harder than it seems. It's not the land of my dreams --There is always a problem waiting for you. The corruption is just a way of life. They complain and groan, but shut their eyes -yes another thing that I despise - they couldn't manage the toilets at Hua Lampong.
The agents don't care - suck up the schools and lowering the pay. They want the best, but pay peanuts and after you finish your two terms - the agents KINDLY give you a bonus from your salary.

I'm leaving in 3 week, writing this letter tongue in cheeck, for all the dedicated teachers who are stronger than me.
- And to all those who have no guts-well-just plod on.
The visa rules always change and give everybody such a pain - the government gets revenue - but show their contempt, and service - well that's another thing.
Continual changes are no good , our life in turmoil and misunderstood.We are strong but do not speak -- they think we are weak, but the facts are clear.

When they have problems where do they go? We are kind and give them the aid. But our charity is quickly forgotten, because the government here is truly rotten. Thailand wants their future to be good - so pay the money that you should - oh baby I'm gone. I'm leaving with no regrets, the experience I will never forget - but baby it's over.

Moans and groans

Moans and groans

I have "some" moaning and groaning to do, so I guess I'm here at the right place to do so!
Teaching in Thailand at high school level is a farce and complete bullocks. In 2 years time I taught at 6 different high schools, ranging from the rich, private school to the poor government schools. Teaching at high school could better be referred to as teaching at "hell school". I came to Thailand on 7 separate occasions, 7 consecutive years. I saw students everywhere in their cute white/black, white/blue uniforms. I saw great respect for their King and for monks and Buddism in general and I thought it would be a teachers heaven to teach such respectful and obedient people. I have some very good Thai friends and so I was so naive to think everybody was like soon as I started to teach in Bangkok, I saw that my dream became an absolute horror movie.

Children at school (high school that is) have no respect whatsoever. Don't get me wrong, not every student was bad. I had some nearly perfect classes like Mathayom 6/1, 5/1, 4/1 and these student were obedient and respectful and did what I asked them to do (doing their assignments, reading texts and so on) and it was a real pleasure to teach them, but unfortunately 90% of the classes following slash 1 (Mathayom 6/3, 5/3 whatever.....) were most of the time absolute hell. Especially the Mathayom 3, 4 slash 4,5 where pure hell.

My biggest frustrations at school:
- classes ranging from 30 up to 50 students in one class (impossible to handle and to teach)
- Thai substitute teachers sometimes present, sitting in the corner of the class, who were
supposed to help keeping order, doing nothing, just hang behind their desks without interfering
- fighting, phoning (with their mobile phones), playing music on their mobile phones, playing soccer
in the class room etc., you name it, I have seen and experienced all of it
- people enter the classroom far too late and start to create chaos among the others
- complete and utter disrespect in some classes because they think you are a farang, a white
monkey (this was said to me in my face on several occasions)

At all schools I had no right to straighten them out. There are no rules whatsoever. Yes, I went to the head of department and the director on many different occasions and they came with me to the classroom and then after some "harsh talks" with the students, they were quiet for 5 minutes and then everything started again. I had classes full of wannabe pop stars, checking their faces and their Korean/Japanese soap-styled-hairdo's in their little pocket mirrors every single moment, just sitting there chewing gum and laughing about me. I had some very hard confrontations with them, telling them that they could laugh about me and disrespect me but at the end of the day I would still make my money and that is far more than they will ever make at the 7-eleven when they leave school.

Wise ass little shit-heads everywhere. They leave their books at home on purpose and just sit there wasting their time while chewing gum and completely disrespecting you. I had a Thai teacher, she was one of the English teachers that taught them 3 hours a week, and this woman always came to my worst classes, just to have a "peek". These classes were absolutely disastrous, no books, no understanding whatsoever of the English language, you name it.....

She used to come to my class and ask me: "what are you going to teach them today?". I said to her:" they didn't bring their books again, like every day and they don't understand a word of English, so I can not read with them and practise pronunciation, so there's nothing much I can do". So she used to react a little pissed at me every time and so one day she started to get on my nerves and I told her:"Why is it, that these children have no understanding whatsoever of the English language while you, a Thai teacher who speaks Thai perfectly and also English perfectly teaches them 3 hours a week?".
"If I would be able to speak Thai perfectly like you do and had the ability to explain them every single word, I bet your ass they would speak English quite well within a year". Yeh, bingo, she silenced....but didn't like what I said. Yes, and I didn't like it, this same questioning routine several times a week while they don't handle any set of rules to straighten these children out who are unwilling to learn.

Yes, nice line-up every morning at 8. Nice pep talk every morning at 8, but nobody gives a shit.
I see 60 year old teachers who are working for the same school for more than 20/30 years and they don't have the energy anymore to do anything to improve the situation. At one school some Thai teachers told me in my first week that my next 2 hours that day would be absolute hell and that no teacher could handle them, but that day I handled them perfectly, but every hour is a struggle, a war of words and mimic, a complete and utter headache crash course.

The list of what is wrong in the educational system in Thailand is endless and this is due to the system, the parents and the teachers.
The system: at most schools were I was there were no exams! People just pass to the next year. No pressure, no study, no nothing.
The parents: they don't give a shit and lack any substantial knowledge whatsoever to motivate and educate or force their children to study. School is just a building where you drop your pain-in-the-ass children and have some hours of peace and quiet. Later in the evening? Let's watch some soaps: evening long, brainless entertainment with beautiful-bad-acting-screaming-white-skin models (in whatever word order you want...).

After school they eat and then most of the children disappear again in the soi and go to the game-shops and play computer games till midnight or after, nobody gives a shit.

The teachers: most Thai teachers don't care anymore, they just make a living and get their money anyway. Almost every farang teacher that I know does the same (and I know at least 30 in Bangkok). They tell me:"what the f*ck do you get angry about? The are just monkeys......take your money at the end of the month and just don't care about them! That's Thailand! It's a joke!

At the expensive private high schools they don't do much also, otherwise Hi-so daddy will take his child from school and put them somewhere else and teaching is big business in Bangkok, for the schools that is! Rich parents pay a lot to see their children off at some Hi-so school where the real native English speaking "monkey" teaches and where you have "English summer camps". They all want "the real deal" to teach their children English.

My list is endless. And also this "native English teacher" bullshit. The Thai still thinks that everyone coming from a native English speaking country is top and anyone else, non-native speaker is not good enough. What a big laugh! It's such a farce! I had a conversation with a guy from Manchester the other day and the day after with an Irish guy and don't forget the Cockney accent or Aussie..... God help us! Even I could hardly understand them!

There are native English speaking teachers around for more than 20 years and what is the level of English till now among the common Thai? Zero and non-existing! Only some rich Thai people who have the money to go to some of the better schools, or the ones who can afford to go abroad, are able to speak English to a certain extend.And yes....all these little hustlers in the tourist areas like Khaosan and Silom/Sukhumvit, bar girls and such, they know to a certain extend to "use" the English language, standing or horizontal. It's one big joke and unfortunately a sad one.

I see teachers getting hired and getting paid 40/50.000 Baht a month, who have absolutely no good knowledge to be at these positions. But just because they are "handsome" and/or know the right people, schools and universities offer them a job (even ask them to marry their daughters...).

Why do I get angry? I came because I like Thai people, I came to help them, no problem if I have to stay longer to teach them as long as they are eager and willing to learn, I will stay, even though it's my own time, nothing paid, I don't care.
I am a real teacher..

Jeff V

Why not accept life degrees?

Why not accept life degrees?

I have read the FAQ section and have seen the information on the life experience university degrees people have posted.
I agree with you that using the life experience degree for the purpose of proving your skill to get a higher paid position is pretty pointless, as a potential employer will check where the degree came from and know this is not a degree earned by spending time in education. They are a con and useless as you say, but useless depends on the purpose.

My friend now teaches in Vietnam and used a fake degree while previously working in Thailand but recently decided to move on. Vietnam also has the same requirement for a university degree but they are a lot stricter with checking degrees than Thailand so no fakes. He applied for a life time bachelor degree in teaching English and gained his VISA successfully by using this degree. It was his experience and professionalism that counted for the school, not the degree technicality.

Although the life time degree is useless none the less it does provide you with a bachelor's degree. As long as you are only using the degree to get through the technicality of the requirement to possess a degree to gain a work permit it has its uses. It is especially useful if you want to teach English legally in Thailand but don't already have a degree or the time and money to spend 3-4 years studying to obtain a degree.

Ok so someone with a proper degree rightly deserves the better higher paid jobs, however there are many lower paying schools that only ask for a degree as a technicality to process Visa's even though they are not bothered whether or not you posses a degree so long as you have a TEFL. This would especially be true of schools that point you in the direction of Koh San for your degree. Possessing one of these life degrees at a bachelor's degree level at least makes the schools daunting job of making their teacher legal easier for them.

So people with degrees gained by going to Uni can carry on taking the higher paid jobs and people with the lifetime degrees can replace the fake degree with their real life bachelors degree. Besides as I said at the beginning, if you went for a job where the employer really does require you have a degree whereby you actually attended uni they are not going to hire you if you have a lifetime degree after they have run checks.

Possessing a life degree won't get you a better paid job but it will legally get you a work permit and teaching license for the places that would otherwise allow you to supply fake degree credentials. Possessing one of these degrees to gain a work permit also means the teacher does not potentially run the risk of being thrown in a Thai jail for 10 years on a fraud charge for possessing fakes and the school does not run the risk of being caught out accepting fake degrees. The life degree is fully checkable, accredited world wide and also provides transcripts.

Is it cheating? Some people may feel this way, but read through this website and there are many posts supporting the fact possessing a university degree does not make you a better or worse teacher than the next teacher, it's down to proving yourself as an individual in the classroom. Many people feel it is a crappy law requiring a university degree to obtain a teachers license anyway.

James D

Another moaner and groaner

Another moaner and groaner

I guess I come under the “moaner and groaner” category. After living here in Thailand for almost two years it has appeared to me that there is something wrong with a society and culture that it is not only accepted, but family’s actually encourage their male children to be ladyboys (gay), and everyone that knows them are proud of them for being so. There is also something wrong with a society that it is ok to drive one the wrong side of the road. So much so that the police even do it. Something’s wrong when people do not even look to see if anyone’s coming when they enter traffic and when you blow the horn, they look at you like YOU were the one in the wrong. Busses, taxis, and others do not mind if the run you off the road as long as they can get ahead of you. Why is it so important to a Thai to be first in everything? If you stop at a traffic light and you are the first one there, you can bet there will be five or more motorcycles that will get in front of you. If you are in a line anywhere, someone is going to try and get in front of you. It doesn’t matter if there is no room to pass, they will just push their way through.

Something’s wrong when a culture and society puts religion above anything else, builds elaborate houses for ghosts to sleep in and puts food and drink out everyday for them to consume. Don’t they ever wonder why the food and drink is never consumed? Hello! They will take food from their children’s mouth and give to a Monk or the Temple. Fully support the Monks who do not work. Yet, they have mobile phones, travel constantly, have money and food when they need it and many have girlfriends and children that they do not support and give them whisky and cigarettes A culture where it is ok to commit bigamy and the ones that do often brag and boast about it. A culture where a business does not ever say thank you even in their language and doesn’t really care if you come back. A culture that it is normal to be arrogant and just plain rude. A culture where it is normal to interrupt someone’s conversation because they want to say something and do not want to wait until you are finished.

Something’s wrong when people only think about themselves and have no concern for their fellow human beings and worst yet is, they teach their children to be that way. And, all this is accepted. I am sure there are exceptions to my observations but they are certainly not the rule.

Ralph Sasser

Don't forget Mr Wunder-ful

Don't forget Mr Wunder-ful

I read the hilarious articles "who do I work with" and laughed. But, you left one kind of teacher (I use the term loosely), out. We have another kind in my school. Mr. Wunder-ful

He's the one that secures a job over the Internet, promises to be here on a certain date and comes a month later claiming he had some problems leaving his other job. He arrives in Thailand fresh off the turnip truck with 500 baht in his pocket. Contacts his supervisor, checks in to a seedy hotel and spouts about he WAS an pilot trainer for a major airlines in the west. he has no pilot license because he wasn't required to have one, and a two year Junior College degree in flower arranging. He borrows enough money from the school to get him by until payday, (or was supposed to get him by), that didn't happen and borrows more money from his supervisor and anyone else that will loan it to him. He realizes he needs a place to stay, so he elicits help from the school to find him one. Walla, he finds a house. Oh! Did I forget to mention he gets his supervisor to put up the deposit? Shame on me. He moves in and again realizes he needs everything for a house, so he, turns on the charm to his neighbors and gets enough furniture (to get him by until payday).

He elicits help in doing his laundry , again from a neighbor on the "when I get paid" payment plan. He is a instantly a teacher assigned to teach Kindergarten. Never mind that he has never had any children, nor ever been around any, he'll learn. He realizes the first day, he is not a teacher, so he turns on the charm and gets his supervisor interested in him. She helps him teach the little darlings. Realizing he needs a way to get around town, he turns on the charm again and gets his supervisor to pick him up and take him where he needs to go everyday. He is also assigned to teach second grade. Again, he elicits his supervisor to help him teach because he doesn't have a clue what to do.

Payday finally comes and he can't afford to eat, so yep, you guessed it, gets his neighbors and anyone else he can to feed him. He goes all out with his charm and has the unsuspecting Thai teachers bring him food everyday because he spent all his money on getting set up in his new home. All is well now, but he doesn't have any furniture for his new home. He's "in love" with his supervisor, so she buys him furniture. He's on a roll now. His cousin comes to visit and she doesn't have a bed to sleep in, so again, you guessed it, the one he's "in love" with buys her a bed and a TV to watch while she is here. He doesn't need a motosi or a car because his supervisor takes him everywhere he needs to go and of course he doesn't have to pay any gas or repair bills.

Ralph Sasser

Don't sweat the small stuff

Don't sweat the small stuff

I read with interest Dave's and Julia's articles. I too, had many concerns when I decided to leave my home country, the United States. I went to Iraq for three years and worked. During that time I would visit "home" about two times a year. When I finally had enough of the problems in Iraq, I returned to my "home". Except, home wasn't home anymore. Sure, the buildings were still there and there were more every time I visited, but the people that attracted me there 37 years ago, had changed. I realized I didn't hardly know anyone. I felt like I was a stranger in the town I grew to love and made my home in. I guess it is human nature to want to be around familiar surroundings. In my case, something was missing.

I had been to Thailand many times on vacation and met several people that later became close friends. So, being at "home" wondering what the next chapter in my life was going to be, I decided that "home" isn't about familiar surroundings. It's about where you are the most happiest. So, I decided to sell the building I called "home" and all the furniture and move to Thailand. I had heard horror stories about securing a job before I arrived, but being some what of a rebel and not taking any one's advice, I secured a job over the Internet. No contract, just an email telling me I had a job when I arrived, the details, and a contact phone number. I had never heard of the city I received the job offer from, so a friend met me at the airport and assisted me in getting to Suphanburi.

After checking in a hotel, I called my contact number and in 10 minutes, I had my supervisor picking me up. I was shown the town and all places I might need to go, IE; Tesco Lotus, my school, etc. My supervisor assisted me in getting settled in every way possible. She even arranged a tuk-tuk to pick me up every day, take me to school, and home in the afternoon. Later, she assisted me in getting an house and moving in, finding a house keeper, buying furniture, etc.
I have been at the same school for two years. There is a lot of things I do not like, but the things I do like far out weigh the things I don't like.
So, to Dave and Julia I would say, you only live once, so take the chance and enjoy the ride. Hopefully they will have the same good fortune I had.

Ralph Sasser

Not all about the money

Not all about the money

Sometimes it's not the exotic location or the money that attracts teachers (me for one), but rather how a person is treated and if they are happy where they are. Add in the impossible demands at times and it is clear why the hotel didn't get any resumes. I do fully agree with you about the Philipas taking the jobs. The standard rate is 30,000 baht a month for most places. I don't know about you or the readers, but I find it hard to live on that amount. I do not drink or go to bars, nor do I have a night life.

I do however, live comfortable with my wife and son and every month it is a struggle to make it until the next payday. I hope that just maybe the schools will realize the pay is too low and do something about it. The Thai teachers in my school make 10,000 a month and live on that, but the way the Thai's live, they can. For a farang to live even similar to the way we did in our home countries, it is very hard.

After going through the work permit, teacher license, and visa fiasco, it seems like the Thai government makes it very difficult for a person to leave their home country and want to come here to work. I know, many say, "you can always go home". That is true and I am sure many do and will continue to as long as the conditions I mentioned aren't addressed.


You lucky so and so

You lucky so and so

Don, you are a lucky so and so. Any vacancies at your university? I get B25, 000 per month for twenty three classes. This is pretty much the norm in Chiang Mai. My original posting was aimed at teachers in Chiang Mai, not all of Thailand. From Long Term Ajarn Expat’s last posing we can see that you have a salary in excess of B40, 000. From this we can deduce that you are probably in Bangkok. Here in Chiang Mai things are a bit different: we have to manage on B25, 000. Sounds like a lot, but it soon gets swallowed up, especially when you have a family.

The costs of living here isn’t that much less than in Bangkok, I know because I’ve lived in Bangkok. The wage to cost of living ratio in Chiang Mai is the worst in Thailand. Don’t bother telling me to move; my wife wouldn’t leave her family. I wish I had you’re salary. It would mean that I wouldn’t have to borrow a couple of thousand from a Thai colleague nearly every month. She’s cool about lending me the money though as she earns more than me and doesn’t usually go short at the end of the month. Yes, that’s right, a Thai teacher earning more than me. She’s just a teacher and not a department head or director. Most of the Thai teachers who have been working here longer than five years earn more than me as they get an annual wage increase; however, I teach more classes than any of them. It seems that schools are only interested in employing those who are here short term or have a pension; obviously they want to pay as little as possible which is why there is such a huge turnover in teachers every year; nobody can afford to stay here and teach. The man with a family needs to teach evenings and weekend (every hour God sends) to make ends meet.

Some people seem intent on keeping the status quo. I prefer change and progress for the better. The recent changes in attitude by the M.O.E. pertaining to western teacher’s qualifications, has been both a change and progress for the better. Stop! I can’t bear hearing “Some teachers with PhDs in education can’t teach for toffees, but some teachers with no qualifications whatsoever are brilliant.” This is clearly an exception to the rule, if we assume the qualifications are genuine. It’s true that some people have a naturally gifted and have great presence in the classroom, but surely you can’t believe that this person would not benefit and develop into a better teacher with training.

Far too many people feel threatened by teachers with educational qualifications in excess of a TEFL certificate. I can’t imagine why as there will never be an influx of PhDs in education coming to Thailand as the salaries are insufficient to justify such a move. Ah-ha! There it is, isn’t it? No wonder you feel that salaries should stay as they are. Are you terrified of being supplanted? Or is it because you’re in Bangkok which obviously makes you far more deserving of a higher salary than the likes of a mere Chiang Mai commoner like me? I’d like to see how you’d get on with B20, 000 less per month. You’d wet yourself after five minutes.

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