Submit your own Great Escape

Ajarn Robert

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to teach in South Korea in April/07 to April/08. Currently back in Thailand thinking of where to go next for a year - China, Japan or God forbid Thailand?

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I have taught in Thailand since 1999. One year in Phetchaburi, at an infamous private language school chain, and 6 years at the English Programme in Chumphon (actually a fairly normal school by Thai standards)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

There is never one main reason in Thailand. Let me see - Administrative incompetence, degrading salaries, an educational system lead by idiots that haven't the slightest idea what education is, an immigration department that assumes everyone is a Burmese drug smuggler, the chicken and the egg quandary rules between the work permit office and the immigration department, schools that are more into the money making aspects of an English programme than the academic side, having to do entrance level tests, then the school letting any idiot student in that has failed the entry level test just because Daddy's a policeman, every Thai teacher agreeing with your criticisms but non of the spineless buggers ever doing anything about it, having to wai people that wouldn't be hired to bag shit in any other country, having M 1 students that could do a better job of running the Ministry of Education or Immigration than any Thai minister could, etc, etc
If you have taught in Thailand for more than a week, you know bloody well why people leave this country.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

In Korea, they do know what education is, and they don't expect you to be the world's authority on the English language either. They do discipline children, as their parents aren't sending bribe money to the director to keep them in school, students are eager to learn English as they can see that it is useful to have. I had primary students and was able to have a conversation with grade three students, because they have shut up in class and listened and have actually learned something.

Being in a school that actually has supplies that aren't ordered as you need them. A supply room stocked with such extraordinary things such as staples, paper, pens, markers, notebooks, you know, school supplies. Printers, computers and photocopiers that all work. And students that work!

That was just from the school side, now what about getting looked after? - mainly a salary that was real, free apartment, flights, pension plan, medical and other BENEFITS!! A one stop immigration work permit office that took 5 minutes and that's it, you are done for a year and at a far cheaper cost than Thailand. A tax rate that is less than Thailand's (tax-free if you are not Canadian)a cost of living that beats Thailand (remember you don't pay rent), electricity was cheaper than Thailand, clothing is less than Thailand, foreign food was a lot less than Thailand. Did I mention not only cheaper but you are making 3 to 4 times a Thai salary.
The over-all attitude of the Education systems are: it is an honour to have you here, or the Thai it is an honour to be here BS.
In short there aren't any advantages in Thai schools, except more holidays, but considering what they pay you, you should have 2/3rds of the year off.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I am back in Thailand, because I live here, married to a Thai and most likely will die here, but work here? - maybe never again.
When I was in Korea I didn't miss anything about Thailand, except maybe the beach in the winter months, but I was back in Thailand 4 times during the year. Why? because I could afford to do it. A return flight is less than half a month's salary. Try flying anywhere on a Thai monthly wage.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Thailand doesn't deserve to have anyone work here with their attitude but some, and I must stress some of the Thai students do. The advice would have to be Korea hands down. There is no reason whatsoever to work in Thailand really. If you are going to get your hands-on working experience you may as well get paid for it. And have the opportunity to learn how to teach, instead of just strategies of how not to kill your lazy ass Thai students or their corrupt director.
Work in Korea or elsewhere and make enough money to come and enjoy Thailand, which everyone can as long as you don't work in a school here. If it isn't money you are after, then go to some poorer country in Africa. They might appreciate you more anyway.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I plan on living in Thailand for the rest of my life, (unless immigration reads this and then I'll be deported)
I do enjoy Thailand, its people, weather, and I understand the culture. Will I ever teach here again? Most likely. There are enough good Thai students that are worth saving I know. I have had a lot of very good students. Will I ever have any respect for Thai education? - most likely never, because it won't change in my lifetime. It's like if you hate fast food, you can't say that you'll never eat at McDonald's. You'd prefer not to, but if you're hungry, you're hungry.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No. I've said enough.

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