Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved back to Hamburg, Germany just a couple of months ago.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I worked through an agency at a government school in Phuket for just over two years.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I think for those of us teachers in the 35-50K bracket, the future has become too uncertain in Thailand (and I guess it's the same for many TEFLers around the world) At my school, we would go online because of a Covid outbreak and then return to school only for there to be another outbreak and have to go online again. This sometimes led to arguments over teaching hours and salary between school and agent with the poor teacher caught in the middle. Frankly, I got tired of the whole situation and I can't see an end to it (certainly not this year) Thailand says it is willing to live with Covid but I'm not so sure. I wasn't willing to stick around and find out. I thought about having a go at teaching in China, but the situation feels like it is the same over there.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
I've hooked up with an old friend and he offered me some casual building work just to keep some money coming in but eventually I will hopefully go back to my old career in human resources. Europe is suffering from another wave of Covid so I can't comment on the advantages of working here because so may businesses are not operating. Ask me again in six months time!
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
The usual stuff like the food and the freedom to do what I wanted on any given day. I miss zipping around on my motorcycle and enjoying the countryside and I also miss the good Thai friends I made. Most of all I miss the foreign teaching colleagues. I met and partied with some amazing characters during my time at school, from the teacher who came into work still visibly drunk from the night before to the teacher who had to flit from town to town to avoid his wife's crazy ex-husband. Everyone seemed to have their own great story to tell! If you made a movie about foreign teachers in Thailand, no one would believe the script and say it was all too far-fetched.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand?
Oh definitely! If you go there with the right attitude, you'll have an incredible time. But there is no future in it if you are at the lower end of the pay scale and right now, things are just too uncertain with the Covid situation.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
In a completely Covid-free world, possibly.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
It's a teacher's market at the moment and I think the native English teachers v non-native teachers thing is slowly disappearing. Many schools have to take whoever they can get because it's difficult for new teachers to enter the country in the first place. I think it is much easier now for a good European English speaker to get a job compared to say five years ago and they can ask for the same salary as a native-English speaker and usually get it! If the Covid situation continues then things can only get better for non-native English speakers looking for TEFL work.