Five tips to make you stand out from the crowd
If you're currently looking for a teaching position to keep you busy over the coming year, then there are plenty of great opportunities out there, but there is also a lot of competition
31 cool and awesome things about living and teaching in rural Thailand
Before we get into the list I just want to mention that everything is written in good fun. Expats and Thailand veterans will understand more than first timers. Certain sentences and parts reflect my own specific experience more so than the general one. Some of it might come across as sappy, but I've had a very positive experience in Thailand and the glass is half full for me.
How is it caused and how can you avoid it?
"I'm a new teacher about to start work in Thailand and this will be my first full-time teaching gig. I often see more experienced teachers refer to 'teacher burnout'. Just out of interest, what are some of the things that contribute to such a condition?
What are the pros and cons of each?
I have broken down ESL teachers into five general categories. These categories are only for native English speaking individuals coming from fairly wealthy societies; obviously the perspectives and other opportunities for educators from different locations will be quite different
Tales from an academic director / recruiter
I was a lead teacher, academic director and recruiter for a private Thai language school with several branches. I did this job for well over a decade and as you would expect - there's a story or two.
One teacher's account of being popular with students and getting fired
I found out later after talking with other teachers, that there were two teachers that didn’t like us and they were both on the “committee” The director couldn’t go against the committee because she would lose face.
From gaining work experience to opportunities to travel
Most countries have lots to offer but one of the best places to teach English abroad is definitely Thailand. Here are plenty of reasons why.
Which one are you?
I’ve taught in Asia since 2007. During that time I’ve encountered a whole spectrum of characters in a wide variety of roles. I’ve taught online, in language centers, in government schools, in international schools and even as a private tutor. I’ve seen it all.
A review of 'Goal-Driven Lesson Planning' by Marnie Reed
Don’t expect chapter after chapter describing the ins and outs of constructing the correct or “best” type of lesson plan. While reading this book will surely enhance the written plans you complete, you’re sure to get much more than that from its pages
Can you spare some time to help fellow teachers?
Whether you fancy putting yourself up for a hot seat interview, airing your views in the ajarn postbox, telling us about where you live in a region guide or spending a few moments over a great escape survey, we would really love to have your contributions.
How to find a place you can call home
If you're searching for an apartment in Bangkok - or anywhere else in Thailand for that matter - know exactly what to look out for and what questions to ask when you go apartment hunting.
Why applying for jobs in Thailand by e-mail can be such a minefield
The harsh reality is that if you are not currently living in Thailand, the vast majority of schools simply won't be interested in you.
Where is the best place to do a TEFL course - Thailand or your own country?
A good question that occasionally pops up on social media is “should I take a TEFL course in Thailand or in my home country (USA, England, etc)? I’ve noticed that the question never really gets a decent answer, so I turned to a dozen or so of Thailand’s TEFL course providers and asked them for their input.
Will you be living well - or simply surviving?
Is it possible to live in Bangkok on a 30,000 baht teacher salary? OK, let's really drill down those numbers.
A simple question that led to a most unbelievable runaround
I got an interview for a science teacher position here in Thailand. The owner of the education employment agency started by asking me how long I plan to stay in Thailand. I said, "A long time because I like Thailand." He asked me what I like about Thailand. I said, "What's to not like about Thailand?"
What did the teachers on Ajarn social media have to say on the matter?
I am a 60-year old British man, living in Nonthaburi, and just about to retire from working for a large company in Thailand. I have thought about taking up teaching English but I don't have a bachelor's degree.
Considerations for first-time teachers
Teaching agencies can provide valuable support, but they can also result in lower salaries and poorer working conditions. What are some of the key aspects to assess when considering using a teaching agency in Thailand?
Should a teacher be allowed to leave the school premises when they don't have lessons to teach?
The school wants me to remain on-site from Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to about 4.30 pm. This doesn't sound very fair to me. I'm only making 35,000 baht a month and my downtime would perhaps give me the opportunity to go out and earn some extra money.
Is there a definitive answer to this incredibly common question?
I wish I could look at the main scenarios, the reasons teachers ask if they will find work in Thailand, and give everyone a straight "yes, you will" or "no, you won't" answer. But unfortunately it's nowhere near that straightforward.
Why learning Thai has helped me so much in the classroom
My philosophy on spoken communication has always been that perfect grammar, extensive vocabulary and intimate knowledge of tenses are all totally worthless if the listener cannot understand the words that are coming out of your mouth.
Angels from the planet Xerox or Satan's snitch?
They are as much a part of a teaching package as subsidized health insurance, the occasional sports day and possible unpaid test-marking. We want to hear about yours. When asked to make photocopies does she say "coming right up oh great white-skinned one" or does she beat a path to the dean's door to remind him that slavery has been abolished?
What things are most important to you?
For some people it would be a good selection of restaurants, for others it might be a movie theater or perhaps a park or a choice of well-stocked supermarkets. What's most important for you when selecting a Bangkok neighborhood?
Is the low salary for TEFL work acceptable?
Having the opportunity to come to Thailand to teach English because of being a native speaker of English does not come with any specific entitlements. Teachers need to learn and accept this.
Do you approach those extra responsiblities with commendable gusto?
For those readers who have spent their teaching career cooped up in private language schools, gate duty is when a foreign teacher at say a government or Thai secondary school is told to stand in front of the school building – usually in the morning or at the end of the school day - and look like an asset to the institution.
Having an interview on Skype is nothing to fear if you are well-prepared
Skype is now used by many companies as part of their recruitment drive. If you are faced with the 'ordeal' of a Skype interview for a teaching position, what can you do to improve your chances of performing well and landing the job?
Tips for getting a teaching job in Thailand.
Thinking of interviewing for teaching jobs? What's the best way to go about it? What are the questions to ask at an interview and what kind of answers should you be looking for?
Not all the stories are bad
Recruiters aren't for everyone but they can play an invaluable part in your next ESL job search whether this is your first time teaching abroad or you're just looking to simplify the job search.
Thought you would enjoy reading something positive
Life offers many twists and opportunities to those with an open mind; and after an amicable divorce from my wife and selling my house and possessions, I hit the road with a small backpack for company. After three years on the road I stumbled into Thailand.
Should the serious TEFLers be preparing themselves for change?
If the population of foreign EFL teachers doesn't want to be treated as a cheap commodity by Thailand's education system, the one sure-fire way to stand a chance is first and foremost don't be a cheap commodity.
Useful in everyday situations but what about in the school environment?
A knowledge of spoken Thai is always going to be invaluable, but how about speaking Thai in the classroom and within the school environment? Is it something that schools frown upon? What do some of the more experienced foreign teachers in Thailand say on the topic?
Sound advice from an interview expert
Try to think of some way to bring evidence of your skills to the interview. Take in copies of your best lesson plans to show how you’ve been professionally trained to develop a classroom strategy that makes for a highly successful lesson. It could also be used if a demo class is required.
Is it a case of too much monkeying around?
Games can reinforce what has been taught earlier in a lesson and can be used as a filler or as a reward for good work. But to expect foreign English teachers to spend the majority of their time entertaining students, especially adults, is, to me, just not right.
Can you help out and offer some advice to this teacher?
I have been in Thailand for many years and I used to teach without a degree. Over the years I worked in a variety of schools and universities. I now find myself about to finish a postgraduate degree in education but the path ahead is far from clear.
Working your way through the teacher tax minefield
It is not unusual for certain schools to under declare a teacher's salary and consequently the tax documents provided to the teacher do not always agree with amounts paid to the Revenue Department. Sometimes the Revenue Department do not even know the teacher existed.
Should teachers be entertainers?
One would think that the Thais' love of ‘sanook' would make the EFL classroom an inviting place for new EFL teachers, but the situation can be frustrating.
Creating useful content for students
I started putting videos online 10 years ago when I was teaching a group of high school students who rarely attended campus. A lot of my videos had only a handful of views until the first wave of Covid struck, at the time my number of views went through the roof and I started making a bit of money from my channel.
Tips and advice on teaching possibly the most difficult part of the IELTS test
There is an assumption in the request by your boss that if you can teach the English language, you can teach exam preparation classes. Of course, this is nonsense, yet it is a very commonly occurring learning curve that English language teachers have to climb.
Surely you can't be serious.
It's never been my intention to become best friends with any of my students but I truly believe that a good relationship and strong rapport with students is absolutely vital in order to begin being an effective teacher. If I ever expect to receive the respect of my students (which is all the time) then the obvious thing for me to do is give respect to them as early as possible.
18 points to consider carefully when choosing a school
From unpaid mid-term breaks to having to pay for white-board markers. What are the things that turn teachers off the idea of working for a particular Thai school - and are they justified?
It seems to be getting a lot of negative press at the moment
Many teachers say it just doesn't work. Many students lack suitable internet connections or parents don't have the money to buy laptops. Do students also lack the motivation to take it seriously? We asked teachers to give us their thoughts from the front line.
I couldn't believe what was going on in the classroom
I come from a society and a culture where the copying of anything in or out of a classroom is simply looked on as cheating. Not only cheating the whole idea of education but cheating oneself out of any possibility of learning, not to mention a total disrespect of the student who goes to the trouble of learning the correct answers in the first place. So I was appalled beyond measure when I saw my first example of copying in my classroom at my first school in Phuket.
They said it couldn't be done!
Much to my surprise, an English woman contacted me stating that she lived on Phuket for 20,000 baht per month. I was so intrigued, I messaged her to ask if she’d agree to an interview explaining how to live in Phuket on such a low income.
Doing it the right way!
One of the most soul-destroying things for many job applicants is to not receive replies to your emails. But are you going about things the right way? Read recruiter Chris's excellent guide on how to do it right.
It may work out for others - just not for me
It's not so much that I've had enough of Thailand, it's just teaching really. I'd say a good 90% of teachers at my school are women over the age of 50. None of them are open to change.
Which age group do Thai employers really prefer?
It’s the argument that refuses to go away. Which teacher group do Thai schools really prefer to hire and for what reasons? In this light-hearted ajarn article, older teachers and their young counterparts square up to each other over 11 rounds. Seconds out!
Avoid falling into any of these teacher traps
Ajarn has put together a list of the most common mistakes that teachers make in Thailand - both new arrivals and those who have been here a while.
Two different tales of job advertisers asking teachers for money in advance
One of the golden rules of applying for TEFL jobs is never to pay any kind of fee up front before you've even attended an interview or been offered the job. Let's look at two recent cases where one job ad turned out to be an elaborate scam and a second job ad, where the request for money was annoying but perfectly legal under Thai law!
From considering your personal qualifications to what makes you different?
How can you set your rates adequately before teaching English online, so that you can attract students and make a decent wage doing so?
When you put your resume in front of an employer, you are the product.
Whether your resume is scanned for six or sixteen seconds, you've got precious time to make an impression. Power resumes that work are effective because, as marketing brochures, they spark an interest in a particular product - you!
How is the COVID-19 situation affecting schools and teachers?
Thailand is now in the middle of the Coronavirus 'third wave' and infection numbers are not showing much sign of improvement, however, the new school term will still go ahead on June 14th
Every teacher would love their school to have a Khun Oat
Foreign teachers need someone who takes away all those red tape headaches? Do you have such a member of staff or is your place of employment generally clueless about immigration / ministry of labor procedures and are teachers left to fight for themselves?
How to make sure your demo lesson goes as smoothly as possible
Now that the busy hiring season is almost upon us, many schools will be asking potential teachers for a demo lesson. Don't panic. Let them know who the professional is.
A tongue-in-cheek look at some rather eccentric teachers
I’ve always been wary of religious types. Let me be the last man to begrudge anyone the right to have a faith but there’s a time and a place. Sunday morning in church springs instantly to mind. But if I ever saw the name ‘Jesus’ written on a lesson plan I would subconsciously file the teacher under ‘one to keep an eye on’.
Are you the serious, lecturer type or do you enjoy clowning around?
New teachers in Thailand often give plenty of thought to where they want to teach and how much money they want to make. But strangely, one question few teachers seem to ask themselves seriously is what kind of students they will be happy with.
Are you a city boy or a country bumpkin?
Ajarn.com attempts to answer that burning question - is it better to live and work as a teacher in Bangkok or out in the boonies? We've decided to divide Thailand into two sections - Bangkok and everywhere else. Even the Thais refer to every city, town and village outside the capital as 'up-country' so who are we to argue?
An ironic view of a job ad
Employment agencies in are in dire need of actors for live performances on stage. Body piercing, visible tattoos, drinking or smoking in public, or any kind of physical handicap, even if slight, will qualify the applicant.
Toning appearances down for the classroom
I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area, where meeting someone with an outlandish appearance - even a teacher - is an everyday occurrence. Stretched earlobes, nose-rings, long pink dreadlocks, within the Bay Area culture, alternative was normal.
The pros and cons of both teaching lifestyles
I am frequently asked by aspiring teachers, which is better: teaching English in a Thai school or teaching English online? The answer to that question is complicated.
Is body art affecting your job prospects?
An ajarn reader wrote in to ask for advice. "I'm clean and well-presented with a good resume. But is the tattoo that covers most of my hand going to hold me back?" Over to you.
A young teacher's perspective on teaching in Thailand
Most of the English teachers in Thailand seem to be slightly older so it’s understandable that they would view energy, positive reinforcement and affability in the EFL classroom with disdain and denial.
But actually you might enjoy teaching it?
My Thai co-teachers told me that social studies teachers in Thailand are scarce. If the school can't find a farang teacher for the job, they need to hire a Thai teacher. So what does teaching social studies involve?
How to keep your students engaged and learning during the disruptions
Many teachers have experience of teaching individual students or small groups online, but teaching regular sized classes is a whole different story. The months ahead are set to be challenging for many teachers but there are ways in which teaching online can be effective, enjoyable and successful!
Are the Filipinos getting a fair crack?
Straight-talking Australian teacher Ajarn X has written an excellent article on racial discrimination in Thailand, and also what makes the good Filipino teachers very good and the bad ones extremely bad. Not just a good read for Filipinos, but anyone who teaches in Thailand.
We don't bite. Well, a handful might I suppose.
Put simply, if the foreigner clearly knows what they're doing, can order a round of food with minimal problems and pay the right money when presented with the bill, you don't need to talk down to them.
Experiences from both Thailand and China.
The Thai teachers at my school, especially the veterans, are uncomfortable with the excitement and commotion during the lessons by the foreign teachers. They view it as an inability to control our students.
The truth about the ESL industry here for guys like me
My advice is to think long and hard before coming to Asia, especially Thailand, to work as an ESL teacher. Keep in mind that recruiters ask for your photo when you apply for the job.
When you've had quite enough of apartment living.
For those getting tired of apartment life and the world and its uncle knowing your business - then perhaps renting a house could be the answer. It's not going to be the easiest thing you've ever done - but nothing is impossible.
I gave up the classroom but still managed to stay in Thailand
Many of the people I've met along the way have asked me how I managed to study and work at the same time, or how I got such a cool job, or where to look for a job and so on.
Tips to help a new teacher get through that very first day of class
Worried about that first day of class? The following compilation of articles might offer some insight into how to approach your students for the first time, regardless of their age, numbers and gender.
Why on-line teaching makes perfect sense
Virtual teaching is not for everyone and teachers that make the transition usually have a few habits they need to restructure in order to be effective online. Still, if you're one of the many teachers looking to make a change or just earn a bit of extra money, I highly recommend giving it a try.
Does your school require you to take part in out-of-hours activities?
What is your school's approach to making teachers attend extra-curricular activities and secondly, what is your attitude towards them?'
Teachers give their opinions on a teaching in Thailand issue
If you analyze your daily life as a teacher, what do you think your school could do better - or perhaps you would like to see it do better?
Settling in as an English teacher - the journey and expenses
In my short time in Thailand I have learned so much already. The journey here has already opened me up to alternative experiences. Meeting individuals from across the globe has taught me that it is alright to be different.
A tale of failed repatriation
I wanted to just quit life in England and come back to the first TEFL gig in the sun that I found but I was torn. I was making a lot more money. I had a home and assets. On paper, my life was "sorted". But I was so unhappy,
What happens when the party is over?
How can an ESL teacher adapt to life back home or make the most of a planned visit without shrinking into a thousand-yard-stare or ponder an existential breakdown?
What to do and what not to do in the EFL classroom
Tim Cornwall offers some great tips and techniques for both experienced and inexperienced teachers alike from smiling to laying down class rules and from teacher movement to setting up activities.
I'm talking about those without as much as a TEFL or CELTA certificate
Some would say controversial words from Steve. But what is it about untrained teachers that really gets his goat?
What can you do when filling your teacher vacancies becomes impossible?
If you've been around teacher recruitment in Thailand for as long as I have, then you'll know that by insisting on too many requirements, a school is narrowing its field down to almost non-existent
How I've settled into my wonderful new life in Thailand
I have been teaching at a small kindergarten school for about three months now and have to say I’m loving every second of it. I’m really beginning to feel that I have found my vocation in life. I just wonder how long this honeymoon period will last?
Do you remember the moment?
The ink is still wet on your brand new teacher training certificate and you're suddenly faced with the prospect of standing in front of your first ever class and dishing up hearty portions of education and entertainment. We asked for your first lesson in Thailand memories. Were you as cool as a cucumber....or absolutely bricking it?
Fashion tips for the female EFL teacher
What to wear and what not to wear in the classroom. A guide for lady teachers.
Is teaching English really all there is?
Is it possible to escape the teacher trap? If you think that teaching is the only thing in Thailand that foreigners can do (apart from own a beer bar in Pattaya of course) - well here are ten stories to prove you wrong.
Recognize any of your colleagues from this list?
Nothing more than a playful poke at some of the teaching characters we've all worked with down the years.
When poor evaluation strategy and lack of communication mean one thing - the exit door
I have taught at five schools in Thailand and only ONE has let me finish the semester and given me a recommendation letter. I've had enough of this place to be honest.
A parent's guide to some of the best international schools in Bangkok
If you are in the process of trying to decide which school in Bangkok is the best choice for your child, you can certainly get a head start with this list.
What do the old hands often do wrong?
If you have been here a year or two, you have probably made or seen all the newbie mistakes. But more pitfalls await. Here is a run-through of things you should avoid
An updated overview of this fast-evolving industry
While the online teaching space might seem saturated with employers, there are really only three main players thanks to their millions in investments and their celebrity endorsements.
Ten low or no cost ideas to make your campus sticky
Most college administrators and professors here in Thailand are familiar with the student complaint: campus is boring! Some universities are trying to solve this problem using the idea of “stickiness” In fact 'the sticky campus' is now a designer phrase.
Bobo Meitei faces the perils and pitfalls of finding a teaching job
Bobo gets to grips with sliding pay scales and agents bemused by his pseudo-American appearance. Well worth a read!
Trump's dumbest idea so far
Trump's plans to put a million weapons into the American school system defies common sense and is exactly the opposite to what other countries have done to tackle the threat of mass shootings.
One teacher's TEFL journey
My first introduction the TEFL/TESOL world was an online TEFL certificate. Online was chosen because I was working on a cruise ship and obviously couldn't attend physical classes. I then finished the cruise ship work and wanted to live and work in Asia.
Taking care of 30 lively kids at a Chumphon orphanage
A lovely Thai couple, P'Nui (Mama) and P'Nong (Papa), run the orphanage. They were exceptional Thais not only because they were Christians, but also because they were so warm and friendly. I was made part of the family straight away
When all the other teachers have a bigger package than you!
I'm a TEFLer in a PGCE world. I'm very low down the hierarchy and I know it. I get it and I understand it, but it is not just the wages that are dissimilar.
Ever thought about going it alone?
How easy is it to go the freelance route in Bangkok and make money charging students upwards of 500 baht an hour? Well, here are some of the perils and pitfalls of teaching from your home, the student's home or perhaps even in the nearest McDonalds.
Because every child matters
Today Hands feed, house and educate over 300 children, providing resources that are needed by the dedicated Thai staff to develop the kids in a loving and nurturing way. Supporting over 300 children, Hands operates on a principal of ensuring that every dollar donated goes directly to the children.
How online comments can be influenced by differing mindsets
Thais are more likely to believe bad luck and evil spirits are the cause of accidents. If the victims survived, Thai people are likely to give credit to the victims' luck, merit, or amulet. Why is this?
Some of these students have had over 2,000 hours of English.
Considering that English has been the international language of tourism and commerce for I don't know how many decades now, and there are I don't know how many thousands of English teachers all over the country, why is the general level of English so poor?
And all for the love of a good woman
With just over a month left in Thailand, having sold my motorbike and soon to be leaving my apartment, I met the new love of my life, which suddenly threw a spanner into the works. On our last day, we went to all our favourite places before sharing a tearful goodbye at the airport.
What level of English do employers need?
Are there English language skills gaps? Do employees with a higher level of English receive enhanced benefits? How do different countries and industries compare?
What can happen when your director of studies is a clueless foreigner
I've worked under four foreigners. The first one was fantastic. A fully qualified teacher with his own business who really wanted to be the best. The thing I liked the most about him was his honesty. The next three were just terrible people.
The strain of living miles away from ailing parents and loved ones
Listening to family members tell you about their serious health worries never ever makes for a pleasant telephone conversation and I'll admit to putting down the phone on such occasions and becoming a little emotional. You can offer all the support you can over the phone or even via Sype webcam but nothing ever beats being there with them in person.
Blending Thai and foreign curricula
The Thai Basic Curriculum (TBC) for Foreign Languages of 2008 (BE 2551): If you are a foreign teacher at a government school or an English Program school in Thailand you will have to deal with it at some point.
The problems with working for a great school but a poor agency
John loves the school that he works at but there are storm clouds brewing. He feels that the teacher placement agency might be in danger of losing the contract but he is 'legally bound' not to work directly for the school. John sees his long-term future in Thailand but doesn't want to continue with all this uncertainty. What would you do in his situation?
Twelve months at a Thai government school
Today I am celebrating my first year of teaching at a government school in rural Thailand. I thought I'd share some of the interesting idiosyncrasies within the school where I currently work.
My humble tribute to a Great King and Leader.
It is impossible to describe how much Thai people love His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej because there is nothing else to compare it to. I can't think of another country that has loved a King, Leader or person so unanimously and unconditionally.
Dress for success!
If you're thinking of coming to teach in Thailand then don't leave home without reading our indispensable guide to cutting a dash in the classroom. How many neckties do I need? Will the pony-tail have to go? From the moment you walk in the room, you'll be turning heads and not stomachs. On no, not all five Spice Girls please!!!!
English teachers in Thailand actually don't do that badly
I am not trying to claim this is any type of scientific research with a high level of reliability or validity, just a quick check to get a basic idea about whether or not ESL teachers in Thailand are underpaid and exploited.
Are you prepared for the unhealthier times?
As the old saying goes - don't leave home without it! Not your health insurance card anyway.
My first semester at a Thai government school
I've now worked at a rural government school for a whole semester. I thought I might share with you my account so far, with some practical advice that may help ease your transition to teaching in Thailand.
My vote and support goes to the Thai English teachers
Now, I work hard and go beyond what is required of me every day. But it's no sacrifice. I like doing it. I'm no hero. In fact, if I want to, I can quit and bugger off home at any time.
The process can seem complex - but it CAN be done
A detailed description and step-by-step guide to what you need to do if you want to apply for an unsecured credit card in Thailand.
An interesting Thai homestay / work exchange
Peetim's ESL homestay offers volunteers lodging, food, laundry, transportation, and Thai culture in exchange for teaching English in her government and private schools.
Every picture tells a story
To help with adjusting to life as a classroom teacher, here are 10 great memes to expose some classroom realities.
What's not to love about it!
After a couple years living in a country where the average daytime temperature is around 32C, you start to celebrate when temperatures finally start to cool.
My first six months at a Thai government school
Over a typical week I see four hundred or more students, across Mathayom levels one to six, aged twelve to eighteen. Class sizes range from twenty to thirty students.
Getting a teaching job in rural Thailand
I'd always had a dream to teach in Thailand. I'm a fully qualified teacher with nearly twenty years teaching experience. So why not? Life's too short right?
Sand Dust: Part Two
I am happy to announce that I am back living in Thailand. I arrived here in mid-June after completing my last work contract renewal in Saudi Arabia.
Computer coding is going to become an essential skill for all students
Simply learning how to use popular software applications is no longer enough for today's students. Other countries are waking up to this reality and education departments have reformed their computer studies curriculum to introduce students to the basic principles of computer science from an early age.
Have you got what it takes to be a teacher in Thailand?
Why should women's magazines have all the fun? Try our ten questions and find out if you're cut out to be a teacher in Thailand.
Facing challenges as a black teacher in Thailand
For the sensitive minded people who live in utter oblivion about skin color, this is probably not the article for you. But this is the cold hard truth.
Schools all over Thailand are spooking it up today
Schools even have a legitimate excuse for celebrating Halloween, because it is covered in the Thai MoE's foreign language curriculum - ‘students should be aware of foreign cultures and festivals.'
Does racism exist in The Land of Smiles?
Over the years, ajarn.com has asked the question 'do black teachers have a harder time finding work in Thailand?' Racism? Xenophobia? Fear of the unfamiliar? These have been some of the responses from various teachers.
How to get the best from your ajarn on-line resume
If schools want to contact you about a vacant position and the e-mail bounces back, the teacher hirers won't make a note of it and contact you on another day. They'll move on to the next person and you'll be forgotten.
What does Burma's former capital have in store for the traveler?
If the country's economy were to develop and the powers-that-be decided to prioritise restoration, then the city could be the most beautiful in Southeast Asia
Isn't Thailand's penchant for the inappropriate part of its appeal?
Much of what is often dismissed as over-sensitive, politically correct, namby-pampy pandering comes from a good place. Words are weapons
Our survey said.........
To get an idea of exactly what teachers love and loathe about life in Thailand, we conducted a brief survey and with foreign teachers based in Chiang Mai.
What happens when you leave for the big bucks.
Thailand had run its course for me. I enjoyed it for years but the shine eventually wore off. I plan to return for a visit here and there. You just don't live in a place for 10 years and forget it.
An American teacher takes up a position in Saudi Arabia
It is because of our children that six months ago I started to look for new employment, as Thailand is still a country of poor people and wages are not very high. A single individual earning my salary would have been relatively well off, but now I support my wife and kids and bills would pile up and we would be living from paycheck to paycheck.
How monitoring a student's nutrition can make all the difference
By keeping the importance of good nutrition on the agenda, teachers can make a difference. But be a good role model to your students before requesting their participation in eating healthy.
A playful look at this sometimes crazy industry
Have we come up with the ultimate A to Z of teaching TEFL in Thailand. I'm sure you could add a few more.
Teachers give their opinions on something related to teaching in Thailand
This month's burning question is what kind of state will the 'teaching in Thailand' industry be in five years from now?
The positives of owning your own four wheels.
My life is much fuller and more varied since I purchased the car. I do more. I go to more interesting places. I don't waste time waiting for public transportation - and I feel safer in traffic.
Why too much choice is not always a good thing
There's no reason why ajarn.com should have a monopoly on TEFL job ads in Thailand and I actually think that competition is healthy in many ways. But this is what happens when job sites steal ads from another job site.
Why not take up watching Thai football?
The Thai football season returns on 14th February, and for many it is a chance to rekindle their love with the beautiful game. Thai football is on a high, so why not get involved?
Teaching for 300 baht an hour as the rest of the world enjoys itself
They are the shopping mall English teachers - gliding like pale, undernourished phantoms amid the hordes of weekend Thai shoppers. The main reason I empathize with the shopping mall teacher is because I was once one myself. I know how desperate and soul-destroying it can be.
Is teaching in Thailand a young man's game?
These are older teachers who have made their life in Thailand, perhaps even got married and raised children, and are now contemplating the unthinkable. Leaving the home they love. For many it’s either a case of seeking out pastures new or returning home to a country they left behind a long time ago.
What to teach and how to find students
We advocate flipping the traditional approach on its head. First, decide what you're going to teach and then find students to teach this to. And to ensure high rates of pay, what you should teach is something highly specialised.
It's been one amazing experience
I have lived and worked in Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and had the opportunity to travel throughout South East Asia during holidays. You can read more about the types of experiences you will encounter abroad in my latest novel.
Teachers can now find students all over the world - without leaving home
I'm an online English teacher, part of a booming sector of "edupreneurs" - teachers working for themselves, combining their skills and knowledge with technology, to create their own business.
From an education and news point of view
For foreign teachers working in Thailand, the coup had a number of knock-on effects which started with a couple of days off school as educational institutions were temporarily shut down to silence protests from educators and university students.
Teachers give their opinions on a couple of teaching in Thailand questions
This month's burning questions are a) Does a period of time spent teaching English in Thailand look good on your resume if and when you return home? and b) Does knowing and speaking Thai language in the classroom come in useful?
School activities and the real business of education
It can be pretty frustrating when classes are cancelled and students go missing for activities and pre-activity preparations.
Planning on coming to Thailand to teach? Don't leave home without them.
There are now quite a number of books written to help foreigners settle into life in Thailand and claiming that within these pages is everything you need to know. Actually that might not be just an idle boast for these two recent additions to the bookshelves.
It's a shame that such a great mode of transportation isn't in better hands
By the time we rolled into Hualamphong Station (a wonderful station, for the record) two hours late we were so happy that we kind of forgot about the sleepless night and just laughed about it. And that's what I'm doing now, writing semi-seriously about some minor issues on a train in a developing country.
There's nothing like setting yourself a challenge
Recently, in search of some intellectual stimulation I decided to teach myself Latin. A teacher by trade I felt somewhat hypocritical extolling the virtues of education, knowledge and study to my pupils only to find myself night after night subjecting my mind to hours of iPad surfing and social networking. I read too, of course. But it's not really work, is it? It's not a challenge.
What are Thailand's real dangers?
The tragic deaths of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Koh Tao last month made headlines across the world. It led newspapers and tourists to wonder - 'How could these brutal murders take place on an idyllic island in the Land of Smiles?'
A teacher looks back over her ten years in Thailand
I'm celebrating my 10th year in Thailand as an ESL Teacher. Working in a foreign land hasn't been easy. It took me years and a lot of patience and hard work to get settled, not to mention the ocean of tears and heartbreaking homesickness.
Improving your long-term career prospects
A look at the tightening restrictions in the Thailand TEFL industry and getting yourself diploma certified.
Perhaps it's too easy to ignore the plight of the city's homeless?
Stroll along any sois and it is not uncommon at all to see men, wild hair unwashed, shoeless and half-naked, scavenge in overflowing bins. Drug addicts, unfortunate immigrants or just plain poor, it is hard to tell, but pitiful all the same.
Do those who don't teach English in Thailand look down on those that do?
What do expats who work in Thailand but don't teach English think of us teachers? Are we ridiculed when out of earshot or do even the high-flyers afford us maximum respect. An invitation to a business networking evening and a chance to really find out.
An extract from a new book on teaching English to Thai students
Many studies have been undertaken to determine the reasons why South East Asian students have problems learning English. I would add to the list: weakness of the curriculum design, limited school resources, class sizes, poor course design, and course-books not always being relevant to the student's own environment.
The work permit application and renewal process
Mike, a teacher in South Thailand, takes us through the process of applying for your first work permit, renewing a work permit and also applying for the relevant visas.
How one school in Chiang Mai celebrated a feast of football
The football World Cup was a great opportunity to broaden students' horizons by encouraging them to learn about people and cultures around the world. And enjoy the football of course!
Do they deserve such a bad press?
I first wrote about the topic of teacher placement agencies (TPAs) back in 2006. Back then, there were relatively few TPAs recruiting foreign teachers in Thailand compared with the number who operate today - but even in those early days, there were certainly a good few complaints about them.
Sometimes just be thankful that's as good as it gets
I'm now in my third year as an English teacher at a secondary school in Thailand. I guess you could say I'm a veteran now, though this is a job which 'veteran' doesn't mean much
The latest brainwave from NIETS
Not content with creating incomprehensible, inaccurate and often absurd examination questions for primary and secondary school students, NIETS are now planning a standardized exam for all students finishing university
Organising a social networking project for students
Wouldn't it be great if students could use some of thier social networking time to develop their English? This was the thinking behind a project I started with my Mathayom 3 students - 'A Tweet a Day'.
Second article on Thai labor law and how it applies to teachers
This article is about how the Thai labor court system works in terms of mediation, arbitration, etc, how much money you can expect to be awarded in compensation - and most importantly, how much it will cost you.
The 34th Thai TESOL Conference was recently held in Chiang Mai
Thai TESOL is a non-profit organisation that works committedly towards raising the standards of English in schools and universities across Thailand. They do this by cooperating with like-minded organizations, providing professional development, conducting research and organizing conferences.
And more importantly how it applies to teachers here
This is the first of a series of articles about the Thai labour law and the labour courts and how foreigners, especially teachers in Thailand, are affected by them. As a teacher, I have been to the Thai labour court twice and in both cases had a settlement awarded to me. I have also been to the labour court in South Africa as an employer several times. I have never lost a court case.
How to avoid becoming just another statistic
Most Thais do not have any understanding or desire to learn road safety. If you grew up in my generation you had Tufty and his gang drilling the green cross code into your brain, and those lessons never get forgotten as the years pass by.
An open letter to The National Institute of Education Testing Service
I had hoped to send this letter to you directly but I suspect your offices are besieged by angry protestors, frustrated with corruption and incompetency. So it seemed a better idea to write you an open letter. I am writing this in the hope that this year's O-NET (Ordinary National Educational Test) examinations will better assess the Mathayom 6 students than previous efforts have done.
What on earth can my wife and I do to make things happen?
So after being back in Australia for 7 months now, I'm still disappointed and can't settle here either whichever way I try. I have tried several different jobs and in my heart they don't really suit me. I guess I really just miss the Thai lifestyle I have been waiting so long for.
I thought this might be of benefit to new ajarn readers in particular
I was asked to fill in a questionnaire by my old university on the topic of teaching English in Thailand. Although it was intended to encourage applicants to take a Thai study program in Germany, the information might be useful for those teachers thinking of coming to work here in Thailand.
Students are simply just not 'taught' here
Recently I read an article that stated adults in Thailand are ranked 55th from a list of 60 countries on their English proficiency skills. From what I have seen as an English teacher working in government secondary schools over the last 10 years, I'm not surprised,
Why Thailand doesn't have to fear the future and the ASEAN community
People claim that Thailand will be 'left behind' in the coming years, but there is no evidence for this assumption. Its economy has grown considerably in recent decades, all the while with relatively low levels of English proficiency.
Major changes that will affect many teachers
Next year it's going to be a very long summer. Schools will be finishing in early March as usual but the new school year won't begin until mid-June. That's a 3-month holiday we're looking at. Great news for our students but it may be a little worrying for teachers that don't get holiday pay
Be on your guard for anyone asking for an interview fee
We removed a bogus job ad from the ajarn.com job listings today for an international school in Bangkok. The job ad had unfortunately been on-line for several days and was offering attractive salaries of 50k plus. The scammer had gone to considerable trouble and even included the name of the actual person responsible for hiring teachers at the school.
Why does it always seem to happen to us?
This happens ever year. Things are going great, the students and teachers are all settled, parents are happy, mid-term tests out of the way and then out of nowhere a local international school swoops in and poaches one of our ESL teachers. So annoying!
When a school wants to fire you, what can you do?
I had been working as a Maths teacher for just under four months at a Catholic school in Bangkok when the head teacher, who is always happy to deliver bad news in a very dramatic way, informed me that parents had complained about the homework books not being marked. This was just the beginning.
Which country comes out on top for a TEFLer?
I taught English in China for 9 years. Every day I remember something bad that happened to me on a regular basis in China that never happens to me in Thailand. Here is my opinion of the two countries if you put them up against each other - from the point of view of an English teacher of course.
A new and exciting approach to teaching
There has been much debate about exactly what a 21st century education should look like with academics producing long-winded articles packed full with migraine-inducing jargon... but not a lot of change has actually taken place in the classroom.
Some of the stranger folks I've come across during interview procedures
One applicant that I won't forget was a certain Mr G. Glitter who applied for a primary school homeroom teacher position in 2006 and claimed to 'love working with kids'. The application came complete with a picture of the glam rocker in full 1970s rock regalia
Ignore the sob stories and the doom merchants - Thailand rocks!
We've both been here about six months, have only done two visa runs, had both our employers apply for our work permits for us, have started saving money as we actually make a little more collectively than we did in South Korea - and are both loving life again. Life really couldn't be much better.
The essential guide to teaching English and living in Thailand
As they neared the end of their first year in Thailand, Michael and Sarah suddenly realized that while chatting with new arrivals, they were answering the same questions over and over again. So they began to compile a guide to help others who might want to give TEFL in Thailand a try.
All we're asking for is a reply
I feel it is just unprofessional that if someone well qualified for an advertised job takes the time to research the job and your school, then you as an employer should have the courtesy (manners) to acknowledge that application even if the applicant may not be right person for the job.
What happens when teaching in Thailand all goes horribly wrong
More stories from teachers in Thailand who have found themselves in difficult situations often through no fault of their own. Can you offer them some good advice?
Pay close attention to what you carry those textbooks in
Fashion guru, Sebastian Hawkes, joins ajarn.com to cast a critical eye over what teachers should be carrying their stuff in this coming Fall. Could it be time to ditch the backpack for something more trendy?
Where questions are thrown out to real teachers.....or just thrown out
Number one in probably a series of one. A teacher has a problem that ajarn.com just can't answer (it happens quite often to be honest) and we ask all you teachers out there to chip in with your two cents, particularly those of you who have been in the same situation. Who's been there, done that and bought the 12-piece gift set?
More worried teachers and their complex situations
More situations from teachers who plan on coming to teach English in Thailand and are looking for hard answers and stone cold facts rather than hearsay and barstool opinion.
Everyone's situation is a little different
A section of the ajarn website for those teachers looking to embark on a teaching career in Thailand and have so many questions and no real answers.
The fourth and final part of Ralph Sasser's amazing story
The third update to the story came in late 2010 when Ralph entered into a long court case (are there any other kind in Thailand?) and was left with a half-finished building. Surely things could only get better? So here we are in mid-2012. Did Ralph's house of horrors story finally have a happy ending? Read the fourth and final instalment.
Are the job ads really that bad?
A disgruntled ajarn.com reader wrote in to say that he had never seen such low quality job ads on the Thailand TEFL websites. Is he right in his assumption? And if so, what are the reasons?
Are salaries really going down?
Ajarn.com asked about thirty recruiters, language school owners, government school hirers and firers, etc for their opinions on the TEFL job market in Thailand. So then - are teacher salaries really going down?
Why the reluctance to adopt English as an official language in Thailand?
In Thailand the government has set 2012 as English Speaking Year with a goal of encouraging students to converse in English every Monday. Such policies are useful but the major leap of enacting legislation to make English an official language for Thailand is also needed
Could your teaching be inspired by this selection of cinematic greats?
Ajarn.com presents a selection of the greatest 'teacher movies' of all time and tries to figure out what you could learn from each one.
How to get the best from your students with on-line tests
The integration of internet and computers with education and English learning is something students find normal, and classrooms without some access to educational software may seem quaint. Some students may even feel they can get more ‘professional' teaching from the numerous online ELT sites if a school is behind in IT.
Making the most of your teaching time
By paying more attention to your teaching hours and your overall availability, it's possible to juggle teaching jobs around and watch your monthly earnings soar.
The flood disaster is heaping misery on numerous foreign teachers
Many teachers are unsure of when they will be able to return to work or even if they are going to get paid for the down time.
You develop a sixth sense for these online teacher scams
You need to develop a sixth sense when you run an online business that takes credit card payments. It can often be hours before a bank flags up a credit card as stolen and in those few hours, the scammer can use their credits to view teacher resumes and dupe unsuspecting victims.
All the rules and regs regarding teacher licences
Many thanks to Ajarn Forum member, Stamp, for supplying the following links to information on the complex topic of teacher licenses - and how you can teach legally in Thailand.
Getting to grips with life as a teacher in Thailand
I flew in to Bangkok and spent four amazing days and nights there. I was about to head out towards Ubon to start looking for work when I was tipped off with a potential opportunity in the Si Sa Ket province of Isaan.
Make a difference with Design for Change
You can change the lives of your students and improve the quality of life in Thailand by spending just a few hours a week organizing a Design for Change contest at your school.
What's the ideal hairstyle for a female foreign teacher?
I am coming to Thailand at the end of the year and would be grateful if you could advise me as to what's appropriate and inappropriate in terms of women's hairstyles (in relation to teaching posts).
When only a wise old head will do.
I am here to answer all those nagging ‘teacher etiquette’ questions that sometimes even your best friends and colleagues can’t or won’t answer. Please don’t be afraid to ask. With years of experience behind me, I’m hopeful that I can always come up with a solution that keeps a smile on everybody’s face and keeps the work-place harmonious. Best regards, Joyce Armitage
They say that everybody has a price
Although most of my TEFL experience has not been in Thailand, there is still a long list of things I won’t accept in a teaching job. Talk numbers and cross my palm with silver because these are the things I simply won’t do for work.
One teacher's descent into madness. Now updated for 2011
The diary is the heartbreaking four-week journal of Mr Jim Elmdon - a teacher who came to Thailand and failed miserably. Keep a box of tissues handy.
Be bold and ask your boss for a career break
Like many of you I work a regular job. For the last 8 years I've been a psychiatric nurse working for the NHS. Life is pretty good, I've never had as much job satisfaction as I do now (I'm not lying, honest!). But the lure of adventure is just too much.
What happens when teaching in Thailand all goes horribly wrong
I started this section of the ajarn website because I simply felt it was needed. Although for legal reasons, companies and individuals cannot be named or implied, and details of stories are impossible to confirm, they are stories that need to be heard. If only because they serve as a warning of what can happen here.
Are teaching agents spelling disaster for hard-working chalkies?
The main problem that teachers seem to have with agencies is the salaries on offer. Teacher agents and 30,000 baht a month salaries have suddenly become the Siamese twins of the Thailand TEFL game. They're joined at the hip.
New film highlights the stigma associated with HIV-infected orphans in Thai
Living with the Tiger focuses on two of the kids as they take an emotional journey back to the families that had once left them to die at a hospice. Some of the family members are even shocked to see that the children are still alive.
Scuba diving is something anyone can enjoy on a weekend off
Teacher and fanatical scuba diver, Andrew Stanford, discusses the best diving spots in Thailand and encourages more people to get out there and enjoy a whole new world.
An amazing new approach to teaching that really works
Do you want to be able to control a roomful of pratom one students with one simple word? ? Would you like to get 99 per cent participation from your matayom class? Do you want an easy way to engage your adult students making learning fun for them and for you?
Failing young students is simply a poor strategy
Without a doubt the ESL industry around the world is primarily a scam that is governed by unscrupulous business people that rarely have any pedagogical knowledge or academic backgrounds in the field of education
Should the most popular teacher get the largest share of the work?
The student was not happy with this arrangement and asked the manager why I could not teach her. The manager replied, 'You learn with who I choose, not who you want. And I have chosen the other teacher.'
What it's like to start your own 'Thai-style' business in Thailand
When I visited Maesod for the very first time I decided to come and live here and start a factory. I was attracted by the town's abundance of cheap teak, cheap Burmese labour and OK its beautiful girls as well.
Jorge Jo's moving account of one of the most newsworthy events in history
It’s only after six years that I’m able to deal with the pain of the injury sustained during the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 26th, 2004
An update on the perils of having your own house built in Thailand
After returning to Thailand, I found a contractor I thought was committed to building my house the way I wanted it. Finding someone to complete what had been started by another person, I knew would be difficult, but nevertheless I thought I had found the right man.
Macmillan Collocations Dictionary
I can see perhaps a very serious student of written English dipping into it if there is truly a word whose possible collocations they want to find out more about. And for any teacher with an intermediate class, they might take a word and use the collocations as a ten-minute lesson filler, but I'm struggling to see the dictionary's value beyond that.
This is all just ridiculous
I no longer teach ESL classes to Thai school students. I will never again work for another Thai boss. I now work for a Chinese man with Thai citizenship (caters to the Taiwanese test prep market) and a pair of foreigners. If you're smart and resourceful enough, there are thousands of opportunities out there
What works when it comes to marketing yourself as a private teacher?
Teaching private students in your home, or even in the local McDonalds, can be a great way to put five to ten thousand baht a month in the kitty. The problem for many teachers is how to find private students - and then how to keep them.
Alternatives to the shirt and tie combo
What can a teacher do if they are fed up with the standard 'teacher's uniform' of business shirt, necktie and trousers? Ajarn's man of style, Sebastian Hawkes, comes to the rescue with some carefully thought out suggestions. Mimi Rodgers offers her valuable opinions from a woman's perspective.
Are we witnessing the start of a new trend?
In the 90’s, there was no shame attached to being a male teacher who smoked. You were part of the fashionable majority. But times have changed. As more and more teaching jobs are asking for 'non-smokers' only, is it time to say goodbye to the foul weed?
Stories from folks that have found things they would much rather do
Here are stories from a dozen folks who resigned themselves to teaching because they mistakenly thought it was the only job they could get in Thailand. Then lo and behold, Lady Luck came a-knocking.
Stepping back into a Thai training room after three years away
A two-day seminar on the topic of ‘Executive E-mail Writing' for fifteen participants at one of the world's largest auditing companies. That's what I had been asked to deliver. Despite having plenty of experience, it was still a daunting challenge given the fact I hadn't walked into a training room to conduct a workshop or seminar in almost three years. It was time to put my trainer hat on and get back into the groove.
Man and machine in not so perfect harmony
When a group of experienced motor-cycling friends suggest hiring powerful bikes to explore the beautiful Chiang Mai region and you know full well that you've never ridden a motorbike in your life, that crazy sense of adventure takes over.
Why the Thailand TEFL watchdog site is doomed to failure
Where can a teacher go to on the internet if they want to warn other teachers about a particular school and tell others how they have to work with an insane farang-hating nun, an alcoholic academic director who spends most of the day flirting with the Thai staff and a cross-dressing senior teacher who stands up in the middle of observations and shouts "you dare to call this an English lesson"?
You can please some of the people some of the time
Recently we sent out a teachers newsletter to let people know about all ajarn's latest developments and news. Although a lot of the feedback we get is complimentary, this letter from Dave Bryant proves that it's not always a bed of roses running the ajarn.com office.
Now you see it, now you don't.
A light-hearted look at some of the things Bangkokians once took for granted but are now nothing more than a distant memory. Your contributions welcome.
How are you coping with the troubles?
Calling all teachers. How has all this civil unrest in Thailand affected you? Has it made you afraid to live here? What about those of you planning to come and work here? Have recent events put you off?
Just when you thought it was safe to walk under the scaffolding
Teacher Ralph Sasser has now returned to America. After being duped by building contractors here in Thailand, it's the only way he can save enough money to get the job finished and realize his dreams.
Is Thailand's TEFL market going to hell in a handbasket?
Job vacancies seem to be down on this time last year and we're hearing stories of some government schools slashing budgets and not being able to take on foreign teachers next term. In addition the corporate job market seems to have hit rock bottom. What do you teachers think?
Here's a well-used teacher scam that's doing the rounds.
Be careful. The world is full of teacher scams like this one. If you hear of any more then please let us know about them.
The nightmare of building your own home in Thailand
Some long-term teachers make one of the biggest decisions of their life and decide to have a house built in Thailand. But what happens when it all goes wrong? Read Ralph Sasser's nightmare story of bent lawyers, jail threats and the construction company from Hell.
What a load of bullshit!
Nothing irks me more than reading that statement and you see it all over the web wherever the topic of teaching in Thailand is discussed or promoted. It’s a statement that’s both grossly misleading and wildly inaccurate.
People's reactions on hearing that you're Thailand-bound
Leigh-Anne Hunter has found out that people fall into three distinct groups when you let them know of your ridiculous plans to move to Thailand. How do you know you'll like it if you've never been? Isn't that where the tsunami was? I guess these people mean well.
Look what I did Mom!
Take a look at what teacher Steve Salyer has done to his studio apartment in Sukhumwit 71. Let Steve be your inspiration. Now isn't it about time you paid more attention to your living environment and stopped your mother worrying so much?
Is it feast or famine?
With many teaching positions on the ajarn jobs page paying 30,000 baht a month (some even less) forum member Hollow has decided to put things to the test and record his daily spend. Many employers tell us that 30,000 baht a month is enough to live a very comfortable lifestyle - even in Bangkok. I've heard Thai people describe that kind of dough as 'luxury' Then again perhaps that's a load of old tosh. So does 30K a month enable you to lord it up right until the last day of the month or are you going to be stumbling through the final week on a diet of pot noodles and tap water? OK Hollow. Pencil? Notebook? Let's begin.
Take our fun quiz
Find out if you're the kind of teacher who any school would be proud to have as part of their team.......or perhaps why no one ever sends you a reply to your e-mail application?
How does teaching in Thailand now compare to twenty years ago?
For those of you pissing and moaning about visa runs, the immigration department, the work permit process, the unpredictability of the consulates in neighboring countries - let me tell you this - it was no better in the early 90s. In fact I'd say marginally worse.
What you will need to do or have in order to become a legal teacher
With the help of one of Bangkok's top teacher recruiters and a few contacts at the Thailand Ministry of Education and The Teacher's Council of Thailand, ajarn.com has come up with the following information regarding what will be involved if you want to teach legally in Thailand as of mid-May 2009 (the start of the next academic year)
How difficult is it to adjust to life back in the old country?
How easy or difficult is it to adapt back to a life in your native country after spending seven or eight years teaching in Thailand? Will jobs be easy to come by? Are your old friends still around, and if so, how will they react when the wanderer returns? How does it feel to suddenly find yourself thrown into a world of credit crunches, binge drinking, escalating crime rates and a world far removed from the one you left behind?
Straight from the horses's mouth
I wondered if our Thai students really had a true picture of the salaries we earn, the hardships we face, and the hoops we have to jump through? I put ten questions to a range of Thai corporate staff - male, female, single, married with kids. What do they really know? And is there any respect left for the 'ajarn farang'?
Loving parent Kirsten Jeffrey tackles the parent child issue
Kristen Jeffery came to Thailand for 18 months to teach English....with a husband and a very young daughter in tow. Kristen very kindly tells ajarn.com how her experience unfolded and needless to say, it's a must-read for anyone thinking of teaching English while caring for a young child at the same time.
These are the hilights
Here are some of the top quotes from members of various teacher discussion boards taken from over the past twelve months or so. Let's call it the best of the teacher's room
Is ajarn.com partly to blame?
No, ajarn.com isn't responsible for low teacher salaries - at least not according to Louis Minson. Louis says that not presenting a realistic picture of the overall job situation would be sweeping things under the carpet.
We asked the questions and you gave us the answers
We asked the teachers of Thailand to fill in a simple questionnaire about their jobs and their lifestyle. You answered the call in your thousands.....well, 98 of you to be exact.
What goes on in that cramped, airless little room?
For all those who have ever taught in Asia - laugh along at 'the anatomy of a teacher's room' from the water-kettle that's never full to the pot-plant that always needs watering.
There are always problems where you work
So there are 25 things wrong with your teaching job? Actually there are 25 things wrong with every teaching job - you just pray they don't all happen on the same day. As Phil explains, it's the way you handle these often 'minor inconveniences' that will make or break your time in Thailand.
Is it paradise or pants?
Few teachers know Chiang Mai better than Andy B. Although he started working there for less than 10,000 baht a month, he soon found out that displaying a degree of professionalism reaped dividends.
Give us your top ten of any Thailand TEFL-related topic
Nothing more than a bit of fun. Send us your 'list of ten' on any topic you like as long as they are in someway associated with the wonderful world of TEFL.
No degree? No teaching certificate? No experience?
All you've got is the language you learned as a baby. Is it still possible to get a job teaching English in Thailand? Ajarn.com picked eight random phone numbers from the jobs offered board and called them up. Dangerous things happen when ajarn.com's got time on its hands. (Names have been changed to avoid causing embarrassment. And there's certainly plenty of that)
Is it truly 'the teacher's graveyard'?
Someone said to me the other day that if you're too old, too unqualified, and you're sick of constant interview rejection.....there is always Nonthaburi.
Where do they go and what do they know?
Ajarn takes a look at the Bangkok underground and sky-train systems. How has the average Bangkok teacher's life improved since the systems started operating?
I lay myself prostrate at the threshold of your venerable institute
The Filipino teaching community is huge here in Thailand. But as many of them bombard recruiters inboxes with over-formal cover letters and speculative applications for jobs they are sometimes not qualified to do, ajarn.com asks the question 'can Filipinos make it easier for themselves to find jobs?'
A question that will rage forever and a day.
Ajarn.com asks just how many teachers are teaching with fake credentials. Will schools employ teachers without a degree? And does a degree even make you a better teacher? Ajarn.com also braves the sticky, sweaty Khao San Road and comes face to face with not only foreign women that have let themselves go, but the degree makers themselves. Graduate for 600 baht? Surely not.
Some brilliant answers to some frankly daft and predictable questions
We surveyed twenty-five schools and institutes that advertise regularly on the ajarn.com jobs board. Here is a selection of their answers. We fed the answers into the bat-computer and came up with an interesting combination of academic analysis and bullshit that does nothing else if not just fill up web-pages.
What it feels like to be a Thai student studying English in school
A foreign teacher contacted ajarn wanting to share a diary that one of his English program students had written. Although the student is only a youngster, the diary is a very frank account of what it's like to study at a Thai school. Top work!
The road to becoming a teacher
Bobo Metei came to Thailand as a fresh graduate on the lookout for different things. So being a young man with little money in his pocket, he decided to take up teaching.
John Quinn asks the probing questions
John Quinn, the senior TEFL trainer at SEE, spent a morning at the MOE office in Chiang Mai to try and get some answers to questions teachers have regarding employment in Thailand. John has very kindly allowed ajarn.com to put the main points of the interview on-line. Some of the answers may well surprise you.
Dave Patterson would most certainly like a word
Dave Patterson, who is a teacher at the Prince of Songkhla University in South Thailand, says it's about time Thai students took studying English seriously. And it's about time schools got serious about taking care of their students.
As a refreshing change from someone writing about their ten years of hell in a Thai prison, you might want to take a look at Bangkok Exit written by Ryan Humphreys. Ryan gives readers a humorous warts 'n' all account of his first year teaching in Thailand at Sathit Wittaya School.
A bit of info on Thailand's Rose of the North
All the information on this page is courtesy of our friends at One Stop Chiang Mai. If you see something inaccurate - complain to them.
One of my favorite ever contributions to ajarn.com
Take a look at the ajarn.com art gallery. This is the place for talented teachers to scan and send us those little masterpieces that are created while students are busy doing tests or assorted gap-fill exercises.
How do the two biggest cities in Thailand measure up?
Read a terrific account from a teacher who gave up the Chiang Mai lifestyle to go and work in the capital Bangkok. It's very much a tale of two cities - and how one dedicated teacher fared in both.
One woman's quest to find a teaching job through informal interviews
Kathy Willis from the USA contacted me to say that she was going to spend a whole week interviewing for teaching jobs in Bangkok. Yes sir, she was going to run a finger down all those banner ads on the ajarn.com homepage and hit the mean streets in search of suitable employment.
Surely you can't live on such a pitiful salary.
Numerous jobs in Thailand still pay around 25,000 baht a month. Is it really enough to live on? The fur really flies in our heated ajarn debate. So how much do you really need to earn in order to survive? A selection of teachers have their say on the whole issue of pay scales.
What the hell do you think you're looking at?
Ever had a farang teacher look you up and down on the sky-train? It could be that they want to share lesson plans or maybe they're simply wondering what you've got to be so happy about. Either way - what's happened to the expat community spirit?
Are those teachers over 45 suddenly too long in the tooth?
With one or two positions on the jobs board asking for teachers no older than 45, ajarn.com asks if this is the start of a terrifying trend and whether our middle-aged days are numbered? Is the TEFL industry about to be over-run with lantern-jawed buck studs who've barely started shaving? Your e-mails came in by the truckload but strangely no one under 45 years old had an opinion (well, only a couple). As someone who turns 42 next month, I'm already finding out the locations of reputable nursing homes. Enough of all this - I need to go again.
Is the end really nigh?
We'll send a teacher to your company two nights a week and after forty hours your employees will be gassing to each other like natives. Yeah, right. Why are so many Bangkok-based companies saying 'enough is enough' where English language training is concerned?
The ups and downs of over fifteen years 'in the game'
It's a been a long and often painful journey, but here's an account of 15 years in the Thailand TEFL business. My careers officer never once told me that it might turn out like this.
Is it sometimes too easy to get a teaching job in Thailand?
A growing number of foreign teachers (particularly male) think that it's so easy to get an English teaching job in Thailand that all you have to do on interview day is turn up. Ajarn.com looks at a common mindset behind interviewing for TEFL jobs
Is there a severe shortage of warm TEFL bodies?
Is there really a chronic teacher shortage in Thailand? As 40,000 baht a month jobs go begging, Ajarn.com asked ten teacher recruiters their opinions on why there seems to be an acute shortage of quality teachers at present. Is it really a case of accepting the first farang that sticks his or her head around the door? No individual people or specific schools are mentioned.
Five minutes of fame
The Bangkok Post ran a full-page article on the ajarn.com website as part of its Learning Post education section on 22nd February 2005.
One teacher's descent into madness
The diary is the sad and heartbreaking four-week journal of Mr Jim Elmdon - a teacher who came, saw, and failed miserably. Keep a box of tissues handy.