Ajarn Street

Absolute pile of sh*te

Are the job ads really that bad?

I got the following letter from Marvin in Bangkok. It's obviously written with a certain degree of frustration at the current TEFL job situation in Thailand.

I have to say the majority of the jobs coming through right now are shite. Are these people serious? 20,000 baht a month for a native English speaker!!! What is going on with this country? All the good jobs seem to be going to those with education degrees and younger people with very little experience from what I have seen. I know some teachers with eight years experience struggling to get jobs. It seems to me that they should add what is really required in this country to their job descriptions - to be young, good looking and no experience required. As long as you look good, you'll go far. I honestly think Thailand is taking the wrong route and they are going to be losing a lot of good teachers in the future.

Well. I'm never one to shy away from chipping in my two cents and commenting on an interesting viewpoint. I'm assuming first off that when Marvin says ‘the majority of the TEFL jobs coming through right now are shite" he's not just referring to the many jobs on ajarn.com, but on Thailand TEFL job sites in general.

I started by having a quick look at the 302 job ads currently displayed on ajarn.com.

The part-time stuff

31 of those jobs (roughly 10%) were for part-time, hourly paid work ranging from 200 baht to 700 baht an hour. Let's get those out of the way first if we're going to do a proper analysis of the current job market / jobs on offer and find out truly if most of the jobs are indeed........ shite.

Disturbingly, only 10 of those 31 part-time jobs pay 500 baht an hour or more. I tend to use 500 baht an hour as the yardstick because it's the absolute minimum amount of money I would be willing to get out of bed for - certainly if it's for something where say I'm going to be doing three or four hours in one day at a private language school. If it's a case of evening corporate work, then even 500 baht an hour is nowhere near enough. Believe it or not, teachers were earning 500 baht an hour for teaching company staff way back in the mid-90s. I know - I was one of them.

As for those schools still paying 200 baht an hour. Shame on you. What world are you living in? I know this is Thailand and all that but 200 baht an hour is the equivalent of four quid. That's nigh on 50% lower than the minimum hourly wage in the UK - a wage I would get for serving customers in an all-night petrol station or shoveling shit in the car-park behind Poundstretcher. But we're talking about professional teachers here right?

The waters tend to get muddied a little if it's actually a full-time job quoted at an hourly rate rather than a monthly salary. But 300 baht an hour is still on the low side I feel. Even if you were doing 20 contact hours a week (80 contact hours a month) you would only end up with 24,000 baht a month. Not a great salary at all. Certainly not one you can build any kind of future around.

The full-time stuff

Of the remaining 270 ‘full-time' job ads on ajarn.com, where presumably every teacher gets paid a monthly salary, only 40 jobs (15% of the ads) paid above 40,000 baht a month. Again, for me at least, 40,000 baht is a significant figure because I consider it the minimum salary that you need to have to have something approaching a decent lifestyle - especially if you live in Bangkok. Anything under 40,000 baht a month - when you weigh up accommodation costs, laundry bills, utility bills, food costs, the odd weekend away (why shouldn't you be entitled to those?) and the odd flight back home to see the family - is purely survival money.

I know there are plenty of teachers who will disagree with me. And many of those teachers working in the more rural areas of Thailand will say "40,000 baht a month! You can live like a king up here on that kind of dough"

It's certainly a very contentious issue.

But so many folks need a good reality check. Earning 30,000 baht a month, spending that 30,000 baht a month and ‘living like a king' is one thing, but does that money allow you to put something away for the future and your long term security? Or are you doing this teaching thing for a few years and then going back home and hoping that potential employers see a 25-year-old with a four year gap in his resume in a positive light? These are serious questions that any young teachers in Thailand have to ask themselves. And very few do.

I've gone off on a tangent but if we're seriously going to answer the burning question - are most of the jobs coming through shite? - then money and salary are always going to have the last word. No matter how much you love your students and no matter how well your school takes care of you - you can't survive on fresh air.

I'm still a big believer in the old adage - the best jobs are never advertised. This is why cold-calling schools and simply knocking on doors can be a great approach if you are willing to spend the time doing it and be prepared for a few knockbacks.

Personally, I know of several teachers who one day found themselves walking past some impressive school gates, got the security guard to escort them to the admin office - and with a combination of smiles, wais and a nicely typed resume, ‘sweet-talked' themselves into a 50K teaching job. It can be done. Believe me.

Jobs at international schools

You'll never see the truly ‘great' teaching jobs on ajarn.com - or any Thailand TEFL job website for that matter. These are the jobs at the top international schools with their six-figure salaries and eye-watering benefit packages. Those positions, from what I'm led to believe, are only filled via recruitment fairs abroad. And they only go to the most qualified applicants anyway.

In several conversations I have had with various international school recruitment staff, selecting staff from the ‘Thailand teacher pool' is actually considered to be too risky. Many of these top international schools simply don't trust the motives of single gentlemen who have decided to make Thailand their home. Sexist? Harsh? You be the judge.

What's crazy about this recruitment policy - as the recruiters have freely admitted to me - is that hiring directly from overseas invariably leads to a high teacher turnover. Many recruits are sucked in by the lure of teaching English in an exotic land, only to arrive and find the weather is too hot, the air is too polluted and the food is too spicy. This is not the Thailand they imagined as they flicked through the pages of a glossy brochure at a recruitment fair in New York or London.

So, does a salary of 30K a month put that job firmly into the ‘shite job' category? There's no straightforward yes or no answer to that question. There are too many variables. Everyone has different objectives and different lifestyles. We've all worked in teachers' rooms where even though everyone earns the same salary, there are guys who seem to be forever partying and enjoying weekends away, while other guys are living on tinned tuna and cup noodles and constantly tapping up colleagues for ‘500 baht until Friday' as each month draws to a close. And let's not forget the semi-retired guys who aren't teaching for the money but see a few hours in a classroom each week as purely 'something to keep them busy'. Yes, those guys are around.

In my opinion, one of the worst things to hit the Thailand teaching profession over the past few years has been the introduction of the ten or eleven-month contract. This borders on pure evil. There was a time when contracts of less than a year were virtually unheard of and most, if not all teachers, enjoyed a couple of months paid holiday as part of their contract. But nowadays, a 35K a month job will sometimes only keep you going for 10 months. So that becomes a 350k a year job divided by twelve months in a year. Oh, my monthly salary just went down to 29,166 baht. Khob Khun Khap.

Many schools get around the ten or eleven-month contract by promising the teacher summer courses and extra classes that will tide them over the fallow period. "Maybe you will earn the equivalent of your monthly salary, perhaps you will earn even more" is the familiar line. I don't know about you though, but I've never felt comfortable building a life around promises and maybes - especially in a country like Thailand. Imagine being the kind of person who lives a month to month existence and then being told that summer courses are cancelled or reduced due to a lack of enrolment. Two holiday months with very little cash coming in. It doesn't bear thinking about.

So back to Marvin and his original question again - "the majority of teaching jobs coming through are shite"

Yes or no? Over to you.


I agree with the perception that the best positions are not advertised and your only avenue is cold calling. Whether you are seeking employment in education or any other occupation, the principle remains.Cold calling is a numbers game. For many years I sold insurance and adopted the attitude that if I knocked on 10 doors to sell a R.1,000 policy, each of those visits paid me R.100. Wouldn't you like to be paid R.100 per visit ?
A final tip. If you feel intimidated by your prospect, imagine him sitting on the toilet. It's a great equaliser.

By Alan, South Africa (15th March 2013)

I totally agree. I have 22 years experience as an international training manager, I have run two training institutes in the Middle East and a role as country training manager. Although very lucrative, I wanted to spend more time at home in Thailand. It seems the schools want young graduate that can play games and be entertainers.

My local schools employ Africans and Filipinas, quite simply to save money. I do private lessons with locals kids which involves helping with homework. What I;'ve witnessed from teachers in terms of grammar and spelling has shocked me. It's not a one-off or challenging words, most of what is given out to the students has at least 5 or 6 spelling or grammatical errors - and they have degrees!

By Jamie, Essan (15th February 2013)

I totally agree with Khunkrumark.com. Even though I'm retired now, when I was teaching there always was plenty of jobs, except for the slow months of course. Even then, there were jobs, just not as many and one had to look harder. Some complained their wasn't any jobs, but they weren't looking hard enough or expecting the same money as in the west. Which, they will never get here. But, money shouldn't be why you came here in the first place. IMO.
If you know how to teach and you don't look or act like a crazed, drunk, backpacker, you can find a job, degreed or not.

By ralph sasser, nong khai (2nd September 2012)

The so called 'world economy' has absolutely NO effect on the amount of teaching vacancies and salaries for 'Native English Speakers' in Thailand. In fact, the recent flooding in parts of the Bangkok metroplex has had far more of an impact on employment conditions than anything to do with the global economy.

Spouting off asinine claptrap and spurious statistics about global post-grad employment reveals an absolute disconnect with the situation of English teaching in Thailand.

There have never been more opportunities for NES teachers than there are today. Anyone (degreed or not) who is smart, presentable and intelligent) can very quickly earn between 40K and 70K a month.

By khunkrumark.com, Thailand (2nd September 2012)

The world economy is one of the reasons of the depressed teaching salaries in Thailand and all over the world. In the Carnegie Foundation article, the facts are clear
"The post-graduate employment market has gotten so bad that only 64% of the kids graduating between 2011 and 2012 have been able to find a job of any kind — and the majority of jobs didn’t require a bachelors degree to qualify." This surplus of young inexperienced teachers looking for work abroad will send a message to schools, yes, we can hire and pay what we want, and the turnover rate is terrible but some teachers stay. So currently, this is and has been an "employers market" with little chance of change within the next two to three years.

By Ajaan Rob, Thailand (1st September 2012)

Sounds a little scary. Can I expect to struggle in finding a job in Thailand if I fly there in January? I have 8 years teaching experience in the U.S.
Any advice is greatly appreciated.

By Christopher Dean, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (20th August 2012)

Hi guys,

I've just finished an 18 month stint teaching in Thailand. I had tremendous trouble finding a decent job when I first arrived, in fact it was two months from the time of arriving in Thailand to my actual first day as a teacher. I thought I would write this piece to help those who are in the same position as I was. After having worked in a school with both farangs and thais, I had a lot better understanding of how things work by the end of my stint.

The reality is that most thai administration staff simply delete emails that are written in English, as they either can't understand them or can't be bothered to get someone to translate it to them. The best course of action is to make a list of the jobs you are interested in or schools/universities/language centres in your area, make a list of their addresses, dress decently and show something that resembles respect for Thai culture (a wai, greet the staff in Thai etc) and you are going to be ahead of the pack. Emailing and phoning schools and agencies is a complete waste of your time, so don't do it. You will invariably get an interview or you will speak to a principal by having done the leg work, which is more than probably 60% of your competitors. The clincher for me was my demo lesson. I presented to a group of thai teachers (mock students, all ladies!) and just made it fun (sanook), inclusive and got everyone excited. If you don't think you can be fun, just base your demo lesson around a game, thais love games, they get excited, you'll be seen as a 'fun' teacher and you won't be forgotten once you walk out the door.

Finally, it's up to you to follow up. Thais are lovely, caring, kind-hearted people, but they can be extremely forgetful and lazy and if someone tells they'll call you back, nine times out of ten they won't. It's up to you, you must follow up after your initial meeting, preferably again in person. In my time in Thailand I saw so many dead-beat teachers turn up for interviews under-prepared and then wonder why they didn't get the job. It's not rocket science. Be prepared, have a philosophy or style, make it fun and follow up. No one's going to hand you a job in Thailand, farangs are a dime a dozen, it's up to you to go out to a school, impress them and make them want to employ you. The 40K+ jobs are out there, you've got to go and find them.

All the best

By Steve, (1st August 2012)

I am shocked to see that schools are offering such low salaries. You'd expect international schools to be better paid, but was shocked to see one in particular, which I am familiar with, that they are now offering 20,000thb WTF!!! I couldn't afford to stay with the school when they were offering 30,000thb. I thought, God is it me? I decided to go home in 2011 to study for the PGCE (licence to teach in my own country). I graduated in July this year, have secured a good paying job in an international school and a good paying part-time job and to fly back to Bangkok in a few days. I love Bangkok, and have had some very good jobs, but if you want to teach other than EFL, you need more than a degree and a TEFL/TEYL.

By Wendy Livesey, United Kingdom (31st July 2012)

Sorry I advance for any spelling mistakes, typing from iPhone autocorrect is horrible.
Do salaries in Thailand suck, absolutely, can you make money, again, absolutely.
The problem is agencies offering the famous 10 month contracts, but when you broke and no choice, hell anything looks good.
My first year in Thailand, worked for a school via an agency and a 10 month contract, no sick days and a total of 35000 a month, from that, I had to save enough money to survive the 2 months unpaid, life was not easy.
Being new in Thailand, and having no experience whatsoever with Thai culture, I will admit that on reflection, I can understand why some of the students and fellow Thai teachers didn't like this loud mouthed nosey know it all farrang. So of course my contract was not renewed.
Now to the good stuff, 1 year wiser, 1 year more understanding towards Thais, I found a decent job, 12 month contract, free private medical and wow 10
Sick days a year, salary, not amazing but hey 380000 so 36 after tax.

Now let's face it guys, once you hve set up your lesson plans, for those of you who do it, and once you know what you going to teach and how you going to get there (regardless onif the kids want to learn or not, that's not your job, your job is to do the best that you can do) you are left a lot of free time. So to teach extra lessons at night or one day of the weekend, may take away from your drinking time, but will certainly help you financially. I work on top of my normal work day, 2 a week tutoring private students, (extra 4800 a month) saturday is my day to relax and Sunday I work from 11am to 4:30 teaching for an agency (9500 extra a month) then I teach from 6 to 8 a group which is another 9000 a month. So that is almost doubling my salary, pull your fingers out, teaching of
You are organized is not the hardest of jobs, instead of wanting to drink from Friday night to Sunday morning go out and work. When I see "teachers" this happened last week. We had an event at our school, a teacher from another school was there, went to the bathroom and ce back drunk out of his head. He is probably the first one who would common of crappy Thais and horrible pay.
So yes you not going to earn a million a month here, yes agency's ate going to exploit
You, yes Thais will have a fake smile for you, but hell loom at all the good as well, nice weather, magic kids, decent night life, and plenty of other things, If all you see is the bad, then maybe it is time you leave Thailand.

By Greg, Bangkok (28th July 2012)

I have to agree partially with Marvin, although I would say that there are many positives about the employment situation in Thailand, there are simply a ton of sharks out there trying to middle poor teachers and take advantage of them. On the other side teachers generally make more than the "average" Thai with a Bachelors degree. Because Thailand is such a great place to live its unfortunate but necessary that "professional teachers" are simply going to have to compete with holiday teachers and we'll have to hope the people in charge of hiring for the 10% of jobs that are actually offering fair pay for quality work do what's best for the students and hire a teacher that knows what they are doing and actually enjoy teaching. Two sides to every coin right?

By Ajarn Mike, Bangkok (28th July 2012)

ESL teachers in Thailand whining about having to work in a different cultural environment never seems to go out of style.

Having listened to this form of whining for most of the last 20 years is the main reason I have few interactions with ESL teachers these days. Is the whiny ESL teacher just a stereotype of a reality?

I am not sure, but my oh my how the constant whining gets old and boring over the years.

What is hoped to be accomplished by all of this whining?

Change Thailand and its culture?

Why do the culturally inept seem to drift into ESL jobs so often?

Simple solution, if you don't like Thais, Thai culture and the Thai educational system, STOP TEACHING IN THAILAND!

Simple solution

By Jack, backhome (20th July 2012)

How can the 'national average' be below 50% Surely the national average is EXACTLY 50%! (But you are teaching English, I'm guessing and not math!)

Also - If you are asking why children go to school then you'll have to go to one and see for yourself.

Schools are more than being able to speak English and being able to add up. In my view (and also in the view of most Thais) schools are a place of social education as well as academic achievement. It used to be that way in my country before the cancer that is liberalism took charge.

You seem very convicted about what you believe in and I'm not about to try to make you see another point of view... not that you'd listen to one anyway! I do sympathize with you. Not many teachers can assimilate to a different culture and a different way of going about things. It can drive you bonkers if you come here with big ideas only to see them rejected and unused.

I'll ask you once again... would you rather teach a class of Thai students or a class of English/US/Western students?

The answer to THIS question is the answer to all your other questions in your most recent reply!

You could go home and use your experience and knowledge to teach western kids using the western style of education. Or you can stay in Thailand and teach Thai kids in the Thai style of education.

I'm afraid the two don't mix as countless people before you and I have found out and who many people are still finding out today.

What you see as a "sad state of affairs" seems to be working just fine. There's no unemployment over here. Nobody is going hungry and families take care of their own. There is a very rich social fabric in Thailand that (because of education) is lacking in the west. And while the UK, US and the Eurozone are sleepwalking backwards into the third world, Thailand's economy seems to be getting better and better each year.

I'd say that was a reflection on there education system. Moving on...

OK... Here's another question for you...

The Thai text book I am teaching from is pretty good for the most part but on one page it says "...on the playground."

You and I both know that "IN the playground" is correct English. The Thai teachers are teaching "on the playground" because that's what the book says is correct. The kids are about ten years old.

What do YOU do? Tell the teachers and/or students that the book is wrong and tell them the correct way? Or do you just go along with the Thai teachers and teach them the wrong way.

I do the latter! I sleep well at night!

By khunkrumark.com, Thailand (17th July 2012)

The main reason that students go to school is not to learn anything academic? Not to gain any skills that they can use in later employment? To not gain any skills by which they can improve their own country?

The sad state of affairs is that in Thai, Social Science, English, Math, Science, Art, and Vocational exams, the national average is below 50%. Granted, in Health Education the country seems to pass.

So if schools are not here to teach students to retain and understand knowledge, why are they here? Are they just a glorified babysitting service? Are they just here to teach people to be subservient to their betters? Really, what is their purpose?

Are educators really supposed to accept a complete lack of knowledge and not try to change it? What an imbecilic notion that really would be!

By Peter, Pathum Thani (16th July 2012)

Well, a couple of interesting replies... You can cherry-pick your way through academic statistics and pour scorn on the Thai system of education and their educators.

Let me ask you this... would you rather teach a class of Thai students or a class of English/US/Western students?

The answer for me is easy. I'm afraid the west simply lags far behind in many areas of education. If education, for you, is Science and English then you are missing a huge chunk of why children go to school in the first place. I've adapted comfortably into the Thai system of education and can see it for what it is and for what it isn't.

What it isn't is a paranoid system drilling kids to pass exams whilst at the same time not actually learning anything. (I'm referring of course to the crazy western practice of testing children for government approvals which rely heavily on passing grades rather than academic achievement.)

The reason that universities are forced to retest and reexamine potential students nowadays is that they know from painful experience that the rubbish grades they are getting from schools are worthless.

But in the end you either work within the limitations and confinements of any system and like it or you bang your head against a wall!

By khunkrumark, Ratchaburi (16th July 2012)

It's very interesting to hear that a country that averages just 27% (below 20% in English & Math) in it's national tests is doing a better job than western style schools.

In fact, it's almost as interesting as the fact that most Thai teachers in the country are not able to pass these tests either, and probably shouldn't be teaching at all.

Surely then khunkrumark, we are all missing the point, and testing has absolutely no relevance to the level of achievement of the education system at all???

By Peter, Pathum Thani (16th July 2012)

Khunkrumark, do you have any facts to substantiate the "Thailand is providing a better standard of education than schools in the west" statement? Here's something you can investigate: what percent of Thai students remain in school after Mathayom 3?

You obviously like Thailand a lot; good on you for that. And I would say that many of the malcontents here, whether they are truly justified in what they believe, would be better served by talking with their feet and going elsewhere.

However, your statement that young and attractive "can and does" replace experience and effectiveness stupefies me. It sounds ignorant at best and sycophantic at worst. Back up what your point is, rather than getting into nasty message-matches with the other posters.

By David, Thailand (14th July 2012)

"Young and perhaps more physically attractive cannot replace experience and effectiveness..."

I'm afraid that is a wonderfully naive statement to make. It can and it does.

You either work within the Thai system of education and take it for what it is or you become bitter and disgruntled and spout sanctimonious "West is best!" rubbish... as you have done.

Even the worst schools in Thailand are providing a better standard of education than most public (non-private) schools in the UK and America, where an educational abyss is being sleepwalked over.

If you aren't getting the job satisfaction and attention that you crave or the whole of Thailand has got it all wrong then just leave. Pop back over to the West where most kids can't even add up or speak their native language without adding "izzit" at the end.

I'm sure Thailand and the teachers who want to be her and who can adapt to a different way of living will get along just fine.

By khunkrumark, Ratchaburi (11th July 2012)

First; I am not a frustrated old teacher. Thailand does indeed have an image over substance mentality. An experienced effective native teacher even without a fancy university degree should not be forsaken.

Comments regarding the quality or lack of in education are not fiction. Articles are by Thai people also.

"The quality of our graduates is between mediocre and nearly useless".

"Cheating and corruption is the norm at all levels of society, and incompetency is the sum of our failings".

It is very easy to become frustrated when trying to deal with entities in Thailand(exceptions duly noted) be they academic, business, or government because of global incompetence at all levels.

Young and perhaps more physically attractive cannot replace experience and effectiveness.

By dave, (10th July 2012)

Khunkrumark either has his head in the clouds or he's a backpacker enjoying his vacation. I didn't have to leave, I stopped teaching.because after many years I finally got fed up with acting like a clown all day and my handicap made it impossible to continue. When one is told by a director of a school that "it is more important for the students to have fun than to learn", it was the final straw. So, enjoy your vacation and when you're ready to go to a country that is serious about education, get your backpack and head to China, Japan, or Korea.

By ralph sasser, nong khai (28th June 2012)

Well said Marvin. I agree with what you say 100%. I myself am leaving to go back to England and work as an engineer again. My departure date is September, don't know why, but I feel a sense of loyalty to the school to see the term out. Also I work 7 days a week and my salary is only just 70,000 baht. In England I have a 40,000 pound a year job lined up already.

My reasons for leaving are pretty much the same as yours. Much harder these days to get a decent job, 40,000 was a starting point a few years back, now lucky if you can get near that. On top of this 60 to a class, mostly numpties preventing the few genuine kids learning. Not looking good for the future of Thailand. Seems the only good thing to do is leave and go back to my beloved England.

Unlike some people here in Thailand teaching, I took the time to get some solid qualifications in my own country, not half as bad as people seem to think, I got a job quite easy. Things are not going to improve here, whatever people say. I see Thailand falling behind all the other up and coming regional economies in the next few years.

Thailand is a country of very limited ability due to their really shite education system. Thai teachers who actually think they are a native speakers equal, and who also struggle to put a coherent sentence together. I look at the white boards after the Thai teachers have finished, there's no wonder the English level here is crap.

Still I have my silver lining and I won't be recommending this country to anyone at all, if anything, I will give them all the reasons not to come. This is no longer a country where foreigners can feel safe. The police are incompetent, if you have an accident on a bike like I had, and the bus driver just drove off. I asked the dumb fuck in brown to do something about it, not even interested, cost a few quid to get the bike sorted out, Thai over a foreigner every time. Time to abandon ship and get back to reality and a first world country.

By Steve, Bangkok (28th June 2012)

Marvin is 100% correct. I guess he didn't know that it's been that way for several years and I'm sure long before that. Thailand says it's gotten serious about education. That too is shite. They've never been serious about education. Altering grades, corruption, and FUN all are more important than learning. So, they are actually paying low wages for educated clowns.

By ralph sasser, nong khai (19th June 2012)

Khunkrumark is absolutely correct. Stop complaining and go if you’re so unhappy here. Guess there are always plenty of things to complain about since work is work, but it seems like it’s getting tougher to make a decent living teaching in Thailand lately for everyone. While once solidly in the middle class ranks, salaries for NES teachers don’t feel like they’ve kept up. Maybe this is part of the bigger gap between the well-off and not so well-off, but it sure doesn’t feel good to be in the latter. When’s this going to change? When you have new grads coming out of university in the States with a $7.25 an hour job at Wal-Mart as the only career choice (hmm, that comes to 35k baht per month – interesting coincidence!), a little adventure teaching English and hanging out in Thailand seems like a fun way to weather the storm back home. It’s unfortunate (but a fact of life) that some school administrators and agencies will take advantage of the situation and push down salaries, alter contract terms and generally make working conditions worse.

By Richard, Bangkok (12th June 2012)

Marvin (and he isn't alone) is frustrated and annoyed because the Thai education system isn't up to his amazingly successful and faultless Western standards. Style over substance is something that Marvin just can't stand. He and a few others have conjured up some anecdotes from a friend who heard something about Philippine teachers having to drink sulfuric acid as a test of their loyalty and one school who charges their teachers a months wages to park their motorbikes. My question is - why are these people still here? They don't like the work and they bitch about how they could do it so much better than the natives... but here they are - posting their grievances on a public forum. It's fine to bitch and moan, because that's what we do to get by when everything isn't perfect. I do it myself when things don't go my way. But a few people have some twisted and bizarre facts at their disposal to back up their frustrations. Thailand isn't going to change and if you look back through the years on teaching forums, you'll find the same kinds of people airing the same grievances as we are hearing now. Folks - get with the program and learn to love it or you'll become embittered and sad in a country where that isn't supposed to happen.

By khunkrumark, Ratchaburi (11th June 2012)

It’s not so much a question of networking as rules and regulations. Of course, someone somewhere will know of a 60 year old NES who has a job, but in general, if you’re over 50 in Thailand you’ve just about had it. Add to that the corruption, an ‘everyone passes’ rule, as after all schools are businesses and you’re left with a scenario of schools as ‘places of safety’ and somewhere to leave the kids and for them to have ‘fun’ whilst the parents go to work.

Having said that, the ‘happy happy’ laid back life is what attracted many of us away from the craziness of the west, but in terms of education and competing with the rest of the world, Thai education is dismal at best. Now start to take away the experienced teachers and replace them with cheap, energetic, (unemployed western), backpackers and the circle is complete.

Devoid of the previous mass of tourists and their money, the knock on effect of businesses going bankrupt, unemployment on the rise, prices going up . . . . .Yes, you will almost definitely get a job in Thailand if you try, but at what cost? The ‘smiles’ in the ‘land of’ are from what I saw, getting distinctly strained.

By James, China (11th June 2012)

They accept the jobs because they have little or no choice and because the influx of many young inexperienced native speakers in Thailand. Also this is not mentioned at the Interview. It is only forced on them later. When they hold their heads in their hands and decide that they cannot do this anymore and will be their last day. The fact is that half of the schools I come across simply do not give a sh*t even when it damages their brands and reputation. I know one school in particular that was losing 3 teachers a month. Did they care? Nope. They used to have charging scheme for being late and would charge 125 Baht for being one minute late. Now that is just petty in my mind. They would lose teachers left, right and centre over this simple petty rule. One day it was pouring with rain. Absolutely bucketing down. One teacher was 20 minutes late. He told me that there were literally waves being sprayed over his motorbike. The school still enforced the charging scheme and he was charged 250 Baht. He left shortly thereafter. It is this kind of short-sighted petty penny pinching which the end just pisses teachers off and they leave the school, and in the end damages the brand of the school when they have loads of teachers coming and going. No doubt they blame the farang teacher though.

In my old school, out of a class of 30, 10 came from particular school (that is 33%) in Mattayom1 MEP programme which proves to me that these schools damage their repuations over simple penny pinching which does little but damage their brand. The influx of young inexperienced teachers willing to work under any conditions does not help. I wonder if they care but I honestly believe that half of managers and Thailand have little idea about building brands. The school will get big but they will introduce short sighted penny pinching schemes and lose teachers left, right and centre and damage their brands. If they had a longer term view they would realise it just not worth it.

By Marvin, Bangkok (10th June 2012)

Marvin...Why would anyone accept such a bad position? If you cannot respect yourself enough to say no, this is a bad job and I will not work it, then I don't feel bad for you. If people are seeking out and signing contracts to work these jobs I have no sympathy for them, just don't come on here and talk about how bad they are. It's simple really, DON'T WORK CRAP JOBS!!! As far as networking goes, I was just saying that if someone has been working here for 8 years and cannot find a good job then they are not networking properly...

By Tyler Hallett, Thailand (9th June 2012)

I don't think it is a lack of contacts. At the end of the day it has to do with how much schools are willing to pay and some schools just take the piss. I heard of one very big school with many branches which recently told the Fillipino teachers to bring bin bags to change the bins. Yep, they have to not only buy the bin bags from Big C, they have to change them too. They also I have been told have to buy milk for the kids **every day** for some 28 kids!! This must simply be illegal. This week I heard of a teacher who was told when he wanted to copy one page of his passport for his work permit they told him he needed to do it outside the school. He has been working there for 4 - 6 months. I mean really.... One f........ page...!! The stupidity in Thailand sometimes never ceases to astound me. How much would the petrol cost I wonder...??

By Marvin, Bangkok (9th June 2012)

I just want to add that I think the original writer is forgetting that it is not just about your experience or qualifications in Thailand it about who you know! Networking is just as important in Thailand as getting a TEFL, I'm sure some people would disagree, but it's true, I am living example. If you have been teaching here for eight years and cannot get a job...you are doing it wrong! Maybe the younger people are getting better jobs because they are out moving and shaking, not sitting at home complaining about the job market...

By Tyler, Thailand (8th June 2012)

Khun Krumark,

The correlation is between ‘ajarn’ as a 'business' provider of work and the acceptance of paid advertisements promoting decreasing salaries and working conditions.

My point has never been to disparage ajarn, but to point out that the days of ‘knocking on doors’ and expecting a fair salary are coming to an end.

It might be helpful if you would list these, “well paid jobs for teachers in Thailand”, because judging from the posts currently being written you may well be aware of something that everyone else is struggling with?!

During my time in Thailand I worked with both good and bad teachers; I met the drunks, the drug addicts and sexpats . . . . . I also met some fantastic teachers whom it was a pleasure to learn from and to work alongside. The bad ones somehow muddled through, the good ones were paid exactly the same as the bad ones and no ‘upscale market’ ever came to the rescue of anyone. The world is in a deep recession Mark, Thailand is now starting to feel the effects . . . . If a school can pay a bright eyed backpacker a low salary to jump about and ‘entertain’, which is what it’s seemingly all about in Thailand, why waste a good salary for an unrequired good teacher?

By James, China (2nd June 2012)

I can't see the correlation between Ajarn.com being a business and the quality and quantity of the jobs posted on it. There are well paid jobs for teachers in Thailand. Unfortunately for most teachers they aren't all a motorcycle ride from a BTS station! Having been here for a long time now I can say that too many teachers are almost unemployable at any rate of pay. Eventually if you really are a commodity worth paying for, then (with a bit of effort) the upscale market will find you. If you aren't then you'll continue to settle for low paid jobs in conditions that are less than perfect.

By khunkrumark.com, Thailand (29th May 2012)

I think it is fine and important to assimulate into the culture. We need or should try and learn the language and writing which I have started to do. Interesting though in the class though we were encouraged not to talk any Thai. Some schools stick religiously to it. And we should be polite as well. But I think it takes some time to "let go" and not feel angered by the aparent hierarchy that exists in Thailand. Sometimes we just have to accept it for what it is. But when it goes against our core values of democracy, freedom of speech etc... then I think it is wrong and something I am loathe to accept. But in Thailand it is best to understand the way things are done, and try to do it through the right channels. Rather than mouthing off at the Director or your HOD which I know some teachers who have done that and wondered why they were not liked and they found a new teacher.

But I do think there is a happy medium somewhere. and sometimes that means saying nothing and using their system of the "broken telephone" to get the message through. The gossip tree works wonders, and sometimes we have to understand that is the way things work in Thailand which saves them face but still gets your message across. Sometimes the gossip tree used to drive me mad but it just the way things work in Asia - my friend in Taiwan tells me it is the same. Later they may approach you about aparent problems in the school and hopefully you can work it out. But I would be loathe to go scraping and kissing *ss all day long just to keep on the right side of the "law".

By Marvin, Bangkok (29th May 2012)

Sorry, Khunkrumark, I would like to assimilate into Thai culture, but whenever I try, it disappoints me through the usual form over function idiocy. I realise of course that because Thai culture is so magnificent, worthy, ancient and wise, that I am the one who must be in the wrong, clearly.

By jbkk, bkk (29th May 2012)

Many thanks for the inclusion of my letter Phil; it was more of a hint than a complaint :)

“Perhaps it’s in certain people’s interests to keep teachers in Thailand in jobs paying up to 30k a month and pretend that there are really jobs out there paying 50k+ if only you knock on doors?“
Not really sure what you mean by that comment at all. You will have to elaborate I’m afraid.
“Let’s not forget that Ajarn is a business, enough said”

Come on Phil, lets not go starry eyed and pretend that it’s not in the best interests of Ajarn to keep as many teachers in Thailand as possible and the revenue from both the advertisers and employers coming in. Might there be a correlation lurking in that last sentence with the implication that there are well paid jobs out there if only we’d look?

There is no need for an in depth analysis of the employment situation in Thailand, you have only to look at the jobs section and read the vast majority of postings to realize that the days of ‘knocking on doors’ for well paid jobs is over. A little ‘living in the past’ going on here, I think? The ‘good old Thailand’ days are over Phil; Thailand is itself beginning to feel the recession, teachers are leaving, backpackers are replacing them and I am personally seeing an influx of teachers here in China.

Thailand doesn’t get a bad press? Read the letters Phil; finding a satisfied teacher in Thailand is like winning the lottery! It hasn’t yet got to the stage of being discussed on websites but that will certainly come and as an aside, the teaching forums aren't exactly places of happy and satisfied people.

Yes, China does have its problems; boredom, bureaucracy, the weather and of course a distinct lack of bars/girls and alcohol which might not suit the younger generation, or indeed many of the teachers I met, (but not all of course), working in Thailand. China certainly wouldn’t be a place for me to live, but if you read my previous letter, would you advise that teacher’s could get those sorts of conditions and salary anymore by knocking on doors in Thailand? Once upon a time Phil, a trip down memory lane . . . . .

By James, China (29th May 2012)


"I recently wrote a short letter explaining the benefits of China in the letters section, which hasn’t appeared yet"

Not every letter sent to the ajarn postbox gets published. The two major reasons for this are firstly, the letter might be only one or two sentences long so would look more at home in a comments section rather than the postbox, and the second reason, letters are sometimes so poorly written with so many grammar and spelling errors that I would need to virtually re-write them from scratch. But I found your letter James. I only got it less than 48 hours ago so it was still on my 'to do' list.

"Perhaps it’s in certain people’s interests to keep teachers in Thailand in jobs paying up to 30k a month and pretend that there are really jobs out there paying 50k+ if only you knock on doors?"

Not really sure what you mean by that comment at all. You will have to elaborate I'm afraid.

"Let’s not forget that Ajarn is a business, enough said"

Enough said? Enough said about what? I've never ever denied that ajarn.com is a business.

"I speak about what I see, no analysis needed and what I see are teachers leaving Thailand in seemingly large numbers and heading to other countries. Just look at the jobs board, what an absolute disgrace!"

One thing you forget to mention though James is that if there's one country in the world that gets more bad press on TEFL websites and notice-boards and forums than Thailand........then it's almost certainly China.

By philip, (29th May 2012)

I agree 100% Marvin. There isn’t a need for an analysis, you simply need to go and look at the jobs available on Ajarn. There is one there for a NES at 15k a month, I kid you not! The irony of it is that someone aged 21, fresh out of an American or UK University will take it. They will earn just enough to get drunk a few times a week, get a few ‘must have’ tattoos, end up working 10 hours a day and the school will convince them that they’re having a good time. No degree, no TEFL, not a NES, (but my very English is good) and no experience; they are the people who will get the work and will let the school burn them out within a couple of years!

I recently wrote a short letter explaining the benefits of China in the letters section, which hasn’t appeared yet. Perhaps it’s in certain people’s interests to keep teachers in Thailand in jobs paying up to 30k a month and pretend that there are really jobs out there paying 50k+ if only you knock on doors? I did my fair share of knocking, as I suppose most of us have, but have yet to find a single one of those elusive doors. Let’s not forget that Ajarn is a business, enough said.

I speak about what I see, no analysis needed and what I see are teachers leaving Thailand in seemingly large numbers and heading to other countries. Just look at the jobs board, what an absolute disgrace! “Teacher needed, must be energetic, under thirty five . . . . “ and that sums up todays Thailand.

By James, China (29th May 2012)

"Sorry, do you mean those teachers who suck up to Thai culture and society are paid well?"

Well, yes... that's exactly what I mean!

Too many teachers come here with a sense of entitlement and a "we know best" mentality. YOU see assimilating into Thai culture as something disagreeable and beneath you. On the other: hand I consider it a duty and a pleasure.

By khunkrumark.com, Thailand (29th May 2012)

Sorry, do you mean those teachers who suck up to Thai culture and society are paid well?

Damn, that's where I'm going wrong...

By jbkk, bkk (28th May 2012)

In my long tenure in Thailand I have learned that teachers are paid what they are worth. Smart, clean presentable native English speakers who enjoy and assimilate well to the Thai culture and society get paid well. Drunks and smokers with sweaty armpits don't!

By khunkrumark.com, Thailand (28th May 2012)

It is a travesty, there's no question, and we can't all afford to do PGCEs (some 6000 Euro). My college background is Computer Science, I'm Microsoft certified, TEFL, 6 years teaching experience in Thailand ... and the best I can do is 35K a month. All right if you're single, but I was blessed with twins, and I also support my partner's niece. Salaries have gone down since I first arrived 8 years ago, and inflation only goes one way. The only people to benefit from this are the exodus from recession-stricken Europe who will take the low salaries, and are just happy to be here in the sun, with no knowledge of what lies ahead of them. Thailand is not serious about preparing for Asean. When it comes to the level of English attained by students in the future, they're not really interested, nor committed to effecting any actual change. As with everything here, it's the the appearance of looking interested that counts, not the end result.

By Disillusioned, Chonburi (24th May 2012)

So true about the best jobs not being advertised. I got recommended by a friend to join his school. The school used to advertise any vacancies, but got sick of getting useless or unreliable teachers.

They now ask current teachers to find 'a reliable teacher with at least 3 years experience'. The jobs are out there. You've just gotta hope you get noticed.

Great point by the OP when he said 'As long as you look good, you'll go far'.
I've seen some things you wouldn't believe regarding young, attractive types. One instance where a teacher admitted stealing cash from another teacher and pocketing a collection from the children. Instead of being fired on the spot, he was promoted (to the English Program) the next day and given a whopping pay rise.

Thailand is showing signs of growing ageism, which is a great pity.

By Anon, Pathum Thani (23rd May 2012)

To Ioan- what would you suggest? Thailand doesn't pay enough (at least n government schools) to attract actual trained English teachers, by and large.

It may not be ideal to have a tatooed truck driver from the UK teaching, but in general he is still better than most Thai teachers of the subject (that's not much of a commendation to the truck driver, by the way).

Until Thailand splashes the cash, it will have to do without the best teachers, and will have to take what it can get. It's that simple.

By jbkk, bkk (22nd May 2012)

I came across this article and had to add something. 30,000 baht a month? Wow..I worked in Bangkok for three years.(before moving to Cairo - ouch!) I worked an international school teaching year 3. My salary was 142,000 baht a month, 31,000 baht for apartment unless I took the apartment on site (had to for the first year). One months salary bonus per year. A flight home to heathrow for me my son and husband. Free education for my son.
30,000 baht? Wow...suggest you opt to do a PGCE if you are a serious teacher.

By Heather, Egypt (21st May 2012)

I am french and I wouldn't dare pose as a french teacher. yes this is my mother tongue, but I just wouldn't know how to teach it, where to start...etc. I teach maths in Mathayom 4 to 6 but I still get some angry stares from the "native speaker" who still can't fathom why I can get more money than them...

"I am a Native Speaker!
-Yes but besides speaking your mother tongue you actually dont know shit, cant teach shit "

but here schools can always hire a tattooed truck driver from the U.K lost in pattaya to give half assed english lessons without knowing the first thing about grammar. Truck driver is happy, feels important in a suit, can go to pattaya once or two in a month, school is happy, gets a cheap "Native Speaker".

Students get shit

By ioan, (21st May 2012)

The emphasis was on "education degree" or degree in education. It was not a degree per se'. Yes I have a degree. Yes I can teach in my country if there was any decent money to it. Too often I have found in my own experience any way teachers are far too theoretical. When did you ever use the stuff you learnt in Maths, science or physics?

But normally when they say native English speaker they mean one with a degree as well. I know one teacher who was arning 35000 a month, gave it up and went into web design and marketing and now earns around 200 000 a month. I would clean toilets before I applied for a job at 20 000 a month. Thanks anyway.

By Marvin, Bangkok (20th May 2012)

"Are these people serious? 20,000 baht a month for a native English speaker!!! What is going on with this country? All the good jobs seem to be going to those with education degrees "

if you want to teach you should at least have a degree. being a native speaker is NOT a qualification.
Could you teach anything in your country?

By ioan, (20th May 2012)

Personally the blame should be shared squarely between the money grabbing uncaring agents who have bought in this lower pay/ 10 month contracts, and the schools of whom obviously care nothing for the quality of the teacher as long as it's a foreigner and cheap.

It is difficult to blame the backpacker because they are not deliberately trying to change anything merely earning a bit of cash have fun and move on. The agents understand this and rely on the ever growing number to swell their pockets.

Sadly it will take quite a time before the schools start to demand quality teachers who are prepared to stay and help the English programs produce quality results. It will come, but probably only when Thailand's youth is being taught almost entirely by a transient pool of young, fresh, backpacking, toe in the water teachers.

The agents only interest is financial, cheap rates of 35,000 per month charges to the schools for a 12 month contract. Coupled with 25/30,000 salary for 10 months to the teacher means there real profit comes form the non payment of holiday pay. How much more can they trim off? When they find that they are being undercut by their opposition, they will either disappear (such a wonderful dream) or perhaps start to sell the schools the idea they must pay for quality and experience.

The battle continues unabated.

By Reggie Mucker, Hatyai (18th May 2012)

We're getting some terrific comments here. Thanks guys! To be honest, I think they deserve to be read by a wider audience so I might copy a few to the Postbox section if no one has any objection.

By philip, (17th May 2012)

Meant to be

It took one class I taught 4 times a week **6 months** to get the confidence to put their hand up and say “Teacher, we don’t understand”.

By Marvin, Bangkok (17th May 2012)

I know many Teachers that are not here for fun and many have made families. Got married, had kids and started other businesses. What I find strange is that schools will lose valuable skills which have been built up over years. I am not here for simply “fun”. In the west no doubt they want cheap labour. And so while cheap jobs are being lost in Western countries due to immigrants who will work for less (such as the USA, UK and across Europe) it means those manual labour jobs in those countries salaries have come down.

Yep, I know the poster boy as well. You get hired simply for your blond hair and blue eyes and it looks great on the poster. Most schools have them or at least one. What I find amazing is that parents put up with it. That parents seem to be happy with the young “good looking” (for me many aren’t – maybe young would suffice) teacher in the classroom and lose the older more experienced dedicated teacher. And I know many. Many of which try hard.

As for this being an adventure I disagree. Many teachers I know have moved here with the intention of staying but would like to be treated with respect which is why they came in the first place. Of course we all have options. We can go back home and take our chances there. In this economic environment that is more difficult but I find more and more people mulling it over. And so we have the young inexperienced teacher in the classroom in many cases for one reason. They are cheaper. They fit the bill. Most of the time damn if they can teach.

It took me years to actually understand actually what they are looking for here and most of the time I was talking too fast. When I slowed it down it got better. It took one class I taught 4 times a week to get the confidence to put their hand up and say “Teacher, we don’t understand”. But too often in Thailand I find this is the case. They don’t understand but would rather say nothing than “losing face”. So be it. Still I find it amazing that schools would rather get young experienced teachers in and lose good teachers. And it seems to be major shift this year over last. One agency said that “we are screwing it up for ourselves”. I think it the other way around. They are screwing it up. And so are the schools. Older experienced teachers are being replaced by teachers, many with no experience. So be it. I have other options. I know teaching in Thailand is a profession of increased requests and diminishing returns.

Be well

By Marvin, Bangkok (17th May 2012)

Ive had a lot of friends teach English all over Asia - Japan, Korea, China. The complaints are the same everywhere. The bottom line is teaching English abroad is a privilege, not a right. You were born lucky to grow up speaking English as a first language and even luckier if you're "Western looking". BAM! Instant job opportunity.

I'm sure we've all heard more than 1 anecdotal story (or had it happen to us??) about a fair haired white person being picked over an equally and more qualified non-white native speaker. I remember at my friends school in Seoul they hired a 19 year old white FRENCH CANADIAN (lol!!) over a Korean-American NES with an MAT in teaching English. So yes, lots of bad decisions by school, but to the BENEFIT of white applicants regardless of their teaching background.

If you are a white Westerner (including Afrikaaner) coming to Asia "to teach English" you are in a PRIVELEGED position. By virtue of chance you can make EASY MONEY compared to the locals. Teaching English is NOT manual labor nor is it rocket science. You know what a shite job is? Being stuck in an unfamiliar country and having to wash dishes 10 hours a day just to eat or waiting by the side of the road every day in hopes of doing a day of dangerous and illegal hard labor just to have something to eat and not knowing where you'll you be living in a week. You know what jobs demand high salaries for even with no credentials or experience? Sex work. And we all know even that doesn't pay shite in Thailand.

Western native English speakers can pack up and go home to the COMFORT and SECURITY of their home country at any time. Teaching English abroad is fueled by a desire for ADVENTURE ie FUN. All English schools and hirers know this. Teaching English is a privilege. No school is required to pay for your extended vacation. If you don't like how much money you make in Thailand, there are plenty of other developing countries you can backpack through and complain about. Unlike some other actual "immigrant workers" (FYI moving to a less developed country with the intention of kicking around for a year does NOT make you "an immigrant") who are held against their will and forced to work long hours in undesired, dangerous jobs under demeaning etc etc conditions YOU have a choice.

Soooo, yep that's about it.

By Farang Of A Different Stripe, Earth (16th May 2012)

Well it seems to me that salaries are on the way down and the demands are on the way up. Some teachers who have over 8 years experience and are good at their jobs are finding it difficult to find work. I know one teacher who has a choice between a full time job at 30K with all the rigmorale and probably no work permit or working part time 2 hours a day or something like that 20000 Baht. He went for the part time option.

The problem as some people have stated is the "aggressive" advertising by agencies who get paid 60 - 70K for a teacher. By the time it gets to the teacher that has been whittled down to 25-30K and the only people prepared to work for that are the young newbies. While certainly there is a novelty aspect to this - "Lets go to Thailand to teach", things are getting worse and not staying the same. In my job which I had last year. I got paid 50K. This year they have 2 teachers taking my job for slightly more work - Maths and English. They are going through an agency this year. So the school by my accounts are paying close to 100K a month and paying the teachers close to 30K each. So for double the money, the school gets less.Will you get a better teacher at 30K? I even met 2 of the teachers coming in and they seemed pleasant enough. But I honestly find it amazing that schools will pay more for less. Let's see what the feelings are 2 or 3 months in.

But I hear from every quarter money is going down, and expectations are going up. Many older experienced teachers refuse to work under these conditions. So many skills which have been learnt are being lost. And one of the reasons I refuse to help new teachers coming in. Because there is nothing in it for me. I got a job recently at a good school but not teaching English.

By Marvin, Bangkok (16th May 2012)

Over the last 20 years, while the faces change, the whining and moaning stays the same. The moans and complaints seen here are no different from what I heard 20 years ago.

While the faces will change, I suspect 20 years from now there will be a new generation of whiny ESL teachers in Thailand, complaining about Thai teachers, salaries, Thai schools, Thai students, and all the other same complaints that have been constantly made over the past 20 years or so. The legacy of moaning and bitching seems to get passed down from one generation of ESL teachers in Thailand to another.

If you want to make more money than one could get as an assistant to the assistant manager in a fast food joint back home, you will probably need to get into a profession that requires more skills than just the ability to speak one’s native language.

By Jack, Somewhere nice (16th May 2012)

I don't believe for a moment that we are paid for our white face. Some people are and some parents couldn't care less as long as there is a white face in the classroom. But I heard of one school recently that was surrounded by angry parents who wanted their years money back after they said that their children had learnt nothing in an entire year. I was told their teachers were Indian teachers and non native speakers. This is what I was told. Too often the kids just don't put their hands up and say they don't understand.

I lived in Chiang Mai. And I found it not much cheaper than Bangkok. Was accomodation cheaper? No. Was food cheaper? No. Maybe 5 Baht on the streets. Was going out cheaper? No. Was going to the Mall cheaper? No. In fact transport was more expensive because there are ver few taxis in Chiang Mai unless you have your own motorbike.

Yep we are paid more for good reason. No farang would work for 8000 Baht. Period. It is true white faces are paid more than dark faces. Is that my fault? But Thailand practices race discrimination, age discrimination and sex discrimination. And it is getting worse. What would be completely unacceptable in Europe or in the USA is openly advertised in the media here. If we are doing our jobs correctly the kids should be learning English.

In my experience of these things too often Thais teach grammar until the cows come home and the kids think it is a set of rules which change this way and that, who knows why. By Matttayom 3, they have switched off to the incomprehensible language. I have seen it. Half the Thai teachers can't pronounce 'juice' correctly. They say "Jueey". That is why we are paid more or should be. In one year, the kids I taught went further ahead than they did under 10 years of teaching with Thai teachers. I honestly believe that. That is why their parents insist upon native speakers. Because if we do our jobs properly they should be progressing. Unlike years and years of grammar rammed down their throats while they pretend they understand.

By Marvin, Bangkok (15th May 2012)

Phil, I agree and disagree with you, I agree that by thai standards, 30K is a lot of money, but dont say Thai teachers work more than us, thats not true, I have worked at 4 different schools, I taught 25 hours a week, average of 5 classes a day plus extra classes. In all 4 schools, the thai teachers taught 2 classes a day, got 10 days sick leave (I didnt, was docked 2000 baht a day that I was sick.)
I had to set up and mark my own papers, same as the Thais, however, I was asked to hand in lesson plans, that the thais never did. (I have no problem doing lesson plans, I have a problem if they are never checked).
My first 2 schools were 10 month contracts, the Thais not only had 12 months plus 10 sick days + god alone knows how many personal leave days on top of the holidays they had, not to mention pension.

We were expected to stay till 4pm, even if we had no more classes for the day, we were left to lock up after the Thais had gone home.

I love Thailand, will stay here till the day I die, probably will get out of the teaching arena and see what kind of buisness I can open, knowing I need a Thai partner at 51 percent.......

Thailand is one of the most behind countires in Asia (dont attack me, I said ONE of the most) Salaries havent gone up for teachers ever, they have gone down, the OP has a valid point. Thailand expects us to have degrees, same as HK or Korea etc, however the difference of HK, Korea, etc is that they pay decent wage. Thailand cant keep asking more and more, to stay on par with their Asian country counterparts but then keep the salary low.
I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for.
I saw one advert here a while back, made me laugh, Bangkok teacher wanted, must have degree, must have 2 years experience in teaching in Thailand, very competitive salary, 20 000 baht, any person who does not fit the job description will not be contacted....... I mean come on, the ignorance of what some people think they can get away with is repulsive.

Moral of the story, you want someone with a degree and experience, shut up and pay.
you want someone who has no degree and no experience, pay less.... makes sense to me

By Greg, Bangkok (15th May 2012)

Yesterday, I had to refuse to sign a contract with a (supposedly reputable) agency associated with this webiste because they had changed the working conditions previously promised, they included a new clause in the contract that stated they could change my school (at any time and to any province), without notice and they would only give me a nine month contract with a meagre 10,000 baht in October as a housing allowance. No salary in April! Not even enough to clear my outgoings. Wife, car, kids etc. I requested, could they could wait 1 hour before signing so I could check with my brother (a solicitor in the U.K.) on the legal conditions and they refused point blank. I, obviously did not sign. I've been here for 10 years and have just spent 700,000 baht on a BA and am about to spend a further 200k on an MA. Do they think I'm stupid?

By Gareth, Bangkok (15th May 2012)

I've been here 18 months. I'm already earning almost as much as my Thai mother in law, who is a Professor at a university with 20+ years teaching experience. Why is that? Because I'm white.

Maybe it's because I live in Chiang Mai, but 30,000 is more than reasonable up here. Nothing annoys me more than fellow farang teachers who complain constantly that they "don't earn enough", or could "earn more back home". If you're in teaching because you want to live a lavish lifestyle, consider a change of career or location.

One more thing to remember: new, qualified Thai teachers at most schools up here earn 8000 a month, and teach more classes than the foreign teachers. You can see how insulting it must be to Thai people when we come over to their country and moan about the "shite jobs" they provide us with.

By Phil, Chiang Mai (15th May 2012)

I meant to say:

I also refuse to work for 30K and if means going back to my home country so be it. I do **not** have a degree not in education and would never get one because I know simply in this country it comes down to the bottom dollar regardless of what experience you have.

By Marvin, Bangkok (15th May 2012)

I have been speaking to some South Africans of late, and they have been telling me that jobs are hard to get back home. It seems that affirmative action in the motherland are hard to come by, especially if you are white. Given also the poor job market in Europe and the USA means that Thailand is capitalising on the fact young white native speakers are finding it hard to get jobs back home. I spoke to 2 South African white women, one who told me that she was offered 4 jobs with only 3 months experience. Then i met another one and she told that she had a 30K job, was paid 8K, and left and did nothing about it because she heard the owner of the agency had "connections" to the police. That is a shame. I would have at least written about it if nothing else. She then also told me that this is the standard modus operandi of this agency.

I think until people, and I have to say that the new influx of young white South Africans which I am hearing about all over the place demand more, then we are all in for a rough time. I also refuse to work for 30K and if means going back to my home country so be it. I have a degree not in education and would never get one in education because I know simply in this country it comes down to the bottom dollar regardless of what experience you have. I walked into a job 3 years ago with no experience at 38K a month. It has been rising ever since then. Now it seems even jobs at 30K are hard to come by. I also know many experienced teachers who just refuse to work for 30K. They would rather go private and rather than standing to attention for the flag in the morning and the rest of the rigmorale they will make money others ways.

I know a teacher who went for a job recently at 34K for 24 hour teaching hours a week. When they told him he had to do morning and evening duty 5 days a week he said "No thanks" and walked out. I honestly think that the teacher skills Thailand has developed over the last 5 or so years are being lost or will have to relearned if the new "immigrants" are here to stay for a while at least.

By Marvin, Bangkok (15th May 2012)

Got to admit, in your synopsis of his complaints, you admitted the jobs are terrible on here yourself. Very little approaching 500 an hour. I could make more selling my body on the street, to put it in that perspective.
Breaking down the percentages shows what little market there is for good paying teaching jobs. 30k with a degree is insulting. Most of us are here for the girls and the easy life, but they drain what little you make.

By gary, nonthaburi (15th May 2012)

What can we say? Until all farangs actually start to refuse to work for a shite salary, it will never change.
Sadly, there are fresh farangs who get off the ship every day eager for the ''big'' adventure in Thailand.
Agencies should be banned from recruiting teachers, as I find that agencies are the ones who rob people the most, some agencies even take ''taxes'' of 5 percent for teachers who are not on a work permit...... I mean come on.
Problem is, white face is seen, and sadly we are then exploited, teachers are too scared to stand up for any tiny rights they have, as then the school will smile and say NEXT.
So frankly to live in Thailand you just have to accept the following.
1. Respect Thai culture, dont care if they dont respect yours
2. Say amen to all they ask you to do, or else you are probably violating rule number one.
3. Accept to work for 30K and below, or else dont come to Thailand
4. Accet that the smiles are normally fake, (look at rule number one)
5. Dont expect to ever be treated in a different manner than a foreigner (rule number one)
All this said and done, you can have a great life in Thailand, meet some great people, date some lovely woman, but dont ever think you getting rich here.
Personally I dont even bother to apply to 30K jobs, I only apply to 40K and above, if they expect me to have a degree, then I should be paid due to having a degree.
Part time jobs, I agree with the article, for less than 500 I dont even bother to send an email.

If all foreigners did the same, maybe we would see a pay increase, but then again, this is Thailand, the pay will probably go down :D

By Greg, Bangkok (15th May 2012)

I agree partly. I think there really are a lot of those sh*te jobs out there. Actually I just got out one of them. The way a lot of schools treat teachers is ridiculous. My old college hasn't found a replacement yet since nobody wants to work for the amount of money they offer (less than 20k). I talked with one of my ex colleagues today and he said:

'Sascha, we really try to find someone but when we tell them they have to work full time and be here all the time for less than 20k nobody says yes. Maybe we have to try to find some Filipino now'.

This already shows part of the problem. Schools don't understand if they have a 'good' teacher or a 'bad' teacher standing in front of them. Heck they weren't even able to understand my Masters Degree when I came here. So all those schools want is not a good teacher, they want a farang to show off so they can say 'hey, we have a native speaker here. we are a good school'. Whether or not it's a real teacher....they don't care.

That kinda sucks on one hand, on the other hand that's how I came across teaching here so I can't blame it too much.

As long as they don't understand that it's not about to just have 'some farang' but a real teacher at their school this probably won't change.

Regarding cold calling: works indeed. needs a lot of effort though but if you really want to land a good job it's worth it. I suppose.

my 2 cents.

By Sascha, Thailand (14th May 2012)

To all NS teachers in Thailand: Wake up! the past is the past.Thailand is not the right place for real teachers.
I don't like to generalize or talk shit. What I write here is
based on 6 years living and teaching experience in Bangkok, and basically 'observation', not any baseless opinions.
The schools paying less than 40,000/month (specially less than 12 month contracts), are not looking for teachers, they are looking for slaves. Look how they work Filipino teachers. The schools show no mercy.
If you are a real teacher, you are healthy and you don't have any legal issues, just consider teaching in other countries. China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Middle East, etc.
My teaching contract is over. I just waited till now to see if there is a good teaching position left anywhere in Bangkok. Did I get job offers? Yes, more than 4.Did I accept those offers? No, cause I'm not a slave. I don't know about you guys, but living on welfare in my country is better than living on a 30,000 baht/month salary. I'm leaving Thailand this month. By the way 'shit' is good for the soil. Terrible schools are good for nothing.

By Wake up call, Bangkok,Thailand (14th May 2012)

Yeh, Im a little bothered by the wages. Im not really making what I want. And it seems like things are coming down. The 10 or 11 month contract is bulls#it. Almost signed one last week until I read the fine print about the school having to pay me a bonus if I work 12 months. Or the promise of a raise... Thats a good one. Employers dont seem to understand how many people are here for the short term. That most teachers are not gonna spend 5 - 10 years working their way up to 50K - 60K, just so they can get fired when the new director decides salaries are too high or teachers are too old.

But Im a little disappointed in myself too. I should be knocking on doors. Hitting up the privates and low-end international schools. I know plenty of clueless teachers that couldn't care less about education making 50K+. Fell assbackwards into their job too. Or maybe... maybe I should get a clue. Go home. Get a proper teaching certificate. Come back and work for a serious educator with a real salary. Maybe I could even work somewhere besides SE Asia.

By Angus, Bangkok, Thailand (14th May 2012)

Teaching ESL in Thailand is a great thing to do for a year or two in your 20's or when semi-retired. I taught in Chiang Mai for a year, made just under 30K a month, and had a great time. The salary was more than enough to support a great lifestyle, being a young, single guy without too many material needs.

But teaching ESL as a career? You have got to be kidding. The reason why salaries haven't increased is that there are plenty of fresh grads or new retirees who are happy to teach for the life experience, which is the only legitimate reason to teach in Thailand.

By Danny, Shanghai (14th May 2012)

Thanks for the letter Marvin, you beat me to it!

By Peter, BKK (13th May 2012)

Yes, being a "teacher" overseas has its drawbacks, but I actually feel more secure in the fact that I will always be able to find a job here to feed myself but when I think about and look into going home I would probably have to live with my mother. Thanks, but I guess I will stick it out in my shite job in beautiful Thailand rather than head back to unemployment in my own boring country!

By Elizabeth, Bangkok, Thailand (13th May 2012)

HECK YES ! Never blame Thailand or any place for taking a crap job, you did that yourself .. As for me, 6 weeks and I'm Canada bound.. I hope the market is good and god shows me a real job. As for those who won't leave the only choice is REFUSE CRAP JOBS this should either force the employer to amend the wages or shut down the English department.

By Kanadian, China (13th May 2012)

I like Jack's point: for your own sake, don't get stuck 'blaming Thailand' for your life choices.

The traveling EFL teacher thing is not and won't ever be a viable career for the masses. For some, yes. For many, no.

By Matthew, United States (13th May 2012)

Off-track-Jack is mistaken in that you can find good jobs and expect better pay. The following ways in this industry: set up your own langauge school, get a lot of experience to further qualify you, or do corporate and private teaching, as well as getting to know people and making those connections. Bangkok is a wealth of potential, say Japanese students. It's true the jobs on here are the scraps, the bones. The good jobs are not advertised much, and are by recommendation and connection. You see a lot of the same places who cant keep teachers repeatedly advertising here. I recall the frustration. The pay here sucks, so you have to make some changes. Beware the salaried jobs are where you'll get shafted the most. Actually paid by the hour, you can build up and stand to make more, if you can fill in the gaps.

By Derek, the big mango (13th May 2012)

Yes, these ESL job wages are pretty crappy and the salaries are lower (considering inflation) than they were 10 to 15 years ago.

So what?

I see you have today, same as in the past, three options.

1. Bitch about it and be miserable (and maybe unemployed)

2. Accept it and enjoy English teaching for what it offers despite the low pay

3. Change careers

It didn’t take me long when first coming to LOS and finding an English teaching job to realize there wasn’t any future from a financial perspective in teaching English. I am glad I chose option three without much delay.

Sounds like you have been around for awhile as well, and you decided to make a different choice.

I can understand the frustration, but you made your own choice and blaming ‘Thailand’ or some unspecific ‘they’ for your situation is unlikely to help you to any extent.

By the way, bitching about salaries is universal and has little to do with teaching English in Thailand in 2012. The market decides teachers' salaries, not bitching and moaning.

You can’t change your past choices, but you do control your future. Which of the three options will you now choose?

Choose wisely!

By Jack, North of where I was (13th May 2012)

A lot of schools have also gone from paying monthly salaries to only offering hourly wages with no benefits other than a canteen lunch. Over the past year, I've seen at least two schools go from paying 35k-45k per month to only offering 500-600 baht per hour and that's what they were paying teachers well over 15 years ago! The salaries and conditions keep getting worse with every year. I know African teachers from Kenya and Sudan teaching English legally in Cambodia who make more money than this - without a degree or any formal qualifications such as a TEFL cert.!!! And they can have nice, large apartments with beautiful views for $125 a month.

By Lisa, (13th May 2012)

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