Ajarn Street

Mistakes that long term teachers make in Thailand

What do the old hands often do wrong?

1 Relying on the internet

Thailand is not online yet. Yes they have Facebook, YouTube, Gmail, online games and Google Maps. For 99% of the population, that is pretty much it. Online shopping is limited, Wikipedia and finding information is non existent, responses from online contact screens is nil.

To find out information, you have to open your eyes, ears and mouth. Condos are advertised in the condo building. Go there, ask. Houses are advertised on lamp-posts on that road, not on Craigslist.

Everything is local. Embrace it.

2 Not attending "pointless school events"

No one loves a show like the Thais.

Assemblies, Fathers Day, Christmas Show, Sport Day, the list goes on, and on. And because they love it, they notice when you aren't there.

Yes it's boring, yes it's pointless, but if you don't use these events as an excuse to slink off, the Thai staff will like you even more.

You can sit and play on your phone if you want, as long as you are there. Get some food and drink in advance, make yourself comfortable, and make sure the head teacher sees you.

3 Dating a Thai co-teacher

There are beautiful Thai (and other nationality) teachers at every school. You can chat, empathise and pull favors. Why not go out with this lovely educated woman? - and if you're sure she is the one, then yes go for it. You'll have a job for life and a career in management waiting.

If you are looking for fun however, this is a terrible, terrible idea.

If (or when) you finish with her, she will lose face. Firstly she will try to shame you into going back out with her. Then she will get mad. Then she will cry. Then her friends will shun you.

At the end of the year, if she has any clout, your contract won't be renewed.

4 Not having health insurance

Every week it seems my Facebook page is taken over by some foreigner begging for money to pay medical bills because they don't have insurance.

Yes they are unlucky, but if you live here then every day your chance of an accident increases. Sooner or later you are going to have one, and your schools insurance that pays the first 10,000 baht isn't going to cover the ambulance there.

5 Not being flexible enough

If you're teaching private lessons to Thais, lessons are going to be cancelled - normally on the day. If these are add-on classes, you will have to be flexible to keep the business.

Yes you will lose the odd thousand baht here and there, but on the plus side, you can cancel with the same notice.

Out on the beer? your 9am class not looking too enticing? A simple LINE message removes that problem quickly and simply and the pupil won't mind either.

If you can't beat them, join them

6 Wearing a t shirt and flip flops to the cinema

Wear shoes with socks and take a jumper! The first ten minutes will be fine if you don't dress 'warmly' but after a couple of hours, you'll need thawing out

7 Not accepting food from Thai colleagues

Thais love food, and love being generous. If they offer you food, at the very least, try it.

They aren't going to offer you something they think you will hate. If they do, they will be laughing and it will be obvious.

By turning down the food, you are turning down them, and they are losing face. Eat it!

8 Not knowing where all the exits are

Every school has more than one exit. One is manned by the gestapo security. The others, more than likely, are not.

Yes they are out of the way, but they are your opening to the outside world of opportunity and fun.

9 Not going on staff trips / events at least once

Thai schools have staff events. These are attended by all Thai staff, no questions asked. It's just how it is. Normally the events are fun, if childish events. However you define them and they are better than work.

The trip will be long and involve a lot of travel for not much. But you're part of a team and mixing with people.

You will see new places, meet new people, and maybe break the world record for having your photo taken. Most of all, they will like that you're taking part. Do it once at least.

10 Not making friends outside of school

At home, your friends come from a variety of places. In Thailand, especially in the sticks, you're a bit stuck. However, nothing should stop you from trying. Play sports, meet English speakers and talk to people.

11 Shopping exclusively at the supermarket and avoiding the local market

Unlike in your home country, the Thai supermarket isn't the cheapest place to shop. The market is, and it has fresher produce and friendlier people.

Go there, and if you can't speak Thai, point at things you want and make numbers with your fingers. You will be amazed what's on offer and how little it costs.

12 Not having a Thai friend you can trust (well semi-trust)

If you have a problem that needs Thai language skills, what do you do? If it's a problem with the school, the Thai teachers aren't going to help you. By the time you need help, it's too late.

13 Dating the wrong sort of girl

An unpopular "what to avoid" with some, but this isn't a popularity contest. Thais judge you on your girlfriend like you wouldn't believe, and if she is the "wrong type" of girl (work it out for yourself) then you will be judged accordingly.

No one is saying she isn't a lovely girl, but if you want to stay here, it's worth thinking about.

14 Defining yourself by your job

When Thais answer a question about their job, they will tell you the industry they work in, the geographic place, or the company name.

Their job title is secondary because Thais do not define themselves by their job. Yes they work, but it isn't everything about them. There is much more to life for Thais than work!

So when someone asks about you, don't answer "I'm a teacher". Talk about yourself and what you do outside work.

Steve Micklewhite

You might be interested in....

Teacher mistakes - What are some of the most common mistakes that new arrivals make when they come to teach in Thailand?


Excellent points, Steve M.!

By Chris, Thailand (14th August 2018)

Why this Racism at schools?
Frankly speaking&even I'm a native speakers,I pity those non native speakers like Filipino and black people who are always discriminated by the Directors &schools principals.
I really don't know what happen now in the earth?
And even some schools accept them but with low salary &100% they will get paid only 9 or 10 months,so how they will survive? They are human being (like me,like you &like everyone) &they need to work. (They come from poor countries &sometimes they teach much better than the native speakers.
For me&what I see in Thailand that schools who hire only the native speakers,100% the students are not smart even you speak with them in English.
At the next,I hope that the schools officers tell the truth when you submit your CV at their school &please stop the lies by answering them : I will call you &where's your e-mail address? It's unfair too because they are teachers &why they lie at teachers........!!!!
I'm really so surprised &I discovered one big problem in Thailand:
( Why the majority of schools are under Agency? )
The answer is easy : because that agent shares the money taken from the foreign teachers salary (each month) and pass it to the Directors or school principals.
Really I love Thailand but I don't like what Thai teachers do for Thai students &their parents....Always lies....lies about foreigners &I hope the ministry of Education know about this issue &what happen at Thai schools &why they kick out foreign teachers from schools?
Some Thai teachers are jealous about foreign teachers (High salaries) but really is not a high salary because the Foreign teachers doesn't have ant benefit like:medical insurance &pension so what for Thai teachers are jealous of foreign teachers? **I advice you to teach overseas if you want to get high salary like foreign teachers.
Finally,I hope the ministry of Education to control school &to protect foreign teachers because even they suffer there's no one who can solve their problems &thanks.
P.S1 : If you want to have a good education in Thailand,you must stop those agent between foreign teachers &the schools.....and must the parents defends the foreign teachers .....must the students respect the foreign teachers like they respect Thai teachers .
P.S2 : Of course there's some Thai teachers who will answer my comments by using different names.....but I will be happy

By Chris, BKK (17th March 2016)

Everyone likes to teach &relax during long holiday but how come you will be happy without salaries (during 2 months holiday ) it's really unfair &how you will survive 2 months without salary ( the salary is only 30 000 baht/month ).
Secondo,may l know which one who defends the foreigners when Thai teachers make problem for them &they kick them out from the school at the end of the semester.
At the end,I hope Thai teachers respect foreigners teachers because the majority of them are very well behaved &thanks.

By Chris, BKK (17th March 2016)

I agree with these specially dating the right kind of girl; seems that keeping a public GF for events and social gatherings is a sensible way to seem acceptable. There are tons of of single educated thai females for this purpose....you are a foreigner, you can manage.
On the other hand we all like bad girls; yes, tattoos, dark skin...your own personal porn star. This is okay too. But please, dont take your personal pornstar to a public affair or a work event!!!! hahahahaha.

By Morphan, Las Vegas (22nd January 2016)

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