People without formal teaching qualifications
I'm talking about those without as much as a TEFL or CELTA certificate
They had no hands-on training. They were never observed and didn't observe others. They never learned how to lesson plan.
They fell into the job and have been stumbling through it ever since. Purely on the grounds that English is their first language. That is their qualification and the sum total of their experience.
They exist in a void of having always done things their way and will not be told otherwise. They rarely [scrub that, never] ask for other teacher's opinions and react negatively towards any sort of feedback on their styles.
It is nigh on impossible to try and streamline anything with them, such as a structured reading program across different grades.
And they shy away from anything that looks remotely like extra work or career development.
This is their logic. What doesn't get the attention of the head teacher is taken as a cue that they're doing things right. 1 + 1 = 2.
Why are they here? Because their significant other is a Thai. And that's the only reason. Oh, and it's good fun and relatively cheap to live here, too.
Why do they teach? Some have no other means of income. Others don't want to dip into savings and early retirement plans. And they intend to keep this practice up for as long as possible. It makes sound financial sense.
Screw the quality of teaching and the dubious value that schools and students gain from their contributions. This is about good ol' farangy and his/her other half. And only about that.
What do they bring to the role? Every lousy habit and routine way of working that they held in their previous careers and the methods that they can remember their own teachers using from when they were at school.
They shout over students as a means of getting more of them to listen and are too set in their blinkered ways to realise that it doesn't work. If anything, it further alienates students and makes their lessons even more tedious.
They write in block capitals on the board AS IF EVERY LESSON THEY EVER SAT THROUGH AND EVERY TEXT THEY EVER READ AT SCHOOL WAS PRESENTED IN THE SAME MANNER.
Many are obsessive grammar bores because of the websites that they routinely grab their dreary material from. They believe that being able to memorise unusable grammatical terminology is as or more important than actually being able to actively understand and use the language itself.
They're not teaching their students English, they're teaching their students about English. Guilty until proven innocent.
Most of them don't even know their students nicknames, or care too it seems.
Those that can be bothered to give a hoot about grades hold up their test and exam results as a sign of their ability to deliver, ignoring the fact that many of their students were good at English in the first place and would have undoubtedly scored higher with a properly trained teacher.
If their jobs are not simply a means to an end, some of them even read academic texts that were not written in, for or about teaching in Southeast Asia. And they swallow these texts verbatim despite the fact that they have no real idea of how to actually adapt and apply them to the classroom.
A few even go so far as to take up distance-learning degrees. Round of applause over, there is still not an ounce of hands-on experience or real-time feedback in sight. And that means the acquisition of nice-to-have information and knowledge vs. invaluable understanding and wisdom.
An online TEFL would be a lot quicker and cheaper and just as useless. They get a pretty piece of paper with their name on it too, just to show how diligent they are.
What really niggles me about all of this is that the educational and immigration authorities swallow this mediocrity. Wholesale. Because it's easy to rubber stamp. Where's the quality control in that?
It is both sad and worrying that people without proper teacher training behind them are so easily able to infiltrate the system. To be brutally frank, it sucks.
For me, the true mark of an untrue teacher is one that gets hung-up over things like punctuation and perfect nouns. All they're doing is rehashing what they themselves were taught at school. Yes, these things are important... but to native speakers in their own home countries. Whoever's selling red biros in Thailand must be making an absolute killing.
But to hell with communication. It's the latest Google search and downloadable lesson plan that counts, right? Wrong! Very wrong.
Note to readers. This is what I have observed on numerous occasions in numerous locations in Thailand. It does not refer to any one particular school and its hiring policy or to any one particular individual. It's called the plain truth.
I suspect that this article will ruffle a few collars. Swallow this as a finale. A degree in English Literature is unusable in Thailand because English is rarely if ever studied at such a high level and only an education-based degree could possibly make up for a lack of having been properly trained to teach English, and even then...
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I am a TEFL teacher, with a BA but not in Education. I have taught here for a year and yes I came with next to no experience in teaching classes besides tutoring. Let me tell you, I teach at one of the poorest government schools in Bangkok, schools where kids are not sent to school that day because they don't have 20 baht for lunch. My kids love me. I know all their names, I make structured lesson plans based on their weaknesses, and I hang out with them during office hours. I have spent this year tutoring and teaching, and for you to even say blanket statements like, yelling over students to get them to be quiet is not an effective measure is wrong. Sometimes you have to speak loud, if you're teaching 40+ kids, you have to project your voice so everyone can hear you. And yes it does grab children's attention because they respond to a strong leader.
Steve how old are you? You seem to be out of touch and out of place with reality, while my coworker is a lazy farang that steals my lesson plans all the time, I do not feel the same hatred as you do. It seems even with your degree, and all your qualifications that you spend more time caring about what other people are doing and being spiteful, rather than bettering yourself. You probably work at a fancy school where all the kids act right, and probably wouldn't last a day in a government school.
By Reality, Thailand (19th January 2020)
After retiring early at 43 (= successful). I wandered into teaching EFL in Thailand. Given current costs, cross rates, junta's, condo prices and dead coral. The only real reason I'm here anymore is my wife and my job. I am inherently qualified to teach but don't seem to be able to check many of the boxes you deem vital. Nevertheless, I've stumbled into making 70k per month and have taught at a number of absolute top secondaries in Bangkok. I spent all of 40 seconds skimming the article. You're an idiot with an agenda.
By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (20th October 2019)
Well said, Mark Newman.
Thai schools ( even international ones ) don't generally pay well enough.
That said, with the right amount of hard work and dedication, I've managed to carve out a nice standard a living here for just a few hours teaching in the afternoons.
By George, Bangkok (3rd October 2019)
Those inferior Asian employers are just misleading the world with their obsession for exploiting employees with degrees.
Most of the time, those Asians inflicted horrible conditions and often with too many students in one class. And then woe betide to us if we are not as harsh as them in their dealing with their often Asiatic horrible kids.
It is unfair for those Thais and Asians to impose their typically unprofessional Asiatic harshness on us who are keen professional teachers.
By anonymous, sea (19th March 2017)
"For agencies make sure the contract covers everything you want it too. The Labour courts are very much on your side and are free to use"
"The labor courts are on the agent's side? I wouldn't agree with that at all"
By Philip, Samut Prakarn (17th March 2017)
I read the comments on this, and in real time situations too, I find many of you have this idea that after all the training and work in your home countries, you can walk into a Thai education establishment, and expect to carry on has if you were back home or in another first world country.
The truth is you ain't! Complain as much as you like and you will be moving out sooner or later. Develop your teaching to accommodate the students, remembering that they have other lessons in Thai. Develop their knowledge and confidence in using the Language, not with just games and quizzes, use reading and writing with what they know, use chat lines and words of their favorite songs. Stop trying to force "I am fine" vocab, when you don't even use it yourself. Yes, sometimes its slow, but, when they happily approach you and try to ask questions or tell you something, you should be proud that their confidence to interact with you maybe poor, but they are willing to try. It makes it all worth it. As for Thai teachers and admin, smile be firm and never lose it with them. Preplans for everything will confound them, and like they say do what they ask and complain after. For agencies make sure the contract covers everything you want it too. The Labour courts are very much on your side and are free to use. (Don't it and won it!)
By Phetpeter, Phetchabun (17th March 2017)
Best thing Charlene is come to Thailand, do a TEFL, pay for the ticket and then see if it works for you... You will get a job somewhere. not sure where. if you have so much experience then it should help you, but remembering kids back home are not the same as Thais, although black South Africans in rural areas could be considered "Non native speakers" and so that experience may help you ind delivering lessons. However teaching Thais requires a different set of skills - a sense of humour - Maipenrai attitude (let it go) - does not mean - I do not give a shit (as some seem to think) by the way - but just the ability to let some stuff go and not to let it get hold of you. Sometimes difficult to do. If you have so much experience you will get a job somewhere. Pay the 1000 - 1350 US$ for TEFL and then can get in. Welcome to Thailand.
By Johnny Jon, Bangkok (15th March 2017)
Interesting read. Have to say, it's very much the same here in Japan. Very frustrating.
By Bookboy, Japan (15th March 2017)
Good day All
I have a four year teaching qualification and 16 years experience , but not a degree nor TEFL. It seems impossible to find a teaching job without these. I have been searching the net for months now.
I wonder how is it possible then to have such teachers as you have mentioned. Talking about quality education, only after the damage is done and visible do they (department of education) want to do something, but for many its too late.
Time is something you can never get back.
By Charlene , South Africa (13th February 2017)
Some good points... but at the end of the day, as with everything in life, Thailand gets exactly what it pays for.
By Mark Newman, Thailand (25th September 2016)
What's the issue.......it's Thailand.
"No Problem" Go with the flow. If you came here to get rich then you must be fools.
By Rickster, Khon Kaen (26th August 2016)
To the last few posters, can we draw a line under these arguments now and move on. It's turning into one of those expat forums - and I don't want that. Sorry.
By Phil (ajarn.com), Samut Prakarn (5th April 2016)
Wendy, were you drunk when you replied to my post, thrice?
It was you that used the word 'falang' in your OP, then you say that others shouldn't use it in their English vocabulary?! Hypocrite much?!
Also, it was you that then kept using the word 'farang', which you apparently find disgusting, yet again!
Do you read what you write, at all?!
"I know those Thais pronounced farang as falang. Falang sounds as disgusting as farang which I find they may most probably meant it in a derogatory way which I find many of their Thai mentality disgusting. Anyway, I think farang should not be part of the English vocabulary. They should call foreigners as foreigners (and not farang) and not give such derogatory names to foreigners. Anyway, whoever those 'farang' are married to is none of my business but I just think those Thais that are making use of 'Farangs' or exploiting 'farangs' and that is bad for everyone.
There is no need for anonymous from Middle East to heap abuse at me just for my humble opinions. "
I'd love to know how my darling wife exploits me...Where do you get your references from, I'd love to know!!
There was NO abuse hurled, at all, just my 'humble opinions' to your mindless, possibly unsubstantiated opinions!
Since when do we have to just let people make comments that offend others and then not reply to such comments, being P.C has gone too far, if that is the case!...
Also, my reply was just a rebuttal that I felt I had to make, as I took issue with your erroneous and insulting comments regarding who people should marry, etc!
"By the way, I am only a foreigner and I don't like to be treated shabbily by Thai or anyone.
As for being ignorant, I think Anonymous from Mid-East is the one that is ignorant of the problems, the nonsense and the too many unfairness that us foreigners have to put up with in Thailand. "
If you'd of read my comment properly you'd of known that I have lived in Thailand for a very long time (over a decade!), teaching for over 8yrs. I've also done important environmental work in-conjunction with the Thai government & police! (not mentioned) So, how am I ignorant of the unfairness that foreigners have to put up with?! I know far too well...
"Furthermore, I am not saying that people should not fall in love with Thai people, but when their actions are affecting many of us who are aware of the too many bad effect that it tend to cause us foreigners, then people have a right to voice out."
Pray tell, how does foreigners marrying Thais affect many other foreigners, and please tell me about the bad effects that these obviously despicable foreigners cause....
As I stated at the start of my rebuttal....were you drunk when you replied to me?! Your grammar was deplorable in all of your 3 replies!! Why not just write it all out in one grammatically incorrect post?!
I am really not sure I will reply to any more of your poorly written, know it all and quite frankly childish comments. I don't have rose tinted glasses on regarding Thailand and I have had it up to the back teeth to be frank.
The only thing I care about now (as any father should) is giving my child the best start in her life, and that doesn't include being in Thailand.
I am 'just' a foreigner that demands higher standards of intelligence, and my daughter, wife and I certainly won't get that in Thailand...
I don't wish this to become a tit for tat between us. So, I suggest you either take your time over the reply, if any, or duly expect more 'embarrassment' (NOT ABUSE) to be 'heaped' upon you, for your inane & asinine comments.
The crowd scored Anonymous 'over 9000' for this reply!! Lulz....
By Anonymous, Mid-East (5th April 2016)
Furthermore, I am not saying that people should not fall in love with Thai people, but when their actions are affecting many of us who are aware of the too many bad effect that it tend to cause us foreigners, then people have a right to voice out.
By Wendy, SEA (4th April 2016)
By the way, I am only a foreigner and I don't like to be treated shabbily by Thai or anyone.
As for being ignorant, I think Anonymous from Mid-East is the one that is ignorant of the problems, the nonsense and the too many unfairness that us foreigners have to put up with in Thailand.
By Wendy, SEA (4th April 2016)
I know those Thais pronounced farang as falang. Falang sounds as disgusting as farang which I find they may most probably meant it in a derogatory way which I find many of their Thai mentality disgusting. Anyway, I think farang should not be part of the English vocabulary. They should call foreigners as foreigners (and not farang) and not give such derogatory names to foreigners. Anyway, whoever those farang are married to is none of my business but I just think those Thais that are making use of Farangs or exploiting farangs and that is bad for everyone.
There is no need for anonymous from Middle East to heap abuse at me just for my humble opinions.
By Wendy, SEA (4th April 2016)
I would like to take issue regarding this utterly ridiculous comment made by Wendy....
A: What right do you have to tell me or others where I / they can take their wives & children...Are you racist, anti immigration or something equally more ignorant?!
Are you not in a foreign country meeting people etc...What if you fell in love and then wished to give your spouse & child a better chance at a future?! As you seem utterly closed minded, then I sincerely fear for any student that has the unfortunate circumstance to come across your path...'By the way', yet again showing your ignorance 'faRang' means foreigner, so obviously you wouldn't need to write it in brackets as I would assume that people understand what that word means on this website...called 'Ajarn'. (the Thai word for teacher!) See, we can all do silly things like explain the bleeding obvious! Meh.
B: You obviously know so little, that you don't even realise the change in sound of the 'r', the way most Thais say it...They have an 'R' in their language, but are generally too lazy to pronounce it properly in most parts of the country! It goes something like this...'R' (sounds like this in the phonetic form)...'Ror Rua'...pronounced properly it is 'Farang' NOT Falang as you incorrectly pointed out!
C: As for fleeing Thailand at the first opportunity...I have stayed for over a decade and so I don't believe that I fit into that little category of yours. Also, to take my wife back to my crappy country, of which we won't be heading to, I would have to have a job that demands that I earn pretty much double the national average wage!
D: As my wife speaks English very well, then why shouldn't she go and live in a western country?! What about all the people in western countries that arrive there and don't speak the language, but wish to learn it and become useful members of said society?!
E: As for making it worse for other English speakers who are looking for a professional English speaking environment to advance and promote the use of English language. You are in the wrong country for that...
Thais have only gone downhill fast in their English speaking skills since I would hazard a guess at 15-20yrs in general...The majority of the country can't and don't speak English and have no intention of making any effort to do so. You can check out all of the statistics regarding this and the fact that they've been pretty much taken over by nearly all other Asean countries and are no in the bottom bracket for English. There are many reasons for this that I don't have the time or inclination to go into with you. I suggest a strong cup of wake the hell up...Then and only then will you possibly come out with less (quoted) ignorant statement like the one you made below.
"By the way, why are so many foreign(or falang) men married to Thais and yet seems to be fleeing from Thailand at the first opportunity?
I think they should not bring their Thai speaking wives to Western countries or make it worse for us English speakers who are looking for a professional English speaking environment to advance and promote the use of English language. " By Wendy, SEA. (does the SEA stand for Sanctimonious Egotistical A*se?)
By Anonymous , Mid-East (4th April 2016)
By the way, why are so many foreign(or falang) men married to Thais and yet seems to be fleeing from Thailand at the first opportunity?
I think they should not bring their Thai speaking wives to Western countries or make it worse for us English speakers who are looking for a professional English speaking environment to advance and promote the use of English language.
By Wendy, SEA (3rd April 2016)
If one has proven to have at least two Certificates(that should be acquired from professional organisations), have at least one of their Certs related to teaching English(TESOL) acquired from a validated, professional course provider), good grasp and good command of spoken written English, some teaching experience or other work experience, dedicated to further advancement, ability to commit on a short term or long term basis, plus other relevant good points that one may has; one should be considered as good as a graduate until proven otherwise.
By Wendy, SEA (3rd April 2016)
I posted 6yrs ago on this topic! Over the years I have deleted the ajarn notifications, as I really can't be bothered with all the nonsense from pompous & pretentious, so called teachers.
I finally had the time and inclination today to have a look at how it had progressed. I see not much has changed, never expected it to really!
Anyhoo, distressingly I made the choice to leave my gorgeous wife and child, who is now over 7yrs old, she speaks fluent Thai (obviously), English and is learning Latin American Spanish, as we are finally, and gladly getting the hell out of Thailand, once and for all.
I only taught in Thailand so that I could stay with my wife of 13yrs and our incredible child.
I have been working in the Mid-East for the past 2+yrs paying off the crippling debts that have built up due to me working for the slave-like wages paid by the Thai government!
These have apparently remained unchanged for the past 19yrs, certainly for the past 13-15 that I know of!
I am a very dedicated person and I still help my students that are in their early and mid-twenties at uni', and many even call me Dad / Father.
Which, to be honest is a fantastic feeling....So, I am not a fly by night teacher, as many are accused of being in Thailand.
I care deeply about my students lives & learning capabilities, and really try to remedy any problems they have.
Even here in the Land of Sand (from one l.o.s to the other!) I have a huge respect from the students / naval cadets & commanders.
Other highly qualified teachers with masters degrees, and even one with a PhD don't get the results that I consistently get from all the different levels of students...It has become a running joke here by the commanders and other teachers. We get along very well, by the way. Simply because we are all adult enough to appreciate each others techniques and are constantly growing together.
So, to other so called 'unqualified teachers' out there, I have this to say...If you find a niche in which you can use your love of people, compassion, empathy and all the other human traits needed in life, then, I am sure that you can be a teacher that really makes a difference to peoples lives, regardless of age. Don't be a pretentious, I know better than you type person. One thing I tell my students across the board is "don't call me teacher, my name is Simon. You are also a teacher, I couldn't speak Thai and I can't speak Arabic...So you can teach me too. I am just here to teach you English and thus learn from you too". That seems to bring a massive change in their minds from the very start.
I must admit that I don't teach little kids...As I've had one of my own for 13yrs!!! (My wife!)...My daughter of 7, thinks in a far more adult way than the majority of Thais I have ever met, Lulz...Enjoy what you do, make it relevant to the students lives as much as possible, and make learning fun...I never play games in class by the way....but my classes are always fun, as I am like a stand up comic for some, to a lot of the time!
I teach using reality!! Forcing the students to look at what is really happening in the world, food, environment and in their own country, then joke about it. As it really is a joke after all...IMHO "teaching in itself is a subversive act".
To the academic snobs out there, I have a degree in English with upper 2nd class honours. However, I did that some yrs back, my final year was mainly to do with progressive writers and politics of the 20th century...I spent that year reading & writing about Chomsky, Klein, Zinn and other greats...I'm also a child of the internet. You may have guessed that from some of the terminology I used!
To sum up,(you can tell I have far too much time on my hands in the mid-east) Thailand is a wonderful place to teach, the kids are great. Sadly, the administration / government has no clue at ALL, and most Thai teachers don't care and can't even finish a sentence correctly, as most of you well know.
Don't even get me started on the O-Net etc...I spent far too many years videoing and copying the tests and answers to even bother debating how incredibly bad they are...Pfffttt....
Prior, preparation and planning, prevents piss poor performance!
Enjoy working in Thailand...Personally though, if I were you I would consider the Mid-East, as I have been treated very well, the people are just as friendly, the wages are superb...Just get in quickly before it all goes off...
Hey, aren't we also in it for the money, like another poster rightly said...
I love teaching, but I won't be treated or paid like a Burmese migrant by the Thais, and my daughter will never be in their subservient 1984 style system either!
All the best and get rid of those rose tinted glasses, they're ruining your eyes! LULZ
By Anonymous, Mid-East (I'll never teach in Thailand ever again) (12th March 2016)
Steve are you describing my school 15 years ago! As one of about 3 qualified teachers , i have a bachelor of education degree and all my TEFL qualifications and i worked in a mid price Thai school in Bangkok, i would come up against daily resistance and abuse from the 40+ farang 'teachers' when i asked about lesson plans, how we were going to structure topics, why are they not explaining grammar correctly and the kids then coming to me for explanations. Their response was to call me an an aussie dkye (i'm British) and complain i didn't get them their lunch like the Thai lady teachers did. Their attitude made me ashamed of English foreign language teachers here and cause me no end of aggro in my job.
By Birdie Frost, Thailand (12th March 2016)
I am interested to know what qualifications Steve the poster has? And at what type of school?
I have an interest in these discussions as I previously worked at an international school and return to Bangkok often as I also maintain a condo there.
Steve's comments may be valid but there is also an old saying, 'If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys'
Thailand's expectations of a well qualified teacher with appropriate degree, working for a measly 35-40 k a month are hopelessly out of sync with reality.
By Steve, Qatar (11th March 2016)
Steve. Would you mind explaining to the rest of us what a perfect noun is?Since you are obviously a superior teacher.
By Glen Weyer, Philippines (11th March 2016)
To "john cooper, England" : WOW ! You poor, naive, flippin' fool....."it doesn't help to have Americans teaching English, because English is English, not American...." Where, even, to begin with this ?
Americans have been speaking English----and good English, at that----for over 300 years, John. Also, the English language by and large has been evolving, for better or worse, as have many other languages over the centuries. PLEASE do not confound the good readers of this forum by suggesting that we, from across the sea, are somehow deficit in a language that we regularly study, and speak, "from Spring shoot to old oak", as it were. For crying out loud, John---we revere , and aspire toward, the works of those who came before us. Why would we then bastardize the name of our mother tongue by holding up a standard that's less than that of merry olde England ? Or is it that you really cannot stand the idea that anyone who isn't actually English could possibly speak it ? Grow the f*ck up, John, for everybody's sake.
Especially colorful was your little quip about how "the color is grey, not gray".......Do you really perceive that something that trifling can possibly mirror someone's command of grammar or conversation skill ? You know, half the time, in my writing, I will say "realise", and half the time I will say "realize", and they both bear equal weight throughout the rest of the known world. English was destined to change, to some extent, and if you really want to blame someone, John......just point to the 'net, which has likely done more damage to the English language in the last 15 years than we have done in 200 years of 'corrupting' it from across the sea.
The worst part is, you and your ilk will bring that not-so-subtle bias and loathing right into the schools here, tainting youngsters who want nothing more than to have fun and learn to speak. And you know.....In the US, people just love Brits, and we love your accents and mannerisms and all-----and what do you do, in return, but f*ck us in the back end, on a forum intended for productive commentary.
Get some maturity, Johnny, or get outta Dodge. ( And no, I am not speaking in reference to our fine UK audience at large----not to worry.)
By robbo, satun ThaiL (10th March 2016)
Wow, a lot of comments here......go figure. But really, what in the world do people think, when they come here to teach ? Back in the US, I had to do 2 yrs , solid, of teacher courses, on top of my 4 yr science degree and 2 yrs pre-med on the side, just to step inside the ring for hs teaching. This is what you DO, in America, to even think about teaching.
So when u go skipping off to some developing 3rd world situation ---which Thailand is----then u get what u pay for : They tell u, "yeah yeah, good housing, x amt / month, u need a BA and a TEFL" or maybe "u need a TEFL or TESOL"....... and i feel like, "which IS it, BA o rTEFL or TESOL, or all 3 ?" I can say w/ authority that neither a TEFL nor TESOL is anywhere near the amt of work that an accredited teaching institution makes u do in the States, and yes, i paid a LOT for my 2 yrs of sci teaching courses. 38 cr. hrs, and a mandatory intern period of 14 weeks in school, before u even can apply for a license.
Compare this to a 120 hr TEFL course, many of which r run by some online outfit where u never even meet the owner......and yet the Thai schools love to see "TEFL" on your resume......as if TEFL warrants even the time of day, w regard to methodology and insight. But Thai schools LOVE to see it----because they do not have a good barometer to go by, in measuring someone's skills, in many cases. They dont even look at my teacher courses, most of the time----just my degree type. Un-f*ckin real, is how i describe it, but that is the scale they use.
And so, u make exactly 1/4 what u would in America, for pay. Nobody who is truly qualified will stay on such a track for very long, which is why there is the turnover here. 35000 bht = 1000 USD, roughly, which is what u make in ONE WEEK in America, at any HS i can think of.
So if u are willing to spend around 2000 USD for a good TESOL course, or a little more for an MA-TESOL, then u can slide on over to Hong Kong or Taiwan or ROK and actually make enough to live a little, even save some.
But if u jet on in to Thailand on a TEFL and think u can make any more than the bare living wage ( Thai living wage ), u are in for a shocker.
Come here for the culture and beaches, etc, and come with huge cash in hand, and u will be happy. Come with pie-in-the-sky teaching plans, and u will be needing prozac in no time flat......
By robbo, satun thailand (10th March 2016)
Have to say, it stings but it's correct. You got me to a tee, but I went back to blighty (after my life experience 'degree' was rejected). Tail well and truly between the legs. Mrs upset. The whole 'shebang'. My school did try to keep me and did all they could (they told me to get an Ed Visa and carry on working), but it was pretty hopeless. Back I went. But...
...before I left I enrolled at uni in the UK. An Education degree no less, which finishes this summer. About 12 weeks left as I type. I'm on for a very good grade (not saying which as 'pride comes before a fall'). It's been useful. Worked in a primary school in England as part of it. Modules on educational psychology, English, Maths and Science in schools etc etc.
However, I do regret working without the Ed degree now. Now, I have to explain to employers (and immigration officers!) how I worked in schools before getting my Ed degree. I also had the small matter of having a WP rejected after my degree was found not to be accredited. So...it wasn't worth it.
I'll be coming back this summer and hopefully, everything will be fine (but no guarantees of course).
Take my advice if tempted to teach in Thailand without a degree. Don't. Get a real Ed degree/PGCE and do it properly.
By NotinThai, England (27th February 2016)
The longer I stay here the more I realize this country is unlikely to change. Now I am not saying that old teachers are the best teachers but I know teachers who have been here for 8 or 9 years and all their experience seems to be pushed aside for a younger crop who are to be fair more handsome and maybe have more energy. I have seen some pretty crappy older teachers but some younger teachers were fired from my school recently because they simply did not make the grade. In this country where so little is changing except possible more money being thrown at the system which means that more money is siphoned off while the school gets the cheapest teachers they can and they have their drinking money for the month. And so white teachers trump Filipino’s (but I have to say that I find the Filipino accent off. Recently a Filipinos was trying to say Asian and she kept of saying “Ajean”. I couldn’t get it. She said it about 5 or 10 times and in the end had to spell it. Blacks are trumped by everyone no matter where they come from unless you are superstar. Blond hair blue eyed young teachers trump everyone. Who the hell cares if they can teach? I wonder if the principle and co-teachers lick their lips and wonder what extracurricular activity they may get or maybe he can teach them English “privately”. Now Thailand is promoting itself as the ASEAN hub. It is always amazing in this country how little changes except the way they promote themselves. Who would come to Thailand and open a business given their poor English skills and their innate ability to blame someone else for the fact they hardly ever earn (and the laws where you cannot own anything). It is always amazing to me when the teacher gets “too serious” the teacher gets fired and until that is addressed the country will never change. As long as teachers are window dressing in the window to make the school look good no one will take the job seriously. Who cares if they have a degree? They rarely use it anyway right? It seems agencies have secured their place their year in many schools and make sure the brown envelopes keep on flowing. The cheapest newbies are recruited and thrown into schools. Most of them anyway. Everyone takes their cut. If anything I have found education getting worse. Most kids are out of control, they know they can get teachers fired on whim, and the “best teachers” are those who are fun or having fun. Blond haired and blue eyed teachers are great. When they go home and mummy asks how the new teacher is and they all reply in a rising whined cry of elation. Who could object? As long as the students are happy right?
By Marvin, Bangkok (19th October 2012)
The harsh reality: The Thai education system is a mess - students arrive late - not at all - sleep in class - corrupt language schools / directors - Okay the list is endless - MONEY - PERCEPTION - POLITICS - and if you have the numbers then it can all be achieved without anyone teaching or anyone learning. One may fool one's self that a qualified teacher (whatever that is) will make a difference - but they are deluded or have delusions of grandeur. No amount of pontification towards non-qualified teachers will change the den of inequity that exists in Thailand. Thailand's problem is not its teachers - it is its attitude towards education - more specifically learning English. The schools have all the substance of a holywood set - In 1994 I visited Hanoi in Vietnam - it had crosswalks - traffic lights and even policmen made up like English bobbies - heheeh but the lights did not work - the policmen blew his whistle ad-hoc - and people crossed twenty meters from the cross walk. Actually, it was quite funny though people can get hurt or killed right? Well, Thailand is the same - it has all the trappings but as i said no substance. And of course, as Lynn sadly mentions - (lady from Malaysia) there is the prejudice come discrimination - black people, Phillipinos - Thai teachers are all treated as inferior to caucasisan teachers. Let me finish with one more analogy. Once on the Island of Koh Samui a German lady screamed that there was a gekko in her bungalow - she hastily moved to the more expensive bungalow to remedy the problem. Five minutes later she screamed again - Moral of story - Guekkos dont know the difference between a cheap or expensive (in this case) bungalow.
So, it goes for the Ministry of Thai education who engender - instill - enculturate a mentality that Thais can blame everyone and everything when the students do not perform - they need to look in their own back yards. You can not buy an education - you can not leave education to the machinations of corrupt/unscrupulous Thai businessmen and women - otherwise you remain guekos. The last comment is to those with the gual and hubris to think they with their degrees can remedy all of the above - please I know better.
My advice to those of you who are less arrogant - do not present a fake degree or buy one - at the same time do not be lauded over by those who presume to have the patent on who can and who can not teach well. Some of the best teachers I have seen have no degree and some of the worst have a degree. The irony is neither is going to make a difference until money perception and politics is addressed.
By Stephen, England (18th October 2012)
So many don't see themselves as English Teachers, but as teaching English. A friend once said, "are you an English Teacher or not?!". What that means is that you take it seriously, are willing to learn and grow as a teacher, and care about English acquisition. I don't have a TESOL cert, but I studied primary education in the US (a lot of focus on ESL instruction). I spent a few years working with children in America years ago (then drifted out of education), but recently went to Thailand to teach ESL (in Issan). I sought out advice from experienced teachers, and read about ESL acquisition theory and methodology, etc. I found a passion for it. But when I decided I needed more money, and started searching in BKK, Thai schools kept asking for TESOL cert and when I showed them my license to teach in America and my BA, they seemed baffled.......so they have guys who worked construction or whatever their whole lives, went to a 3 or 4 week TESOL training but know nothing of child psychology, etc who seemed to get more respect than me. I already have experience, and 2 years post grad ed studies....I ain't ploppin down the $2000 for a CETEL class tho I would if it were much cheaper. I will be back though.
By jay, California (7th October 2012)
Think Thailand is bad - Myanmar is worse. Never seen so many backpacking, unqualified teachers anywhere. Schools just scoop them up as cheap labour. They are cheating the students and parents. Government should crack down on work visas.
Ajarn.com - Please do not mention names of schools, companies or individuals in comment sections. Thank you.
By jazzy, Myanmar (2nd August 2012)
By Lynn, Malaysia You are 100% correct. In Thailand it’s a prerequisite to be white.. I knew an Italian guy with his PHD in English lit – semi retired who were job hunting.. Rejected by many Thai schools based on his non whiteness. I have also known 3 semi retired teachers from Canada and the USA who were “ world traveling “ both rejected based on their age of 52.. FOOLISH !
By Kanadian, Jiangxi China (19th February 2011)
Most foreigners hired to teach in Thailand are not teachers by profession. They just took up a short TESOL or CELTA to embark on teaching upon completion. A teacher by profession is one who enters college/university to get trained as a qualified teacher and that normally takes 3-6 years. I have both TESOL and CELTA qualification apart from a Master's Degree but I am not qualified to teach because I am not White :)-
By Lynn, Malaysia (19th February 2011)
David Williams, Phuket - a Celta is not a degree. However according to the changes in the new Thai educational system; a school can request a foreign teacher who has no degree obtain a NON B working visa. This is what they called the 3rd tier. I am glad your enjoying your job. two thumbs up !
By Kanadian, waiting for the jet (23rd June 2010)
Hi Gary. Regarding your query about online and distance education in the ELT/Applied Linguistics fields, the best advice I can offer is to search for and apply to a program offered by proper, campus-based university which is located in an English-speaking country and which has an education faculty supporting widely published academic staff. Ignore all the others. Education is not really the sort of affair you want to apply a bargain-hunting approach to.
By Gavin J., Bangkok (23rd June 2010)
I have no degree, but I do have a Celta, and I have been teaching in a Tessabarn school [the same school] for over 5 years, I am adored by my students and the majority of the teachers like me and I am getting results, it has taken me this long to gain the one thing that the kids need, to get rid of their fear of making a mistake, I am in clover, but it has been hard work especially battling the school authority and I am convinced that every school authority has a very active crazy idea department
By David Williams, Phuket (23rd June 2010)
I see that you are keen in improving yourself and gaining better teaching qualifications. There are several good universities in the UK and some of them offer studies by distance. The best way to find out is by asking some few representatives in Bangkok such as Mentor or the British Council, if your are interested in British education. You could also contact Durham University, York and Exeter U. as well. They have a very good department of education. Exeter U. offers BA and MA degrees in education; they have a great MA Ed. TESOL , and, in fact, after my BA I'm also planning to study in this university. Now, I'm studying at the University of London, Goldsmiths College. If you're interested in English studies, this is the university to go to. They have a great programme in English Literature, but it is very intense. You will have a huge amount of literature to read and plenty of writing to do. Reading is about 90 % of the study period. So, I don't know if that would suit you, but it will really increase your knowledge base exponentially. However, all the study is done by distance, and the fees are quite affordable.
Well, that is all I can advice you for the moment. Good luck and have great success in your life.
By Roberto L. Echanes, Bangkok, Thailand (10th June 2010)
I teach year M1 and M2. That is 10 classes per year average 50 students per class, opps that makes 1000 students per week.(not including privates) So you were right and wrong! LOL
By Peter, Phetchabun (9th June 2010)
Peter, it's impossible to have 2,000 students. Sorry. 200, yes. Maybe you accidentally typed an extra 0.
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (9th June 2010)
I have been teaching in Thailand for over a year now and have been made to feel like an absolute idiot by people with 'education snobbery'. But I have come to accept the fact, yes fact, that some people with little (not none) training CAN and DO teach English to students all over the world, and can (in many cases) teach as, or equally as well as some BA/Masters/Phd educated teachers. Teaching is a lot to do with inter-personal skills, which people either have or don't have. I could go on all day about this issue but I enjoy my low blood pressure so that'll do!
Anyway, I have committed myself to teaching English and to furthering my knowledge and understanding of this field. So, what I am wondering is if anyone out there can give advice on the best online study courses in teaching/education. I've been looking around but as you all know it's hard to trust a lot of what you find. Hope someone can help.
Go easy on each other guys, life is too short!
By Gary Moran, Khon Kaen (9th June 2010)
Peter, Phetchabun those are the names you should remember. More importantly the one who pays you... LOL
By Kanadian, (9th June 2010)
I admit I don't know all my students nicknames, because at last count I have 2000, and I don't recall all the teachers either! except the very cute single filipino teacher and the boss and the lady who pays me (LOL) But! I remember all my private students name!
By Peter, Phetchabun (8th June 2010)
It amazing how many people have a problem with teaching in Thailand. The students can be very wearing at times that is true. Not having a place to cool down both mentally and phsyically with A/C doesnt help either.
yes it is true the upmarket students and their schools can be very soul destroying as can the government school. But, if you are going to teach in Thailand you have to roll with the flow! when its going wrong, don't fly off the handle, speak as if you are in control of the dog and not being dragged by the animal! Like in any job you have to wheel and deal. the poor teacher will always have something to say, such as, It's not in my contract, I don't work weekends. I don't want to teach that class anymore they don't listen! The students keep jumping my class! I wish I had started this teaching in Thailand a long time ago...I have so much free time and freedom plus I have got some lovely private work. It's true that some teachers without the paperwork are very good teachers. and its also true that some teachers with full paperwork are .... well you understand! I have met both and sometimes they have made me feel I am hopeless and othertimes that I am greatest thing since sliced bread. I think schools should start looking carefully at the staff they employ,because I think things will stay the same except for the moves by the TCT which are starting to effect some areas of teaching hopefully for the better...It will be much better when they drag in the private sectors too.
By Peter, Phetchabun (8th June 2010)
Hi Phil. Thanks for weighing in here. I half expected a bit of a spanking. Your point is duly noted. However, I wasn`t suggesting that you edit everything or even discard everything that doesn`t meet a standard befitting the profession of teaching the English language. And I am sure there are plenty of people who visit this site who could pick apart many of the comments here - but choose not to. Yet, I did - not for the glory, but in the hope of prompting people to at least use a grammar and spell checker before submitting comments, even if they are posted anonymously. My point is - why bother making comments and claims about teaching English if you don't have the time, inclination or ability to submit something that, at minimum, you would be willing to attach your name to. Who will promote clear and accurate use of language if not those who claim to be its teachers?
By Gavin Johnson, Bangkok (7th June 2010)
Gavin, I think you are being a tad pedantic there. I'm sure there are many of us who could pick apart these blog comments for their lack of grammar structure and careless spelling etc - but we choose not to. I don't because I've simply got better things to do. I look at some of the comments and wonder where the hell I would start if I was in the mood to edit them. So I either post the comments as they are or delete them wholesale.
I wouldn't question someone's teaching ability just because they have a rather casual attitude to posting comments on a website and mistakes have crept in. I'm sure those same people take a lot more care in a classroom.
Let's keep the comments on the topic of the blog.
By philip, (7th June 2010)
The issue of teacher qualifications seems to have piqued the interest of a few more readers recently, or at least a few more people have chosen to comment on the topic as it relates to Thailand. However, quality should always be preferred to quantity – when it comes to language use. While it’s nice to see broad participation on ELT discussion boards, it’s really annoying when the standards normally associated with the field are spurned – either through laziness or ignorance. Why not dignify forums like this by actually contributing texts that can be models of good form and style? Is this too much to ask? As it stands, some of the comments here would not seem out of place in a seventh grade English class back home or a lower-intermediate class here in Thailand. Here are some examples of what we should be trying to avoid:
"Despite the fact he’s slandering a lot of people."
(a) This is not a complete sentence (b) libel is the correct word for defamation in written texts [slander refers to spoken defamation].
"One day, I told me director I have 2 semi retired qualified teachers from Canada, and they are interested in the position."
(a) Awkward construct with grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.
(b) Revised: I once told this school’s director that two semi-retired certified teachers from Canada were interested in a position.
"Unfortunately, still those who have access to a better standard of education are the wealthy and privileged. The poor don’t have those golden educational opportunities."
(a) Just plain awkward and inefficient language use.
(b) Revised: Unfortunately, the poor still don’t have the same access to better educational opportunities as the wealthy.
"I have done my tefl and am now here in the UK working 80 hours a week to pay for a degree course so I can live in Thailand with my Thai wife who happens to be a teacher,yes she is a Thai Teacher,a university qualified Thai Teacher who is presently teaching here in the UK."
(a) Wow! Where to begin? This passage is a definite run-on sentence with structure, spelling and punctuation errors. Readers might enjoy trying to rewrite this. Here’s my attempt: I previously completed a TEFL course (in Thailand?) and I’m now in the UK working 80-hour weeks to pay tuition to a teaching degree program. A degree will qualify me to work at a proper school in Thailand and thus obtain a work permit so I can live with my Thai wife in her country.
I could go on and on here, but that’s my bit for now.
By Gavin J, Bangkok (7th June 2010)
John Cooper, England - I have always taught my students if it's in the dictionary it's correct. If it's grey or gray i don't care. If your Thai wife and you are making good cash in the UK, do yourself a favour, stay in the UK. I've told my Thai wife, after this term in China ( yes I teach at a university in China ) we will move to Canada, if she say's she can't, then find. Let's get a D going on ! This country, the government, the politics just ain't worth the effort. As for Thai students ? 90% don't give a shit, mommy and daddy just want to see a farang face teaching little Joey. The school only cares about their profitt margin so the dean of the school can't steal more. If your wife taught in Thailand, she knows the truth. Ask her.
Articles - Thanks for confirming the facts. Those who look at pretty pictures of Thailand and it's hypocritical smile are just fooling themself.
John in England - I may get some flack of this but.... Did you know or do you know Thai Ministry of Labour Law ? I do ! Thailand does not honour their law. So when you speak of something I've spent over 17 years doing in both Canada and the USA, please know your facts.
By Kanadian, on the beach (6th June 2010)
I'm making a perfectly valid and correct point in saying the only way to gain experience is to do the job.As with any employment you start at the bottom unless of course as the comment suggests you are born with both teaching experience and qualifications.Nothing to do with being fined for not wearing a crash helmet which just shows a lack of common sense as the law is the law wherever you are.Plain and simple.
By John Cooper, England (6th June 2010)
You're not in Europe, America, Japan, Korea or any other professional country. With an attitude where its not the qualifications of the teacher that are important but their looks, how can you expect to have a good education. The problem lies with Thai culture, not the teacher and until this changes (and it wont) things will stay the same. If you dont like a laxidacious culture Thailand isnt for you.
You`ll be telling us next to get a receipt off the traffic police when fined for not wearing a helmet. Which you always should of course.
By Bob, Chiang Mai (6th June 2010)
Just how does this Guy expect anybody to gain experience or was he born 100% perfect? I have done my tefl and am now here in the UK working 80 hours a week to pay for a degree course so I can live in Thailand with my Thai wife who happens to be a teacher,yes she is a Thai Teacher,a university qualified Thai Teacher who is presently teaching here in the UK.These poor students are not helped by Americans teaching English because English is English not American.The colour "Grey" is not spelt "Gray".When I return to Thailand I will take a lower paid position whilst I gain experience before moving up the ladder as anybody must do during any type of apprenticeship,sure there are plenty of frauds in Thailand but it is better to employ people who can speak and spell English than it is to employ those who speak broken English and cannot spell English words.
By John Cooper, England (6th June 2010)
Hello- I agree with Kanadian,
The whole system is profit based. How can anyone really get THAT worked up over qualifications when the school system here in Thailand has an "everybody passes" policy? Being a teacher without these "qualifications" myself,as well as being guilty of a few of the things above, I have found that the number one criteria in Thailand is being fun. All you "academics" that lay this guilt trip on those of us who just happen to be good with kids are jealous!
I teach fine but it did take time. Does it matter if you were trained to do a job or not? Sure. There are those of us out there that came from other fields and picked up teaching with out too many difficulties aside from the cultural aspect.
just my point of view
By people with out formal teaching qualifications, guests (5th June 2010)
Writer has a point, a good point.
The first reaction to this article by a fellow (?) named Maccy is surprising though. Seems to me Maccy has got a few sordid secrets of his own.
BTW, some qualified teachers do have legitimate reasons to work in Thailand. Maccy should look in his own bosom before accusing all and sundry of being a fraud or a closet paedophile.
Get a life, Maccy. To end in his style: What kind of a name is Maccy anyway? Please don't be a Filipino. There are enough unqualified wannabes there already, hiding among the qualified teachers of course.
By Hippolite, Thailand (5th June 2010)
Friends, actually it is not the lack of education that is the root cause of hiring poorly qualified teachers - there are several reasons behind this. One of them is the lack of enough budget in government schools, so they can't afford to pay higher salaries. You can't compare Thai schools with those trendy international schools whose students come from very wealthy families and they can certainly afford the high tuition fees, hence, those schools are able to hire highly credentialed teachers at much higher salaries.
Among the Thais there are many well-educated, and among those well-educated I could find that because they love Thailand they chose to stay and work in educational institutions for lower salaries instead of earning better elsewhere.
The educational problem in Thailand is endemic to this country and to raise the standard takes time because everything goes slowly here, and, surely one day things will be better. Unfortunately, still those who have access to a better standard of education are the wealthy and privileged. The poor don't have those golden educational opportunities. This is something we should be discussing instead of criticizing so much. Maybe we should put our money where our mouth is and start a joint educational project for the poor to raise the standard of education. I'd love to see one day Thai kids going to a school that offers education at the same level of international standards. Dream on, dream on...
By Roberto L. Echanes, Bangkok, Thailand (4th June 2010)
If you see the point which is clear as glass. The lack of eduation in this country explains why they don't hire qualified people. Simple case of profit - this is the key word.
By Kanadian, China (3rd June 2010)
How funny. The schools that hire these "unqualified" teachers don't pay enough money to justify anyone who is remotely qualified to teach. That is unless they are hopelessly naive and idealistic which is fine.
Schools that pay well, support professional development, and demand the kind of activities mentioned in the initial post demand that the teacher have the expensive credentials. Uncredentialed individuals regardless of talent won't be hired.
For the little Thai schools that hire anyone who speaks English. Why not?
By Carlos, Bangkok (2nd June 2010)
Actually people, if you read his wording properly the writer does have a legitimate point. Despite the fact he’s slandering a lot of people. I had the opportunity to teach in Thailand ( Nakorn Sawan ) and I was given the task of hiring new staff ( foreign teachers). One day, I told me director I have 2 semi retired qualified teachers from Canada, and they are interested in the position. His reply was – no they are too old. He continued with find some pretty girls about 22 or 23 years old. I did try to convince him that the current staff such as myself could learn a lot from these two certified teachers. Yes, you’re correct. My words were in vain… The vast majority of Thai schools just want blonde hair girls, 22 or 23 with a MA in whatever... If the degree is fake or not … Who cares . Just as long as it looks pretty. This alleged educational system in Thailand is pathetic! Anyone thinking different is in a dream world !
By Kanadian, on the way back to China (1st June 2010)
A poorly thought out article and suspiciously fake. But anyway....
Why are you angry at the non-qualified teachers playing the Thai system? Everyone that works in Thai education, and I use that term loosely, knows that Thais teach with a big dose of rote learning and a big stick. That is the system here and anyone who doesn't use a stick is a step above the Thais. The system here in Thai school is poor at best.
I think a more important question occurs when you turn the argument around. Bearing in mind that Thailand's education system is of such a low standard and it is well known that people with no qualifications work here (and that includes women, many of them) I will ask the writer of the article this question.
What are you doing here?
Let's look at the possibilities.
Assuming you have QTS, why would anyone spend nine months (hardly a lifetime, is it?) gaining QTS with their PGCE in hand, maybe a few years experience teaching in their home country and then come all the way to Thailand to work as a TEFL teacher?
If you're here as a QT then you would apply to international schools where you would be surrounded by other QTs and you really don't have to care about unqualified teachers because you would never see them.
Is QTS enough?
There's a good article on ajarn.com about a maths teacher who says he took work as an English teacher because he couldn't find a maths position. Is a fully qualified maths teacher qualified to teach English as a foreign language? No, they're not, even though they have QTS.
To put it a different way, try this example. I am an Englishman. I am qualified to teach French. I have full QTS in teaching French in a UK school. Am I qualified to teach English in a UK school? No! Am I qualified to teach French to French students in a school in Paris? No!
So, is a fully qualified (PGCE, QTS, experience, emotional scars) English language teacher from the UK or Australia qualified to teach English as a foreign language in a Thai school? Actually, they're not! What part of a PGCE in the UK, for example, involves teaching English to foreign students? None of it.
And if you're a QT of English from the UK, do you have the same facilities, freedom and support to use teaching methods that underpin your qualifications as you work in a Thai school? No! You have a book given to you by the school and that's it. Lesson planning becomes minimal with those classic textbooks that Thais hand to foreigners on their first day. :)
So, if you're not a QT. What next?
If you're putting up with those you describe in your article then you must be working in a Thai school and therefore you're most likely not a QT and are earning little more than the equivalent of a UK minimum wage.
If you're not of QTS but have a CELTA or something similar then please don't pass yourself off as a teacher of experience and observed teaching practice. QTS involves a lot of observation and feedback. TESOL/TEFL courses, while being very useful for working in Thai school, have so little observation of teaching that they may as well not bother with the six or whatever hours.
I agree, no qualifications at all should prevent an individual gaining employment but, as we know, Thailand has a system of very low standard so it happens.
So, article writer working in a Thai school, categorise yourself.
a. QT. In which case, you are the failure. You gained QTS in your country to earn a pathetically low salary by QT standards in a Thai school. Henry went from the steel factory to the same school as you and did 120 hours of instruction in massage parlours to realise that teaching was his forte, or his only hope after all those 'massages' cleaned out his wallet.
b. A TEFL certificated teacher. In which case, shut up, you did your one month, 120 hours course and have a holier than thou attitude because you 'think' you're a teacher. You're not. Your six hours observed teaching doesn't stand up alongside a QT.
c. BSc/BA in Education or a Masters of some sort. Again, you're a loser. You did three or four years studying education to work in a Thai school for fifty thousand baht a month or less? No. Something happened to put you in this lowly position so stop taking it out on poor Henry because you're jealous that he has a social life in certain entertainment complexes and you need to get over your own failures by putting him down.
d. None of the above. Maybe you're in an international school. In which case, you have no reason to care about poor Thai kids as you teach all kinds of kids that are not poor.
Conclusion: QTs don't work in Thai schools unless something is wrong. A past. A secret. Something. Anyone else isn't in a position to look down on Mr No Papers! For every drunken, whoring idiot with no qualifications there are drunken, whoring idiots with qualifications. For every brilliant, dedicated, hardworking teacher with qualifications there are brilliant, dedicated, hardworking teachers with little or no qualifications. You can have all the papers in the world to say you know what someone else has taught you, that they got from someone else who put it in a journal or a book. However, you can't teach the kind of creativity, understanding, empathy, energy, thoughtfulness, dedication, industriousness and genuine interest that is the vehicle that carries the teaching methodologies learned and practiced by teachers the world over.
In other words, your article was crap! :)
By Maccy, Bangkok (21st May 2010)
SAL - Bangkok on 2010-05-17
“male English teachers above 35 years old which are not married and supporting their families, are sad, lazy sex pests.“
What a narrow minded view!
I am 46 - ten years teaching experience, a first degree, a masters degree, 7 years in some of worst schools in a UK secondary environment - five years here in Thailand, AND TWO..read carefully...TWO UK teaching qualifications - and you call me, or similar people in my situation a sex pest?
Let it be known - in the UK, and in fact, International schools here in Thailand - UK teachers go through a rigorous criminal records check, and rightly so....just to check for evidence of inappropriate behaviour....similar to your petty accusations.
By the way, I am also divorced and do not have a family to support....does this mean I am a sex pest???
So please..do not generalise....it is highly offensive, and comments like these should be kept inside your own nasty mind.
By RP, Bangkok (18th May 2010)
Couldn't agree more with this article - in fact, it quite infuriates me to be perfectly honest.
These charlatans and cowboys make an absolute mockery of my teacher training - let alone the 1st Degree and Masters Degree I obtained - before having an actual 10 years teaching experience in the Uk to finally become qualified!
Most of these cowboys have absolutely no qualifications or skills in any department - sorry if this offends...eeer...actualy, I'll take that back...I'm not really bothered if it offends at all. If you have any pride in yourself at all - then get qualifications. You are not only cheating yourself - which is fine by me - but you are actually harming a child, EVERY child, by not giving them the education they deserve.
By RP, Bangkok (18th May 2010)
It's already been established that there are both good and bad teachers in Thailand. This is the case in every country, whether in S.E. Asia, Western Europe, North America or elsewhere. It's further been established that there are both good and bad teachers among those who are apparently 'certified', although, all other things being equal (they rarely are), certification is preferred. This is apparent to anyone who has ever attended school - anywhere. Also, I'm not sure why OTH felt the need to praise Sal's post, given the poor model of English writing that it is. This is, after all, a website dedicated to the profession of teaching English.
As far as some male English teachers above the age of 35 being "sad, lazy, sex pests", this may be partly true; however, being a “sex pest” is not causally related to the quality of one’s teaching. Furthermore, the term ‘pest’ is highly subjective and must be qualified by the person directly bothered by behavior. We would have to look at the character of such a person and the context within which they operate to know whether the term “pest” is appropriate. In some ways, the term ‘pest’ ignores the fact that the social environment here caters openly to the male sex-drive. This is hardly the fault of any English teacher. Prostitution and poverty have been endemic to Thailand since long before U.S. military forces established R & R camps in Chonburi province. In fact, recent figures peg the domestic sex trade at more than 80% of the total. The remaining portion of the sex trade here largely involves foreign tourists and locally-based employees of international corporations. English teachers rarely make the sort of money required to pay for such services. One can also follow the money trail to find out who among locally-based foreign males actually live a Hugh Hefner lifestyle. Again, it's easy to see that most of the men who maintain extensive networks of casual Thai lovers are not in fact English teachers, but those who earn much higher salaries, like hotel and hospitality managers, other corporate expats, independent entrepreneurs and pensioners. In any case, the vast majority of Thai women travelling in these circles are complicit in this behavior and so there must be something very tangible in it for them. Most such females choose to pursue foreigners for reasons of their own (which are often money-driven) and they are normally aware of the risks involved. In any event, infidelity is a widespread characteristic of romantic love here in Thailand and can hardly be blamed on male teachers of English.
Blanket statements about male English teachers (why not include the under 35-year olds - what are they up to?) are unhelpful at best. The fact that economic imperatives and other social/cultural factors currently make it easy for foreign men to do in Thailand what men around the world wish they could do, is hardly grounds for suggesting that they are incompetent teachers.
By Gavin J., Bangkok (17th May 2010)
Good post by Sal!
Sadly, Vietnam will not be come a popular destination for 'teachers' anytime soon because of the difficulty of obtaining a work permit there.
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (17th May 2010)
Must agree I am afraid... Bangkok seems to attract some of the worst teachers I have ever met and I am amazed that they even admit they do teach cos everyone knows they are slackers. Of course I dont mean all, but there are ALL cowboys! You can spot the cowboys a mile away, a certain age, a certain look, always moaning about thailand / schools, yet have lived here for donkeys years. The only thing I hope for is for Vietnam to become more popular for teachers and hopefully the rif-raf here will move on to there. Know it to be true and know that we all think it "male English teachers above 35 years old which are not married and supporting their families, are sad, lazy sex pests."
By Sal, Bangkok (17th May 2010)
Excellent replies gentlemen, but I'm still not swayed because of the theoretical issues of distance learning!
Hands ON wins hands down for me I'm afraid!
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (13th May 2010)
Many of us who decide to take such teaching degrees have got already hands-on experience. I've been teaching for over 12 years English, Spanish and PE. I just want to take a BA and a MA in order to have proper professional qualifications to continue teaching only academic subjects and retire from PE (Martial Arts) as I'm getting a bit too old. I also possess a CELTA, so I have plenty of classroom exposure. As Gavin said in a distance programme we have a lot of support too, which includes on-line seminars. Besides, English studies require a lot of reading and research. We spend a lot of time in the library, we can say 90% of our time. The University of London English study programme is very intense and comprehensive and it's been like that since 1831. There are many prestigious universities who are offering such programmes and their numbers are increasing exponentially.
By Roberto L. Echanes, Bangkok, Thailand (13th May 2010)
According to you, OTH, you and I should be in the classroom debating this issue in 'real-time', face-to-face, in order for there to be any tangible benefit for either of us, or anyone who happens to read this. Why do you then later suggest that I simply "think about it"? You seem to be contradicting yourself here. Are you a constructivist or cognitivist?
The truth is that there is a range of possible modes of learning and people have to spend some time exploring exactly which strategies work best for them. I will concede that there are some skills that are more effectively learned using more practical modes, particularly those which require us to train our bodies, such as learning to play a sport or a musical instrument. However, teaching hardly fits into this category, and, in any case, everyone who has ever been a student or undergone some form of vocational training has 'hands-on" experience in a classroom. The brain is the part of the body which "experiences" and learns, and it can do this in a range of contexts.
Furthermore, I would argue that most people who complete a distance/online master’s degree in teaching from a reputable university, while they are employed as a teacher, actually get more "hands-on" experience than people who complete a 2-month practicum in a traditional teacher training program (and far more than the few days experience that a CELTA candidate gets). An online master's degree in TESOL/App. Ling. typically takes 1-2 years to complete, depending on the amount of time a candidate commits to it. This means that he/she is in the classroom for anywhere from 8-24 months, actively applying the knowledge they are gaining, as they acquire it. Furthermore, because they are able to simultaneously re-examining their teaching methods and materials while bringing new ideas onboard, they can actually create new knowledge. In contrast, teachers completing practicums in traditional teacher training programs rarely have the opportunity to take full control of a class or to guide learners over extended periods of time.
OTH, I would also have to assume you are unfamiliar with how reputable online/distance MEd/MA programs are run. Students in these programs are typically assigned to a cohort, which forms the basis for peer communication that usually takes the form of email and/or IM, including voice/video chat. These technologies are capable of providing "real-time" interaction. Also, in my experience as a student in three different on-campus degree programs, much of my learning came through reading, reflecting, and writing (constructing texts). That's not to say that interpersonal experience (communication) isn’t also important, but as I mentioned above, distance/online students are also able to interact with peers and faculty and they get far more hands-on experience in the classroom than those in on-campus programs.
Another poster here mentioned that those who successfully complete a reputable distance/online degrees are likely more self-directed and motivated learners than the average graduate of a traditional program. I see some truth in this statement.
By Gavin Johnson, Bangkok (13th May 2010)
You cannot effectively learn how to teach English (or any other subject for that matter) without hands-on exposure and realtime feedback from tutors and fellow students. You need to be in a classroom, not on the Internet.
Think about it!
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (12th May 2010)
Hey 'Ooh, that hurts', Learning by distance from a reputable university is equally valuable and can compare very well with any in-campus study in many ways. There are a great number of students nowadays taking bachelor's and master's degrees by distance. I am one of them currently studying a bachelor degree in English at London University - Goldsmiths College and I've just had my first exam at the local testing centre last week. The standard of examinations and the rigour of the study is the same as the 'real thing'. The amount of reading and exigencies of the subject is as intense as if you were taking classes at the London campus, but there are some major differences as well: in a study by distance you can't consult your advisors and professors all the time, you have to rely on your own instincts and critical thinking, you must be very organized and disciplined, that is, you need a lot of self discipline;you have to manage your time well and prepare your own syllablus and materials. The study advantages you have is in the VLE, the essay scheme and the e-seminars. Beyond that, you must study very hard and be very responsible for your learning outcomes. So a study by distance is not for everyone if you don't have what it takes. Therefore, when I'll have finally earned my degree, I will be very proud of what I have achieved and I won't tolerate anyone to belittle my qualifications because I know that I have earned it by dint of pure hard work.
Ah, and I almost forgot to tell you, I also have to work to take care of my family.
By Roberto L. Echanes, Bangkok, Thailand (9th May 2010)
Spoken like a true Luddite! Sorry, 'Ooh that hurts', I didn't see where you supported your claim. Readers might appreciate hearing the rationale for your claim "...do not and cannot...". It might be instructive here to also differentiate between 1st, 2nd and 3rd tier universities - no matter the delivery method of one's credential. Schools like HarvardU, UOxford, UToronto, and USydney all offer elearning platforms. Perhaps it's time to pull your head out of the sand 'Ooh that hurts'.
By Gavin Johnson, Bangkok (8th May 2010)
Sorry, but online and/or distance qualifications do not and cannot compare with the real thing, otherwise nobody would bother to go to university proper anymore.
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (8th May 2010)
First off, blanket statements like "they had no hands-on training" are not helpful, for the ranks of non-certified teachers are not uniform. Many teachers who are not certified with their local districts back home are nevertheless likely to have as much if not more EFL experience than certified teachers fresh out of college, and have often gone through classroom observations and other forms of evaluation in EFL contexts. Also, to suggest that the 16 years everyone with a degree of any kind spent as a student does not constitute observing others teach is misleading. I would argue the contrary; that this is a deep reservoir of both good and bad teacher models. Also, lesson planning is a skill which can be learned independently and developed over time. In fact, research on teachers and teaching has shown that certified teachers report peaking around 6 years after completing their teacher training, which suggests that teaching is a process of discovery in which practitioners need time to mature and establish methods which suit them personally. This process holds for certified and non-certified teachers alike.
Asking only why non-certified teachers are here in Thailand obscures the important question of why it is that certified teachers are here. I suspect that everyone who holds employment does so primarily to gain income. This applies as much if not more so to certified teachers, who often do not have employment experience outside teaching, which would make them more dependent on teaching than the sort of non-certified teacher described by the Ajarn Guest (AG). Oddly, the AG also appears hostile towards the habits and routines that people might bring to the classroom from their previous careers. Are we to assume that no skills transfer from one occupation to another, and that the classroom is a place which should be isolated from all other walks of life? Is English not a tool to help Thai students participate in the global economy and a developing global culture? One could argue that teachers coming from other fields might have a better idea of the English language demands Thais will face once they enter the workplace and so be better prepared to point these out. Besides, language classrooms are not the only places that teaching and learning take place. Non-certified teachers often have experience in corporate training and employee mentorship.
Regarding the reasons that certified teachers come to Thailand to teach, I suppose these are quite broad and often very similar to those given by non-certified teachers. However, I know for a fact that most certified teachers come here to teach in international schools. It’s a truism that international schools are far easier to teach in than public schools back in Canada, the US, or the UK. Smaller class sizes, abundant resources and affluent students (families) stand in stark contrast to the limited funding, diverse student bodies and violence which complicate public education in English-speaking countries today. I know certified teachers personally who teach in international schools around Asia for precisely this reason and not for some higher purpose. Also, one must ask why any teacher, certified to teach in their home district, would come to teach in Thailand at other than a high-paying international school? Among the many possible reasons, I see two as being most plausible: one, they come here temporarily to gain experience, both in teaching and in living in another culture. Such people are here more to pad their resumes than to make a lasting contribution to Thailand, which the AG rightly suggests is what all teachers should aim for. Second, I suspect that some certified teachers come here to teach because they cannot cut it at home. Even though they are trained specifically to teach in their homeland, they abandon that to teach here in Thailand. Whatever their other shortcomings, it cannot be said that non-certified teachers come here because they failed as teachers back home.
The AG claims that non-certified teachers are not teaching English, per se, but in fact teaching about English. Given the temporal and logistical constraints of the classroom, particularly in resource-strapped Thailand, teachers need to spend some time focusing on form in addition to providing opportunities for authentic communication. After all, if Thai students are to learn English, independent study will be an important component of their program and they will need some of the meta-language to support this. Of course the ratio of form to function depends on the goals of the school program. Besides, teachers certified in Western school districts are typically trained to teach native-speakers who are by definition already essentially fluent. Because of this, teachers of English certified in English-speaking countries are typically trained to teach a considerable amount of form. So it seems to me that certified teachers suffer the same disadvantage that the AG claims exclusively for non-certified teachers - they were never trained to teach non-native speakers of English. Likewise, they were trained using texts developed for a specific audience - the students in the school districts from which they come.
Contrary to what the AG has implied about online or distance delivered masters programs in language education/applied linguistics, when they are offered by reputable universities, they are as rigorous as classroom-based programs. They also require verifiable teaching experience as a prerequisite, and, in addition, students in such programs have the benefit of a concurrent teaching job in which to immediately apply newly acquired ideas and practices. People who teach first and then complete a teaching degree after they have gained some experience probably choose a career in education for better reasons than those who seek certification right out of high school.
In the end, schools themselves must take the brunt of the responsibility for learning outcomes. Regardless of whether a teacher is certified or not, a poor curriculum combined with a lack of resources, mentorship and/or direction will yield poor results. Teaching involves a set of skills and knowledge that is very hard to quantify. Certification processes, by definition, can, at best, only ensure that teachers conform to a basic set of locally construed standards. One cannot conclude from this that all certified teachers are equally competent. Anyone who has ever attended school, anywhere, can tell you that some teachers are better than others, despite holding the same credentials. Good teachers have certain intangible qualities which no amount of certification can replace. In the end, well run schools normally get better teachers and less well run ones get those who may be less committed. There are good and bad teachers everywhere, why should Thailand be any different?
By Gavin J., Bangkok (6th May 2010)
Chew on this: Jimi Hendrix was self-taught.
By Randy White, Bangers (1st May 2010)
I could not agree more with the article on untrained teachers. My own experience is that untrained teachers are the essence of ineptness. I have followed on from a few and most have been crap. I mean really crap. Also I have found most talk a lot about supposed teaching experience they have had, back home, which usually is bogus also. Oh, yeah, they are always quick to shoot down the idea of any training in education. Why? They don't want real training to expose their many flaws and their inability to write a coherent essay. Yes, I have looked at their writing also. Always total rubbish.
By Gregory Burke, Australia (19th April 2010)
All hail Peter Burke!
By Ooh, that hurts!, Phetchbun (5th April 2010)
I have to agree a bit!...I have helped in the past the schools to get a teachers, and alas have sometimes believe I had picked the right type of person for the job. Helped them along the way to teach, offered advice, worksheets, and teaching plans.
But, they wouldn't give up the bottle, they lost it when them the students wouldn't, couldn't understand. and they failed to learn from the students, what the students could cope with, and to read the students body language.
They refused to listen to advice, believing they knew it all.
It has taken me six years teaching and I am still finding new ways to keep the students learning, I adapt and tell others to do the same including a few Thai teachers that work out of the book that it needs to be adapted to your locale, Most students will never walk down main street, New York or visit Buckingham palace, London. or eat pheasent in red wine sauce.
But, they will visit Tesco/Lotus, Big C or Travel by bus to Bangkok.
I always encourage the students to talk, by making sure they understand that it doesn't matter if the grammer/sentence is wrong, as long as they speak English and the listener can understand what you are saying then you are correct. The correct sentence formation will come as you get more confident.
By Peter Burke, Phetchbun (4th April 2010)
This article continues to generate some interesting feedback but it is strange that the most glowing of all has come from females.
Just thought I'd mention that!
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (1st April 2010)
My thoughts on Martin's statement. By Martin, Bangkok on 2010-03-28
In the beginning of the year I asked M5’s if they knew about World War II. Most of them had no idea about the most defining event of the 20th century. I'd just like to comment about the lack of general knowledge from Thai students.
I totally agree with Martin's statement.
This is a good example;
In one of my M/3 classes I had one boy who got interested in W.W.2 history firstly from a flight simulation called IL-2 1946. I enjoyed this flight simulation at home as well so we firstly had discussions about the the game (which is very difficult) in/out of class. This obviously led to the actual history of W.W.2. Later we were exchanging W.W.2 English language movies and he was really enjoying them. He would always ask me questions and talk about the movie and history involved like Pearl Harbor
(December,7,1941). We would also discuss the events that took place before the attack and after the attack after class. In to the second term he was really enjoying W.W.2 history. He was learning about the entire time period,important people and events. Later he was even getting into music of the time period and he enjoyed listening to Glenn Miller etc. This is the cruncher, he talked a lot about W.W.2 history with his fellow classmates in English but because the rest of the class did not know about W.W.2 and they were probably not interested in W.W.2 they did not like him.
This is a poor example;
Many Thai students can speak a lot about Korean pop stars and drama stars .They can give excellent presentations in English about a Korean pop star. They can also talk a lot about Koren food. I then ask them Why is there a North and South Korea? They have no idea.
The Thai teachers were using a particular text book. A lesson on the Loch Ness monster was in the text book. I had a Thai teacher ask me What is the Loch Ness monster?
By Kirby, Lamphun (1st April 2010)
I think you make some good points there ML.
Most conversation teachers I have observed down the years - young, old, qualified, unqualified - have talked way too much when they are stood in front of the class. So many TEFL teachers associate teaching with talking. The really effective teachers I've noticed are the ones who seem to say very little. They just direct the lesson with ease and with the bare minimum of instructions and shaggy dog stories.
By philip, (1st April 2010)
That is true Sam. Like I said if you are prepared not to be too fussy sure you can find jobs. and of course you should love your job and have the real desire to teach. I do. I enjoy teaching that is. I don't always like teaching the kids I do but I know that I am improving. This morning I went for a interview with an agency. That is an agency was trying to get work from a school here in Bangkok and so got 4 teachers to present. Interesting. One from the USA, young, very thin and very blond. From Florida. Myself from England. A third from Miami, Black American woman in her 30's I would say, and a fourth, a British man, in his 40's.
We all presented. The American guy about the weather in the USA - Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. If he taught that to the kids I was teaching it would have been way over their heads. They would not have got it. He also spoke too much and did not get them or try and get the participants to speak. I spoke about family tree - father mother etc... ages and profession and see if they could speak about that. The people I asked could.
The third was the American woman from Miami. Quite good about present continuous but I thought she spoke too much and should do more eliciting from the audience. The 4th was the British man who spoke on a subject similar to mine but went far too deep in my opinion. All of what I talked about plus personalty etc etc..... much too deep.
My kids I taught in M1 and M5 would have been lost. If there is one thing I think we farangs don't get is that we come from our experience as we were taught in our countries and try and apply it here and it fails. We talk too much. We don't elicit. And we don't get the kids to speak and the most of the time they don't know what we are talking about and the lesson fails. They get bored and they switch off. We have to try and get them to speak. And that is hard. It takes passion, commitment, confidence and understanding from the teacher and also needs to make it fun.
I think we can't take our models from our respective countries and apply it here because they fail. They don't work. TEFL definitely taught me that. I was talking too much. I need to get the students to speak and that is what they mostly want here. We can always learn. But jobs are thin on the ground but if not too fussy with no teaching experience, commitment and hard work you can make it. ML
By ML, Bangkok (1st April 2010)
I never usually get into forum debates, but this is important.
Again, you can be an excellent teacher with little formal training if you are bright, hard working and willing to learn. Do not let people belittle you or destroy your self-confidence. I have a degree and a CELTA, but 90 percent of what i know about teaching i learned on the job, standing in front of a bunch of high-school kids.
This country DOES need teachers and we CAN make a difference, qualified or not. Either do the job and love it, or go somewhere else. Don't just whine about it : )))
By Sam, Bangkok (31st March 2010)
You can send your Resume and CV from there Dan. There appears to be too many teachers from what I can see and too few jobs, certainly now. I have seen comments to that effect as well. Some schools are now insisting upon university degrees and TEFL and then it also is dependant upon what subject you may teach and want to teach. They appear to be possibly short of science teachers if you have the skills. There also appear to be more of a move towards homeroom teachers. The school where I finished yesterday is starting an MEP (Mini English Programme) and they want to teach Science And Maths in English. The Thai teachers are meant to be doing that but I doubt they are up to the job after doing a 2 week course with the British council. But they know their material. Can they teach it in English? I doubt it. But they also require an IT and even PE teacher to teach in English. Sounds like fun to me.
But schools are cutting budgets and expect more from teachers, more hours, more work, more expectation. And the Phillipinós who are not far from Thailand came here in droves and filled in the jobs which were going. They get paid less than Native English speakers and often have a lot worse working conditions. All about supply and demand really. I sent off recently for 20 or 30 jobs and got one reply. I am in Thailand, have TEFL, one years teaching experience and a degree. And that job was for for teaching science. They aren't exactly leaping off the shelf right now.
I have something to say about all the Phillipino's coming here but I will put that in the other column. But I have heard and even seen that they are struggling. My one fellow teachers son who is a Phillipino could not find a teaching job (I am not sure he did not look very hard) was eventually looking for jobs at around 8000 Baht a month (around 300 or 400 Baht a day). He eventually took an admin job I think for 200 Baht a day!! Incredible I think. I have even heard of the Phillipino's going back because they can't find jobs and I have heard that from quite a few sources.
Then you have the entire TEFL industry which serves it own interests (that right guys - true) and promises a job in "paradise" when the job is very demanding, we work very hard and seems to be getting more demanding if you want to be a good teacher. And the schools expect more, and there is more competition. It seems quite different from a year ago when they were short of native speaking teachers. But it is not end April and start of May yet and so there may be some schools who will need someone to come and post at the last minute. If you are not too fusy on location and conditions you could well find a job outside Bangkok if you are prepared to go there and start the same day. It is often the way it works here.
The first one to pitch up wearing a tie and looks like they can teach and looks decent with no tatoo's (they are sensitive to that kind of thing) will get the job. How long he or she lasts is a different story though. Try to get as many details as you can beforehand. You may skip TEFL or CELTA until you have the job sealed. Hope that helps. Come for a holiday, see what happens. If you are serious and not fussy you may land a job. If not you can go back. If anyone is promising is gauranteeing a job in paradise they are having you on. There is no such thing. It is hard work. It is demanding and njobs are thin on the ground right now. Even the jobs are saying they are have a high volume of resume's coming through. But we are all applying for the same jobs so maybe that is why. But often the schools want to seal the candidate then and there or within a couple of days unless they are desperate. ML
By ML, Bangkok (31st March 2010)
Well i was never never fortunate enough to attain a university degree, but I still believe and feel that I can assist a country like the Kingdom of Thailand with the skills that I'm sure TEFL can teach me.
Or should I just give up and let the students suffer until Thailand can afford higher wages,improve conditions,give free accommodation,free flights etc
Please tell me before I pay all this money to try and make a difference as a non university educated person, in a country with great people but less opportunities than most.
By dan, australia (31st March 2010)
There was recently an article in The Bangkok Post entitled a "serious lack of education' after some kids had taken drugs unwittingly and then blamed the education crisis in this country on the teachers. I responded and said that maybe the kids and parents should blame themselves. We are often told that it all rests on the teacher but do the kids ever look at themselves? As for the generally accepted view that one should not yell at the kids I don't agree. When other kids are trying to speak and you have kids speaking and so they can't hear, what are you supposed to do, just keep quiet..?? They disrupt the class and I have and do throw kids out of the classroom if they continue to talk after asking them to keep quiet. What is the point of having them there?
I had one IEP class who most of them refused to shut up when I was teaching. I tried everything. I tried to make it more interesting. It is true when I started I did not have a TEFL certificate. Now I do and it helped a little especially with getting them to speak - putting them in a circle and I was not the only one to be doing the talking. But to suggest that it is all up the teacher is wrong. The kids need to reflect upon themselves and too often they don't. They never read outside of school, are addicted to games, there is a lack of seriousness when it comes to learning and most just want to play games and at the end of the year we are forced and expected to pass them, and they do the exams as many times until they do. What is the incentive to learn? So what is the incentive to learn in this country. I will tell you. None. They want entertainers and not teachers.
I have realised I probably went too fast with the initial material and many could not understand and so I have slowed it down and tried to make it more fun but at the current pace they are on a 20 year crash English programme and even then, I doubt many will be able to speak the language. A lot is up to them. They think it is too hard. Thai teachers drill the importance of grammar rules into their head until they think English is so hard they don't even want to try. Then they pass them even the ones who don't try. Yes I yell sometimes because quite simply if I don't the kids who want to learn can't because some of them are busy with their cell phone or computer games and just couldn't give a rats ass. When they are talking most of them are nervous, but when someone else is talking then they talk so others can't hear. What should I do...?
As for the TEFL certificate, it has helped me a little but only slightly, but I found the topics frivolous and I find that is what the kids want to learn. They want to learn how to order at hamburger at Mc Donald's and not even so much as a word about world history, the 2nd world war, economics, global warming etc etc etc.... It is tragic really the lack of serious desire to be really educated. In the beginning of the year I asked M5's if they knew about World War II. Most of them had no idea about the most defining event of the 20th century. They need to stop taking so much from the "No child left behind Act" from the USA and look to Singapore where the education is light years ahead of Thailand and the USA.
By Martin, Bangkok (27th March 2010)
Firstly i think that Kate from Ubon Ratchatani sounds like a great teacher. Maybe you should carry on, you can always take a qualification or read up on whatever points of English you don't feel confident about.
I am CELTA qualified and have taught all over, but i think it is obvious that enthusiasm and ability are the most important qualities. You can be a qualified yet terrible teacher, and the opposite is also true.
And while it is true that higher salaries would attract better teachers, most farrang are already making 4 times what Thai teachers do. It isn't going to happen. So suck it up.
I love my job and hate shoddy teachers but don't get bitter about it. I watch my own work and let karma deal with the rest.
By Sam, Bangkok (26th March 2010)
You are talking about teachers who do not have a certificate but have you ever thought about who employed them as a teacher without a certificate. I can never find somewhere not even in USA that a person without a certificate will have the courage to apply for a teaching job. This post clearly shows about the Thai administration and education. Thanks a lot for giving the idea. You employ a teacher who comes from native speaking country without a proper qualification, that is the reason Thai students are still not able to speak English. Hope Thailand will change.
By rottanegg, Bangkok (26th March 2010)
Dear Mr Cowboy Hat,
>>Why are they here? Because their significant other is a Thai. And that's >>the only reason. Oh, and it's good fun and relatively cheap to live here, >>too.
Do you really think that everyone who is involved in EFL does it for the love of teaching or that that should even be the case? It is a job, a means to travel to most people, and as long as TEFL industry - and I use the word very loosely because industry implies professionality - continues to treat teachers as commodities, do you really think there is any incentive for teachers to think or behave differently? It is the same the world over, even in the highest paying countries, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Germany for example, teachers are there for money or they like the country and want to be there. People who are serious teachers do a proper postgraduate qualification in their respective countries and then are able to find professional teaching jobs at home or in international schools abroad. Most outfits in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand couldnt afford these properly qualified people.
Do you really think someone with a degree in Education would want to work for what is essentially 600 - 700 pounds a month in Thailand with no benefits and a ridiculous visa and teacher licence system, when they would be much better off elsewhere.
Think about it, unfortunately, Thailand cant attract many top quality teachers. As they say, you get what you pay for. Salaries in Thailand will never attract the best qualified teachers other than international schools.
>>And they shy away from anything that looks remotely like extra work or >>career development.
Well well, how untrue this is. I was DOS at a school in Bangkok and I found many teachers were eager to attend when we ran training courses. How often does the average Thai employer / school actually offer training or support for career development? Seldom I am sure. The truth is the penny pinching schools refuse to pay money to help develop the teachers professionally and care more about saving money and short term gains.
Thai ESL teacher Northern Thailand is right when he / she refers to TEFL certification just being a business. In fact the whole of TEFL worldwide is mainly run by short-sighted pseudo professional losers who paint an air of professionalism with their shirt and tie ha ha ha, and kao tao to the clients in desperation to win a share of this ever-diminishing low income amateur affair that is EFL. Stop being so romantic about teaching English, it is job, always has been and always will be. If you or anyone else would like to encourage better qualiried teachers into Thai EFL scene, up the salaries, improve the conditions and recruit internationally with benefits like flights and free accommodation.
Basically, EFL doesnt
By bob, Jomtiem (26th March 2010)
......if you dont have a degree in education you are not a teacher.a tefl does not make you a teacher either.whats the problem ??? you sound like another thailand know it all.surely you are an excellent teacher,i never met anyone who said that they were a bad teacher.this is thailand ,get your head out of your ass,this is the way things work here. go back to canada.
By kt, BKK (21st March 2010)
Perhaps I've misunderstood the article. The TEFL programs are important for some people and they are a useful networking tool. TEFL certificates are a joke, though, as far as an internationally legitimate teaching qualification. There are dozens of realistic, objective-minded teachers that I've spoken to who are also TEFL-qualified and have said the same thing. A TEFL-qualified placement agent I worked for in Thailand told me about one popular TEFL-provider that had it's Phuket branch shut because the Thai government was able to prove that it was repeatedly certifying teachers that were not passing any exam assessments and were often not present in the classroom. Most of those who have shelled out money for a certificate will understandably defend it, the process, and their image. There is an obvious conflict of interest in looking at the situation objectively for TEFL-qualified teachers in Thailand.
And to dear Fi, no, I do actually have business cards with the title printed on it. And who is "us"? Funny that you immediately question my position and job title. Is that because job titles and qualifications in this country are always what they seem to be? Thanks for the support. The 'Finance Associate' at the SAT-prep school where I work is really just an admin, so I guess you've put 2-and-2 together.
By Aaron Prebenda, Bangkok (20th March 2010)
Thanks for sharing your director of education role with us.
Did you make the job title up by any chance?
By Fi Pearson, Samui (20th March 2010)
In response to 'People without formal teaching qualifications'. I would like to share my experience as an uneducated English Teacher here in Thailand. You seem a little bitter about the facts you have stated, and I can understand that. Your right about folks stumbling around. Its been quite a struggle for me, and I'm trying my hardest to get out of this teaching gig. I don't want to leave the school without a replacement, and I know there are many teachers out there, that would love to have my job. I am putting together a website in the hopes of finding a replacement. The students are great; I really genuinely care about each and everyone of them, and their lives. But I don't feel they are getting the best English lesson from me, and I know its not fair. To ease some of your frustration with unqualified teachers, maybe it would be nice to know, in my case, I never yell at the kids, like you mentioned. Their is never any reason to yell at a child. I am very patient with all of the kids, and really try make learning fun, and enjoyable. I try to just stick to what is useful for these guys. I do know all their names, and about their families, and what they want to be when they grow up, ect...I also pay close attention to the way they learn, and make sure that if they don't understand something, I change it up, and teach the way they learn.
By Kate, Ubon Ratchathani (16th March 2010)
I agree with a lot of what was said in the article despite my lack of experience. I see many "TEFL" schools offering certification for a bargain price. It seems to me to be more of a business than anything else, like actually trying to get motivated and well-intentioned people into Thai schools. I have the added hurdle of being a Thai and "looking" Thai. I speak fluent English with no discernable accent whatsoever but still seem to have trouble getting my foot in the door because of how I look. I guess discrimination is the order of the day here? I came to Thailand to (hopefully) live out my days and help my fellow Thais learn English so they might get a leg-up on the competition when going out into the job market. I'm just waiting for a school to give me the opportunity to follow through. Many good comments and opinions are offered here. I saw firsthand in my own TEFL course the vast disparity of ability and talent that exists in TEFL seekers. Some of my classmates had advanced degrees but very little knack for teaching. It was very obvious to see when observing them that they should be doing anything BUT teaching. But they LOOK western or European and so will probably get more consideration for jobs based upon that sole fact rather than their actual ability to teach. It must be said that I also observed many who would and will be excellent ESL teachers. Why isn't there some form of government regulation on who can issue TEFL/CELTA/TESOL certifications and the quality of the people they give them to? Maybe some kind of nationwide standardized testing for certification? On the subject of testing by the way, Aaron has it right. If you take a TEFL course, it's pretty much guaranteed that you will pass. When it comes time to test, if you fail you get to take the SAME test again? Where is the comprehension? If I took the same test again I'd pass too, but I'd be exhibiting no understanding of what was taught. What's better? A motivated and intelligent ESL teacher who can plan lessons from scratch and obviously has the talent for teaching but does not have a degree or an unmotivated master's degree holder that just follows a textbook without really caring that the students are actually learning anything and downloads lesson plans from the internet? I sincerely hope those of us here in Thailand who have honest intentions and a desire to positively impact our students language ability(regardless of how they may look) aren't hurt by the many unqualified or even qualified but "useless" English teachers in the job market.
By Thai ESL teacher, Northern Thailand (14th March 2010)
Why are you generalizing? It is not a market for fools. We are here to earn a living and many of us take this job very seriously. As Brian said, a CELTA course is a stepping stone to build you teaching skills into something more professional. Once you get experience and do some more research (through trial and error) you can develop your own teaching style that will work with students. Of course a TEFL is not a replacement for professional qualifications, but it helps to do the job and to steer you in the right direction. As I wrote before, now that you mentioned it, "to the possible exception of the most prestigious international school teachers", even those "qualified" sometimes fall under the category of bores and ineffective teachers in the classroom. They may have a BA and MA but still they are teachers just in paper. Let me give you one example: I have a private student who is studying at a very prestigious international school,and currently I am preparing her for her Spanish IB exams. She's commenting how she and her other classmates find the teacher's class so boring that they pay hardly any attention to the lesson, resulting in her lack of proper Spanish language skills. She was doing fine at the beginning but then the lessons became too boring and demanding that caused her to lose interest and affected her learning process. Very often educators think that students are just knowledge storing machines wherein they can force data into their heads without any regard or consideration for their mental and spiritual well-being. And these students get really stressed out due to this. You see, the problem of teacher/student interaction and education is deeper than we can imagine, and the only solution to this is a revamp in the educational system. We can't just think that if a student does not make the grades, he/she is a useless entity and cannot aspire to a good education in a good institution. Unfortunately, the practice is still prevalent, and only students who perform well in maths, science and English are being considered worthy of a good higher education. The system does not take into account that we have different forms of intelligence and that education is not only in the intellectual level, but also should be developed in the physical, mental and spiritual strata of human beings.
By Roberto L. Echanes, Bangkok, Thailand (14th March 2010)
To 'Aaron Prebenda':
You're missing the point of the article.
TEFLs & CELTAs provide starting points on which ongoing and invaluable experience is then created.
At least with a recognised certificate you're facing in the right direction from day one and not just simply downloading PDF lesson plans from the 'net 5 minutes before each class.
I work with someone who, in addition to their Thai marital partner, is a 'doctor of something'. First of all, 'so what?!'. Secondly, at not one stage during this person's academic studies were they ever taught how to teach English. Does it show? Yes, it does!
I think that I've understood the author correctly.
By Brian Goodridge, Bangkok (13th March 2010)
I have been a teacher in Thailand for almost 2 years and I taught in Korea before that. I am now the director of education, responsible for human resources, at an SAT prep school in Bangkok. I received a 120-hr, face-to-face TEFL certificate from a teacher training school in Bangkok. I believe TEFL programs are a joke and so are all the snobbish young people (I myself am young) who have been so completely brainwashed by their respective TEFL trainers that they actually believe they are good at what they do. The TEFL program I undertook was shamelessly self-aggrandizing such that test questions looked like this: "How did Module 3 help you become a better teacher?". I rarely use any of the skills taught in the TEFL course and at any of the Thai schools I've seen or taught at, the school's own policies or agendas prevented any real curriculum development, assessment, or lesson planning. Worst of all, I've heard TEFL trainees repeating the virtues of the TEFL as reinforced in the training classroom almost verbatim. It becomes this little boys (and sometimes girls) club of unbelievably pretentious, CELTA-qualified foreigners who have taught in Thailand for years because they are unemployable in their home countries or, as this article argues, have a Thai partner, and somehow think they are the Mother Teresa of teaching. The vast majority of teachers in Thailand (with the possible exception of the most prestigious international school teachers) are completely underqualified and a TEFL wouldn't hold up for a moment in the West as a legitimate enough teaching qualification to get you into a public school. Exactly how does the TEFL guarantee a better teacher?! In researching TEFL/CELTA programs prior to taking my course, I found that the majority pass almost all students one way or another. No one failed on my course. TEFL/CELTA failures are given repeated opportunities to take the same course in order to pass. If I take the same test 3 times, I guarantee you I'll pass even if I'm a brain stem. I've been shocked at the number of TOTALLY (no TEFL) unqualified teachers in Bangkok, but I've been even more shocked at the number of horrible TEFL- and even Master's-qualified teachers who are an embarrassment to the teaching profession. I would never hold myself up as an exemplification of the best teaching but let's be realistic and honest about what is really happening in Thailand with native teachers. TEFL/CELTA programs are businesses in their own right. And Thailand is a booming market for fools.
By Aaron Prebenda, Bangkok (12th March 2010)
I totally disagree with this post. If you are an effective communicator and able to motivate your students then there is no reason why you shouldn't be teaching. Thailand can't be fussy due to their economic and political situation and should be grateful to anyone who comes here with a willingness to teach and do a good job. After all they are paying peanuts to people who come here with three year degrees. Stop putting degrees down too, I did a Psychology degree and it wasn't an easy ride, I was writing non-stop essays on some very difficult to understand concepts and went through eight three hour exams for my finals. The exams were nerve wracking and I practically lived in the library for three years. Now i'm studying for a PGCE (international) through the University of Nottingham. I have also been working for an international school for the last two years, I've been observed throughout and also observed other teachers. I'm never going to get a TEFL so are you saying i'm going to be under qualified? Even when I first got here I had experience working with young people and a good understanding about how to relate to them. Anyone can pick up a textbook and follow it (most teachers in England!), not everyone can MOTIVATE, STIMULATE AND COMMUNICATE!!!!!!!!!!!
By So not true, Bangkok (11th March 2010)
I really have some problems with this as a definitive article on the problem of teaching without a degree.
I am one of those who has not received my degree. this is not because of the lack of motivation or not trying to get things done. This is from other sources (the real world) stepping in and changing things when I am nearly finished with something. I have many studies that are not considered "Teaching studies" yet they have proven invaluable in the classroom such as the nearly complete degree in Applied Psychology or the studies in Communications. It also does not take into account real world experience like the teaching of people on a volunteer basis or even the person who taught as part of their privious occupation.
All of these things should and can be taken into account. A degree does not mean that you are suddenly all wise and knowing. It just means that you have passed a test or series of tests. I will be getting certified and teaching more as I am financially able. Teaching does not mean stopping at the Bachlors degree, but continuing every day at learning something both from the students you teach and the articles and publications you study to make your teaching better for the subjects (students).
By Dale Johnson, 223 (9th March 2010)
"People Without Formal Teacher Qualifications," is the supreme example of academic snobbery." They think because they have their piece of paper they are smarter and more qualified than anyone else. Yes, people like this are academically smart but I never found one that I trusted to teach my children. They are out of touch with the real world and can't understand why their students loath them into adulthood.
Many years ago I had a close friend who barely made it through the education program. But in the end he was the one who I wanted teaching my children. He knew what it was like to struggle, he could connect with his students, and they adored him beyond his retirement.
Our snob friend is the reason I went back to school. I saw too many people just like him who had no idea how to connect with real people. I thought if these buffoons can do it - so can I.
I think "Tex" needs to pull the stick out and have a good long look in the mirror.
By Johan, Bangkok (7th March 2010)
Wow! This has become a mini-forum!
Regarding the avatar/cowboy. It was chosen by the site owner and I actually find it quite funny. If you don't and/or you've commented on it, then you really don't have anything of any value or interest to contribute.
School holiday time is NOW and it's never too late for you to learn how to teach properly. For further details, check out teflasia.com for your nearest TEFL/CELTA provider.
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (4th March 2010)
Time for another female comment gentlemen.
No teaching qualification should equal no English teaching job.
I only wish I had shares in thailovelinks.com
By Paula Jenkins, Nong Khai (3rd March 2010)
I think Matt and Scott's points are very valid in this ongoing debate of the qualifications of a teacher. I personally, however, don't think that the need for qualifications span from the consideration that those who have them think that others should also have them. From my point of view it makes sense to think that if you are going to pursue a professional career, you should have the requisite knowledge to work efficiently. Definitely experience is also important, but, for instance, if you are going to take charge of a major construction project, it would be most essential for you to have studied engineering, otherwise, that would become extremely dangerous. Likewise if you are going to work in the medical profession.
However, let's get to the main point: teaching excellence and what makes a great teacher. As I said before, I don't have a teaching degree yet, but I am on the process to complete one in a few years. Through the course of my studies I came to realize that the knowledge I am acquiring is also invaluable and that it will make a better teacher of me. So, knowledge is essential as is teaching experience. When I took the CELTA, my trainers did not teach me how to deal with rowdy and disruptive students in a Thai high school set up; I had to deal with this on my own and had to use my own previous experience and common sense (my self-defence knowledge included). What we learned at the Cambridge CELTA was a lot of teaching approaches and class room management, etc., etc. The course was also insufficient in training us how to teach writing skills, but I had a pretty good idea how to tackle this and my further experience gave me deeper insights into approaches to writing. But, one thing that really makes a better teacher as far as I can attest so far is, not just your capacity to keep your job, but also your ability to awaken the thirst for knowledge in your students. You see, good rapport with your students is very important, therefore, the good relationship you develop with them and to cause them to trust you and love you is of utmost importance. And, not to say the least, the factor of love for your students is what opens their minds to you and it is the first step to create a healthy environment for learning. You can't teach and rectify someone if you don't love that person. Well there are many other factors that make a good teacher, but this is one of the main points I wanted to make.
By Roberto L. Echanes, Bangkok, Thailand (27th February 2010)
My God! What are u guyz debating at? Can anyone of you just be happy of what one gets? You should even be thankful enough to land a good job here. Should your students read all these shits, you think they will be glad to know that you people are just using their country as scapegoat?
Do you actually speak English? Guyz? Read all these shits?
By Bleeder, Bangkok (27th February 2010)
I think Scott Hipsher makes a very good point. Although I am not sure he meant to make it. The people who have spent the time, money and effort to gain better qualifications are the only people who appreciate the true worth of such things. Other people, who are threatened by it, turn handsprings to devalue it. What an injustice this is in places where the decision makers lack degrees, or higher degrees, they actively subvert social progress, or engage in anti-intellectual behaviour - say that more knowledge and higher powers of thinking are not a better thing, and surround themselves with other people of their ilk (other conservative bumblers) - so that they are not shown up, and so they can protect their own selfish interests. Could be one reason why the salaries are so low in Thailand...
Sure enough, there are examples of people with higher degrees who are not much chop. The point is, however, that on average more education, if we are talking about an enlightened, or scientifically informed education system, produces people who are more knowledgeable, or for whom experience counts more. And, in every honest job - where you do something for humanity, rather than just live off other people's backs - who are going to be better at it. What, are you going to say that if I get the motor mechanic who has been fixing cars themselves for three years, and compare them to the dude that has an automotive engineering degree who has also been working for three years, that on average it is not the latter type who are going to do a better job? Come on...
As Western society has produced more educated people, the level of education you need to do things has increased accordingly. Western education systems are a very good example. As more qualified people rise to the top - something we needed democracy and education systems to enable, it used to be who you knew or were related to, or how brutal you were - they appreciate more educated apprentices. If you have an education system with integrity, or one that only allows people who genuinely improve their knowledge and powers of scientific thinking to move up the grades, that is real progress.
Stop the rot.
By Matt, Oman (27th February 2010)
What is the definition of a good teacher for most people?
A teacher who teaches in the same manner as the person doing the judging?
What qualifications do most people think a teacher should have?
The same qualification the person doing the judging has.
Teachers without degrees generally think degrees are not necessary, those with degrees usually think they are necessary. Those with Bachelor degree don’t think having a Masters is necessary, those with a Masters often do. Those with TEFL certificates think they are necessary, those without think they are unnecessary. Those with degrees in education more times than not think they are necessary, those with degrees in other fields think a degree in education is unnecessary.
Nothing unique about English teachers. We see the same in other occupations. In academia, those with PhDs think there are necessary, those without don’t. Those with long lists of publications think they are necessary, those without, don’t.
This debate about what makes a good teacher has been around in the Thai expat teaching community for as long as I have been paying attention, and there has been no movement towards a consensus in all these years.
Here is my simple definition of what makes a good teacher. A good teacher is one who can find and keep a job. Simple supply and demand. If schools have better options than retaining those currently employed, they will make the changes. If there are no better options available, they will retain the teaching staff they have.
And of course, the term “teacher” is extremely broad and covers many different positions with different expectations and requiring different skill sets. A teacher who is great teaching young children through games may or may not be a good teacher in a position requiring assisting students in academic writing. Having a single benchmark on which to grade all teachers seems overly simplistic.
But, don’t let me stop anyone, carry on, it is fun and interesting to follow this never ending debate.
By Scott Hipsher, Hanoi (this week) (26th February 2010)
Oh and I hope that isn't you in that avatar...if so you look like you belong on Soi Cowboy rather than teaching...55555
By Simon, Southern Thailand (25th February 2010)
Right, here goes nothing.
I have been teaching here for 3yrs, my students adore me, and I work very hard with them on pronunciation and intonation. This I find is their main hurdle, being understood.
Most students are taught an exhausting array of grammar and vocabulary from the Thai teachers, in the morning at my school.
The students rattle off about 30 words each morning!! I love to follow the Thai teacher after this as I normally then proceed to ask, even the brightest in the class to put one or more of the words they've just parroted in to a sentence.
You probably already know the answer to that, they can't.
This is a major problem, rote learning, parroting is not learning to me and it seems I am right.
I have a degree not in educaion and no tefl for your information.
I am married have a daughter of my own and look after my 11yr old step daughter, responsibilites I take very seriously. I no longer have the money I once had and now yes rely on this monthly salary to support my family. Why shouldn't I continue as a teacher if my methods work and the students improve.
I have done many good things for the Kingdom of Thailand which I shall not list here, as it's not really relevant to teaching. However, I have used what I have done in some of my lesson's to make them even more interesting for the kids.
The original poster seems to live very high on his pedestal with his sanctimonious rant.
I fear that he has come across a small percentage of teachers or maybe he was just unlucky. However, many people I know that have got in to teaching have really taken it seriously, especially if they have anything to them at all.
Once a person realises that they are actually responsible for being the one who will be teaching these people (kids to adults) our language, then being serious about it is the only way. (for me)
By Simon, Southern Thailand. (25th February 2010)
My God! What are u guyz debating at? Can anyone of you just be happy of what one gets? You should even be thankful enough to land a good job here. Should your students read all these shits, you think they will be glad to know that you people are just using their country as scapegoat? I am a foreigner too. I love to stay here in Bangkok because of the low cost of living. I am not married to a Thai nor am teaching here for a living. It has been my dream to teach here but my degree is far from teaching although i had earned teaching units back home. I visit this site to see what i can do to be able to teach but only to my dismay. Teachers, who should be great models to their students, are bagging on each other on issues they themselves are concerned. Now, i'm confused whether to take the TEFL or not. God bless you all!
By Deborah, Bangkok, Thailand (22nd February 2010)
Interesting thoughts. I am unqualified to teach. I got involved with teaching through a friend and quickly realised how much I enjoyed it. Over the years I have developed a real passion for teaching and have now got 3 years experience. I feel that the degree is important in some areas of teaching. For instance those teaching English Conversation should not require a degree. There are however many attributes they do require like a clear voice and a passsion for the job as well as teaching experience, TEFL TESOL and such like.
In an English Program school I think the degree is relevant as it requires more skill and knowledge. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to teach in English Program for 1 year.
I am not a "cowboy" and I feel insulted by those who think I am. I have seen many teachers over the years who are qualified and I dont think much to there skills.
Two sides to every story.
I am going home soon to re-train and then return here. Not because there is no work but so I am in command of who and where I work for and I will have the relevant qualifications.
By Christian Brookes, Bangkok (22nd February 2010)
Nice ranting against untrained teachers, those who teach for the heck of it, and even those who take up learning by distance.
However, let me update you on a few facts regarding excellence in teaching.
For your information, I am a non-native English speaker, but like it or not I am an English teacher, in fact, a bilingual teacher, that is, I teach Spanish and English as a Foreign Language, and hopefully, I will be able to teach English Literature and English for academic purposes in a few years after I have completed my English degree from the UK.
Any way, from my long teaching experience, whether you've got a teaching degree or not, sometimes it's a moot question. The real question is whether you have what it takes to be a good teacher. I've met many "professional" teachers, with teaching degrees who actually hate teaching English and what's most detrimental, hate their teaching professions. They just work in this field because they don't know what else to do or they just don't have a clue of what else to do with their lives.
So there we have several teachers with MA degrees and PhD qualifications who actually bore you to death in the classroom. On the other hand, you may find a native or non-native English speaker who actually has excellent rapport with his/her students and is effective in the classroom and in his overall teaching ability. And many of these people do not even have a degree or TEFL qualifications. To tell you the truth, and this might be shocking to you, I was one of them a couple of decades ago. I did not even have a high school certificate. However, I loved teaching, I started reading more about the subject and I practiced in the classroom. Through trial and error I got some things right, however, I knew that my training was far from complete, so I took the CELTA and that helped me to upgrade my teaching skills.
Apart from language teaching, I am also a martial arts teacher, but I am steering my teaching career towards academic work. Currently I am in my second year at the University of London-Goldsmiths College studying a BA in English Literature by distance. I can tell you that doing this degree is far more challenging than doing it in-campus because you have to manage all your learning by yourself. The only help I get is from an advisor at Harrow School and from the VLE from the university. And, hell no, it is not a useless degree to teach here in Thailand. An English degree develops your knowledge base and teaching skills to a high level since you are able to teach all aspects of English, from curriculum planning to high academic reading and writing skills. It gives you an in-depth knowledge of English and its roots. And, nowadays there are many things you can do with a degree in English in Thailand or around the world, if you are wise enough: one can teach at international schools and private universities.
Lastly, but not least, I am not a fat farang either. In fact, I am quite fit and trim, and can kick your a.... in a few seconds, if you know what I mean. Cheers mate and have fun while in Thailand.
By Roberto L. Echanes, Bangkok, Thailand (21st February 2010)
Firstly, I am married to a Thai and she is 36 years old. I have been married to her for 5 years. I love her ever so dearly. I don't stray from her and I don't drink or go to bars and nightclubs.
Secondly, I am not fat but I do have a bit extra as I usually do over winter. I am not old I am middle aged being 44. I do look much younger which is an advantage.
I am very proud of what I have achieved here in Thailand. I have gained four valuable teaching years in government high schools. I believe that it takes some time for a person to develop into a very good teacher.
The first year was a major eye opener upon completing a TEFL Certificate(nothing like the real world). Luckily I had a person with me who taught English in Thailand for the past six years. Learning about Thai administration in schools was an eye opener as well. Having him there made the year easy to settle in. It would have been difficult if he was not there. The recent three years have been at one school in which I have developed into a very good teacher. I know and understand high school students needs very well. I can walk into a class room and pick out the students who are keen to learn, who just want a good grade in English and the students who should not be there.I can also see the students who may be disruptive in the class room easily. I have a passion for this work especially in regards to the students and this is always shown in the class room and with my work performance.
I have been recently studying a TEFL Diploma on a part time basis and this will be completed shortly as I still have to complete some projects for it.
I do not have a degree I studied accounting in Australia as an Associate Diploma of accounting back in 1987.
In Australia I wanted to change my career as I did not want to do what I was doing when I am 55 years old. Changing a career in Australia would have been very expensive indeed.
I am however being replaced this coming year by a higher qualified teacher with a Masters degree.The new teacher performed a teaching example with one of my classes. I asked my students what they thought of him. They told me that they did not like him and they were treated as if they were in Pratom. These students are M3/12.
I'm not bagging anyone here but yes it takes some time to develop into a very good teacher.
By Kirby, Lamphun (20th February 2010)
I've been following this "qualified vs. non qualified" debate with quite some amusement. I've heard a few good arguments from both side, but here is what I believe. For the record, I am a degree and CELTA holder, which makes me qualified in the eyes of some but certainly not all, since I don't yet have an Education degree.
#1) Having a degree and CELTA does NOT automatically make you a good teacher. Anybody can scrape by and graduate at a mediocre university, and hardly anyone fails the CELTA. In fact, I think excellent teachers are made through years of actual teaching experience, experimenting with different teaching methods, listening to student feedback, and learning from other educators.
#2) Truly dedicated and hardworking people can become great teachers without any formal education. It won't happen overnight, and such teachers start out at a significant disadvantage, but it can be done.
#3) There are lots of mediocre teachers in Thailand, both with and without degrees, that use teaching simply as a means to living in the Kingdom but have no real desire to be good educators.
#4) Ideally, every teacher ought to be observed regularly and randomly, and sub-standard teacher ought to be fired. However, this will never happen for a number of reasons. Firstly, many Thai bosses don't know very much English themselves. Secondly, most Thai educators use a very old fashioned rote style of teaching, and have no ability to properly evaluate how a Native speaker ought to teach. Ultimately, this means that the school administration often have no clue who is a good teacher and who isn't, and often rely on very unreliable criteria (such as personal appearance and 'neatness') to determine who ought to be hired or retained.
#5) The Thai government, recognising that many terrible and downright criminal foreigners have been masquerading as English teachers, sought to develop some uniform standard to judge someone as suitable to be an English teacher. They have decided that having a university degree ought to be the minimum requirement to be a teacher in Thailand.
Do I agree with the Thai government's decision? Yes, I do. Even though many excellent non-degree holding teachers may lose their jobs, its the only practical way to establish at least some basic standard for teachers. Until Thai education administrators figure out how to seperate the good teachers from the bad, which I don't think will happen anytime soon, then its the role of the government to step in and provide some kind of criteria for assessing teachers based on their qualifications. (No, I don't think the standard should be a TEFL certificate, as there are a mind-boggling variety of such certificates many of which are not worth the paper they are printed on).
By Danny Nomad, Chiang Mai (18th February 2010)
to alligotsis or whatever you call yourself. You are criticising me, you should be criticising the article. I have no problem in you teaching with or without a TEFL certificate. I am not putting TEFL-certified people down, I am REFLECTING - mirroring -the authors attitude and showing you what he and others ganging up together sound like. My problem with this article is that it is nothing more than a stereotype catering to popular in-group sentiment, and this is very dangerous.
Dale Bennetts attitude in his posting does show a professional attitude and he doesn't have a TEFL certificate as I understand from his writing.
It is amazing how TEFL-Certified people make assumptions about other people's teachings. That is why you are not professionals.
In my last posting I said something and no one has picked up on it. What are the benefits of having a TEFL in teaching terms. I know what the benefits are and there may be others that you might enlighten me with. If this article would have been written around facts stating the benefits of having TEFL, CELTA for educational and teaching purposes whithout picking on other types of teachers and painting them with all that is imagined to be bad about a Teacher in Thailand, then this would be the mark of a professional.(But remember there are different types of teachers out there. not only TEFL). (By the way there are also courses that most of you are not really qualified to teach such as academic English. This I can say for sure so does this mean that no TEFL teacher should teach it?)
Now as to why I am here, I am here for research purposes and this is a good way of staying here untill I am ready to go back. By the way I get top marks from my students in the monitoring form (and so has another non-TEFL certified teacher.) Higher than the TEFL cetrtified teachers. (But as I have already said in an earlier posting I do not teach little children I have many parents wanting me to teach their children but I reject them, and suggest another teacher.)
Now one final thing. Why are you so negative about the THais educational system. Do any (most of you) really know anything about education back home? Come on, no you don't. So why do you suddenly become professors in this subject over here. MOst of you can't even speak Thai (I mean more than sawat dii kup). Come on, lets be honest.
Again you are picking on the fat farang-Thai wife thing and so on. what is your obsession with this guy? Don't you like fat people? To the 25 year old plus teacher, just wait till you reach your fifties or sixties. YOu might be one of them. Now you are all picking on the fat farang and his tHai wife, but what about the 25 year-old-plus TEFL-certified teacher teaching in tHai universities having sex with his or her student who is a few years younger than him/her. Ah,now that is something you haven't thought of either.
And what about the gay teachers? You have forgotten them too. I am sure they are having the time of their lives here (and good for them).
There is one more thing I would like to throw into this - what about TEFL-certified missionaries using their TEFL qualification to get a job here so they can convert the 'pagans' to christianity?? So they are fine in your mind because they are TEFL certified. (again they may be very good teachers and I can imagine that they are, as long as they do not confuse their teaching position and their faith).
So I am ranting on a bit more. I can see that some of the TEFL certified people are beginning to go on the defensive. Because somehow you all know that what I am saying is true and you didn't expect it and you hate it. I am supporting the non-TEFL-certified teachers who lives here and needs a job.If TEFL certified teachers don't like it here then go to Japan. (On the other hand we know that some of the points of the article can be true, but it doesn't matter whether the person is a certified TEFL person or not. While other points are simply irrelevent to the discussion such as the fat farang/Thai wife etc..).
By Nathan Porath, somewhere (17th February 2010)
This is in response to Mr. Nathan Porath's angry ranting which he can't seem to get enough of.
I'm sorry to tell you, but just because you have a PhD and have taught in universities isn't worth crap when talking about your ability to teach, as you should already know. So you can't stop mentioning that and stop trying to put down people because they are TEFL certified. The fact that someone is TEFL certified just goes to show that they want to prepare themselves for teaching English. God knows no one needs a TEFL certificate to get a teaching job in Thailand. All you need is to be young, white and attractive. Sad, but true. But hey, if this is the way Thai schools are going to choose their teachers then let them suffer. It's up to the Ministry of Education to do something about this problem, and until they do unqualified teachers will be free to run wild in this wonderful country and teach whoever they want. So if you have a problem with the way things are going in this countries' education system then stop blaming the teachers and start blaming the people who allow these teachers to teach.
By the way, if you have a PhD what the hell are you doing teaching English in Thailand? Go get a real job! By the sound of it you're not in the popular bracket for a teacher in this country anyways. You best find something better to do with your PhD.
To be honest, I may be one of the last people who should be teaching, but I'm loving it and I put a hell of a lot more effort into it than some of the 'qualified' teachers who I share an office with. By the sound of it you are someone who thinks he is god's gift to education and who would be a terrible bore to learn with. On the other hand, a young teacher like me, who has no qualification to teach other than a TEFL certificate, am much more likely to have a positive effect on a students ability to learn because they enjoy my class and I can relate to them and because I understand why they want to learn English and what they want to learn. Most of the time my students are no more than 5 years younger than me and I have many students who are much older than me, but trust me, they couldn't care less as long as I put effort into making my class meaningful and helpful to them.
I'd just like to add that in no way do I support Thai schools' discrimination against teachers of different ages or race. In fact, it disgusts me and I find it very surprising to find in a country where 90% of the people are supposed to be Buddhist (that's a whole other topic in itself).
One last comment to all those TEFL certified teachers out there in Thailand. If you're fortunate enough to have a teaching job in this country then don't take advantage of it! As you can see there are lots of fat old farangs with Thai families to support who would love to have your job. So let's not give ourselves a bad name and let's do our best to help our students learn some gosh darn English!
By alligotsisTEFL, Bangkok (17th February 2010)
First of all let me mention, nice photography…cowboy. You look marvelous. I can not wait to see the full size body posters and underwear advertisements.
Here is something for thought. Thais are great in keeping the farlangs guessing. They have had centuries of practice. So perhaps, it is not the issue of rather you have credentials, certificates or even if you are a good or great teacher. Maybe, at this point in Thai history there is a strong agreement or movement among Thai teachers that feel confident enough that they can provide the necessary structure, materials, and nuisances as to give students an adequate education in the English Language.
Food For Thought,
By Mark Richard, Thailand (17th February 2010)
To say this article was full of bias, and full of a good many other adjectives would be an understatement. The author stated the following: "This is what I have observed on numerous occasions in numerous locations in Thailand." Sounds to me if job stability is an issue for this cowboy, and may say a great deal about their own ability to teach. However, I was one of those teachers without a degree, but I did take TESOL classes and I came to Thailand to, "teach." I put in long personal hours in order to design the most effective lesson plans that I could. And unlike the descriptions of your articles, what I lacked in formal education I made up with self determination to be the best teacher I could. And, I certainly did use the internet as a source for assembling some of my planning; so, just like any textbook, I considered it a resource for preparation. My feeling is you have some sense of elitism, if not entirely, and you are driven by a myth that a formal education is the mark of a good teacher. Education is a wonderful thing, and that is one of the reasons I chose to become a teacher. I've seen a lot of teachers from your scholastic fraternity who see shortcuts as a basis for teaching. They come to work late, they leave early and do the minimum amount of planning and execution to get by, which is something I call smoke and mirrors, but I don't have to write an article to complain about it, simply because I know I'm a good teacher and what another teacher does in their classroom has no impact on my ability to be the best teacher I can be, and I don't need you or anyone else to tell me otherwise.
By Dale Bennett, Bangkok, Thailand (16th February 2010)
I agree with the author for the most part. I know of a few 'unqualified' teachers who are in fact quite good at their jobs; but it's hard to dispute that most who didn't have the initiative to get better educated themselves or at least get some kind of formal training (how many jobs in the west can you land with NO training?) before they jumped into this profession. Some of us come to work on Monday with a lesson plan. Others--the ones the author is talking about--come to work with a hangover. Most of the 'unqualified' folks out there get very defensive about what the author is saying for one reason: because they know it's true. That can be a tough pill for some to swallow.
By veritas, southernthailand (16th February 2010)
First, there is no flip flopping. I am playing the devil's advocate (or do I have to explain to you what this expression means), and I stress this in my last posting. I am trying to make you see that I can take the same stance against you and have the full right to pull rank over all of you. Even the qualified primary teacher can be my students back home. None of you know what a doctorate is or entails. This is a fact. So all accept this! All you TEFL people do not belong in Universities unless you are students.. How does that feel? Well this is a similar attitude to the one the author is taking. I was not flip flopping I was playing the Devil's advocate and arguing for a side that I do not fully endorse to reflect to you your own view point. I can say that TEFL certified people should not be teaching at universities. And I have the full professional right to say that. But I repeat I am playing the devil's advocate.
That is the point, it doesn't matter whether you are a TEFL-certified person or not- it is about whether you are a good teacher or not. That is exactly what I am saying.
Now, to be honest with you - Everything this article says is irrelevant. I think we have established that it can apply to any teacher good or bad or someone simply having a bad term.
Further, your TEFL degree is nothing special. Anybody can get a TEFL certificate and you don't even have to be a native speaker. But with this attitude you will be discriminating against TEFL-certified teachers who obtained their certificate in non-native English speaking countries. The only reason institutions want you to have a TEFL degree is that it is the only guarantee that you have some idea of teaching. This doesn't mean that you can teach though.
But what strikes me is this - none of you have said what the benefits of having a TEFL degree are. If this article was a good article it would stress the benefits of a TEFL certificate. I do know what some of the benefits to having a TEFL degree are. But remember the benefits have nothing to do with whether you are a good teacher or not. Since none of you have said what are the benefits of having a TEFL degree, it makes me wonder whether you really understand the nature of the certificate you obtained. (and this applies to the author of the article.)
Anyway I am responding to this because I want to 'educate' TEFL certified people in good professional manners. Many TEFL certified people are probably not really qualified to be teachers as this entails more than having a certificate and knowing
a few teaching techniques and thinking that one is a professional.
Most of you all know that everything I have written in these postings has some truth in it. All I want you to do is think rationally about these aspects - your own attitudes.
Well I wish you all happy teaching, and remember, if you disparage your non-certified TEFL colleagues (who may very well be better teachers than you) there is someone else with greater educational authority who can disparage you. So be nice and enjoy Thailand and stop trying to take the moral high-ground on the Farang male -Thai wife issue. It is really petty., This is Thailand, and if you don’t like it than go to Japan. I bet you won’t take issue with Western men (what do they call westerners there? Geijing or something?) and their Japanese wives.
By nathanporath, somewhere (15th February 2010)
Sadly cowboy ‘yer putting the cart before the horse and you seem to have a serious case of head up your rectum – since you assume the Thai Educational System cares about your observed disgruntlement relating to “quality teachers” poor boy using those western eyes to evaluate an eastern situation.
There are good and bad teachers, they come in all shapes and sizes, some with golden qualifications, some without, a TEFL or CELTA certificate really doesn’t mean much an instructor is confronted by 35 – 40 students and it is time to do your lesson; either you can or can’t plain and simple.
There is of course some differences between teaching at Universities verses at the Secondary level – but when push comes to shove “all students must pass” so to hell with what you think a TEFL or CELTA certificate qualifications will do for one.
You need to wake up and understand the game!
By Doesn't Matter, Bangkok (14th February 2010)
Well, as a troll, this article has really opened up a can of worms. The opening picture should have been a big give away - Neandathal cowboy posting on academia hahaha! Secondly, it goes unsigned and the op is yet to have faith in him/herself to declare themselves - a dead giveaway that this is just the big wind-up - which the OP has already declared it to be.
What is interesting are Nathan's postings and the flip-flop position he is taking. He states in his second to last posting that'
"This article refers to nothing more than an imaginary stereotype constructed out of observing a few people the author has met ..."
However, in his last submission, he states,
"From my Doctoral perspective most of what this article describes could also apply to many TEFL-certified teachers I have met and seen."
Hmmm. Flip flopping to the extreme!
He states he holds a doctorate yet his writing style belies this - almost beyond refute. I seriously doubt he could hold a TEFL class at elementary level never mind those he feels should be taught at tertiary level. Something is clearly wrong here - the postings just don't stack up!
Perhaps we have another troll or the OP is commenting on his own posts hahaha!
By Anthony Edwards, Chonburi (14th February 2010)
From my Doctoral perspective most of what this article describes could also apply to many TEFL-certified teachers I have met and seen. So I am going to play the devil's advocate.
To be honest with you, I am not really concerend with teachers teaching children. I myself would keep away from teaching children (this bit is true). I am most concerned with TEFL certified teachers teaching at universities. (and here I am playing the Devil's advocate).
This is not their place. Thai universities should only employ people with a Phd. (and this PhD. must be obtained from a world recognised respectable university and not bought off the Internet.) And schools should only employ people with a Bachelor of education obtained from a real world recognised university.
TEFL certified people should not teach at universities, they are not qualified. As the private english teaching schools are nothing more than business ventures maybe they should teach in those private English schools and help their owners make money. None of you should be in universities unless you are students. It's not your place.
How is that then? Are you all happy?
(I am playing the Devil's advocate here.)
The reason I am doing so is that from my perspective many of the TEFL certified teachers I have met are really not up to teaching standards. This article is only justifying the amount of money you paid to follow the TEFL course.
so this article is nothing more than prejudiced rhetoric.
Textually it reminds me of the kind of rhetorical justifications that certain groups make to justify discrimination against another.
By Nathan Porath, somewhere (13th February 2010)
I see I'm not the only TEFL/CELTA certified female teacher to have read this article and agree with it!
Here comes the bride, here comes the bride!
By Jenny Bryson, Royet (13th February 2010)
Thank you :) but its less of a job wanted post and more of an emergency. I cant tell you how frustrated I am with the Thai employers or to be honest the Thai people... I didnt do anything to them to warrant this kind of reaction from them.
Phil - if you've had bad experiences looking for a job because of your skin color Brian, then we have another article in the ajarn street section about teachers in the same situation. I think your comments might be better served there. Or you could put a post in the ajarn postbox.
By Brian, nonthaburi (13th February 2010)
Well thank you for agreeing with me... I could really use a hand I am from America but I am not white :( I never in a million years thought I would be sad because of it but I am... Everything that everyone loves about this place I will never experience because of it I am going to move back to Japan toward the end of the year but in the mean time its been a real up hill battle finding work I dont want anything full time but just part time as I know its going to be impossible for me to get a real job in thailand but if anyone can help me find work please please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I get a few responses from some schools but when they see that I am black I am always turned away :(.
Phil: I will let Brian's e-mail address stay, but I won't let the article comment sections become a home for job wanted posts. Sorry.
By Brian, Nonthaburi (13th February 2010)
This posting is a continuation of my previous comments taking into consideration more recent respondents comments.
This article refers to nothing more than an imaginary stereotype constructed out of observing a few people the author has met and probably irritated and bullied with his TEFL arrogance, who in turn irritated him back in a chain of ongoing irritations. (Does this situation sound familiar to anybody?)
I am here also thinking about the respondent below who complained about her colleague and concluded with "good bye to bad rubbish". There is no evidence that her colleague was a good or bad teacher only that they, the two, did not get on with each other. With her attitude one gets the impression that she was a TEFL bully. Now you probably also understand why many non-certified teachers seem obstinate as they are forced to hold their ground against the wanna-be professional bullish attitude of the TEFL instructor.
Most points in the article can refer to any teacher regardless of having a TEFL certificate or not.
Now a TEFL-certified teacher will identify with this article because of the word TEFL - 'ooh, I have TEFL I am in the clear' - but everything you have said can refer to any type of teacher including ‘driving instructors’ like yourself. In fact the sentence about getting hung up about punctuation and nouns etc... metaphorically speaking is you - that is what your paper is doing - metaphorically speaking you are getting hung up about little things mostly referring to people's private lives which you have constructed into a stereotype of your non TEFL-certified colleagues. (It is odd that one of the respondents who has worked for twenty years in a primary school agrees with this article. I have a lot of respect for primary teachers who teach and educate at, what for me is, the other end of the educational age spectrum. How can he compare a TEFL- certified instructor to his own educational credentials?)
Remember, TEFL is not a degree, it is a certificate. (You can get a degree in TEFL. There are Thai Ajans who have degrees in TEFL,even PhD. but that is something else.) Most TEFL-certified Farangs have a certificate from a course they paid for and passed.
Now all the points made could just as well apply to the TEFL instructor. And some of these points could apply to any teacher for that matter. There is nothing in the above text that states that it is the characteristic of the TEFL teacher or the non-TEFL certified teacher. So let us be clear about this.
To Jamie - Now, where did you get the impression that I don't do any preparations? Is that what you got out of my writing?
Lesson Planning - Whatever it is the teacher teaches has to have content, and techniques of conveyance and this is the class that one gives. Don't tell me that only TEFL certified people know what lesson planning is?
They are many ways of teaching but you simply categorise people according to whether they have a TEFL certificate or not. If they do the same thing with a TEFL degree you wouldn't bat an eyelid. You feel you have a shared ethos with them. But if they don't have a TEFL certificate but do the same thing you complain about it. This is what we call discrimination.
Every teacher has their own style of teaching and generates a certain atmosphere in the classroom which suits them. No other teacher has the right to interfere with that unless there are some severe problems, and usually it is the head who should give advice and colleagues should remain neutral.
Further Thai institutes do not usually want farangs to be educators because education is also about teaching values and about values etc.. and this is seen as culturally threatening.
The point about taking material from the internet -
Every TEFL certified instructor I have met uses the internet. In fact, the net has information on it for such usage, so don't tell me that you don't.
Most probably most TEFL instructors get their TEFL certificates because they wanted to work and travel not because they wanted to make a life long career out of it and this is the point that SW makes. Whether they make or made a career out of it over the years is another matter. Don't tell me you are here because of TEFL? Don’t tell me that when you were 17 years old and someone asked you ‘what do you want to be’? You looked up and answered ‘a TEFL teacher’. Come on be honest. You have TEFL because you want to be here.) (or any exotic country that would employ you.). The point is TEFL certified people are not educators, are not really teachers and are not professional educators.
Much of this article is picking on what people do in their private lives. Getting diplomas, reading books about S.E.Asia, having a Thai family - and you are simply saying that they are lousy teachers because of it. And further you are simply saying that if they don't teach like 'me' then they should not teach at all. If you read your article carefully you will see that you are simply complaining about all your colleagues for no actual reason other than they work differently from you.
About teaching grammar - This I think you have picked up from observing Thais – Thai teachers teach their students about English as this is something very difficult to teach particularly to non-Native speakers when you can't speak their language. I do not believe that a native speaker (Farang teacher) teaches Thais 'about English". It is simply beyond most Farangs unless they speak perfect Thai and have a degree in English grammar. In the end I believe you are falsely interpreting what you are seeing within the Thai cultural-educational context.
In your article you have simply created a stereotype, 'a straw man', in order to burn him. And all the TEFL-certified wanna-be professional educators are dancing around in glee.
And here I repeat again, TEFL Certified instructors are not educators so get it out of your heads.
Finally one or two respondents have made a more important point that should be discussed and acted upon and that is about the racism that is sometimes employed by Thai institutes. This is something that should not only be written about but all the job websites should unanimously prohibit any form of suggestive discrimination in the employer’s job advertisements. This is a very simple thing to demand. No more requests for photos, and making other allusions to differences of culture or phenotype. And the rule should be No compliance, no advert. Here, the power to change a practice that is internationally and ethically wrong and absolutely backward, belongs to the international employees. (Incidentally, I work in an institute that had employed a teacher from Africa and India. Usually no one calls us farang at least to our face but refer to us as 'person from another nation (kon tang chaat)'. So it is possible in the name of human decency for Thai job websites to push this principle forward.
Incidently, I should stress what i think with regards to the private schools. They want to employ blonde haired people (farangs) because the school can use them like advirtisments to attract parents to pay for a course.
To my mind one problem with Thais and the English language is that English is treated as a 'lets have some fun consumer hype'. So the schools employ blondes as advertisements to attract parents to send their children to it, and as 'edutainers' (to use a word floating about on this website)keep the children happy so the parents will continue sending their children to that private school and pay the fees. In the end it is an insult to the 'blonde' farang clowns, to the non-blondes, and to Thais themselves.
By Nathan Porath, somewhere (13th February 2010)
What do you mean change in Japan and Korea what does that have to do with Thailand? Japan is easiest place to live in Asia in my opinion.
By Brian, nonthaburi (12th February 2010)
Interesting comments by Brian and sw! :o)
But, hey, the situation is unlikely to change, unless Japan and S Korea start demanding different.
But most of the native-speaker English teachers in those countries AREN'T married to a local. Funny that.
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (12th February 2010)
SW, I bet when you wrote 'long term planning' and 'Ministry of Education' in the same sentence - even you laughed.
By philip, (12th February 2010)
I am a Thai, having been back to my home country and experienced sometimes, three months the most, in an English-Program section of a public school, there were many that applied to what the author wrote about.
A couple of Farang teachers are quite good and know what they are doing, and doing well in teaching, on the other hand, some just be here as I observed, a passage of traveling with out financial expense; to some, it is an easy task to earn a living and having fun. What expenses have become to many Thais youngsters?
There are truths as well, one of the areas is how much the authority care of quality teaching in a public school, and how many take pride of their teaching here in Thailand. One major factor contributes to the unqualified foreign teacher is the preference of Thais to have western Caucasian - looked teachers in schools. Another is to be able to hire a foreigner as a teacher; one has to have a teacher certification, a short course becomes the solution. TEFL certified or even a degree does not guarantee a person to be qualified in what he/she posses.
I would say, the Ministry of Education has to take action , do the long term planning and work toward it, again do we have qualified committed good administrators to do the planning? We have let go the good foreign teachers , we do not retain the good one, the turn over rate is too high. For those who are here and can deliver the good English lessons…grammar, conversation, writing, listening and make sure that punctuation is being used properly in student’s work, I applaud you.
By sw, Bangkok, TH (12th February 2010)
Why did you write this? The truth is to get a teaching job in thailand is you just got to be white and have patience thais dont care about your background or teaching qualifications.
By Brian, nonthaburi (11th February 2010)
Having been a primary school teacher in the UK for 20 years before I came to work in Thailand, I have to agree with the authors comments.
By Bertie Taylor, Ubon Ratchathani (11th February 2010)
What rubbish. The writer clearly has some heavy lifting to do in the area of personal development and some much needed self-reflection. Perhaps it's time he got on with it.
By Argyle Sock, Bangkok (9th February 2010)
Far from a 'savage pencil' you possess the mind of a dullard. You present no facts to back up your inflamatory statements. Therefore, you have consigned your rantings to the rubbish bin to be derided by all and sundry (perhaps that's why you are too shy to declare yourself and stand by your blog:))
Congratulations, you have proved yourself to be this year's April fool and we still have a couple of months to go!
By Anthony Edwards, Chonburi (9th February 2010)
That last one of Nathan's was a blinder but he still hasn't overcome the points raised in the original article.
Nice to know that he thinks he's a good teacher even though he didn't do any preparation for it.
I've observed people like him before. There's nothing wrong with their approach, there just isn't a lot to write home about. Vanilla vs. chocolate strawberry ice cream so to speak.
By Jamie Small, Chon Buri (6th February 2010)
To 'oops that hurt'
Well you seem to think you have just fished out a small fish swimming among the TEFL-certified giants. Well, I am sorry to disappoint you but you have just fished out a shark. I am PhD. titled and have taught in Western universities, published scientific articles and have given papers in international scientific conferences and so on. Back home, most certified TEFL teachers can be my students and I can educate them to the highest educational level. Back home, you whatever your age is, would be politely knocking on my door to have five minutes of my time. (And this is what I find so amazing about most TEFL-certified farangs. You come here and you think you are professors and that you understand what is going on, back home you deflate and tweet).
So my 'little TEFL certified friend" lets get things back into proportion. Your greatness (if you have any) in Thailand is due to the Thai weakness with regards to English, not your own real professional qualities, not your strengths. You think you are professors and professional educators. I don't want to be demeaning, but I am pulling rank, and oh.... to quote you "I am loving it".
Now, in my experience with many TEFL teachers and their attitude, they are the most unprofessional people around. Their attitude (particularly the young ones is one of a professional-wanna-be type. Professional educators just do their thing, they don't go around making a fuss about being professional. A professional knows his or her weakness and strengths and can accept the weakness of others and work compatibly with it. (How many TEFL teachers in Thailand accept and understand the weaknesses of their Thai learners? How many disparage their Thai colleagues ?.How many disparage their Farang colleagues?.) Many of these TEFL certified teachers are nothing more than parvenus to the educational profession. They are not educators, and Thais (who are educators and employ them)not only know this very well, but feel threatened to allow Farangs to educate Thai young (now I am not saying this is a good policy - but it is a point we should keep in mind). Thais are usually not educated in English, all they want (or think they want) is to learn to speak English - and so, in steps the TEFL-certified teacher, something like a driving instructor. But then again, it is possible for me to learn to drive a car by a non-driving instructor and pass the exam too.) Of course a TEFL teacher may develop teaching skills further as time goes by.) So TEFL certified teachers ARE NOT EDUCATORS and most of you especially the younger ones, get this out of your heads. (
How can a TEFL (TESL etc..) certified, 20-plus year old with a Bachelor in something, teaching people a little younger than himself be an educator? Just because they have a TEFL certificate? Come on pull the other one. Then, if we discount experience, we may ask what is the difference between him and his older variant?
(In truth I have also met TEFL certified people who I would be happy to sit and work with as an equal in the educational sphere.)
We are dealing in stereotypes at the moment.)
Now like most parvenus mimicking a class of something, these parvenus to education try to be something that they are not while at the same time disparage those who they think do not live up to the values or ideals which they think belong to those they are mimicking. (And this for me characterises the general professionalism of many of the TEFL certified English teachers I have met. of course there are those who succeed in becoming real professionals as I said),
Further, the rigid pedantry, to my mind is nothing more than the projection of the certified TEFL teacher - seeing their own reflection as they disparagingly gaze at their non-certified colleagues.
Now I have noticed that there is something of a bogey man running around on this pleasurable website, and he is the farang (usually fat) and his Thai wife (I always thought he was a German-speaker by the way). It looks like he is the teacher no one wants to be so you TEFL -certified professional wanna bees construct him as your imaginary other and morally sting him.(He seems to also appear in your article)
One respondent even hurled this as a form of abuse at me. Well, let us take up this issue. (in doing so I am not defending myself as I am not married, and I dont have a Thai girl friend). As we know it is very difficult to work in Thailand. Farangs can't just work at anything .In a country where English is a commodity the most common job for Western people is to sorn nangseau (teach), the teacher -kruu/ajarn. There are many Western men who marry Thai women and even adopt their children from a previous marriage(Such men should be applauded as they provide the woman and her children new opportunities for a better life and the children for a better education - not stigmatised and made into a bogey man. What are these people supposed to do? How are they supposed to live and look after their families when there are very few options available to them? Tell me my 'little certified- TEFL friend' you asked or implied, or someone asked after reading your article 'why should they take the job of a qualified teacher'? Well I reverse the question - why should some upstart 'I wanna go and see the world TEFL teacher ' riding on her prejudice moral high-horse get the job that a farang living in this country supporting a family, and for whom jobs are difficult to come by, be prevented from getting? (I know that this is an odd argument and I would never make it back home - in its Western variant it is dangerous). The reason why (I would like to believe) these married men get these jobs, is because Thai ajarns are compassionate enough to give these men the opportunity to work and look after their Thai families. I know that the bogey man also refers to the other side of Thai/Farang relations. Whether a teacher wants to learn Ram Thai (Thai dancing) or whether they want to get sloshed in bars is their private affair and what people do in their private time is up to them and is irrelevant for the discussion- but, a TEFL certificate does not guarantee that the recipient will stay away from the bars - does it? So this is irrelevant. Or do you think otherwise, "my little TEFL friend"?
With regards to Anthony's comment - Yes Thai teachers are grammarians. Their weakness though is they just do not have the opportunity to speak English and develop this part of their language skills. And yes, they don't really want educators. This is the point. They want farangs for their accents and for the publicity - in short the relationship between Thais and Farangs is riddled with contradictions which does make things awkward sometimes. Now the oddest thing about it all is that I have been in international situations, conferences and institutes with Thai ajans, who have never studied English and yet speak it perfectly. By contrast students who have been studying English all their lives, sometimes can't even speak a sentence. This is the most oddest of things. Maybe it is because they have been exposed to TEFL-certified teachers through out their educational development! (I had to say that just to rub it in a bit further).
To conclude then,
As I have said before, TEFL certified teachers are like driving instructors, and the truth is I can learn to drive a car by sticking an L plate on , and have a friend who can drive, teach me and prepare me for the exam. (I hope you get the analogy.)The whole point of this expose is to bring you TEFL-certified English instructors down a few notches, remind you who you are back home, and remind you to have some compassion for your fellow Farangs who are trying to make a living in a country where job possibilities are few.
The shark swimming around the various TEFL-certified fish will now take leave and retire to his corner.
By Nathan Porath, somewhere (6th February 2010)
Glad to see that my savage pencil is drawing so many people out, if you'll pardon the pun!
Keep it coming folks, I'm loving it!
By Ooh, that hurts!, Thailand (5th February 2010)
Some good replies to this inflamatory post. wish the guy had the minerals to post his name and address! What a sharp shooter! The good news, people, is that he won't be able to hack it out here for long if he is even in Thailand!
Nathan, I feel your pain and agree with you that the Thai teachers do know much more about the mechanics of English. having said that, many can't put it together to create a conversation/essay! They are fantastic at multiple choice grammar quizes but that's as far as they can go. I'm not knocking this as I can't emulate their expertise in a foreign language - just pointing out where their ability to contribute to the English competancy of their classes hits the wall.
Well, have a good weekend and hope the OP has made it back to state side in once piece.
By Anthony Edwards, Chonburi (5th February 2010)
Nathan Porath clearly hasn't got any teaching qualifications.
I hope that he has a nice Thai wife though!
By Julie Bruce, London (5th February 2010)
This article is nonsense. TEFL is nothing more than a training that allows the average person to think of their native tongue as something they can teach to non-native English speakers. No TEFL. TESL etc.. teacher would be a teacher in their home country, and neither would they be qualified to do so. Of course they can teach foreigners back home. In fact most of the Thai Ajarns know more about the English language than the native speaker including many of the TEFL teachers.Their knowledge of the English language is professional knowledge. What irks me about TEFL teachers is that they get this certificate and they then think that they are professors in Thailand. They are only teachers kruu, in Thai. Those in universities are ajarns but they get their title from the Thai institute only. In the universities most of the Thai Ajarns are far better educated than most of the TEFL, TESL teachers anyway. And neither are the TEFL teachers educators. They simply are teachers similar to a driving instructor. They can work in those consumer-hype English schools that you find in every street corner, go on those silly English camps which are nothing more than an advertisment to attract kids to learn the English language. The most arrogant people I have met in Thailand (when it comes to this - and this includes a very dear and close friend of mine)are the TEFL certified teachers. And this article is just one good example of such arrogance.
By Nathan Porath, somewhere (5th February 2010)
It seems by some of the comments that the author has indeed won the battle and I'm on his side! I work with a guy who earned a chemistry degree over 30 years ago. He's married to a Thai. He has no interest in teaching English, will gladly tell you that to your face and intends to quit just as soon as his pension kicks in.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
By Jane Morris, Chiang Rai (4th February 2010)
With all due respect to those qualified teachers that are competent, dedicated, humble and worldly-wise, in over ten years of teaching as a non-qualified subject teacher I can honestly say, that the worst teachers I have ever come across are DEFINITELY of the qualified variety!
Maybe it is the (religious-like) blindness to reality, cockiness, naivety or just plain arrogance, I am not sure.
But I think you are what you do - not what a little piece of paper says you should be able to do.
Nice article - definitely designed to inflame and annoy - to the author - there is always someone bigger and better than you, so dont intimidate and bully - how about enlighten and educate? Or is that not a part of your HOLY teaching crusade? Are you the only one entitled to do what you do oh so well?
Maybe a dose of real-world experience would take you down a peg or two and allow you to appreciate that maybe you are not the dogs-family-jewels, just someone who chose another path......
Have a great day - everyone, good or bad - even the original author. I hope you find a better way to channel your god-given talents, maybe in a more positive fashion next time?
Humble, differently-educated "teacher".
By Joe Bloggs, fantasy island (4th February 2010)
Oh dear! Yet another crusader for the poor, hard done-by Thais. 'Wake up and smell the coffee' as they say in your country. Thailand doesn't generally expect or want what you consider to be a 'qualified' teacher which is why they pay a pittance (compared to the cost of western education required by a'paper qualified teacher) and only issue one year contracts: some even less than that.
Generally speaking, Thailand wants a white face to play coco the clown to a class once a week for 40 mins (classes cancelled for far more important educational exercises such as making paper flowers for Wai Kru day). Exams grade are changed by the schools to inflate grades and prolong the schools' EP cash cows which gouge the parents, cost wise and often only pay the teachers the same salary as that earnt in the general programmes. They are looking for 'teachers' who can work within that framework without rocking the boat over concerns of legitimacy on exam scores and GPAs whilst putting on a dog and pony show at parent/teacher meetings. Whilst I admire your intentions behind your tirade, you will need to come to terms with reality, I'm afraid.
By Anthony Edwards, Chonburi (3rd February 2010)
This applies to more than 50% of teachers in Thailand. It seems wrong that someone with an irrelevant degree should get a work permit over someone who has a recognised teaching qualification and experience. The MoE needs to rethink this because it certainly isn't getting value for money from these people.
Why can so many Thai people get the gist of what you're saying but only respond with a yes or a no? Sniff, sniff.
By Paul Adams, Bangkok (3rd February 2010)