Ajarn Street

What do Thai students think of us?

Straight from the horses's mouth

The Questions

1 - When you are walking around outside, how can you recognize an English teacher?
2 - When you think of an English language school, which name comes to mind?
3 - What age would your ideal English teacher be and why?
4 - Can a Thai teacher teach English as well as a native-speaker?
5 - Would you rather study with a teacher who has a Master's Degree in English and no experience, or a teacher with five year's experience and no degree?
6 - Why do you think foreign teachers come and work in Thailand instead of choosing say Japan or Korea or Taiwan?
7 - What do you think is the average hourly rate of pay in a private language school?
8 - How much do you think a foreign teacher needs to earn per month in order to survive in Bangkok?
9 - Should English lessons always be fun and entertaining?
10 - How could we improve the standard of English language education in the Thai schools?

For the reasons I chose each particular question, scroll to the bottom of the page.

The Answers

Khun Kanyarat

1 - I recognize them by their way of dress.
2 - AUA
3 - They need to be over 30 to earn respect. I would say 30-40 is a good age.
4 - Thai teachers are OK for grammar, but for conversation, I'd take a native-speaker every time. Thai teachers don't really know how foreigners talk.
5 - I would prefer experience because the experienced teacher knows how to teach.
6 - The cost of living in Thailand is much lower.
7- For group lessons I guess it's in the region of 200 baht per hour, but for one on one, probably about 500 baht.
8 - 30,000 baht a month
9 - Yes, lessons should always be fun.
10 - Students should have as much chance of possible to speak with a farang.

Khun Prapaporn

1 - They always dress well and carry a bag of some description.
2 - AUA, British Council.
3 - I think that the teacher in the 30-40 age bracket tends to understand the student better.
4 - No. Thai teachers just can't teach in the same way that farangs do.
5 - I'd rather a teacher with a master's degree.
6 - Thailand has a much lower cost of living than the others on the list.
7 - 300 baht per hour
8 - up to 200,000.
9 - Sometimes lessons should be fun but not always.
10 - They need to increase the number of hours. At present, the students don't get enough

Khun Chanya

1 - I don't think I can recognize a teacher. No, I don't know about this.
2 - Inlingua, British Council.
3 - 30-40 is a good age. They have the combination of experience and energy.
4 - Yes they can. Especially for grammar.
5 - I'll go with the master's degree.
6 - I think because they like Thai people and the cost of living is low.
7 - 300-400 baht an hour
8 - 30,000 - 40,000 baht a month.
9 - Yes, lessons should always be fun.
10 - English lessons should be fun, which I think at the moment they aren't. Kids should get a lot of practice in conversation and writing essays.

Khun Chaba

1 - They tend to wear very formal dress.
2 - British Council
3 - 35 years and older.
4 - In my opinion Thai teachers teach the grammar well, but it's better to have a foreign teacher for conversation classes.
5 - I studied with a master's degree holder when I was at university and enjoyed the lessons, so I'm a bit biased on this one.
6 - It's easy to get a work permit, the cost of living is low, and English is always the second language for Thai people.
7 - 300-500 baht an hour
8 - 30,000 - 60,000 baht a month
9 - In a conversation class, yes.
10 - The students should always have access to native speakers.

Khun Worawut

1 - They're usually carrying a bag or lots of folders.
2 - British Council, AUA, YMCA.
3 - Any age is OK as long as the students understand the speaking and listening.
4 - No, native-speakers are better.
5 - A degree is not necessary. I'll take the one with experience.
6 - The cost of living is low.
7 - Up to 300 baht an hour
8 - About 30,000 baht a month
9 - To have fun while you study is very necessary.
10 - English should be made a compulsory subject for everybody

Khun Suwat

1 - Teachers are usually talkative and have a friendly personality.
2 - AUA comes immediately to mind.
3 - 35-45 is a good age. Plenty of experience.
4 - Thai teachers often can't explain things clearly and they use over-complicated sentences. Farangs speak more naturally.
5 - I would like the teacher with five years experience please.
6 - Thais accept foreigners as teachers and the cost of living is low.
7 - 200-300 baht an hour
8 - 50,000 up
9 - Yes, lessons should certainly be fun.
10 - Less grammar and more conversation!

Khun Suwanna

1 - I can recognize them by the way they dress.
2 - AUA
3 - They should be about 35-40. Teachers in their twenties lack the experience.
4 - Thai teachers are OK for children I guess, but personally I'd much rather learn with a farang.
5 - Degree doesn't matter. It's experience that counts!
6 - It's easy to get a job, and the Thai people are very friendly.
7 - 300 baht an hour
8 - 40,000.
9 - Yes, I think lessons should be fun as often as possible.
10 - Thais basic English is not so good, so you need to start studying from a young age with both a foreign and Thai teacher in the same classroom.

Pee Nok

1 - Their faces tell you they're an English teacher.
2 - British American.
3 - Not over fifty, because I've got someone at home who is over fifty already.
4 - I think that Thais might actually be better.
5 - Don't really care. Anyone can teach me if they are good.
6 - There are lots of opportunities in Thailand.
7 - 700 baht an hour. That's enough.
8 - 10,000 for rent. 10,000 for food. 10,000 for taxis, and 10,000 for entertainment.
9 - Yes. Fun lessons are great!
10 - The question's too difficult. Can I have an easier one?

Khun Thananun

1 - It's extremely difficult to identify a teacher because everyone has their own style.
2 - AUA
3 - About 30-40 years old.
4 - No I don't think so. Thai teachers lack the pronunciation skills but they're OK for grammar.
5 - I think experience wins over the degree.
6 - Thailand is a beautiful country. And of course it's cheap to live here.
7 - It probably depends on the teacher's experience, but I would say about 500 baht.
8 - They need to earn about 50,000 baht a month. They cannot live like Thais and need more money to make them comfortable.
9 - Fun lessons are much more appealing to Thai students.
10 - Every school should have its native-speakers

Khun Lily

1 - I can differentiate between a farang teacher and a tourist but not a teacher and an ordinary office worker.
2 - AUA, British Council, ECC
3 - I go for maturity in a teacher. 30-50 is ideal.
4 - They have decent grammar skills
5 - I'd rather study with the master's degree teacher.
6 - It's easy to find teaching work
7 - I don't know.
8 - I don't know about this either.
9 - Yes.
10 - English should be a compulsory subject.

Khun Hong

1 - Teachers generally wear a shirt and tie whereas business people wear a suit and carry a luxury bag.
2 - International schools such as Bangkok Pattana.
3 - Teachers should look healthy, so somewhere between 25 and 40.
4 - I don't think so.
5 - Experience is worth more than a degree.
6 - Thailand is safe, friendly and welcoming.
7 - I guess about 500-700 baht an hour.
8 - About 25-40,000 baht a month.
9 - Lessons should be fun about 80% of the time. Fun activities are a good way to help students learn and remember.
10 - We need to teach the students not to translate from Thai to English but to actually think in English.

Khun Supan

1 - By his appearance (the way he's dressed). Teachers have a certain 'aura'
2 - I can only think about my own school.
3 - I personally like middle-aged teachers, but a lot depends on what kind of class it is.
4 - A qualified Thai teacher can teach, but never as well as a farang
5 - I'd prefer the teacher with experience.
6 - Low cost of living, fewer controversies (politics, social, etc), pleasant Thai people, and more chances to do things than they would get in their own country.
7 - I don't know, but I'm willing to pay for a quality product.
8 - 30-50,000 baht a month. His living conditions will influence the quality of his work, his attitude and his lifestyle. A teacher can't deliver quality on a low salary.
9 - Yes, but there has to be a balance - learning vs entertainment. 10. It starts with the official curriculum at the national level. There needs to be a system of education officials overseeing teacher quality. The students need to have learning materials and not teaching materials.

The devious mind behind the questions.

1) When you are walking around outside, how do you recognize an English language teacher?
I'm interested in this because personally I can spot an English teacher a mile off. Generally it's a male between the ages of about 30 and 50, and they usually bear the look of someone who's perhaps struggling to make ends meet. Teachers often have a sort of 'world weary' look about them. One female teacher I once worked with commented that she'd never known a job that made her feel so old. I want to know if the Thais can differentiate between the teacher and the company ex-pat or are they going to be too polite to say?

2) When you think of English language schools, which name comes to mind?
I'm genuinely interested in who is perceived to have the most recognizable brand name. I fully expect AUA to be a popular choice even though they are not as 'visible' as say, ECC or Siam Computer.

3) What age would your ideal English teacher be? And why?
I chose this question because I suspect that Thais do consider a teacher to be too young at a certain age and too old at a certain age. I'm even more interested in what reasons they back it up with.

4) Can a Thai teacher teach English as well as a native-speaking ‘farang'?
I think the answers to this could be surprising. I feel (and hope) that the farangs will come out on top. How many students will draw on bad past experiences?

5) Would you rather study with a teacher who has a Master's Degree in English and no experience, or a teacher with five years experience and no degree?
I've deliberately left a TEFL qualification out of the equation because I'm convinced most Thai students don't have an idea about them. I'm anticipating the 'a degree means everything' attitude, but perhaps I'm in for a shock.

6) Why do you think foreigners come to Asia to teach English and then choose Thailand instead of Japan or Taiwan or Korea?
Can the students avoid the obvious answers. That's the question. And what indeed are the obvious answers?

7) What do you think the average hourly pay rate is for a teacher working in a private language school?
The next two questions both deal with salaries. Some of the people I'll be putting these questions to will be earning well in excess of 30,000 baht a month. I'm interested in how in touch with reality they are. If I told them that there are teachers out there earning 200 baht an hour, what reaction would I get?

8) How much do you think a foreign teacher needs to earn per month in order to survive in Bangkok?
I wonder what kind of lifestyles they think we lead?

9) Should English language lessons always be fun and entertaining?
As teachers we're sometimes a little concerned that our lessons aren't 'sanuk' enough. This question finds out if it even matters.

10) How could we improve English language education in the Thai schools?
I'm hoping that students can draw on their own positive and negative experiences. Quite a number of my students have children themselves and I expect them to have quite strong opinions about this.



The English teacher is the bloke standing outside the school gate with the ciggy dangling from his lips, innit?

By Guy, Bkk (25th February 2014)

I was surprised at the age bracket answers until I realised that the students were adults themselves. Makes sense. I wonder what teenagers would answer...

By Majin, Hua Hin (24th February 2014)

The degree question is a little skewed. What if they had to choose between a person with a Masters degree and 5 years expereince and one without? I think we all know what the answer would be then.

By Aaron, Thailand (29th August 2010)

What horrible age discrimination. Thai people want "sanuk" teachers and then select the 35+ bracket. Then they wonder why they are left sitting in a harshly lit, tiny classroom, getting read to in a monotone by a guy who's only worried about if Noyna is going to be dancing in those green stockings again at the titty bar tonight...

By Teacher G, Thailand (26th January 2010)

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