First off, I would like to thank the many people who emailed me after my debut article in May. I received many interesting and useful questions, facts, corrections and words of encouragement. Thanks for the support. Also, sorry that this article is coming out so late. Phil was in The U.K. for most of June, so I had to wait for him to get back before I could post it.
Next, a few updates. Some things I have found out since last month's article.
1) All Teacher's License applicants must have 1 year of teaching experience, prior to application. Several readers had emailed me that they heard that it was two years. I got the one year answer from The Teacher's Council, just yesterday.
2) In last month's article, I stated that The Filipino Educators In Thailand was putting on an authorized 20 Hour Thai Culture, Language and Professional Ethics Course. This was wrong. It was really put on by The Private Schools Association of Thailand (P.S.A.T.). The Filipino Educators In Thailand were the group doing the P.R. Thanks to Jimmy Lee for the correction!
3) I have obtained, from The Teacher's Council, an updated list (as of June 23rd, 2008) of all of the currently authorized institutions that offer the 20 hour Thai Culture, Language and Professional Ethics Course. You can download the list here. However I received news that there is a 20 hour course being given now, in Chiengmai, by The Private Schools Association of Thailand. That is NOT in the list I received from The TCT. Thanks again Ron!
4) I also found out that if you attend the year long Graduate Diploma in Teacher Education Course at Assumption University (it costs 60,000 Baht) you can then convert that to a Master's of Education, with only one more year of study. This assumes that you possess a Bachelor Degree in something other than Education already. For more information, call the programs' office at (02) 300 - 4543 - 62, ext. 3727 or 3718.
5) In my May article I may have led some readers to believe that only people applying for NEW Non-Immigrant Visas (leading to Teachers Licenses and Work Permits) need to go through all of the new licensing procedures. People who already have a Non-Immigrant Visa, and want to renew theirs, also have to do all the same things. Sorry for any misunderstandings. (Thanks to Ron Grant.)
6) Some readers have told me that when they went to Immigration offices in Chiengmai, Khon Kaen and Prachuab Kiri Khan, the officers didn't say ONE word about any of these new requirements, because they didn't know or didn't care. Maybe those of you who don't feel like dealing with the new regs should try taking your documents to remote, provincial Immigration offices? I can imagine, though, they might look askance after a few applicants from Bangkok schools try to do their visas in MaeHongSon or Surat Thani. Good luck, if you try it, and please let us know what happens. (Thanks to Ron Grant.)
7) There seems to be some confusion in some peoples' minds about the One Year Graduate Diploma in Teacher Education Course and The 4 Part Teachers' Council Professional Competency Exam. They are separate issues entirely. You have to take one or the other. You don't take the one year course to prepare for the 4 part exam. If you take and pass the one year course, you don't need to take the 4 part exam and vice versa. (Thanks to Gordon McEvoy.)
8) Also, as far as I know, there is no "Study Guide" for the 4 part exam, not an official one anyway. The best source I've seen so
far is the "TCT Test Takers Club" on ajarnforum. It is very well run by "Stamp" and he and everyone else in it do a great job of organizing info and helping each other prep. Check it out. Also, The Teachers Council changes the format, order and wording of
the test questions every time they give the tests. I guess they assume we are trying to pass any way we can, as well they
Finally, my subject for this month's article. It's a very short one, but (I hope) has the potential to accomplish quite a bit. The Secretary General of The Teachers Council of Thailand, Dr. Chakraphat Wata, resigned on Wednesday June 25th and his last day at work was Monday June 30th. A replacement has not assumed his duties yet. However, I have a standing appointment with the new Secretary General of The Teachers Council of Thailand, whoever it ends up being. I intend to very politely, diplomatically and professionally let the new Secretary know that myself and many, many other people involved in the education of Thai people feel that several aspects of the new Teacher Licensing regulations could be better accomplished in different ways. Basically, I'm going to say that I think many aspects of the new rules are excessive and unnecessary and will make it even harder (if that's possible) for Thailand to attract and retain quality foreign teachers and that he MIGHT want to think about revising a few of the rules to reflect a more REALITY based approach. From some of the comments I've received on the ajarn forum, I understand that there are several people that think I should "be more of a Westerner", "be more of a man" and "go in there with both guns a-blazin!", because that is the Western way. Well, to that, I would respond...we are not in the West. We are not in the Wild West either. Although I love Josey Wales, I'm not a gunfighter. I feel that MUCH more can be achieved by at least TRYING to get change through diplomatic, peaceful means. If that doesn't work... I'll be the first to admit that all the cynics are right. UNTIL then though, I would like to hear YOUR positive, constructive views. I will not guarantee that I will include everything that people send to me, but if it makes sense and is not too politically dangerous, I'll include it when I talk to him.
Some requests though:
a. Please keep your emails as short and succinct as possible, for obvious reasons. Clearly state (in an organized, methodical
manner) your bits of advice, comments or questions. If I start reading an email and it takes me 30 lines to even get to one idea,
I'll stop reading it.
b. Please do not send me emails cursing, ranting or raving against the government, schools, other people, me or Britney Spears.
(Well, Britney is o.k. to rant against.) Let's not get personal or unprofessional.
c. Please accept my apologies, beforehand, if I do not respond to your email. Last month I received over 600 emails. I tried to
respond to everyone, but it's not always possible. I do read them all though.
Sometime in July, probably in the third or fourth week, I will put up the draft of my letter that I intend to give to him. It will go up on ajarn.com. You can read it and, if you choose to do so, "sign" your name to it, electronically. If I go into the meeting with this letter of recommendations, observations and questions with an online petition signed by thousands of foreign teachers, it might give us a little more weight. Or he might just let forth with a sinister laugh and release the hounds...it could go either way really.
I already have about 11 points to talk to him about and, hopefully, will have even more once I start hearing your ideas. Hope to hear from you on this issue that affects ALL of us in the teaching industry and take care.