Age, the TEFL killer disease, sweeping Thailand … Do I mean literally? Yes, if you’re over 60 it’s a graveyard out there. Here’s my story.
At the age of 52 I came to Thailand and a year later took my TEFL certificate. After developing my experience as a volunteer in a local school, which was part of the 250 hour course, I moved to Ratchaburi for a year.
At the end of 2011, I obtained a position in a state school in Northern China and spent the following six years in the same school. Unfortunately, in early 2018 the recruiting company lost its contract with the government and redundancy followed.
China has a 'grandfather rights' system, which means that if you’re already working the contract may carry on depending on health and your employer, but no new applications after the age of 60. At that time I was nearly 63 and with my dependent Thai wife we returned to Thailand.
Time marches on and I’m now nearly 64 and meanwhile, in the past year I’ve sent out dozens of applications and received one offer from a reputable university in Thailand. Unfortunately, the salary was so low that after paying high accommodation costs out of the salary in what was both a university town and a holiday resort, what remained I wouldn’t have been able to live on.
Aside from that it’s not just refusals I’ve had, it’s the deafening silence that follows the application, which is surprising as it’s obvious from the amount of adverts there’s a shortage of NES teachers in Thailand.
A fair haired blue-eyed British NES (marriage visa), with three genuine UK degrees (BA, B.Sc. and MA) and additionally, eight years of experience, employment references from Thailand and China; I’m also a non-drinker with never a day off through illness. Consequently, I’m aware the killer is age as I always attach two recent photos with my resume proving I’m not a geriatric with a zimmer frame!
What are schools looking for then?
So, let’s play the blame game, but dispel the myth that schools can’t find a teacher.
Perhaps it’s not a teacher they’re looking for, but clowns masquerading as entertainers? Any school choosing a 22-year old party animal will produce disappointed.
These mythical TEFL creatures, forever young with a permanent rictus smile exist only in the imagination and are about as common as a Thai teacher bathed in sweat at the end of an eight hour day! Similarly, a genuinely mature teacher who gets up at 5am and is still doing next day’s lesson plans 14 hours later is going to burn out quickly. Quality over quantity and knowledge over entertainment?
We’re out there and we don’t need the sun, sea and sand inducements, or the 'cultural activities' to entice us.
If however you’re looking for young, energetic, fun loving entertainers, whose idea of a promised exotic adventure entails spending eight hours a day in a school setting they not long ago left themselves, perhaps you’re looking for the wrong sort of people?
From the foreign alcoholic recruiter who once interviewed me in a bar, to the Thai homeroom teacher who told me that at 53 years old I couldn’t donate my blood because it was "too old"; the end product of education reflects the ingredients.