Mark Newman

Ten reasons to quit teaching English in Thailand

How soon will you be heading home?


Are you a new teacher in Thailand? How's it working out for you? Have you found a nice apartment yet? Scoped out all the cool places to buy coffee and street food? Fantastic. Welcome on board...

Here are the ten reasons you are going to quit teaching English in Thailand and either go to China or return home.

10 - You showed up for work to find the school deserted because of a national holiday... AGAIN!

It would have been nice if someone had told you that the school would be closed on the "holy floating a candle in the water" day! But, oh, no. It never occurred to the smarmy pen-pushers in the office that you could have actually made plans for this extra time off... like getting properly boozed up the night before or getting on a bus to that buddha in a cave that you keep meaning to go and take photos of and post on Facebook

9 - The Irish teacher you work with called in sick... AGAIN!

A shitty colleague has called in sick again and you find yourself in his classes presiding over students you don't know or care about with materials you don't understand... and don't care about! Your whole day is screwed with back to back lessons and nobody has even bothered to summon up the effort to climb the stairs and say 'thank you' for doing it.

8 - For whom the bell tolls! (It's 10:45... all the time!)

The cumulative mental anguish of looking at the clock on the wall of your classroom is starting to show. It seems to be stuck on quarter to eleven most of the time... even after lunch! Each slow, marching step of the second hand is another slap to your sanity. Half way through your last period of the day, the minute hand is actually going the wrong way... and it's only Monday!

7 - The sound of "I go to shopping!" makes your ears bleed and your mouth foam.

One of your best students, who you have been teaching for ages, can't answer a single question that starts with the word "Why...". It occurs to you how little impact you have had on every other student you have taught and now you are asking yourself... "Why?"

6 - You have dreamed about killing the Filipino teacher... AGAIN!

That happy, smiling Filipino hire is the most efficient backstabber you've ever met. Once again, she's managed to make you look bad in front of all the other teachers and once again, you can't quite figure out how she did it. You've tried to be nice but earning more money than her is an unforgivable sin. You're on her personal shitlist till the end of time!

5 - You show up for the new school year and the textbooks have changed.

As part of the effort to keep you busy during the summer holidays, the school has asked that you come up with lesson plans for the upcoming year. You comply because eventually the mindless web surfing in a sweaty staffroom has numbed your brain and you need something to fill the void till half past three. Fast forward to the first day of the new school year, you notice that the textbooks are a slightly different shape and color. The red mist is forming in front of your eyes...

4 - You start reminiscing about your old job back home.

A class hasn't shown up because of a school trip you knew nothing about. The internet is down and you're in the staffroom alone with only the coffee stained 'Living' section of the Bangkok Post to taunt you. It occurs to you that in your last job at home you could go to the lavvy whenever you felt like it. You could even stop working entirely and have a chat about last night's telly in the middle of the day! Not only that, sometimes you even left the building to have lunch outside!

3 - "I once had my appendix taken out and now I'm a surgeon!"

Everyone's an armchair teacher. Everyone! The parents can do your job better than you. Your employers don't mind telling you that they can do it better, too. Even the most vague comment you post online about your life is an insult to the noble profession of teaching English in Thailand! But worst of all is the new hire who can do it better. This idiot is gonna crash and burn in a few months but you haven't the patience to wait and watch it happen!

2 - You're teaching zombies! (Imagination is a crime!)

They don't look like zombies and you haven't actually seen them eat brains... although that prison food you walk past at lunchtime does look pretty suspect! But everything else about the students is zombie-like. The noises they make, the slow shuffling from class to class, the way they slouch in their chairs, the glazed, dead look into their mobile phones... suddenly you are looking a bit too delicious! It's time to flee.

1 - ONET!

Someone sent you an internet link to sample ONET questions. You are reading them and thinking that it must be a joke. When it slowly dawns on you that it's not a joke and that it's absolutely painfully clear that NOBODY in Thailand gives a toss about educating children - THIS is the moment you say 'sayonara, stoopids', pack your bags and bugger off. No wave goodbye, no last look over your shoulder... just a one-way ticket back to the world of being able to take a piss whenever you want to!

I left a few things off this list to keep it short. Did I miss anything that happened to you? What was the final straw that sent you scrambling to the cheapest dodgy travel agent on Asoke?




Comments

Do you really "have to" ask another grown man for permission to use the toilet? I haven't asked another man for permission to do a critical bodily function since I was about 13 years old... Maybe so many foreign teachers are being taken advantage of because they are too docile? Maybe they should just act like strong, self-confident adults and stand up for themselves a lot more?

Don't worry about nasty childish things, rumours behind your back and people "spying" on you (or just lay off the weed if you're really that paranoid)... And if the hassles really are too much to bear then go to a better school... Also, I don't know how it is for people from European countries - but in AmeriKKKa, you can work about twice as hard for half as much money when compared to Thailand, due to the "big, rich, Western country's" extreme cost of living and very low purchasing power for their working class... (Housing is NOT affordable in AmeriKKKa, so you can have a full-time job and still be unable to afford safe shelter - this is unthinkable in better countries. Even the poorest Thai families usually have a roof over their heads (because they stick together - another very valuable thing which is not common Western countries)).

I think a lot of foreign teachers would much rather stay in a silly education system in a country with a realistic cost of living, and go with the flow - being able to afford decent housing, having a better social life, etc - rather than go back to their home countries and live in abject poverty (not to mention surrounded by violence in many cases).

Finally: You may consider moving out of the big, stressful, tourist-trap, congested mega-city... There are many very peaceful, laid-back parts of the country.

By Benjamin, Hat Yai / Chiang Rai (26th August 2021)

The Thai holidays are the dates on the calendar with the BIG RED NUMBERS... (or one could just search for "Thai holidays" online, or even in an old encyclopedia)...

By Benjamin, Hat Yai / Chiang Rai (26th August 2021)

Enjoyed the read and found it to be quite spot on.

I too have noticed not only poor professionalism rampant among Thai teachers but the Filipinos can be quite petty and simply devious. IMO, Filipinos are like spies. These comments are not based on single instances of course.

TIT. Take away point is to have your funds and visa sorted so you can find a comfortable school with less worry if you need to find better.

By FarmerFrank, Bangkok (26th September 2020)

I have worked in six different Thai government schools and every ESL filipino teacher that I've met had a backstabbing personality. In every Thai government school I have worked with ; the foreign teacher is just a school pet nothing more than that. Foreign teachers have no voice and get no respect from Thai parents or Thai teachers, not even from the cleaners. In one school I even had the security guard shouting at me for passing through without stopping at the gate which only few Thai teachers did. ESL grades are only additional grades not compulsory hence the reason students behaving badly and sleep in ESL classes. So teaching in any Thai government school is a lose lose situation for a foreign teacher

By Baldy, Chumphon (19th September 2020)

Sadly the floating a candle on the water is not a holiday, which leads to an almighty rush to go somewhere in the evening. However, if getting a free day off is a problem, maybe its you not them.

By Rob, Bangkok (26th April 2020)

'The secrets to being happy and successful for English teachers in Thailand

If you don’t like your school, quit and go somewhere else

If you don’t like Thailand, quit and go somewhere else

If you don’t like teaching English, quit and teach something else

If you don’t like teaching, quit and find a new occupation

If you are not qualified or have the experience needed for the type of livelihood you want, get the qualifications and experience needed

Stop all your whining, whinging and ranting about how the world is not designed to suit your wants'

Or, just avoid scumbag locals and 'farangs' who come into education here and exploit the system for a quick buck.

Disgusting creatures.

By Craig, Chiang Mai (17th April 2017)

You respond to an ad for a position as a Maths Teacher. After a month they send you an application. After your name; they ask if you "use alcohol." Then they ask if you can sing. Then the next one was "can you play a musical instrument.". I don't know what came next, because I threw it in the bin.

By Mark Kling, CNX (10th April 2017)

The secrets to being happy and successful for English teachers in Thailand

If you don’t like your school, quit and go somewhere else

If you don’t like Thailand, quit and go somewhere else

If you don’t like teaching English, quit and teach something else

If you don’t like teaching, quit and find a new occupation

If you are not qualified or have the experience needed for the type of livelihood you want, get the qualifications and experience needed

Stop all your whining, whinging and ranting about how the world is not designed to suit your wants

By Jack, In a chair at home (8th April 2017)

"Be careful, Mark. You'll have the sanctimonious elephant washers and self-hating farangs doing their nut that you can experience it all and laugh about it. "

That's good advice, Craig. I'll definitely be watching out for that! :)

By Mark Newman, Paradise by the surfboard... lite! (31st March 2017)

" You show up for the new school year and the textbooks have changed.

As part of the effort to keep you busy during the summer holidays, the school has asked that you come up with lesson plans for the upcoming year. "

Tough, why did you not have lesson plans for the last year of that textbook?

By lloyd turner, Bangkok (30th March 2017)

I agree with the above. I've only realised recently that there is a no fail policy...
Also, I'm a bit f*cked off about the racism, 'the Irish guy sick again' but it's probably true LOL

djbarry

By djbarry, Nontaburi (30th March 2017)

I thought my last straw was a few years ago. I was working for a 'farang' agency so thought it would be a great learning experience. Turns out it was not a good experience at all. I should have known better. When you meet the boss that you're gonna work for and he's a vertically challenged man, find some info out about him first. I didn't and that was my bad. There was also his deplorable obese sidekick. We used to call them 'Fatman and Robin'. Not nice I know, but they were what I think Hillary was referring to when she coined the phrase "basket of deplorables". This trend of BS I was seeing all the time spurred me to go home.

Luckily, two years ago, my friend called me out of the blue. Asked me if I wanted a job. I told him thanks, but I can't. He assured me that he was head of the English department and everything was run accordingly. No BS. He needed a teacher who'd be reliable, liked by the students and who was a good worker. As he was the one selling the job to me, I had the ball in my court. Two years later, and I haven't got a single complaint. Literally not one. I'm also doing online work where group classes are 22 dollars for 50 mins of teaching. The money, relatively speaking, is good right now.

I've experienced all 10 of the things Mark's mentioned above. I really didn't care. The only one that bothered me was non-teachers telling you how to do your job. That would annoy anyone in any profession.

Be careful, Mark. You'll have the sanctimonious elephant washers and self-hating farangs doing their nut that you can experience it all and laugh about it.

By Craig, Bangkok (30th March 2017)

My last straw at one school was being forced to participate in a secret santa (in a buddhist country).. only to be berated (by my coordinator) on the fact that my gift didn't look expensive enough.(i thought it was supposed to be secret)

By sam, Senegal (30th March 2017)

Wages are now less than they were 20 years ago and living costs are shooting up. You search the job pages on popular sites such as ajarn but wages are being offered as low as 25k a month, and all you have to do is work from 7am until 5pm for half a Mc Donald's salary. All this is on a 10 month contract with very few benefits.

The visa situation is murder and the arrogance of the staff in Chaengwattana makes you realize that there are much more appealing countries to work in.

There are no Filipinos in your school, but some of the Thai staff are the most difficult, insecure and childish backstabbers that you have ever met. (some are also nice).

The plastic pompousness is slowly wearing you down. You begin to question if this is Thailand or Victorian England.

The culture of blame and the ill founded pride goes from being slightly amusing to intolerable, especially when you realize that everything is usually the fault of a foreigner.

The no fail system makes you wonder why you're even here in the first place.

All in all, you realize that there's little future here.

By Steve G , Bangkok (30th March 2017)

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