I think all bloggers have a duty to make sure that their writing is as factually correct as possible. Before the very first keystroke, a blogger needs to ask themselves a serious question - am I knowledgeable enough about this topic and am I communicating the correct information? The reason I say this is because I've read an awful lot of information recently on the topic of 'teaching English in Thailand' and much of it has been wrong. Bloggers should be aware that readers very often base their decisions - life-changing decisions at that - on what they read on the internet.
I coud have chosen any of a dozen blogs to make my point, but here's one that caught my eye - 7 insider tips for teaching English in Thailand. Insider tip number one goes something like this - "In Thailand, you're qualified to teach English if you're a native speaker and have a degree from a four-year university plus a TEFL certificate"
That sentence is incorrect on at least three counts. Truth is that many non-native English speakers are qualified to teach English. I think the blogger possibly means that native English speakers are more desirable, but that isn't what the blog says or infers. Secondly, it doesn't matter how long it took you to get your degree as long as you've got one, and thirdly, a TEFL certificate is most definitely NOT a requirement to teach legally in Thailand.
The blog continues with "a master's degree is compulsory to teach English at the university level". Sadly, not true again. I know of many, many teachers who teach or have taught at university level in Thailand without a master's degree in education.
And finally the blog states "teaching in Thailand without a degree isn't really possible". OK, getting a job without a degree is tough, but to say it's impossible is just plain wrong.
I don't want to pull the rest of the blog apart because I'm sure you get my point. I'm also sure that the writer meant well when she sat down to furnish us with 7 insider tips. But as I said at the beginning - readers can make life-changing decisions based on the info contained in blogs. The writer needs to make an effort to get the information correct.
OK folks, moaning over. Here are some links to interesting articles and blogs that I've found this month - all with that little bit of Thailand teacher appeal. Enjoy reading!
Wanderlust and Lipstick is an intriguing title for a blog site aimed at women travellers - and I'm sure it's a fast-growing market. The site has many contributions from female bloggers and this month Alana Morgan has drawn on her experiences to write about getting a job teaching English in Thailand. Alana covers what Thai schools are looking for in a teacher, how to apply for positions, when to apply, and lots more. Well worth a read - and thanks for mentioning ajarn.com Alana.
Although I would never ride a motorcycle in Bangkok (I'm not that stupid) many teachers who live and work in rural areas and smaller cities swear by renting or buying a two-wheeled machine to get around. In fact many say that without a motorcycle, you're almost stranded, especially if the public transportation is a bit hit and miss. The Thai Canuk is a Canadian gentleman who taught in China for a number of years but decided to retire to Chiang Mai. He's put together a nice blog on riding a motorcycle safely and staying alive in The Land of Smiles.
You can always rely on Chris and Angela, our friends up in the north of Thailand, to produce quality blogs and their 'Tieland to Thailand' blog site is going from strength to strength. If you're currently stuggling with the Thai language (and I'll put my hand up to that one) then Angela offers some ideas for Thai self study based on materials she's been using.
And if you've ever thought of bringing a cat to Thailand - or any pet for that matter - well, let's just say Chris and Angela have been through the whole damn process. They know exactly what's involved and they've put together a great blog to hopefully take the stress out of the situation for those who intend to move to Thailand and can't bear the thought of leaving the moggy behind.
Most of last month's links were to blogs written by teachers in Chiang Mai. I'm wondering - is that where all the interesting and creative bloggers go or do the peeps up there just have more free time on their hands? Anyway, we're very grateful for all your internet contributions. One of my favorite blogs of the month - and you'll love this one - also comes out of Chiang Mai. It's basically a blog about 22 of the best places to eat and drink coffee in the city - but with a twist. Blogger Ellen is rating the 22 eateries by giving points out of five, and she's bringing Mum along too (to give her own ratings) - and we all know how fussy Moms can be. Furthermore, if you think that blog was entertaining, you should read Ellen's 17 fun things to do in Chiang Mai - and yes, Mom went along for the ride as well.
I love all these helpful blogs but I like to throw in an angry and opinionated piece from time to time. Here's one I dug up from June 2012 and written by Matt Long. Matt's got a bee in his bonnet about the infamous backpacker enclave Khao San Road. He's titled his blog - Why I Hate Khao San Road - well what else could the title possibly be?
OK, back to the teaching in Thailand and one thing you'd probably be wise not to do is to choose Thailand as a TEFL destination if you have student debts to pay off. This is just one of the "five things you shouldn't expect from teaching in Thailand" - an interesting blog written by Andrea Emerson, a Bangkok-based teacher.
The Travel Fish blog site is always worth keeping an eye on for their Thailand features and this month they ran an informative visa article aimed at teachers and expats down Phuket way. How can you go about renewing a visa on or around the island? Well worth a look if your visa expiry date is looming.
Let's just go a little further afield - to China to be exact - and a hilariously funny blog from the observant pen of Victor Eekhof. I'm not sure whether Victor is a new arrival in China but he's put together a great piece on culture shock in China and the perils of booking a train ticket. It sounds like an absolute nightmare. Thanks for the laughs though Vic.
If you're not following Paul Garrigan's blogs on his own website, then oh boy, are you missing out. Paul has dabbled in the teaching profession in the past, found out it wasn't really for him and now makes his living as a freelance writer. I love reading Paul's stuff and just to give you a flavour, here's a blog he wrote this month on how to turn your dreams of moving to Thailand into a reality.
One guy who most definitely teaches English in Thailand - and thoroughly enjoys it - is Kyle Hines. In his 'Teaching English in Thailand' blog this month, Kyle looks at the pros and cons of working at temple schools, working for agencies and chalking the boards at language institutes.
OK< that's all folks. Hope you enjoyed this month's link-tastic round-up.