Phil Roeland

The Filipino issue

Are they native speakers?


Let's talk about Filipinos who work as English teachers in Thailand. Are they native speakers? Are they good teachers? Do they have the right to be angry when their job applications are turned down because of their nationality? Are there any job opportunities for them in Thailand? Are they well-paid? What do Thais think of them? Read on and find out.

I know a lot has already been said and written about the topic and the debate can get quite heated at times. I don’t want to join in but just give my personal view on the situation. 

Mother tongue

First of all, the 64,000 dollar question: Are Filipinos native speakers? Let’s not beat around the bush: NO, they are not. I’m very sorry, but the national language of the Philippines is Tagalog and that is most, if not all, Filipinos’ first language. Even though a lot of them speak very good English, they are technically not native speakers.

Next, are they good teachers? Well, I don’t know that many Filipino teachers personally, but from what I’ve heard they can be excellent teachers. They can teach just about anyone, but seem to be especially good at teaching young learners. They don’t mind teaching children and are able to teach large groups of them. They are quite flexible when it comes to working hours. Their motto might be “the more hours, the better”. I don’t have a clue about their reliability, but I don’t think many of them call in sick often or ask for unreasonable amounts of time off.

Do they have the right to get angry when their job applications are turned down because of the fact that they are Filipino? This one is a more difficult question to answer.

Parents rule

Most top international schools, a lot of prestigious secondary schools that offer bilingual education or an English programme, and some up-market language schools only hire native speakers. It’s their policy. They know that if parents pay huge amounts of money for their offspring’s education, they want to see white faces teaching English in the classroom. They don’t hire Filipinos.

Does that mean that Filipinos are being discriminated? I don’t think there is a widespread discrimination towards Filipinos, because just outside of the spectrum of the above mentioned educational institutions, there are plenty of job opportunities. Thai primary and secondary schools and a lot of language schools actually employ thousands of Filipinos teachers.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, apart from Thai teachers of English, Filipinos make up the biggest contingent of foreign English teachers.

'Agitated'

In my opinion, Filipinos sometimes get agitated because of the general attitude towards them. I agree that it can get frustrating when your umpteenth job application is turned down. You pick up the phone to try to find out why your services are not wanted and you are told that the school doesn’t hire Filipino teachers. You argue that your English is good and that you’re a good teacher, but deep down you know it’s just water down the drain. Sounds familiar? Starting to get angry? Just wait a second.

Maybe you should have read the job requirements better. A lot of schools want their teachers to have a degree, possibly a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA, and only hire native speakers. If you applied for a job without meeting the job requirements and subsequently got turned down, I don’t think there is any reason to cry foul. By the way, most schools only contact short-listed candidates, so it might be a good idea to phone first before spamming scores of employers with your CV, cover letter and graduation pictures.

Let me go on and expose some darker sides of society concerning foreign teachers.

I have a suspicion that some non-native foreign teachers sometimes get frustrated because they don’t really get the recognition they deserve. It is not unusual for Thai parents to look down upon non-farang teachers of English. It’s completely unrelated to the quality of the teachers involved and has everything to do with face.

Parents will gain a huge amount of face when they can tell their family and friends that little Somchai is being taught by Mike, a fair-haired, blue-eyed farang teacher from the USA, compared to a very small amount of face when the teacher is brown-skinned Felicito from the Philippines.

Some parents bring their children to the language school I work in for extra tuition, often because their English isn’t good enough to follow lessons in class. Sometimes the parents add with a sorrowful expression on their face that “the children have a Filipino teacher at school”.

I usually start by reassuring them that there is nothing wrong with Filipino teachers, on the contrary. In fact, I think (but don’t say to the parents) that those children are bloody lucky to have a Filipino teacher and not a Thai teacher of English.

Language proficiency

It’s a well-known fact that the English proficiency of Thai teachers is usually not as good as that of non-native foreign teachers. I have to agree with the patents though that it is always a good idea to get some extra lessons for students with low English skills. Nobody can do miracles in a classroom where there are more than twenty students, not even Filipino teachers.

If given the choice, parents will undoubtedly choose unqualified Harald from Denmark, who has never taught anyone in his whole life and who thinks EFL stands for European Football League, over Felicito, even when the latter is a top-class children’s teachers with all the necessary qualifications and a better accent than the aforementioned smorrebrod. By the way, I’ve got nothing whatsoever against Scandinavian teachers, it was just an example. Actually, I’ve got nothing against any teacher, as long as they behave professionally and do a good job. Unfortunately, the customer is always right.

Money matters

Finally, there is the salary. Schools that employ Filipinos as well as Thai and Western teachers often have a three-tiered pay scale, with Thais at the lower end and Westerners at the higher end.

If a Thai teacher makes let’s say 10,000 baht a month, the school would probably pay a Western teacher around 30,000 baht and try to get away with paying the Filipino teachers around 20,000 baht. Is this fair? Well, on the one hand Filipinos aren’t native speakers, so a slightly lower salary might be justified. On the other hand, non-native Western teachers are paid as much as native speakers, so it’s not justified. Western non-native speakers are paid as much as native speakers because they have an extra quality Asian don’t possess: their skin colour. Is this fair? Probably not, but that’s the way it is and it’s not about to change overnight.

If the aforementioned (fictitious) school pays the Filipino teacher 25,000 baht, I guess that quite reasonable. Should they try to get away with paying a salary of 15,000 baht or less a month, that’s robbery. Also, let’s not forget that Thai teachers are often paid what some would call a pittance. This is true if you compare their salary to that of foreign teachers. In Thai society though, it’s unfortunately not thought of as unusually low, it’s a normal salary. Considering some Thai teachers’ English proficiency, it’s probably way too much.




Comments

According to the European union student exchange program Erasmus Mundus, the Filipinos are considered native English speakers under certain conditions.

By Peach, France (4th October 2018)

I'm Filipino, and I agree with your insights and perspectives regarding this matter. However, Tagalog is a dialect--not our mother tongue or first language. It's actually "Filipino" our mother tongue. Tagalog, on the other hand, is spoken by a quarter of the population here and as a second language by the majority.

Looking at the Filipino workers' context in Thailand, I believe, it has something to do with cultural view of people and Whorfianism. It depends on how someone looks at the situation, and how he or she acquires and translates it to produce his or her opinions. In this kind of situation, foreigners should not cry for raise or whatsoever, because it's Thai's policy and Thailand doesn't force anyone to work for them. You go to their country; you should follow their rules and norms.

By Niks, Philippines (26th February 2018)

I am a filipino.I used to teach English to koreans online before I settled down here in LA. I would say that filipino teachers are effective teachers ,because most of my students studied English in the Philippines can speak English really well unlike my other students who studied English in some English-speaking countries such as here in US,Australia,Canada etc. just learned the accent not the fluency.And when they speak,it is full of fillers.

By Filipino, California (7th October 2017)

If you've got issues with someone, then approach that person as properly as you can. Tell him/her what improvements are needed to be done. Just ranting things behind anyone's back will just make you appear like a bitter backbiting individual. And will it make anyone be better than someone if he/she has the most rude and unhelpful things to say? It is better if we help one another improve in areas that we think that need improvement. Yes. Not all Filipinos are not good in English, but many of us are. And why be racists? I'm sure I'm from the human race. So what's the point of underestimating people just because of their physical appearance if we all belong to the same human race? We can never be better than anyone if we don't better ourselves out. Share as much positivity as you can fellow humans. Smile!

By Pinoy, Philippines (16th September 2017)

Hello, I am sorry to say but natives have the rule here in Thailand. I work in a school and Filipinos try and rule in the office. They are very nice on the outside but they brown nose the bosses . I will say most are hard working. I am thai and wish they stop speaking tagalog at the top of their voices it is very rude!!!!!

Parents do not want teachers speaking thai to the students.
Yes, some Filipinos are good at English.
We have 1 teacher who failed the toec 3 times, nice guy and makes great props but English????

Please don't be offended but Filipinos are not as great at English as you think!!!

By Tong Bangkok, amphor maung (15th September 2017)

I am a Filipino teacher and I hold nothing against the facts that the writer has stated. If you read the whole article, you would agree that what he wrote consisted of the facts that he either saw or experienced in Thailand. Did he bad-mouth us when he said we are good teachers and can handle teaching almost anyone and everyone? I don't think so. To some of those who seemed to skipped some part of the article, let's just finish reading the article first before reading the comments. We don't need to think negatively of others just because we think they are thinking negatively about us. Just because we are experiencing racism doesn't mean we should become racists as well. And let's admit it, even in our own country most of the school administrations please the parent and not the teachers. So we can't blame this writer for writing what he has been observing. It's just that these schools who think that Caucasians are better English teachers than the colored ones do exist. But hey! Let's count our blessings instead of brooding over the negativities that we see, hear, or read around us. I salute every teacher who serve in each schools whether you are brown, black, yellow, red, or white. You are all worthy to be recognized.
Kudos!
#pusongpinoy
#guro

By Kish, Philippines (11th September 2017)

You seem to be a very insecure self entitled white farang. I cannot believe how much time you spent writing an article to belittle us Filipinos. So what if we are not native speakers? You are paid more even when you don't give your best just because you only have your pale-vitamin C defecient skin to speak of! Filipino teachers come to Thailand for greener pastures. Many of them are hard working and give their best even if paid much lower than you. Despite the odds and the discrimination, they endure and they persevere. The pay they get at 15000-20000 baht you say is not much but hey, they send most of that to their family back home to support a sibling or two for their education or help parents make ends meet. That is the heart of every Filipino working abroad and you can't beat that. We don't claim to be native speakers. And even if speak like a native speaker, it doesnt matter because you'd say, ah brown skin, no! Well, that's fine. We know our worth and you should too being the privilege white human being that you are, stop feeling insecure towards us brown people because you're white, aren't you?

By Mika, Bangkok (31st August 2017)

I work with about nine Filipino teachers. I'm one of only three native- English speakers left at my school. The school I work for only employ those with degrees or post grads in subjects related to education (for WP reasons), which is probably why we have so many Filipinos. not many natives with B.Eds or PGCEs/M.Eds would work here. I only work here due to practical reasons at the moment (location due to wife's job), but we're off (probably back to the UK) when this contract ends.

On the whole, they're lovely people. Quite religious in many ways and always polite and helpful. However, they do speak their own language most of the time in the staffroom. Nothing wrong with that, but I've heard arguments saying that Filipinos who teach English abroad only speak English when at school. That is complete nonsense. They also speak a lot of Thai to their students too. I know of one 'English' teacher at my school who speaks Thai about 90% of the time to her pupils.

We make exams for each other (the school will not allow a teacher to make his own tests) and I don't get to see them until the exam day. They get 'passed' before the exam date by a Filipino boss. The last lot I got back were full of grammatical errors. To the point where I had to give the pupils a mark as the questions made no sense (sometimes more than one answer could be correct or the question made no sense at all). Of course, English is not their first language, so to expect them to get it 'right' all of the time is wrong. Even native-speakers make errors, of course. However, my experience is that they make a lot of errors.

They are also their own worst enemy (in my experience, which is fairly narrow if i'm being honest). The Filipinos at my school are overly obedient and never question management. To the point that they end up working evenings and weekends for free. The Thai management see this and now expect the same from westerners. Obviously, this is harder to implement. Not due to 'white privilege' or other such nonsense, but due to coming from cultures where employees have rights and will, if pushed, make their feelings known and move on to a different employer. We may be 'in Rome', but we won't be taken advantage of as easily.

This is why you will see more and more Filipinos and an ever decreasing number of native speakers of English in Thailand. China is now offering twice the salary and many of those jobs also offer free accommodation. The Thais either cannot (or will not) compete with this. Thai management love the bowing and scraping. In their eyes, westerners are not very good at this and some are not afraid to 'answer back'. I've never seen a Filipino question a management decision. I've seen one agree to working 3 Saturdays in a row for free! They asked me too, and you can guess my response.

This has now caused me a few issues and I'm seen as a 'trouble maker' for refusing to work for free on Saturdays and Sundays, which is not part of contract. If, like me, the Filipinos stood up for themselves then perhaps I wouldn't be seen as 'the odd one out'. Of course, they whine constantly in the staff room about being taken advantage of, but never say or do anything to stop it! They had the chance when I spoke up, but they just put their heads down.

As I, said, I think they're all lovely hard-working people, but I just wish they would stand up for themselves a little more, because the Thais and at times, western agents, can (and do) take advantage of their good nature.

By Joe, Bangkok (27th August 2017)

I'm a Filipino, I worked in the BPO industry for more than 6 years, I and my colleagues we're trained by Filipinos both in product and English. I can say that they are the best teachers because they explain everything in detail. The clients who happened to be NES from USA never had an issue with it while they we're observing the class. It's funny to imagine people who barely speak or understand English would say that they don't understand us when we speak while it's them who struggle in comprehension in the English language. Thailand set their rules and it's understandable why they prefer Caucasians to teach them but ultimately, the purpose is to learn. If they don't want to be taught by a Filipino because we aren't the epitome of NES, that's cool. It won't diminish our language/teaching skills. I'd suggest to my fellow Filipinos to not constantly seek validation from foreign people of our self-worth and ability because they will never do the same for us. It makes us look pitiful in their eyes. We should rather show them that we don't care about their negative opinion because we know ourselves and our capabilities. It's better to do our own thing and be good at it than seeking attention from people who look down on us. Success is not determined by praises amd fame but rather results.

By Elena N., Philippines (12th July 2017)

Hmm 15,000 baht only? I am a teacher and I earn --the least in a month--php 27,000. Hmmm well, yeah we are non native speakers for crying out loud. Our accent is neutral (some Filipinos have American accent,too! Like legit American accent. We on the other hand use Filipino English yes it's very near the American English but no it's not American. My friend is asking me to teach in Thailand as well but reading this..... HELL NO! Compared to my salary here I'm pretty happy. Well, it's part of being abroad to be a victim of racism. I lived and studied abroad,too. (Which makes my accent not neutral but more American) Filipinos are good teachers that I could say but in terms of really teaching English it's our second language. Let us admit it ( note we and us)...

By Phil, Philippines (31st March 2017)

All comments end at words "Opinion" a very subjective thoughts...

Anyway all I want to say! we're Filipinos ... Being guilty of some negative behavior, but in terms of education specially "ENGLISH" come on!......... We're occupied by how many nations, we can adjust in pronunciation, some of them doesn't know that even westerner has mistakes in grammar ask the Caucasian itself.. it's just a matter of fascinations not the quality services... Come on!

By Kennedy E. Pacle, Dubai (13th December 2016)

Th Philippines has 2 national languages: Filipino and English. Get your facts straight.

By Elizabeth Buot, Manila (5th August 2016)

Moreover,there are many Bhutanese teachers too who speak with Indian accents and spells "laptop" as "lab top". They are nice, but not all of them are good. So why are you so particular to Filipinos?

By Marzha, Bangkok (10th March 2016)

Although this article was apparently written 10 years ago, I couldn't help but feel sad with the outrageous comments and the situations laid by the author. Yes I am a Filipino. And here's a fact, a highly-qualified Filipino teacher (with teacher's license/board exam passer, with masters, PhD, certificates from all professional development programs of you can think of) AND WITH AN EXCELLENT ENGLISH FLUENCY WITH NEUTRAL ACCENT will NOT come to Thailand to teach. Why? You know why, Thailand's pay to Filipino teachers is the lowest compared to Vietnam and other countries and of course to South Korea and Japan. There are numerous Filipino teachers in Thailand who are qualified, but sadly since the starting pay for a Filipino is only 15,000 Baht and the starting pay for a government teacher in the Philippines, with benefits, with health care, and they'd be close to their families...is MINIMUM 29,800 pesos (around 22,000 Baht?) why would a Filipino who has an excellent English with an American accent (where there are lots in the Philippines and are working in BPOs with huge huge salaries compared to whats here in Thailand) come here in Thailand and get paid 15,000 Baht to 25,000 Baht and will get scornful judgments from NONETHELESS our beloved WHITE-SKINNED teachers? Like my friend said, like the Chinese, the wise and adept are in China running his multi-billion business, and the less-talented would look elsewhere, migrate South to Vietnam, to north Thailand and some areas looking for better life. If you'd ask them to teach Chinese to the places where they emigrated, of course they can! Thats their language in the first place, but are they qualified? Are they professionals? Unless of a select herd who are really qualified, highly-educated and are professional teachers, but sadly most aren't! The same as the Filipinos. There's a huge number of highly-qualified and has an American accent, but would they choose Thailand? Why would they when there's Maryland, U.S.A., Japan or Seoul? And even when there are a lot of really good Filipino teachers who are in Thailand, but the good ones are also in prestigious Universities and colleges where probably those 'insecure' farangs who are the ones who are mindless about their comments here (without checking on themselves first) won't be accepted. Sorry. Thats the fact. Like a saying goes: "he is so generous in his praises, because he has no insecurities."

By Marzha, Bangkok (10th March 2016)

Thanks for this article. It just shows that all foreign teachers are perfectly imperfect.

By Saki, bangkok (23rd February 2016)

I have taught in Thailand for 4 years now and currently work in a Filipino majority school (3 NES's, 2 Cameroonians, 1 Indian and 27 Filipinos. Speaking from personal experience.
A lot of Filipino teachers have high proficiency in english and better knowledge of grammar even than myself, however a common complaint among my students is that filipino teachers have strong accents that they can't understand.
Filipino teachers are very dilligent, caring for the students and will take on a mountainous workload that a lot of farang teachers would complain incessantly about.
However I have found at least in my school that the Filipino teachers are very clique-ey and only speak tagalog with no consideration for others who don't understand them, both in the office and within earshot of students. This I find not only rude but highly unprofessional. There really is a degree of "us" vs "them between the Filipino teachers and other, non- Filipine teachers. In comparison, most of my non native, non filipine (cameroonian, dutch, german) friends in other schools will speak english, even amongst themselves. Of course not all Filipino teachers are like this but in my school it is definitely the majority.
As for the "white face" theory, I don't believe so. I am half British/Turkish from the UK with a mediterranean appearance so don't fit the "blond hair, blue eyes, pale skin" stereotype. I have also met plenty of NES's who are black or asian in appearance who dont fit this farang box who haven't faced any ill treatment in comparison to their fairer counterparts. Blaming it on face can only go so far, at least from what I've seen in my area.

By Semaj, Thailand (2nd October 2015)

At first I never believed that Pinoys are victims of racism in one of the Asian country. I thought racism exist only in the places where physical features are really striking in terms of size , color and shape.
I confirmed that i am also one of the victims since the head of the department said, the student can not understand the the content of the lesson since i can not translate my instruction to Thai language.
Yes, i admit, I'm learning few words. From grammar class Primary- 1-4 am to teach Reading and Writing 1-4.. Part of my work will be in Kindergarten from K- 1-2 -3 and even nursery. My job to speak in formal class, and in play ground in playroom .

Though I seem to belong in two departments and was told that my English is not in British accent nor American but how come a Canadian teacher in he same school taked to me only cause he could hardly understand Thai teacher speaks in English. Well, its a matter of understanding and cooperating one another.
When i was in the Philippines, i was branded by my co english teachers as overacting, cause I emphasized to the students that we speak
for other people who can not understand our dialect. We must sound a little bit similar to a native speaker. If we can not imitate them at least we know what is the difference. I had masteral in teaching English Language in supervision and Instruction. I studied Comparative English why we Filipinos don't speak like native speakers unless you are exposed to a native speakers everyday. This can be used here too. I studied linguistics and Speed Teaching. But all these seems useless, if you are not given a chance. What i can say, is it depends on the employer, and we who are seeking a greener pasture must also conform to the needs of the institution.
i am a retired teacher, who is here in Thailand, hoping to use my knowledge, but if i am not welcome to teach, why insist, then we filipinos must also convince our Department of Education to use and insist to use British English sounds and accent in preparation to the Asean. Its time for department of Education to wake up. Hire farang in our schools to expose our students to reality when they go abroad for work.
There are other developing countries who need English teachers not only Thailand, if we can speak English the way they wanted why cant we be hired.
Sad to say some Filipino teachers are disgusted when they are told that they should take Masters course in English. Filipino teachers upgrade yourself . We are in the competitive world.

Why are we here? Think about that, They are our employers.




By maria aguanta, bangkok (6th September 2015)

I'm a teacher and I'm confident. My English is good. I've got a brilliant accent. I'm fluent and accurate. I ant only good at teaching kids but also professionals. You can be my client if you want. Peace out!

By Terry, Philippines (14th May 2014)

I beg to disagree, as far as I know Filipino people are fast learner and they can adapt to other countries. And Filipinos are known to be good in speaking English.

By John Jerick Castro, Pasig City (27th February 2014)

I happen to have read the opinionated statements above and I'd like to make my own.

We're always on this roundabouts for so long and it divides us more from whites, cookies and etc...

I am not a native speaker but I can speak like one in the English language. Since, my wage is lower compared to many people of different races, I deemed to earn more.
I do some part-time job to compensate since I don't have student loans, mortgage, apartment (with hotel amenities) or expensive food to pay.
As for teaching capabilities, I try to use Dale's Cone of experience and use the learner's ability to learn to instill any academic topics.

Instead of grieving on the wages, race's inequality and/or teaching ability, why don't we suggest ways on how we can all make ourselves masters so that the Thais would acquire and speak the English language...

Let's uplift each other ok?

By cherry, Suphanburi (15th January 2014)

filipinos are not native speakers. they may have high fluency but in my experience have low accuracy. this becomes important for thai ss who wish to do, for example, an ielts test. also in my experience filipino teachers "play the game" better than farungs.....

By george graham, bangkok (2nd May 2013)

Dear Jovi,

" But comparing the effectiveness of my teaching to the native speakers,
I can teach well than them for i follow my lesson plan."

I hope you don't speak as you write. Honestly, if I want to learn Thai, I go to a Thai person to learn this language.

You blame so many farlang that they come on a holiday and then need a job?

What about people from your country? I've met many of them in my eight years of teaching English in LOS.

There's a girl who was a "singer" on Phuket, then got a job as an English teacher in lower north east. Just recently met her and figured out that her English speaking skills haven't even improved after many years of teaching English.

i know that many of you are racist. You don't like people with white skin, because they make more money?

Your educational system is more than questionable. What does a degree from your country mean to other- let's say European country? ( If it's not faked)

One of my duties is to hire foreigners, whenever I post a job, writing: "Please only native English speakers from..." I always get unbelievable resumes with horrible mistakes.

Having some people from your country on the phone always gives me a hard time.

I know that there're good teachers from your country, but those with the right qualifications would go for a better paid job, am i right?

My 5 cent to them. They're only in for the money, pretend to work hard, but only if there's somebody there.

You speak Tagalog in English departments all day long, without even thinking about how only English speaking teachers react. This is pretty rude, but do yo care?

Here's a statement from an ex- co worker from your country: " I don't care about the school as long as I have my salary every month."

The so hated white people are mostly married to Thais, but not because they can't get a wife back home. The do not send 80% of their salaries to their countries, they spend all here.

You guys don't care, supporting your family is very honorable. But disliking foreigners because they make more money than you?

You don't help the Thai economy, but I know without you guys, your country would be much worse.

A garbage collector, or factory worker in the country I'm from is making about 5 times more money than a highly educated guy in your country.

At my current school are five from your country, who have a huge problem to communicate in English.

An honest question. Who'd you prefer to educate your child, let's say in German. Would you prefer a Thai, or a guy from Germany?

Nobody should be greedy, as we're all sitting in the same boat. Beside that, I need to support my Thai family and I make 27,000 baht. A couple from your country's making almost 50K, with free housing etc....


Please think about my words and write your truest opinion. .

By Frank Zappa, Surin (9th February 2013)

im a new teacher here in thailand and within a month i've already felt discrimination towards us, filipinos. we are paid half of what farangs are receiving but we still manage to do our job without much complaining. racial discrimination is everywhere but through our noble service to humanity we are trying to prove that we are not less human and later on we hope to change how other nationalities see us,

btw. our national language is filipino not tagalog and i think what made us better english speakers than our neighboring countries is that we use the english alphabet in filipino.

By ana, 25000 (9th June 2012)

Please allow me to begin by stating that I'm an American trained teacher with 15 years of classroom experience in the U.S., Korea and Thailand. Throughout those years I've seen teachers from various walks of life who I'd be happy to have teaching my son, conversely, I've seen an equal number of teachers from across life's broad spectrum who I dearly hope never set foot in another classroom. Teaching, regardless of subject, has absolutely nothing to do with race and everything to do with passion. Currently I work in Bangkok as an English teacher in a Cambridge certified international school where a parent found fault with my nationality. I suppose I should talk more in class about chip butties and Manchester United and less about cheesesteaks and the New York Giants, but I digress. My point is that teaching goes way beyond appearance, if an instructor truly cares about their students, they will ensure that learning takes place. I'd rather my child gained experience learning from a diverse array of teachers, as that reflects the reality of the world. I witnessed a similar educational culture in Korea, where as long as a person was pale they could find work "teaching" English (read advertising to prospective customers.) Here in Thailand entirely too many unqualified teachers, Thai, farang, or otherwise have made a mockery of the profession and the Thai student has been poorly serviced as a result.

By Rob C., Bangkok, Thailand (28th May 2012)

Filipinos can render service far above anyone can give, yet stay at the midline in terms of salary.
Colour as the ultimate measurement of salary is very illogical in this case.
Perhaps colour as a measure and parameter on the job is a reality to other institutions but is also indicative of a so called society that is still struggling towards intellectual maturity.

By rico, pattaya (22nd March 2012)

I have read this article comparing Westerners to Filipino Teachers here in Thailand.
I can't blame anyone, but it hurts when schools turned down our applications.

I am currently teaching kindergarten for 2 years already have a very low salary comparing to my co- farang workers in my school.

But comparing the effectiveness of my teaching to the native speakers,
I can teach well than them for i follow my lesson plan.

I just don't know but some white people come to thailand for vacation and while on vacation they need a job and after their vacation they will go away just like that.

They just come and go when ever they want.

I'm telling this because, this is happening in my school for 2 years that I've been teaching in the same school.

they just want the money but not to teach properly....

By jovy, (23rd January 2012)

@babes0202, your comment that Filipino teachers are better qualified than "most farang" is beyond a joke. Many farang here have degrees (although I DISAGREE that makes any difference in the classroom). 90%+ of Filipino teachers also have degrees or diplomas but to try and suggest that a degree from a university in the Philippines is of higher value is laughable. Thai universities churn out degree holders (and teachers) who have the equivalent understanding of a US high school kid or a UK "A level" student and Philippines universities are no better.

I am NOT suggesting that Filipino teachers are no good, many are great teachers, but your attitude/argument is downright WRONG at best and insulting at worse!

By Paul, Bangkok (28th September 2011)

if you work in a foreign country make sure you know the law. Two Filipino teachers are about to be prosecuted in Phuket for hitting kids on the hand with rulers. This is 100% illegal in Thailand.

Both teachers have claimed they had no idea it was illegal (one even says she was asked to do it by parents) but ignorance is no defence under Thai law.

You can read the law here https://thaiteachers.wordpress.com/the-law/

By Marie, (20th August 2011)

I saw this post and it made me laugh. Yes, I am a Filipino whose application just got turned down.

Am i bitter? Yes of course, Am I bitter enough to complain? Yes of course. Am I bitter enough to compare myself with other 'native' speakers? No, I don't think so.

Thailand needs/wants a model. Someone to imitate, that's where native English speaking teachers come in.

When Thailand wants to learn, then probably Filipinos would step in.

That's two different incomparable roles, don't you agree?

Let's say you're a learner, CEF C2. Who would you understand better?
a. A guy with a westernized accent
b. A guy with a neutralized accent

Oh by the way, you mentioned something about graduation pictures? it's because we are proud to show that we are graduates, having degree's from universities that are accredited by American/British/Canadian/New Zealand/South African/Australian universities. Which most native speakers, based on my personal observations, do not have. Oh! yes they have teaching certifications, $1,700 at most for a one month - 120 hour course.

Cheers!

By Felicito Santiago, New Hampshire (8th July 2011)

You get good and bad teachers from every country. I don't think anyone should be classifying people because of one unique characteristic.

By Peter Evans, Bangkok (10th April 2011)

Yes, Filipinos are not native speakers. We don't deny the fact that we are not as good as the native speakers when it comes to speaking and writing their native language. We've learned and used English mostly at school since kindergarten until college.English is our medium of instruction in almost all of the subjects except Filipino subject.
We don't compare our level of fluency with the native speakers but we are sure that we are more qualified teachers than most farangs here.I'm not against farang teachers.You would distinguish farangs who are degree holders from non-degree holders with the way they handle their classes. Our eyes are open to the fact that native speakers are paid more than us because or their skin color, blue eyes and blonde hair. But we should not be blamed if students are not able to understand their lessons or cannot speak English well because if you've taught in Thailand, you'll know why.

By babes0202, Thailand (6th April 2011)

Filipinos are not native English speakers. Spend any time with them and you will find that they prefer to speak to each other in Tagalog not English. If you examine their written or spoken English you will find that it often is lacking.

By John Prestly, bangkok (23rd March 2011)

Hi!
Great article.
Just to say one simple correction. The official language of the Philippines is Filipino not Tagalog. According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a de facto version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions.

By nathan crisostomo, thailand (18th March 2011)

although i'm still a education student, i am sad to hear such news like this. thanks for blogging this SIr

By abel, rodriguez, rizal (16th March 2011)

I love you man for blogging this! This is all true and the truth hurts. Based from my own experience as Filipino English teacher in Korea, I also experienced discrimination yet my boss took advantage of me and earned a lot from my talent.
She knew that I am Filipino but told her clients that I am from the States with Asian skin (I have fair skin)and married to an expat (though I am single). She market me to different kindergarten schools and they gave me $30/hour but I discovered that she is getting $20 for each hour that I am working. For a year that I worked with them, my students and even their parents which are well travelled and fine people didn't notice that I am Asian like them. They were fooled by their own blood.
I am upset by the matter that we are discriminated and unrecognized and when I was in Korea, Koreans say a lot of bad things about our accent but never realized and never had a clue that I am a Filipino like other freelance teacher in the region they thought native speakers from the USA.

By "staunchbreedz", philippines (27th September 2010)

I am a Filipino and I must say that NOT all Filipinos are able to speak English correctly nor do they have a good grasp of English grammar. There is always the first language interference depending on which region they come from, like for example they say 'por' instead of 'four' or 'fratom' instead of 'prathom,' etc.
I understand Phil's explanation, that's the way it is, here in Thailand. What I can say to my fellow Filipinos is that we should also invest some of our earnings on ourselves. Let us improve the quality of our English language skills. Let us do some TESOL or CELTA just like what Phil mentioned here. Those qualifications will most certainly strengthen our CVs or resume. I know of a Filipina who studied in the US and is earning USD5,000 a month in one of the international schools in Bangkok. We may not be able to study in the US like her, but we can do some of the teachers' awards being offered here in Thailand, like for example those at the British Council or ECC or International House. There are also English language proficiency tests that we can do, like those being administered by Normington Testing Centre. If we plan to teach here for longer, we can't simply rely on our Philippine diplomas or OTRs or PRC licenses and then complain of discrimination. Let's think global.

By Kutuktin, Thailand (14th September 2010)

For me, Filipino teachers are among the best in the world. Why? Because they are not only dedicated and passionate about their work but also very knowledgeable of their chosen specializations. What I can never understand is the discrimination against these excellent teachers.

I'd once worked in Thailand as an English teacher and I heard numerous accounts of Filipino teachers being discriminated against just because they were Filipinos. The notion that a person is hired based on his/her nationality is, frankly speaking, insulting and downright degrading. This is not an issue of hypersensitivity (as some people think it is). Rather, this is an issue of racism at its finest.

To Thai employers who might be reading this, don't be too superficial. Look beyond an applicant's skin color and nationality, and use his/her qualifications as basis for hiring or not hiring him/her.

By lady evenstar, Philippines (27th February 2010)

I do agree with the previous comment.

Let me just cite one situation. I went to New York in 2007 to represent Philippines in a Forum...On that forum, the Philippines has the 3rd largest delegation...It so sad to know that those Native English Speakers does not know well about grammar, as long as they could talk in English, fast paced, explain in jargon is their only point. Whereas with Filipinos, we tend to really regulate the words we say, especially with our grammar. Thai schools should really think about Hiring Native English Teachers because they could really not assure that what they are teaching is right. Compared to the Filipinos who can really teach English with the correct, pronunciation, enunciation and grammar. Filipino English teachers are also armed with great strategies and techniques that is best suited for a specialized group of learners...and to tell you...Filipinos won't really go up the pedestal and teache unless we know almost everything and that unless we are very well trained...We were trained to speak English from home, til elementary, through secondary and tertiary...our mode of comunication inside the classroom is English...so no doubt...we should be treated fairly....

By Ron, Cebu, Philippines (10th February 2010)

Yeah, right! All I can say is that it is better to hire non-native speakers of English who are really educators back home( who had been teaching several years and are experienced teachers) than just employing native speakers of English who do not even have the "idea" how to teach.Whether you agree or not, teaching English does not only mean you should have that Western accent, or you should be able to teach conversational English. If you really have that nerve to make your learners learn the maximum proficiency in the English language, conversational English isn't enough. Every language educator knows that fact, right? It is teaching more than that. And by the way, many Filipino teachers going abroad are educators in universities back home ( teaching preparatory to college or even post-graduate education. Of course, it is natural for Filipinos to feel trampled down if they were denied a teaching job. Asians are being put down when they teach in schools. Have you heard the news about Filipino teachers being hired in many government schools in the United States? It is ironic that they do not get the recognition they deserve in Thailand or in the other Asian countries, but their ( Filipino teachers) services and take note, their expertise, are sought after in the United States to teach white-skinned adults and children...

By filipina, (31st January 2010)

This is a well-thought article. You brought up the new issue that has worsened the discrimination - the hiring of Westerners who are non-native English speakers of English. I have a question for you. Do you think that Thai people will speak fluent English complete with the American or British English after say 30 to 40 years from now or Thailand will develop their own English much like what Singapore,Malaysia, Nigeria and the Philippines did?

By Pinoyrocks, www.filipinosrock.wordpress.com (17th January 2010)

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