Some more reasons why you'll quit teaching in Thailand
Six more reasons why you'll be heading home before too long
A few years ago, veteran ajarn blogger, Mark Newman, wrote a blog about why you will one day quit your teaching post in Thailand and either go to pastures new or return home. Mark stated 10 good reasons why you would leave and actually, eight of those reasons I could personally relate to.
There are 6 more reasons that I would like to add to the list.
11. The frustration of having had no real authority over your students.
You were once again told by the Thai head of staff 'not to bang the board eraser on the whiteboard!' And just like the last time you protested, if you couldn't bang the board rubber on the whiteboard, be allowed to shout at them or send any of them outside the classroom as a punishment, then what were you supposed to do to get them to shut up?
You immediately regretted asking as you were given the exact same insane advice - 'just ask them to be quiet, and if you really have to - bang a ruler on your desk'.
12. Nonsensical stipulations that never were thrown any light upon.
For instance, you were told in no uncertain terms that you were expected to be at an after-school teachers meeting on Friday at 4:45 pm, even though you only got paid until 4:30 pm.
Resentfully, you arrived on time and sat alone at the back, whilst the Thai teachers rattled on in Thai until 5:45 pm. Whereupon, the meeting ended and everyone exited without so much as a by-you-leave. You'd learnt one important lesson, you'd never ever go to another f***ing after-school meeting. And secondly, you'd see how you felt on Monday morning with regards to actually going back into the school.
13. The constant interference and prying from Thai teachers
A young gay Thai teacher stood in front of your desk and told you that the computers in the library were for students use only. Therefore, you apologised and explained that you didn't know and of course assured him that it wouldn't happen again. However, there was something else he found difficult to say. 'Er, and not look at lady' whilst he showed you the palm of his small hand. You had only gone to have a quick check of your Thai Friendly account, but had lingered a little too long as one hottie who had shown an interest had sent a selfie posing topless.
(So, the librarian had seen the boob shot, had she? That nosey cow!)
Two weeks later, the same Thai guy once again stood over you. 'Teacher cannot go to sleeping in library! ' again showing his palm 'Mmmm, not good!' What! You'd only fallen asleep momentarily or maybe for a few minutes, and anyway you'd just had to get a break from your co-teacher 'Talkative Tim' and now once again this same librarian had grassed you up! You'd lost it, 'Hadn't that bitch anything better to do than monitor me! 'Maybe she should find herself a boyfriend!'
Finally, you ask yourself if you really have to put up with this kind of harassment?
14. Morning duty was always a thankless task to say the least.
You arrived at 7 o'clock in the morning and it was already like the inside of an oven out there.
After which, you were obliged to stand in the direct sunlight and greet each and everyone of the students. Thereafter, most of your students returned your greeting - whereas only about 11 of the other teachers' students (about 2,000) were as gracious. Although, every last one of them managed to greet the Thai teacher who was also on duty.
Of course, she made it even worse by patronising you, shaking her head whilst tutting, alongside saying things like, 'Oh please, say good morning to the foreign teacher' However, not until the students had already started to walk away by which time it was too late.
After a while, you would start to sweat, next the flies would circulate - much to your annoyance. Within the final ten minutes, you would consider other options; one was to pretend to pass out whilst wrapping your hands around the Thai teacher's shoulders for support. Then making your excuses and stumbling your way to the medical room for a lie down before the first lesson.
15, That one particular foreign teaching colleague.
That afternoon, after morning duty, the other three teachers informed you that they only had morning duty once every five weeks during the previous semester, until Tim suggested to the Thais that the foreign teachers ought to do it everyday just like them.
This revelation was enough as you'd been harbouring a hatred for Tim for months - this closed the deal. The day after, when you came into the school, you saw Tim at the front gate absolutely beaming at the students, while you were recollecting yesterday's revelation - you snarled as you passed by him. Still he didn't even notice you, so heavily en-grossed was he in his morning duty. This was the man who claimed to have been, amongst other things, an army officer, a cat-walk-model, a sales manager coordinator with a national gas company, and after semi-retirement made a small fortune with his own landscape garden business. And these came after he'd studied to become a doctor of divinity, though having graduated he'd decided that it wasn't for him.
All this, and he'd already been in Bangkok teaching for a few years and he was still, only 42-years-old. The part about him having been in the army was probably true, because he'd reminisced about it so constantly that you began to share his trauma. That was, because his weekly verbal barrage had forced you to give some thought to receiving help for (CSR) combat stress reaction.
16. When you realised the old thing about 'What the average Thai earned', wasn't a fair comparative.
After you got a job at a new school and you weren't sure of the pronunciation, you got your Thai girlfriend to write it in Thai. Still, when you showed it to an owner taxi driver (between 15,000 and 30,000 baht a month) he waved you away with his hand as if he meant he didn't have the time (for a 10 minute journey!) When the truth was that he couldn't actually read it!
Not untypically having left school at 12 (once the government school education was no longer free) apart from the fact that he'd hardly ever been there in the first place. More to the point, khun Ploy the manageress (19,000 - 23,000 baht salary) at your language centre had gained a master's degree in English at a Thai government university (not credited outside of Thailand) although you'd sometimes found yourself elucidating things to her in your chick-scratch Thai. And Ploy's reasoning for her weakness in English was that when she'd been a student, she'd liked to stay home to sleep and let her friend check her in.
You (55,000 baht) received from a combined salary for working two jobs, which didn't present you with a hi-so lifestyle, in spite of that it'd be enough to buy a one-way flight ticket to your next destination.
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'All of us make more than some and less than others.' Yes, I like that, profound.
By Richard Constable, Bang Na (4th August 2021)
All of us make more than some and less than others, but your xenophobic and ethnocentric writings do not appear to be from a contented person who is satisfied with his lot in life. The attitudes you expressed are not the attitudes found in happy and well adjusted people living abroad. I hope you really are happy with your life as a teacher in Thailand, although it obviously brings some frustrations as well as joy. But if you are really content, why the expression of disdain for the people and culture in your adapted country? Sure, it is expected to vent occasionally, but your writings come across as those of a grumpy and disappointed old man.
By Jack, LOS (4th August 2021)
Having pondered; on reflection.
Success, mmm, I have had to trade income for a feel good factor. That is, I earn less than 100 k a month, though I feel that for a family, you need a salary of 140 k to live an average UK lifestyle here in Thailand, so my salary certainly doesn't equate to success. Still, having obviously had to compromise my out-goings such as no health insurance, (holidays for 8 years) or a retirement fund.
However, we live comfortably, haven't missed health insurance or holidays, and like most British people of my generation, I will get an inheritance that will take care of my retirement. (Not that I'll ever want to, as work has been the main stay of my life for over 33 years.)
What I mean is, I'd much rather be at work than virtually any other place. Don't get me wrong, it isn't that I don't like doing other things sometimes - I do - it is just that I prefer work to them.
My day job is teaching 11 periods a week to mid-to-late teenage girls, in classes consisting of no more than 16 students; pre IELTS reading and writing.
Whereas, I see these students between 2 and 3 times a week, and they are without doubt, the most wonderful students on this earth. Always, polite, more than pleasant, as eager to learn as I am to teach, that is they have a want to satisfy and hearten, and what's more they are full of affection.
In all honesty, I don't think that I could even imagine another job that would give me a greater feel good factor, and as I'm nearing sixty, to me, these are my surrogate granddaughters.
The school itself is unusually clean, near my home, and comfortable, albeit both the head and the director are amicable, not to mention the teaching staff in general - it is a real haven.
To put things into a greater perspective, over 22 years ago in my home country I was earning the equivalent of 124,000 baht (not a fortune I know) a month, eventhough I felt like the biggest loser I knew.
Ultimately, as a Brit and an American, you and I have a different measuring stick not only for success but also self-adjustment.
By Richard Constable, Bang Na (2nd August 2021)
Anyhow, I'd just like to say thank you for all your time and effort, and I'll surely ponder on much of what you've written. That is, consider carefully every piece of your advice before doing anything in the near future.
All the best!
And thanks, again.
By Richard Constable, Bang Na (19th July 2021)
Your writing demonstrates an extremely ethnocentric and xenophobic attitude, which is not aligned with the attitudes of the more successful and better adjusted foreigners living in the country.
Thailand is Thailand, it is not the same as Western countries. Whether Thailand is a good or bad place to live and work is a purely subjective opinion.
If one finds working and living in the country is better than other options, continue to live and work here.
If one finds other options preferable, leave.
I think you should consider following your own advice and quite teaching in Thailand, unless you feel whining about the inferiority of the locals somehow provides you with some type of psychological benefits which are superior to the benefits you would find in living in a place you clearly think is filled with people who you consider your “equal” and not inferior due to their nationality.
By Jack, LOS (19th July 2021)
I do apologise, still I did not practice to deceive.
That is, I'm not only a level entry teacher in a mid-range private school, but alongside this I have also been a head teacher in various language centres these past 17 years. (I don't know whether this makes any difference to your assertions about me, though I thought it only fair to mentioned it.)
Not to mention the fact, that I wrote this blog in the second person, yet that fact somehow escaped your keen analytical eye.
By Richard Constable, Bang Na (18th July 2021)
It has often been observed that an individual who has not been able to advance beyond being an entry level ESL teacher over many years who is earning an income equal to a burger flipper back home needs to find some way to maintain his self-esteem.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for an individual, like yourself, to seek some way to boost himself up, and feel superior to others, and even if it is due to something as superficial as the color of one’s passport or one’s native language, at least it is something to, in the person’s own mind, place oneself above others to make yourself feel better.
Sad, and an attitude which never leads to professional success or personal happiness.
It is not surprising the least successful “ex-pats” tend to have the most extreme ethnocentric and xenophobic attitudes.
By Jack, In semi quarantine (17th July 2021)
A 'Captain Thailand' is a foreigner who overreacts, when another foreigner says a wrong word about Thailand or Thai people.
In my view, these are people whose life went shit shaped in their own countries, and come to Thailand as a last resort.
Here, they find a career, sexual partner/s, and friends, although in time they come to suspect, that none of these are real.
They then have two choices, one either, to accept the situation and make the most of it, or the other, to swear blind that everything in the garden is rosy.
In order to convince themselves and others, that they have finally made good.
By Richard Constable, Bang Na (17th July 2021)
Ok, but didn't "humor" which involves belittling an entire nation as being inferior to the colonial masters or Europeans go out of style in the 80s (1880s)?
It would appear you have made a "career" out of the qualification of being born in a country where the mother tongue is the global lingua franca (aren’t you lucky to have that option). You might think this makes you superior to the "natives," but it is not surprising many Thais do not share this viewpoint.
If you are really "suffering" from these hardships, take your own advice and quit teaching in Thailand.
Maybe I lack a sense of humor, but I don’t find your insulting members of my family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and people I interact successfully with on a daily basis because of their nationality ‘funny.”
I have often chuckled at light-hearted prose pointing out confusion caused by cultural differences, but this works much better when not being done in such a mean-spirited manner.
By Richard, In semi lockdown (15th July 2021)
Hello Jack, Just a lighthearted look back at some of the things we EFL teachers in Thailand have to suffer.
Although, one fine observation on your part; why have I never risen above being an entry level ESL teacher in all these years. The answer is, having given it some thought - I don't believe I'd actually want to be anything else.
By Richard Constable, Bang Na (15th July 2021)
Richard, I suspect we work in quite different environments, but our experiences in working and living in Thailand have been very different. I have worked at many institutions and organizations here in Thailand over 20 plus years, often part-time or on temporary assignment, and I don’t find Thais on average any more difficult to work with or live around than Americans, Brits, Aussies, Chinese, Japanese, Indian or others. But that is just how I see the world.
I am not sure why you have an obsession of the salaries of others or why you think your skills, work ethic, and intellect are higher than those you belittle despite the fact you have not been able to rise above being an entry level ESL teacher in all these years.
Have you considered going back home where you might feel more comfortable and surrounded by people you feel are your equals?
By Jack, In semi lockdown (14th July 2021)