Sam Thompson

Government or private school?

Which one comes out on top for a teacher?

I've been asked by my Thai "boss" teacher to teach after-school English conversation classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays for extra money. My first lesson, last Thursday, went quite well... I think they had fun! I only have 5 students, and although we meet outside near a sports field and it's quite distracting, I think they learned a good deal.

They're not any of my students, but they'd apparently seen me teaching while walking by and requested I teach them for an hour and a half after school. Again, I'm flattered! I do feel a bit bad taking money for them; I get 500 baht for an hour and a half, which isn't great money by any means, but considering I don't have to travel anywhere and the kids are great, it's well worth it.

I still feel a bit bad getting money from them-I'm doing an activity that would typically be free in the States-but I have to remind myself that this is Thailand, and I'm primarily here to provide a service.

Actually, after my first after school lesson Thursday, I apparently impressed one of the Thai teachers tutoring a small group of my M1 students. He complicated me, and the next day I was asked if I could teach Monday/Wednesday classes after school with them too!

I think the M1 students will be good, especially in a smaller group. They're a bit difficult to get through to in class due to the sheer number of students, which, even at a relatively low class size of 28, is still too many to get anything accomplished with such young students. They seemed thrilled with what I was doing with my little group from across the way, and all came up to me the next day begging to learn English with me.

That truly warms my heart; not only is it highly flattering to have the students like your teaching style, but it's highly encouraging to see that they legitimately want to learn English! I wish I had been a student as good as they are...

So, it looks like I'll be teaching a small conversational and/or science English lesson every day after school (except maybe Friday). Add that to my full-time teaching already, plus two or three classes on Saturdays at my language school and my 6 hour foray on Sundays... and I've got quite the busy schedule!

I have been asked to fill-in for a one-on-one class with my language school next Monday, so I'll have to skip my M1s at school that day. If that student likes me, though, I may have her reschedule the time to continue future classes. That would add yet another class!

The problem is that as it stands, it takes me a solid hour and a half when all is said and done to get to the language school from my school, plus about 160 baht roundtrip to get there. Even though I'm making more money from this student (420 baht/hour for two hours), it's not really worth the extra couple hundred baht to have to deal with the travel involved to get to the other school. If she wants to keep me as a teacher, we'll reschedule the time and the place to make it worth my while.

I have to remember that I can't just do things for anyone who asks, else I'll bleed dry in a hurry. I'm bad about always agreeing to do things, even if they cost me time and money to do so. There's a point where you must say no, like it or not.

I can see, money wise, why teachers typically don't stay at a government school for more than a year or so; I'm making almost as much money with my little after-school and weekend gigs as I am for my full 40-hour workweek. For me, though, I think working at the school is beneficial for me; it gives me more experience, I love the kids, and I have plenty of free time to do lesson planning for both the school and my other lessons.

That being said, another thing great about the extra tutoring and weekend classes with an agency is the pure lack of need to plan as thoroughly as you must do with a regular school. My language school pretty much tells me what I need to teach on the weekends, even providing lesson plans and some props. I don't typically USE their lesson plans, but in theory one wouldn't have to put any preparation into the job; just show up, teach what you're supposed to teach, and go on about your business.

Teaching in a school, from a money standpoint, adds the stability of a constant monthly paycheck that you may not get working for an agency, though; whereas students and classes come and go with a language school, teaching at a school is constant.

That said, you can make more money in less time with a language school, so if you're willing to risk not having guaranteed income and money is your primary need or objective with teaching, it's certainly the way to go.

Further, if you can land a job in an International School, I've heard tell of teachers making upwards of 100,000 baht/month, which would trump bits-and-pieces of language school work in most cases. Getting those jobs, though, is difficult; they typically recruit from outside of Thailand, the positions are more competitive, and they require more experience in most cases.

For a typical government school like the one I'm working in, don't expect to be making more than 35,000 a month if you're just starting out. You can obviously make more or less than that depending on experience.

I personally enjoy the school and the teachers I work with, so I'll stick around for at least a good while. I also enjoy having something to occupy my time; if I'm not working on a constant schedule, I have a tendency to get lazy and bored. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but when I get lazy and bored, I spend money.

So, to me, working in a school is really making double what I actually make: I'm making my salary plus saving all the money I'd otherwise be spending by being bored.

Logical, eh?


Cheers for the heads up, Philip! I'm honestly not worried about being taken advantage of, so to say... I just know that in the long run, it's not sustainable.

(I've just been reading up on the King's Sustainable Economy drive. Can you tell?)

The way I figure it: it's hard not to like Thailand, so why should't I aim to be the same? haha

By Sam, Bangkok, Thailand (11th December 2012)

Sam, it sounds to me like you are developing something of a 'head for business' LOL. Let me tell you - that is going to stand you in very good stead as you start juggling the highest paid jobs around.

You may feel that one or two people are taking advantage of you but these are early days. What you're doing is earning a reputation as a 'likeable teacher' and likeable teachers are never out of work.

Get the reputation first. Then look at the money side of things a bit later down the line. You're going about things in EXACTLY the right way.

By philip, (11th December 2012)

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