Tom Tuohy

Tom Tuohy's blog on

Native vs non-native speaking teachers

Who would you employ?

If you were a language school owner, who would you rather employ – a non native speaker with experience and good qualifications at 30,000 baht, or a native speaker with little or no experience and no formal qualifications at 40,000 baht?

Dying to get around

Driving in Thailand

Having driven in Thailand myself for many years, I can attest to the difficulties faced by foreign drivers in Thailand. For one thing, the rules of the road, what are called in the UK - The Highway Code - are followed in Thailand in the same way other rules are followed by Thais in general life. In other words, they are not followed at all.

What kind of teacher are you?

When 1+1 doesn’t always = 2

I have personally met a lot of teachers in my many years in the Thailand and elsewhere, and I have also noticed some patterns that emerge. Some of these teachers have been very strange indeed. It makes you wonder whether you'd actually send your kids to such a school if you knew more about the backgrounds of your kid's teachers?

The Thai beauty myth

Why do so many Thai women fall for the whitening cream scam?

As a man, it never ceases to amaze me how easily women are fooled into believing the obvious scam that certain creams on the market will make their skin whiter. It's so obviously a scam yet there are so many women who fail to be deterred and go out and buy the products. Men are increasingly doing the same.

The Thai Floods

When tomorrow never comes

With the Asian Tsunami of 2004, the lack of a decent education, the rampant corruption, the near civil war last year between the Red and Yellow Shirts, and now the floods, you have to feel for the average Thai who seems as a resilient and flexible as on old leather bag. No sooner has one disaster come and gone, but another floats along like an abandoned Styrofoam tray.

Here's looking at you kid

How do those wonderful Thai folk really see us?

Have you ever wondered what the Thais in your life think about you? I mean really think about you? Your girlfriend? Your Thai boss,? Your maid? The guy who washes your car? The motorcycle guy at the end of your soi? It may not be what you think!

From the Middle Way to the Middle East

Life as a teacher in the dunes

When you’ve been teaching in Thailand for many years, there will eventually come a time when you want to venture out and try something different. This is especially true if you are getting “long in the tooth” and want some retirement money. Over the next few blogs, I’m going to focus on what it’s like to live and work as a teacher in Saudi Arabia.

Thailand's new marriage laws

Marrying foreign men over 50 in Thailand – new laws

Some may have read recent newspaper reports stating that the Royal Thai Government (RTG) is about to change the law regarding the rights of Thai women to marry foreigners in Thailand. This blog addresses this issue and examines the ramifications if such a law is passed.

Mr. and Mrs.

How many points would you and your significant other score?

If you or your wife were asked ten questions about each other’s likes, dislikes, favourite food, colour, smell, or what irritates you both etc., how well do you think you would score?

How well do you know your Thai spouse?

Gruesome accounts of Thai wives who kill for money

With recent newspaper reports showing a number of unsolved deaths of expats in Thailand, and with the finger of suspicion pointed squarely at their spouse, how concerned should you be that it could happen to you?

A longing to belong?

The Hotel California syndrome

Why do so many expats lose the plot after a while? Or put another way, with such a deep longing to fit in and belong, does living in Thailand make you a bit ting tong?

The students are revolting

Would Thais ever follow the actions of their fellow students abroad

With British students and others across the world up in arms about the cuts to education budgets, brought about mostly because of the Credit Crunch, I'm offering some reasons why Thai students rarely revolt in the education sector in Thailand even though the quality of their education is and has always been so poor.

Professional development

Adding a few strings to your bow

If you're a teacher in Thailand who feels in a bit of a rut and looking to secure a better job somewhere else, now may be the time to dust off your CV and think about some ways you can make yourself attractive to a future employer.

Taking responsibility - Mai mee rapitchorp!

We are more than just robots with marker pens.

How many teachers have really thought about their responsibility as a teacher in a classroom and the effect their teaching can have on future generations of people – lawyers, doctors, teachers?

Skirting around the problem

Why focus on issues that have nothing to do with problems in education?

Why are these banal topics regularly raised when so many critical and more pressing problems are evident in the Thai education system? What about the huge shortfall of qualified teachers? The embarrassingly low salary offered to them?

Two heads are better than one (sometimes)

some reasons why the education sector in Thailand is so poor

Some of you may have seen the well-written and interesting article by Sirikul Bunnag in The Bangkok Post recently. It was entitled - "School heads lack English, ICT skills - Poor survey showing surprises authorities"

Breaking news or broken news?

Will the true story of the mayhem ever be told?

What happened to the reporting of the recent troubles in Thailand and the responsibility of foreign news journalists to report objectively?

Self improvement in Thailand

The sabaii sabaii problem

How many people who’ve been here in the Kingdom for a good while can say, hand on heart, that they’ve made some effort to improve themselves while being here?

Government initiated projects in Thailand

What is being done to help people in times of economic hardship?

Past and present efforts by the Royal Thai Government (RTG) to initiate projects to help the unemployed in Thailand.

The Thai TESOL conference 2010

ELT in the next decade: sharing, caring, daring

This weekend, I accepted an invitation to look in on the Thai TESOL Conference in Bangkok. Let me share my observations.

The domino effect

A look back at the EFL world in Thailand throughout 2009.

The year started well enough in January with the usual Thailand TESOL conference. But as the year progressed - we had a scandal or two.

The maturing of the Thai EFL industry

Something tells me there’s a bright future ahead,

Take a look around you, and you’ll soon discover that there are signs not only of a maturing of the education sector in Thailand as a whole, but also the language teaching industry as well.

Reaching a TurningPoint

A form of classroom audience response software

I’m sure that every teacher reading this will be able to think of at least one time when they looked over at their charges and felt a sense of unease, maybe even despair, at not being able to get through to them.

Teaching unions

Why isn’t there protection for foreign teachers in the form of teaching?

When things go wrong, and they invariably do in any organisation where employees and employers reside without any form of arbitration, whom do you turn to for help? Who can negotiate for you and help you to ‘walk the walk’ and tread the fine line between demanding your rights and avoiding insulting your hosts?

The dreaded teaching observation lesson

Angel or daemon?

Do they perform a useful function, or are they an instrument of control often misused by the resident DOS?

EFL Teaching in Thailand (and elsewhere) part two

What’s the best and the worst class you’ve ever taught?

As promised, here are some of the lighter moments that I have been privy to in my time as an ajarn in Thailand; a time that, give or take one or two visits elsewhere, has lasted about twelve years. To be honest, I don’t have to think that hard to come up with memories of my good classes as they spring to mind with relative ease.

EFL teaching in Thailand

What’s the best and the worst class you’ve ever taught?

Having been teaching for more than twelve years in places like Japan, the UK, West Africa, Thailand and the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, I guess you could say that I would have inevitably had a few moments when I was far from in control.

To queue or not to queue?

The changing nature of cultural norms in Thailand

With such a high volume of people visiting these shores, with all their cultural as well as normal baggage, there was bound to be some repercussions, some changes in the way Thais behave.

Teaching discursive or creative writing

Why isn’t creative writing taught in Thailand in general?

By creative writing, I don’t just mean the very narrow definition of ‘storytelling’ with characters, plots, and dialogue, though in my humble opinion, these are equally valid mediums for a language-learning classroom. What I mean is a much broader definition e.g. journalism, poetry, personal narratives, short stories, family histories, indeed the whole gamut discursive writing has to offer.

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The Hot Spot

Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.

Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

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Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.

Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.

The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?

Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!

Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?