I hear there is a lot of corporate work in Bangkok. What is it exactly?
A language school will send you to teach company staff at their workplace. You might be teaching report writing to a group of five managers or basic business English to ten giggly secretaries and receptionists. Most companies will study a couple of nights a week, say Tuesday and Thursday - and sessions usually last about two hours.
It's worth noting that there doesn't seem to be anywhere near as much corporate work around as there used to be.
The teaching profession in Thailand doesn't seem to have a great image?
That's probably a true statement. Have things got better in recent years? I'm not sure. Schools have to start paying more for starters. The salaries for teachers in Thailand have generally always been far too low and it's becoming an increasingly expensive country to live in.
I'm not going to go into the economics of it all but if we are to have schools that are staffed by professionals - they have to pay more! Schools aren't entirely to blame though. There are huge numbers of teachers out there who are just not up to it and do it simply for their money. Yes, we all need money to pay the rent but you have to have a modicum of affinity with your job.
Should I fix up a job before I arrive in Thailand?
If I had just one piece of advice to offer people - do NOT arrange jobs before you get here. Come over to Thailand, get yourself settled in and then take the time to weigh up your options.
Many schools aren't interested in hiring or even corresponding with teachers who aren't already living in the country. Teachers plans quickly change. The guy sitting in Canada who shoots off a few speculative e-mails and accepts a job at a school in February won't necessarily be around for the start of term in May.
Schools have wised up to this so they much prefer local hires. When it comes to finding a teaching job in Thailand, nothing beats actually being here and pounding the pavements, arranging interviews and knocking on a few doors.
When I wrote an article on the most common mistakes that new teachers make when they come to teach in Thailand, I put this right at the top of the list. Have a read of the article to get some more advice.
What are Thais like to teach?
Be under no illusion - Thais can be a lot of fun to teach, and other times they can be painful.
Many of them (particularly male teenagers) have zero motivation. You will have to take the rough with the smooth. The Thais expect a teacher to be a mixture of an educator and an entertainer. An old teaching colleague, who had taught in several Asian countries, once remarked "a teacher in Thailand needs to be a combination of a dancer and a game show host. If you don't have the kind of personality that lights up a room the moment you walk in, you might find yourself struggling here"
I've spent much of my teaching career here in the corporate training room. Even managers and high-flying executives can start switching off if they're not having enough 'fun'. Thailand is very much a 'let's all have fun' society.
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