In Asia, is Thailand the best country to teach English in?

It really depends whether you're looking for a cultural experience or to make money. If you're looking to get rich - Thailand should possibly be the last country on your list, but you will have a lot of fun living here.

Those people who have worked in Thailand, Japan and Korea are almost unanimous in their verdict - You may have a nicer lifestyle in Thailand but in the money stakes, just about everywhere else is better.

There are many jobs in Thailand that pay between 25,000 and 40,000 baht a month. Teachers were earning that sort of money back in the early 90's. I know, I was one of them. Those people who claim that teaching salaries in Thailand haven't risen in almost 20 years could well have a point.


Is there a demand for English teachers in Thailand?

Demand for good teachers has always been high. In fact I would say I the demand for experienced, qualified teachers has never been greater. Qualified teachers are never out of work in Thailand. 

However (and it's a big however) Thailand is certainly not the paradise it once was for unqualified teachers (those that lack a degree, a TEFL certificate, teaching experience, etc) I get a large number of e-mails from teachers without degrees and/or TEFL certificates and frankly they often struggle to find decent teaching work here.

There could of course be numerous reasons for this - perhaps they perform poorly at interviews or perhaps they just haven't looked in the right places - but things have tightened up a lot over the past few years for unqualified teachers in Thailand. 

As always, many employers can exploit loopholes and manage to get their unqualified teachers legal. Much will depend on how organized and 'savvy' your employer is and how much they are prepared to go to bat for their teachers.


Is it a wise idea to get a TEFL certificate before I start looking for work?

The TEFL certificate is not currently a legal requirement in Thailand. However, many employers still want to see one. If two teachers go for a job interview; both have degrees and one has the TEFL certificate as well - guess who the job will probably go to. Having a TEFL certificate can do you no harm at all.

Ian adds "having a TEFL cert will make you more employable to majority of employers. True it's not necessary but having one will open more doors for you.


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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