Ian has taught in Thailand for 10 years and enjoys teaching P2-P5 age groups.
Q1. How long have you been teaching in Thailand?
Q2. What age group do you prefer teaching and why?
Currently, I teach K2 (4-5) and I've been teaching this level for the last few years. I actually prefer to teach higher age groups, around P2 - P5 because I enjoy the conversations one can have with older kids and also they are a tad more respective in class. Also as I get older, my ability to deal with kids is diminishing! Moreover, the more I've learned about teaching (I completed a PGCEi a couple of years ago), the more I've wanted to test out new techniques and theories I find difficult to implement with younger kids.
Q3. What is the best thing about living and working in Thailand in your opinion?
Definitely that even with an average salary, you can live a very decent lifestyle. I make a mid-range salary (60-80k depending on extra classes) and I don't live paycheck to paycheck, I can save a bit of money every month, and after saving for a few months, I can afford luxury items that I want. I am currently saving for a new PC!
Another huge pro is accommodation. Again, even on an average salary, you can get a decent room with most mod cons. If one is to invest the time I looking for one, a townhouse can be an excellent option. I'm surprised by how few westerners don't team up to get really big houses. It's what a lot of us did at uni! Some 25-40K per month townhouses are virtually palaces!
Q4. If you had to move to teach English somewhere else, which country would be next on your list and why?
Vietnam or Myanmar (until very recently) would be interesting as they are likened to Thailand back in the day. Japan is also interesting but I imagine the living cost vs. salary struggles are similar to the UK.
Q5. Of all the places you have travelled to in Thailand, which is your favourite and why?
I really like Koh Lanta. It has everything you could want from a beautiful Thai island while also not being overpriced or overpopulated. I've been a number of times and just booked 4 days there in May. Flights to Krabi are inexpensive and it doesn't take much time to get to the island. Once there you're spoilt for choice for locations and resorts.
That whole area, in my opinion, is one of the nicest places in Thailand. Twice now have I gone from Koh Muk in Trang, to Koh Lanta, to Railay, to Ao Nang, then back home.
Q6. How do you see Thailand's TEFL landscape changing in the next five or ten years?
I think it's dying. It's still holding on but not for much longer. The era of the tourist-teachers is over and in 5 years only professional teachers will be able to find work here. At least work that promises a liveable salary.
While I think this is a good thing for the standard of education, I feel most schools are going to lose out.
Q7. Why do you think Thailand is still a big draw for many TEFLers?
The educated and licence-wielding teachers are needed for the mid to higher tier schools, and mostly only in the capital, where experience and education will be rewarded with a decent salary (one would hope).
The small provincial, backwater towns where 30K is enough to live off for a month will find it very difficult to find teachers in the current climate. You don't need a PGCE or a master in education to teach English conversation in a Thai government school in Surat!
I think the image of a paradise for tourist-teachers is still going strong. It's dying, but it's still holding on somehow. TEFL courses often sell the 'teach during the week, spend weekends at the beach' experience which can be found if you're teaching in a coastal town. However, a lot of these teachers end up in Bangkok schools, on a fraction of a salary to their peers, soon realising they've been swindled and can't afford those weekly (or even monthly) trips to the beach they'd envisioned.
Q8. Have you taught in any other countries? How do they compare to Thailand?
Q9. What advice would you give to a new teacher thinking of embarking on a teaching career in Thailand?
Don't bother unless you have a PGCE or equivalent. The cost of living is rising rapidly and those 30-35K jobs won't be enough like they were 10 years ago. The tourist-teacher career isn't sustainable anymore in my opinion.
I guess someone who wanted to come here for a couple of years just for the experience could still do it. Living (very) frugally to afford nice holidays is still possible if that's your main driving force
Q10. You are looking for a new teaching job at the moment. How can potential employers contact you?
Via my email: firstname.lastname@example.org