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Teaching English in Thailand : A Massive Guide

Imagine traveling abroad and immersing yourself in a brand new culture. You might have done this before, but imagine also being able to make a real difference in the lives of the people there. Not just being a tourist, but a contributor to the community.

What if your proficiency in, and passion for your native language is all you need to do this?

 

Why Teaching English in Thailand
There is a Huge Demand For English Teachers
Getting Started is Simple
Can I Teach in Thailand Without Any Qualifications?
Where Will I Be Working?
Qualifications: What Do I Need?
Salary & Cost Of Living
What if I Don’t Know How to Speak Thai?
Packing Wisely!
Getting The Visa And Other Documentation Right
A Great Country to Teach English In
What to Avoid as a Teacher in Thailand

 

Let’s say you could also make a good living; including accommodation benefits, health insurance, and travel allowances.

If that sounds good, then you need to find out more about how teaching English in Thailand is the perfect opportunity for you.

English is the world’s most widespread language, and the huge demand for English tuition in Thailand is a testament to that. Proficiency in English opens up many job opportunities both locally and internationally, and the Thai government has realized, and subsequently prioritized it.

That’s where you come in. A chance to make a real difference, impart your knowledge and experience the adventure of a lifetime.

 

 

 

Why Teaching English in Thailand?

 

With all of the options for English teachers abroad, this is a very good question. Here are 6 reasons.

 

  • Thailand has a large amount and variety of "teaching in Thailand" posts available. You will definitely find at least one of them, and you will have many different types of jobs to choose from too.

 

  • Due to the huge demand, you have the option of either finding yourself a permanent position or getting necessary experience as a stepping stone in your career. The choice is yours, and there will always be many options open to you.

 

  • As an English speaking foreigner, you’ll get a higher salary. Thailand places an emphasis on hiring teachers from native speaking English countries. You will also be able to work with advanced learners, which pays more.

 

  • You’ll receive a reasonable monthly paycheck, and with the relatively low cost of living in Thailand, you’ll be very comfortable.

 

  • There is a major movement in English language studies in Thailand, and many opportunities to become involved in the formation of policy and the syllabus.

 

  • Not being fluent in Thai as a language is actually a benefit and not a hindrance. Speaking to the students in English, and learning some basic Thai in the process, will facilitate the learning process, as well as improve your relationship with the students.

 

 

 

 

There is a Huge Demand For English Teachers

 

In Thailand, English proficiency is particularly low when compared to other Asian countries. Schools providing English tuition have previously been few and far between, and a lack of proactive legislation has hindered progress.

Recently, things have changed, and English tuition has become a priority. Initiatives such as the Thailand English Teaching (TET) program have, amongst others, led to an increase of almost 30 percent in the intake of English teachers on average per year since 2012.

Motivated by the need to develop students' English skills and exposure to different cultures, thousands of native-English speakers are employed in public and private schools throughout Thailand.

The demand is growing, and licensed schools, both private and public, are recruiting native English speakers in droves. As with all things popular, there are many charlatans trying to profit from the demand. Diploma mills churn out bogus teaching certificates at alarming rates. The government has addressed this by investigating these ‘fly-by-night’ institutions and shutting them down.

The bottom line is that native English speaking teachers are needed and are warmly welcomed in Thailand.

 

 

 

Getting Started is Simple

 

If you thought it was a very complicated process, think again, because it’s much simpler than you thought.

As mentioned, there are a huge amount of state and private schools, as well as Universities that are in dire need of English teachers. Qualification and experience requirements vary among institutions.

More and more college graduates are giving Thailand a chance, and are amazed at how favorable the working conditions are. Since 2006, the number of English teachers has increased 16 fold and will be increasing steadily going forward, providing many opportunities for English teachers to ply their trade in Thailand.

There are many agencies which can help you apply for positions all over the country. You also have the option of applying by yourself, without a middleman, and arranging the deals directly with your employer.

 

 

 

Can I Teach in Thailand Without Any Qualifications?

 

This is a tricky one – yes and no. The bottom line is that this completely depends on the type of school, specifics of the contract as well as the rules within the region.

Your best bet is always to come armed with a formidable set of qualifications. If you want to compete for some of the best-paid and most challenging jobs, the following are vital to securing employment:

 

  • A TEFL or a TESOL certificate (More about this later in the article)

 

  • A diploma from a four-year university program

 

  • Be a native English speaker

 

Having certified tertiary qualifications will put you in a better position than other candidates, and passing the TEFL or TESOL tests will give you a license to teach English universally, with an automatic C2 level of recognition.

Being extroverted and enthusiastic will also help you as an English teacher in Thailand. This is because being open and talkative with others is encouraged in Thai culture. They encourage expression and aren’t judgemental.

Being armed with both the correct certification and attitude will get you far. As mentioned, always make sure what the job requires, and be open and honest with potential employers.


 

 

Where Will I Be Working?

 

There are 3 broad categories of educational facility in Thailand.

 

Private and International Schools

 

These schools offer a high standard of education with smaller classes and higher fees. The qualification requirements for English teachers are also obviously high, and a University degree and formal teaching qualifications are often preferred.

This isn’t always the case though. Many private schools will employ teachers who might not have a diploma or degree if they find them to be competent and proficient.

Many of these schools have long waiting lists and early application is recommended. Each school will follow its own admissions procedure which can include placement tests and inspection of prior academic records. Always make sure that you are familiar with the rules and requirements of the school you’re applying.

 

Public/Government Schools

 

Particular emphasis has been placed on improving the standard of English tuition in Thailand’s government schools. Previously, English tuition was underrepresented and there was a general lack of quality.

These schools will mostly have bigger classes and offer lower pay compared to private and international schools, but on the bright side there are a lot of posts available and the criteria for applying is much less strict.

Many government schools run English-language programs. These vary from extra classes to a completely separate school within the school, where 50 percent or more of the classes are carried out in English with native English speaking teachers. These are attractive options to parents as they are significantly cheaper than private and international schools.

 

Higher Education Institutions

 

Regarding employment at a University, a Master’s Degree is usually mandatory. Higher Education is taken very seriously in Thailand, and your qualification will be closely scrutinized based on the level of the position being applied for.

Bear in mind that many positions are available in all institutions, and you always need to make sure of what is required, and what is available for you, based on your qualifications.

 

 

 

 

Qualifications: What Do I Need?

 

Firstly, let’s get those pesky definitions out of the way!

 

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

 

Certification needed to teach English abroad in countries where students do not speak English as their first language.

 

TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language

 

A Qualification for teaching students whose first language is not English, but are currently living in a native-English speaking country. This is not the case in the case in Thailand and isn’t relevant for our purposes. It is, however, often confused with our next definition:

 

TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Another Language

 

Much like TEFL, this provides teachers with the skills needed to teach English to students who speak a foreign native language. This qualification is newer than TEFL and provides more flexibility in that it can be used to teach in Native English speaking countries too. On the downside, it is incompatible with some curricula and doesn’t go into as much depth on topics compared to TEFL courses.

 

The Importance of TEFL and TESOL

 

College and University degrees aside, the two most important qualifications for teaching English in Thailand are the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and the TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) qualifications.

If you don’t currently have either one, don’t worry. There are many online courses and every town has a licensed TEFL or TESOL testing facility. As mentioned. taking these courses will greatly increase your employment prospects.

In some regions, and at some schools, it is possible to teach without qualifications. You’ll be looking at lower ranked private schools, language academies, and various institutions that offer language courses. These aren’t very well paid, and therefore don’t have strict criteria.

There’s no harm in investing a little bit more effort and money into having the best credentials, and the time invested will definitely be worth it when it comes to your position and salary.

 

 

 

 

All About the Money

 

When it comes to numbers, the one that you should memorize is 35 000. That amount of Thai Baht is the average teacher’s monthly paycheck in Thailand. It’s about $1000 and the good news is that even though this is a comfortable wage in Thailand, English speaking foreign teachers can earn much more.

If you’re an English teacher from a native English speaking country, you’re immediately held in higher esteem, as you’ve been speaking the language for your entire life. It means that you’d be able to work with more advanced groups and also apply at private institutions which all means higher pay.

As mentioned previously, salary is dependent on the region, type of school and qualifications you have. Here’s a basic guide:

 

 

InstitutionWeekly Hours 

Requirements

Salary
International & Bilingual Schools
37-40 hours

English teachers with a university degree, TEFL or TESOL
48,000 baht

Government Schools
20-22
hours


Bachelor’s degree or higher

35,000 baht
Private Schools
28-35
hours

English teachers with a university degree, TEFL or TESOL
85,000 -
100,000 baht

 


 

The cost of living is very reasonable in Thailand, and anything above $600 per month is considered sufficient to lead a comfortable life. Thailand is financially stable and doesn’t have the exorbitant price increases and charges on services and goods compared to other countries.

Compared to the USA, Thailand is approximately 48% cheaper to live in. Food wise, it’s approximately 40% cheaper. Below is a price list of basic food and drink items compared to USA prices which will give you an idea of monthly expenses:

 

ItemThailand

USA


Basic lunchtime menu in the business district

171 ฿ ($5.03)

$14

Combo meal in fast food restaurant
181 ฿ ($5.31)
$7
500 gr (1 lb.) of boneless chicken breast
57 ฿ ($1.66)

$4.45


1 liter (1 qt.) of whole fat milk

57 ฿ ($1.66)

$0.89
12 eggs, large
57 ฿ ($1.66)

$3.29

1 kg (2 lb.) of tomatoes
57 ฿ ($1.66)

$4.20

500 gr (16 oz.) of local cheese
57 ฿ ($1.66)

$7

1 kg (2 lb.) of apples
57 ฿ ($1.66)

$3.32

1 kg (2 lb.) of potatoes
57 ฿ ($1.66)

$1.55

0.5 l (16 oz) domestic beer in the supermarket
57 ฿ ($1.66)

$2.48

 

 

 

What if I Don’t Know How to Speak Thai?

 

No problem at all. Most people in the education sector are well versed in English. Also, non-Thai speakers are actually sought out for teaching posts. Educational facility employers understand that school leavers will often have to rely heavily on their English skills, and the more English focused the lessons are, the better.

A common rule in linguistics is that people perform well in challenging environments. When Thai teachers teach English, they have a tendency to lean on their mother tongue. Students feel more comfortable in this case and are likely to learn slower.

Being part of an advanced group/class, you will have no problem communicating with your group. Their English undergoes a test from start to finish. Also, groups are comprised of a maximum of 20 students, which makes the connection and interaction easier.

Everyone is willing to learn English in Thailand, which means your lack of Thai fluency will not be as big a problem as you might think. As mentioned previously, you will also definitely pick up some Thai while teaching, and this can strengthen the teacher/student bond.

Learning some of the basics before your trip is recommended though, and there are plenty of online resources that can help you along your way!

 

 

Packing Wisely!

 

Packing wisely is always crucial when traveling, and every country or region has varying necessities. Cooler, summer type clothes should be prioritized. The humidity is severe and can even cause difficulties to those who are suffering from asthma, and in some cases, it may take 3-4 weeks to acclimatize.

Prepare a list of clothes that you’ve brought with and also make a separate list of clothes that you plan to buy after landing in Thailand. This can help when arranging your belongings and making sure you’re sorted out clothing wise.

Checklist before embarking on your journey:

 

 

General ItemsWarm Season (March to May)

Winter (Nov to Feb)

Rainy Season (June to October)
Your favorite books! Sometimes being away from home is difficult in the beginning, and books could provide comfort. A Thai phrase book is also handy to browse whenever you can.
Some comfortable vests should definitely be a part of your luggage. The climate is very humid and this will help you keep cool.

Lightweight long sleeve tops, as well as warm jackets, should be on the luggage checklist.
Rain Jackets and umbrellas are essential during the rainy season.

Voltage converters are necessary in case your laptop, electric shaver or other gadgets don’t match the sockets.
Large sun hats and lots of sunscreen!

Quilts and warm blankets.

Insect repellent (bug spray) is very important. Mosquito Wristbands are also easily available in Thailand.
Make sure that all travel arrangements and relevant documents are arranged.
A Quick-dry towel.

Remember to pack both formal and informal winter wear.
Waterproof Cell phone case.

 

 

 

Legalities and Documentation

 

As with most elements of working abroad, rules and regulations vary from region to region as well as country to country. Once again (and the reason we repeat this is that it is very important) double check all requirements with the relevant authorities and never assume anything.
There are some basics though, which we’ll take you through:

 

Passport

 

A valid passport is obviously necessary, and often a passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months (or sometimes 1 year) from the time you arrive in the country. For extended English teaching stays, a passport with at least two years validity is recommended. US citizens can learn about applying for a new passport by visiting the U.S. State Department's Passport web page. Citizens of other nations need to contact their ministry of foreign affairs for all the details on how to apply for a passport.

 

Visas

 

The need to obtain a Visa prior to embarking on your journey is something that will vary country-by-country and job-by-job. You’ll be able to get all the details through your prospective employer or placement agency.

 

 

 

A Great Country to Teach English in

 

The students are motivated and are willing to achieve linguistic competence. The emphasis on English teaching and learning in the country facilitates this, and it shows in the attitude of the students.


A lack of local skilled English teachers means that achieving a higher salary and securing guaranteed posts are much easier for English speaking foreign teachers.


Thai people are very friendly, and they have a unique culture. The vibrancy of the people and the amazing sites to visit are also major factors to consider. The country is absolutely gorgeous in terms of natural beauty, and you will never run out of attractions and sites to visit.

 

 

 

What to Avoid as a Teacher in Thailand

 

Showing Anger

 

People in Thailand are polite and losing your temper is frowned upon. As a teacher, you should always behave in a controlled manner under all circumstances.

 

Religion and Royalty

 

Buddhism and talk about the royal family are not only frowned upon but can also be illegal. Keep them out of any conversations.

 

Touching anyone’s head

 

In Thailand, touching somebody’s head is considered to be highly disrespectful, as it is considered a holy part of the body which should not be touched by strangers.

 

Playing cards in the classroom

 

Many of the ESL activities make use of word cards, and although this is not technically defined as gambling, you should not allow any other card gambling activities in the classroom. All gambling is considered illegal in Thailand, and they’re very strict in this regard.

 

Drug-consumption

 

Drug taking is obviously illegal and carries very hefty sentences in Thailand.

 

 

So now that you have all the information, the rest is up to you. For a truly rewarding and profitable career in teaching English abroad, Thailand is highly recommended.

 

Good luck and safe travels!