The Essential Guide to Teaching English and Living in Thailand. Guest blogger and author Michael Plews gives us just a taste of what it is like to teach and live in Thailand.
Sun-kissed beaches, amazing cuisine, a rich cultural heritage and some of the friendliest people on the planet; Thailand is truly an amazing place to live. With a continuing need for English teachers, you’ll find that the ‘Land of Smiles’ (as Thailand is also known) is a great place for a new teacher to dip their toe into the world of TEFL.
As well as giving you valuable first-hand classroom experience, teaching here will provide you with a comfortable salary and a work-life balance that allows you the free time to experience everything Thailand has to offer. While very different from the West, you’ll still find enough of a taste of home (especially in familiar brands like McDonalds, KFC, Tesco, Boots, Dunkin’ Donuts etc) that you won’t be too badly hit by culture shock. Plus, if you are sensible with your finances, you can even come away with a bit of money saved.
As a first-time teacher, the two main types of work for which you will be suitable are working privately in a language institution, or working in a government or private grade school. Positions do exist at university level, but they tend to require more years of experience and/or a master’s degree in an appropriate field.
Working in a grade school means you will be teaching larger classes (usually thirty to forty students), and that their motivation will often be lower as they are obligated to be in your class as part of their compulsory education. The benefits to these positions are that you will have national holidays off as well as a longer holiday between the two semesters. This gives you the time to really explore your surroundings. Teaching hours at a grade school are usually within a standard Monday to Friday 9-5 time range.
While some grade schools do hire direct, the prevailing trend at the moment is for schools to award their contract to a third party who then recruit the necessary teachers, and who are responsible for the teachers’ paperwork and so on. The role of this third party, or agent, varies greatly.
Positions in private language institutes are available year-round in Thailand, but the beginning of the grade school year is in May. This means that February and especially March are when you will see the most job opportunities as schools and recruitment agencies look to fill all their positions ready for the start of a new term.
Giving an accurate figure of what you are likely to earn is very tricky due to so many factors affecting your earning potential. The best way to get a feel for the average salary when you are ready to find employment will be to look online at job sites. At time of writing, a very rough figure for the average salary you can earn would be around 30,000-35,000B (baht) a month, although you should expect more than this in Bangkok.
Make sure that your TEFL CV/Résumé is of a good standard and of course spell-check it! The level of professionalism in the Thai TEFL community is not always high, so little things like having a well-prepared application pack will make a big difference. Putting in a little extra effort to project a professional image and personalising your correspondence can go a long way to making you a desirable candidate for work.
Remember, the demand for TEFL teachers is high, so DO NOT just jump at the first job you are offered while counting your blessings that you found someone who will take you! Keep applying for work and then weigh up from the responses which company you think will treat you the best.
If teaching in Thailand interests you, then consider buying the newly-published e-book The Essential Guide to Teaching English and Living in Thailand. Ajarn.com, the no.1 website for teaching positions in Thailand had this to say about it in their review: They’ve set about creating the ultimate guide for new teachers in Thailand and they have succeeded on virtually every count…… This is a book for the new arrival. And for the newbie ‘fresh off the boat’ it’s a treasure trove of essential info.
For more on teaching English in Thailand, see the main article TEFL in Thailand.