I have received many questions over the past years about how I ended up teaching English in Thailand and how I did it. I finally made a FAQ, so I hope this helps! Working abroad is an amazing experience, and it allows you to have more freedom with your travels when you have a few extra bucks in your hand.
Please note that I am speaking from my experience only. This is in no way intended to be generalized for teaching English anywhere in the world or Thailand for that matter. This is based on my experiences and sometimes more specifically to my school in Ayutthaya, Thailand grades 10-12.
I am welcome to criticism and would love to hear about your experiences if you have any! If there is something missing or if you have questions, you are welcome to ask.
1. How did you get your first job teaching English in Thailand?
Long story short I ended up meeting someone who I had a mutual friend in common with and they pointed me in the direction of a school in need of a teacher. However like you get any other job, you can search on the internet or by foot. It’s nearly impossible to not get a job if you’re actually applying for them and have decent credentials. It will likely be the contrary- you will be bombarded with offers especially last minute, as of course, they use ‘Thai time’ out here. I actually had no experience and was fresh off the plane and my phone was ringing off the hook. I turned down several offers. Also, if you mingle with a few locals and expats in town, I am sure somebody knows somebody that is hiring.
I also did not get this job prior to leaving the states. it’s actually completely unnecessary to have a job before you leave. The jobs are plentiful and you would be perfectly fine hopping off the plane and then searching. Perhaps you can even travel a bit and ask around if the local schools are hiring. The school terms in Thailand (most often, not all schools) start in May and go until Sept. The next one starts around December and complete around April.
WHERE TO SEARCH FOR JOBS TEACHING ENGLISH IN THAILAND:
Sites to check out: seriousteachers.com, ajarn.com (Thailand, Laos and Myanmar), eslemployment.com, eslcafe.com…. or …. Hello! Just google ‘ESL teaching jobs in ____.’ You will be surprised how many choices you have.
WHERE TO GET TEFL CERTIFIED:
Get certified through MyTEFL. A trusted company with great prices. Use my code for a 35% discount! Code: Nina 35
2. Is it hard to teach?
It wasn’t at my school. We played games almost everyday. I often felt more like an actress that then a teacher. I have been known to use my hands a lot, make dramatic reenactments to explain things and make some of my lesson a charades game to get my directions across.The kids laughed whether it’s with me or at me, I didn’t care, they we looking and trying to understand me. At some point, somebody got what I was trying to say and probably translated it to the class by now.
Some students might cause problems and might not pay attention, some will be your best students, sometimes your class will be about 50 students large and some might be a group of 5. It depends what kind of school you are at. For larger classes, which is what I had, I would always have teams.
1) They love competition
2) I can walk around to the groups and have a bit more time with a smaller group. They can sometimes be shy talking to you, no less in front of 50 of their peers. Get them in a group of 4-5, and you might get somewhere.
Just try your best and make it fun or you will certainly lose them. Don’t be a crazy teacher expecting to see stellar performances and participation across the board and when that doesn’t happen, you flip your lid. Control the class to the best of your abilities and make the class as entertaining as possible. Feel your classes out and bring in something fun and English related to chat about.
3. You’re not a teacher, you didn’t study Education, and you have no experience. How are you teaching English in Thailand, or anywhere for that matter?!
To teach in a foreign country all you need is to speak English. It must be your native language (well, it’s supposed to be anyway). That is the only requirement. Most will require you to have a Bachelor’s degree (in anything.) and it would be PREFERRED to have a TEFL certification (I got mine at teflinstitute.com but there are plenty of other sites).
I have met people teaching with nothing but an English tongue, no documents, nothing. They got by fine. I have also met many teachers who aren’t even native English speakers with a job. They might have got paid less, but they had a job.
4. Your students speak Thai and not English, how do they understand you?
Most don’t. You need to speak slow and clear. Use pictures, worksheets and drawings on the board, and they will eventually get the point. If I ever needed to explain something and they just weren’t getting it, my Thai English teacher ( The teacher that teaches them English in Thai) was usually sitting in the back of my classroom sleeping/grading papers/or on their cellphone and was happy to help, if they understood me that is. I had a few misunderstandings with the Thai English teachers before, which made me think how they were teaching English to begin with… but anyway, the point is- Get up there, teach English, and don’t make it overly complicated for them.
5. Ah! I’m horrible at English grammar and don’t know an adjective from an adverb!?
You will likely only need to focus on conversational English. They have a Thai English teacher who gets to the technical stuff. Your job will be to get them talking. It depends on the school and what you are hired for of course, but generally speaking, most schools want conversational English to be taught. With that said, you can’t be an idiot, you got to brush up on everything just a bit.
6. How much would I make teaching English in Thailand?
Well, this is of course depending on the city you’re teaching in. Next, it depends what level you are teaching, typically as one would expect, university level generally pays more. This needs to be researched on your own and look at jobs in the city you want to live in. In general, the southern part of Thailand pays less. Perhaps their logic is people are willing to sacrifice money for living in paradise? Not sure.
In Thailand, the average is around $1000 per month for about 20-25 teaching hours per week at a regular public school. Teaching hours means the hours you are actually teaching in the room. Some schools might require you to stay on campus for extra office hours and other duties.
Me in the school magazine. How cute!
7. What types of schools does Thailand have?
There are public and private schools, language schools, and universities.
8. Why Thailand?
I initially wanted Europe, however after some research, it was apparent that Europe was way to expensive. The teachers there make enough just live and therefore, my travel bug would be put on hold again. No way! So I started looking into Asia since that’s where some of the cheapest countries to live in are located. The teachers didn’t get paid much, but after seeing how cheap it was to live,it ended up leveling out enough. I decided Thailand would be an easier country to settle into being that I have never been to Asia before. So there it was, to Thailand I went.
The entrance to my school.
9. Did you like it?
Yes. I did! I think it’s an awesome experience for anyone wanting and willing a fun challenge. It was great playing with my kids, watching them learn, and having them actually enjoy and participate in an activity I made for them. Was everything sunshine, puppies, and rainbows? Absolutely, 100%, NO. Is anything? Of course I got annoyed, and at times I was downright frustrated, but this comes with the game. It was worth it, I would do it again, and I encourage everyone who thinks they are up for it to do it.
10. Some of the weirdest things about teaching in a Thai school:
– The students were late to class and this was acceptable.
– Class can be canceled anytime, any day. Sometimes without your knowledge…
– The classes are separated “according to intelligence.” Don’t ask, just know it’s not done very well, and makes teaching extra challenging because they’re on different levels.
– There are holidays all the time… Like, all the time. I would say I would get, on average, 2-3 days off per month. Swweeett!
Last words of wisdom…
1. Don’t freak out. Just chill.
2. Don’t take anything too seriously, but of course act appropriately. I mean this in terms of you and your teaching style. Be flexible and fun.
3. When in doubt, just plan a game. This isn’t a cop out. You will actually get more students participating this way. As long as they are SPEAKING English, that is really the only goal at the end of the day.
PS- They are fierce competitors. Keep score and the whole class is roaring so they can beat their friends. They love it.