Sunday Reflections: Becoming a Teacher in Thailand 

Sunday January 10th 2016

Sunday Refelections

An article by Richard James Rogers, author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know. 

In this short article, I’m going to go through the different types of teaching jobs available to native English speaking expatriates in Thailand.

My story

I’m at food stall in old Bangkok, near the sprawling Chinatown district. I’ve been teaching at international schools in Bangkok for seven years, and I don’t miss home one bit. It all started in 2008 when I was teaching in England. One day I went to a friend’s house and met a beautiful young Thai girl, who’d just completed her master’s degree at Salford University. I fell in love with her, moved to Bangkok with her, and she is now my wife. We’ve been very happily married for four  years.

Prior to moving to Thailand I checked out the Times Educational Supplement jobs website (this is where the world’s best international schools post their job openings). I found an advertisement for a Science Teacher position at Traill International School in Bangkok and, since this was a CfBT accredited school with an excellent reputation, I applied immediately.

A few weeks later I had an interview with Traill’s principal at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff, Wales. He checked through all of my references, and was impressed enough to offer me the job a few days later. I was thrilled! I was about start a new life in a new country.

 

Chapter 8 - going to bkk
I began the greatest journey of my life

My first day of teaching at Traill was a bizarre, but incredibly pleasant experience. I’ll always remember the first class I taught: Year 10 IGCSE Chemistry. The students were all so incredibly polite, and were enthusiastic to complete each task I set them. They asked questions, were incredibly interested in the subject and at the end of the lesson every student said “Thank you, Mr Richard” before walking through the door to go to their next class. As I started teaching all of my other classes that week, I found this studious, polite and pleasant student attitude to be ubiquitous. I was stunned! Whilst I had taught many wonderfully polite and enthusiastic students at state schools in the UK, I had never received such a consistent ‘whole-school’ sense of politeness, eagerness to learn and dedication from my students before. I felt as though I had died and gone to heaven!

The overall picture

Demand for student places at English speaking international schools, along with competition for teaching positions overseas, is increasing year after year. In fact, a very worrying set of data came out of a study by International School Consultancy (ISC) Research for the 2014 – 2015 academic year. The study found that about 18.000 teachers left the UK to teach at international schools in overseas territories. The alarming thing about this figure is that it is higher than the number of teachers who qualified through the university PGCE route for that year (17,001).

The Expatriate Teacher

There are three main types of expatriate teacher in Thailand:

  • Language School Teachers: Paid on an hourly basis to teach small groups or private (one-to-one) classes. Advantages of this type of position are that the hours are often flexible and class sizes are small. You may also have the opportunity to teach corporate classes (i.e. by travelling to a company that hired your language school to train its staff – this kind of work typically pays more than working at the actual language centre itself). You’ll be at an advantage if you have some kind of an English language teaching certificate, such as  a CELTA or DELTA qualification, before applying for this kind of job. Also be aware: your employer should offer you a work-permit. If not, then your tourist visa will only let you stay in Thailand for 30 days. A good place to find jobs of this nature is Ajarn.com.
  • Government and Private School Teachers: In this kind of setting you’ll be contracted to work at the school for a set period of time. You’ll be paid a regular monthly salary. A bachelor’s degree is an advantage when applying, but not always necessary. Typically, government and private school teachers earn more than language school teachers, although this is not always the case.
  • International School Teachers: These are the elite of the expatriate teachers in Thailand and always have at least a bachelor’s degree (and usually a university teaching qualification, such as a PGCE). These teachers earn the highest salaries out of all of the teachers in Thailand, and are often provided with generous benefits packages such as healthcare, housing allowances and flights. They teach the same subjects that they are qualified to teach in their home country (e.g. Science and Maths). If you want to be this kind of teacher, then it’s a good idea to get a couple of years of teaching experience in your home country first, as this will provide you with an advantage over Newly Qulaified Teachers.

Whichever type of teacher you choose to be, you’ll find a lot of satisfaction working and living in the Land of Smiles. The people here are welcoming, friendly and respectful. But don’t forget – when you teach in Thailand you are a guest in this country, so don’t forget to be polite and respectful too.

 

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Author:

High School Science and Mathematics Teacher, Author and Blogger. Graduated from Bangor University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Molecular Biology and a PGCE in Secondary Science Education. Richard also holds the coveted Certificate in Mathematics from the Open University (UK).

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