Thinking about teaching English in Thailand? I decided to interview some English teachers living in Thailand. This is another question and answer, and should give people who are thinking about becoming a EFL teacher in Thailand some good information. This interview involves two different teachers, I have given them two different colours so you can differentiate from each.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I am a 20-something male from the United Kingdom. I studied Engineering at university and worked every summer for a consultancy in London.
I left the UK for almost identical reasons as you. Everyone had finished university, everyone was ready to become dormant and everyone was spouting ‘Its time I joined the real world’.
I was having none of it and wanted to continue my immaturity through to my late thirties. I also wanted to live abroad as I’d hated the UK my whole life (and I don’t like fat girls, shit weather and chavs).
Consequently, I resigned on my first real day at work and got myself on the ESL plane to Korea.
I went on to spend seven months in Korea, before doing midnight run to Taipei, where I spent a further seven months before midnight-running to my current place of residence, Bangkok.
I’m a 28 year old British guy. Got a BA in English plus a 4 week TEFL certificate. I have also just finished an M.Ed in Primary Education. I’ve spent most of my life traveling around the world. England in just where my passport is from; it’s certainly not my home, though.
I moved away from the UK cos I hated it! So a simple answer on that front. I just hated the predictability and rigidity of life in the UK. Plus, I have always wanted to teach English to kids after my first teaching experience in Honduras during my gap year.
Do you hold a valid degree or a TEFL course certificate?
Bachelor’s in Engineering and a legit non Khao San road CELTA.
I do, I have a BA in English, TEFL and as I said, I’ll have that M.Ed soon. The reason for doing the M.Ed was to secure a Thai teachers license. It’s been a pretty crappy year back in the UK to be honest and I can’t wait to get on that flight in September.
Is it hard to get a teaching job in Thailand?
Yes and No.
I arrived in early December 2013 with about £2500 to my name. When I started my job in mid-February I had an Excel spreadsheet open which showed how I would allot my remaining 300-Baht-per-day on noodles and water.
Then again, I spent more time drinking than job-hunting.
In short. There are plenty of opportunities to shout over a class of fifty shit bags in a room with no aircon for 30,000 Baht a month. Though there are plenty of 40,000 Baht gigs, you just have to look further than the first page on Google.
Not at all. Originally I was going to teach in Korea but ended up taking an offer in Thailand. I never had an interview with the school, only the recruiter.
Where do you teach in Thailand?
A small corporate-assessment centre for adults.
I taught in a private bilingual school in Rangist. The school taught all levels, but I was in the primary section of the English Program
Why did you decide to teach English in Thailand?
I had finished my Taipei chronicles.
But really, I have always wanted to live here. Weirdly I like blazing hot weather and the cost of living is fantastic. Plus Thai girls are my favourite Asian girls.
That’s a good question! The simple reason is that I hate living in England. Life is dull and predictable. Plus, I graduated in the recession and there were very few jobs around. I’d never been to Thailand before, so it was a bit of a gamble. I now regard it as the best decision I have ever made.
Do you think you’re good at your job?
Yes. I’m a notorious attention-seeker, hence the opportunity to fulfil my ego by spouting crap jokes at rich Thai’s all day makes me motivated in the workplace.
I often come out announcing my classes whilst slam-dancing. It is the sheer height of comedy.
There’s no black and white answer to a question like that. My students liked learning with me and I liked teaching them. We had a great bond and got stuff done. What I love about teaching is that every day is like a puzzle. Every child has potential, it’s just a matter of finding out what makes them tick. Never had any parents complain but there is always room for improvement.
Do you think you give a good representation of a western school teacher?
My presentation is immaculate and my grammar knowledge is actually pretty good for a TEFL teacher. In Korea I didn’t know what a noun was and spent my time shoving word-searches in kids faces whilst I daydreamed about tits.
I actually really do want to help my students with their English and enjoy seeing them understand the tenses and stuff.
But yeah, apart from that I try to stick my nob in any legs that can be spread and have a recurring drinking problem.
No Thai bar girls though. Online dating, Levels and RCA for this dirt bag.
I’d say so, I don’t party all that much. I’d rather just chill out by the pool. I’m pretty lazy in my free time so getting to BKK was just too much effort for me. I do enjoy a good restaurant. So yeah, I was respectable, never turned up to school reeking of Leo and dashing to the hong nam to chuck up all the time. The salary may be low, but it’s still a real job with many responsibilities. I’m one of these sad people that get pleasure from being a bit of a workaholic.
As a ESL Teacher in Thailand, how much do you get paid per month, and how much could you save?
I work five days a week and my salary is 53,000 Baht per month. On top of that, I get an additional 53,000 Baht for each year I complete. It’s a nice package for Thailand.
One teacher saves 30,000 a month. I save anywhere between 0 to 20,000 Baht. Depends on lifestyle, but you could save around 10,000 Baht and still have a very fun month in my opinion.
Sure, I was paid 40k from the school but pulled in another 15k from privates and online work. I got by on about 25-30k a month and saved the rest. Easy in Rangist, but it would be harder in BKK, I guess. You can save more teaching English in Thailand if you shared a room with someone else.
What do you do in you spare time?
I whittle-down my targets throughout the week, meet them on a convenient day, then have sex with them before deleting their number, throwing them out and never calling them again.
If I’m running dry, I go out. If I need an easy one, I go to Levels on ladies night and shore.
Other than that, I drink a lot, swim in my pool and play Lostprophets songs on guitar.
I used to wake up at 2:30pm every day in Taipei. Now I wake up at 11:00am and am a productive member of society.
Go to the pool or gym. Cycle around the local area. Go to the beach. Enjoy the local restaurants or just chill out at home. Not that interesting!
Who do you teach, and how does teaching English in Thailand compare to back home?
I teach a plethora of staunch Thai’s. The courses are incredibly expensive, hence the centre is filled with ‘hi-so’ Thai girls clunking around in tiny skirts and heels all day. Oh, how I wish I took that job reading construction-site plans in Swindon instead of teaching English in Thailand.
I teach kids, who are aged between 6-8 years old. Compared to the sub teaching I have done back home the kids are better behaved and more focused. The schools are easier to work in with less paperwork and mindless meetings. I worked for a summer school over the summer of last year and the amount of paperwork was absurd. I’m a teacher, not a pen-pusher, hence I will be returning to Thailand in September.
As a farang teacher, do you ever experience any problems in a Thai school?
I initially taught children at a private school. I got the agent up to 40,000 Baht a month and was happy with the deal.
On my third day, it transpired that the school next door pays their teachers 55,000 and gives them fewer hours, plus two language assistants.
The agent had low-balled me like a pro. I grabbed my bag, stormed out of the school and hopped on a motorcycle home.
I think I got the word ‘cunt’ in twenty times before my agent hung up on my angry phone call to him..
Don’t use a recruiter. They’ll kick you in the balls then try to cut them off with a butter knife.
If you teach in a government school, enjoy the piles-upon-piles of bullshit paperwork they’ll shove on you.
Not from the Thais, really. The farang common room could be a bit of a negative place from time to time. I found the children to be better company than some of more bitter old timers to be honest!
If you were ever caught with a bar girl by a student or fellow teacher, would you lose your job?
We have an American teacher at our school. He has hundreds of students on his Facebook. The other day his status read “Dancing with the three Pocahontas-looking girls last night was the highlight of my life”.
Over thirty students liked it.
At another branch, one teacher parades photos of his Thai ladyboy prostitute girlfriend.
They don’t give a shit in Thailand. They know we all like the club scene.
In Korea they’d fire you on the spot. By-the-book bastards over there.
No idea! No bars like that in Rangsit, only Karaoke bars. One time though I took some of my friends from Australia to see Nana and some fat fuck in his school uniform walks in and starts slapping the girls on the arse. Not gonna name the school though. Let’s just say he wasn’t as god fearing as I would have expected, given the school shirt and all!
What is your opinion about the average English teacher in Thailand?
Most of them are overweight, scuzzy losers who waddle around in ill-fitting shirts, baggy slacks and what appears to be Christmas-novelty-tie.
All of this in order to pay for Nok’s bar fine.
If they’re a women, you bet your arse they’ll be a short-haired whale who scorns at the sky every night upon realising that she has the sexual appeal of a used catheter-bag here.
I’d say that most are hard working and put a lot of effort into their work. There will be bad apples in any job.
When you tell Thai’s that you’re an English teacher, how do they react?
Thai people respect the teacher. VERY different from the UK and Korea. Expect wai’s coming your way.
(Oh if only they knew the truth….)
In Rangsit, they seem to respect it. In BKK they are indifferent.
Do you enjoy your job?
I fucking love teaching English in Thailand. I get up for work smiling every day.
This is coming from a guy who used to wake up at 4pm every day at university and absolutely avoids any type of work at all costs.
Then again, I don’t have to teach anything. I just assess them in exam-type classes and am encouraged to be silly.
The Thai education system is an odd one. You can’t fail in Thailand. The result is absolute hell if you’re teaching kids as there’s no discipline, but fun-as-hell if you teach adults.
They don’t take their studying too seriously and care more for jokes and fun than grammar.
Absolutely, I love teaching English in Thailand! The Thai education has it’s issues such as the no fail policy and the heavy use of rote learning. There’s no point in wasting your energy on getting angry about it though IMO. Better to spend your time changing the classroom environment of your own classroom for the better IMO. The thing I love most about my job is when a child has that light bulb moment; it makes the low pay and other minor annoyances insignificant.
Working with kids is never dull and no day will be the same, that’s something else I really enjoy about it. Another source of enjoyment is sourcing new teaching resources and teaching methodologies and seeing if it works with my classes.
What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about coming to Thailand to teach English?
Do it, and don’t accept anything below 40,000 Baht. If you want more money, go to Korea first then do a runner (I mean ….erm, complete your contract amicably). Teaching English in Thailand is awesome.
Or you could stay in England in a cubicle and make boxes for a living.
Ignore all the forum negativity and come over and experience it yourself.
If you’re thinking about becoming an Ajarn in Thailand, or want to start teaching English in Thailand, I hope this article has given you some food for thought.