Thailand English Teaching Jobs

The English-Teaching Market

Thailand’s public education system is expanding very rapidly.

Only a few years ago, there was compulsory (and free) public education through B.6 (6th grade). After B.6, many students dropped out because tuition was charged. Each year, schools around the country are adding at least one or two more compulsory years, and the demand for teachers is soaring. Also, English is being taught at increasingly lower grade levels these days.

Serious ESL teachers can find work in Thailand as some schools are very strict about qualifications, but the wages are fairly low. The traveler passing through Bangkok can earn a few bucks just as a college graduate can work to gain experience before getting a job in the United States.

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Some of the schools listed in this chapter are located or have branch offices outside Bangkok. If you’re interested in working outside the city, be sure to mention it when you contact them.

Several schools operate in Chiang Mai, but because it’s a much more pleasant place to live than Bangkok, the competition for jobs is fierce. If you’re already there, begin your job search by asking at the U.S. Consulate, the YMCA, and Chiang Mai University. Also, ask other teachers for the names of local schools.

So whether you’re a serious ESL teacher intent on living and teaching in Thailand or a traveler on the way to Kathmandu who’s low on cash, chances are you’ll have little trouble finding a teaching job in Thailand – especially in Bangkok.

The Work

The pay scale ranges from 125B to 500B per hour. Most schools start at the bottom end of the scale unless you have special qualifications.

To encourage teachers to stay longer, many schools base raises on the length of time teachers work at the school.

Class size in Thailand is variable, and very often classes are kept big because of the dropout rate. Large classes (forty to fifty students) and learning based on passive activities such as listening and repetition are the elements of the traditional Thai education system. Although this system may seem a bit cumbersome, it is cost-effective and students often apply the learning style to other types of study; for example, when preparing for GMAT and TOEFL exams many Thais listen to CDs, DVDs, or even audio cassettes during their time away from school.

Other schools keep their class size to around twenty, depending on the demand for that level of instruction. Most Thais need Basic English levels 1 – 15 before they can be in English Conversation or GMAT/TOEFL classes. Other schools are strict about limiting class size to eight people, as this has been found to be the most effective. There are also one-on-one classes. Most schools say they offer instruction for the GMAT and TOEFL, but there is not necessarily the demand.

Government regulations require that, for a school to be registered, it must employ suitably qualified teachers. Basically, to teach, you need a degree and a teaching certificate such as ESL or EFL. Due to the difficulty of finding suitable people, however, some schools will hire people without these qualifications if they are self-confident, well-dressed, and speak good English.

Full-time vs. Freelance

The higher rates of pay are for private classes. Depending on too many private classes for your income is risky, as you never know when there is going to be a cancellation. Getting students to adhere to any sort of cancellation policy is difficult, even if you tell them their place can easily be taken by someone else. Depending on your tone of voice, there may be hurt feelings and you may never see your students again!

It is possible to combine teaching at a large school five hours per day with teaching at a nearby university or giving private classes the rest of the time. It is not difficult to earn 15,000-25,000THB a month and with a few private classes bring it up to 40,000B per month. You won’t be earning big bucks if you go this route, but you can pay your room and board and will still be able to travel a bit, though you will have to put in the hours.

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