How long have you been teaching English in Thailand?
A year and a half. I came in on a one year contract and I loved it so much I signed on for another year.
How did you find your first teaching job?
I had never planned to teach. Even more than that I had no desire to teach. Then, a few months after I graduated from college, something changed. I had a some friends that were teaching at different schools in Thailand and the more I read their blogs and looked at their pictures the more I wanted to be there too. I did a lot of research and looked at several schools but eventually settled on one that my friend was currently teaching at, Global English School. I sent my application to the school fairly early (November) and I was officially hired the next March for the 2008-2009 school year.
How easy is it to find English teaching positions?
Very easy. Education is a high priority in Thailand and many students will take extra classes in the afternoons and on weekends. English based international schools are viewed as the premier schools in the country and parents view English as THE way to help their children be successful in life. Nearly every school, whether Thai, International or a language academy, will have at least one position for an English teacher.
Is it necessary to have teaching certificates or training to find employment?
This will depend on the school and the position. In Thailand, International Schools only hire teachers with teaching certificates and experience is preferred. I work at a Bilingual school where they prefer, but do not require teachers to have teaching certificates. I have a degree in history and no teaching certificate and I was hired without a problem.
How did you get your first work visa?
Obtaining a work visa in Thailand is a long process that can’t officially be started until you arrive in the country. Many schools, including the one I work at will take care of it for you, making the process markedly less painful.
For me the entire process took about 2 months. I signed maybe 20 copies of my passport pages, made a trip to the work permit office and finally immigration, and then I had my visa.
Is it possible for teachers to arrive without a work visa and look for a job?
You can’t get a work Visa until you arrive in Thailand but the process is much easier if you already have a school to sponsor you.
What is the cost of living in Thailand?
Thailand is cheap; that is what makes it so amazing. I can eat for less than $5 a day, I rarely have to spend more than $6 on a taxi ride (and that is across the city), and a movie will run about $4.
How much money can the average teacher expect to save?
Salaries in Thailand vary depending on the school and your experience. I am able to add about 10,000 Baht (US$301) a month to my income through extra tutoring. It’s this money that I live off of primarily (except on occasions when I take a trip) and I am able to save the rest of my salary to put towards American bills and any adventures I may go on.
Do you recommend Thailand for other English teachers?
Yes! It’s easy to get around, you can eat amazing Thai food everyday or go to McDonalds for a hamburger if you’re having a craving. A beach vacation is only hours away and if you want to see the latest Tom Cruise movie it will be in the theaters and you wont have to sell your firstborn just to pay for a ticket.
What sets Thailand apart even more are the people. They are genuinely friendly and kind. It is called the land of smiles for a reason and if you can speak even a little bit of Thai to a Thai person their spirits will raise even more. Teachers are also highly respected in Thailand, and there are special holidays set aside for students to show teachers their gratitude.
What do you love and hate about Thailand?
Love: The food, people, beaches, markets and beautiful countryside
Hate: The general dirtiness of the city. Thankfully you can easily escape…
What advice would you offer for others thinking of teaching English Abroad?
Do your research and know what you want. I knew that I would feel most comfortable moving literally across the world if I would be working in a school with many other foreign teachers so that was high on my priority list when I chose my school. Also, be open minded and willing to try new things. It will make the experience so much more memorable.
How long to you plan on staying in Thailand?
Right now my contract is until April 2010. I may come back for another year, which I would love to do, or I might move on. I’m still deciding.
Are there many holidays or days off?
The Thai calendar is filled with holidays. Unfortunately they change days of the week from year to year so sometimes we get lucky and have a holiday on a Monday or a Friday, giving a three-day weekend with extended opportunities to travel, but quite often they also fall in the middle of the workweek, which is still appreciated but a little more awkward. For extended breaks we are given 2 weeks off when the semester ends in October, 2 weeks for Christmas and a week for the Songkran festival in March.
How easy is it to travel around Thailand?
Traveling around Thailand is both cheap and easy. I’m based in the Bangkok area and frequently take weekend trips to Kanchanaburi, a town in the mountains, and Koh Samet, a gorgeous island in the Gulf of Thailand. When I’ve had more time to travel I have taken night buses to each region of Thailand. A ticket costs about $15. And the overnight train to Chaing Mai is not to be missed. Flights can also be found for decent prices through Air Asia when the destination is far and your time is short.