Mark Reynolds, a five year veteran English teacher in Thailand shares his experiences in this fantastic interview.
How long have you been teaching English in Thailand?
I’ve been teaching in Thailand for 5 years.
How did you find your first teaching job?
Well first, I did some online research and visited many Thailand teaching sites to get an idea of who the major employers in the business were. I came up with a list of about 5 big language schools that I believed would be a good choice for a newcomer like myself. After that I rented a cheap apartment in Nonthaburi a province just outside of Bangkok and went out for a walk one day and came across a language school that I’d never heard of. I walked in the door and asked if they had any job vacancies. They told me that they were only a small franchise branch and that I should contact their head office in Bangkok.
This I did and an interview was arranged for the next day. I went down and got a start for the following week.
How easy is it to find teaching jobs?
It’s very easy to get a job teaching English here in Thailand. Though there are a few less jobs available now due to the recent world recession. Having said that the larger language institutes are always on the look out for teachers and if you want a job quick, then they are the places to go to.
Is it necessary to have teaching certificates or training to find employment?
Yes and no. Having a TEFL certificate or some other form of certification will help you, and it also shows that you know what you are doing. There are many agencies and schools who will hire you without certification, because they are desperate for teachers. Some of these agencies and schools are normally at the lower end of the ESL scale over here and the pay tends to be rather poor.
How did you get your first work visa?
The language institute that I worked for gave me some company documentation and a copy of my working contract that I had with them. After that I had to leave Thailand and fly to a neighboring country, I chose Laos. When I arrived in the capital Vientiane I then made my way to the Thai consulate there. At the Thai consulate, I filled in a visa application form and stated that I wanted the (non b visa) or non immigrant business visa I handed all the company documentation over to them along with a fee. Two days later I returned and picked up my passport with a new non b visa in it.
Is it possible for teachers to arrive without a work visa and look for a job?
Yes, in fact in 99% of cases you just turn up on a tourist visa start your job, then get your documentation from the employer. After that you fly to a neighboring country to pick up your non b visa. This is how it’s done over here.
What is the cost of living in Thailand?
You could ask this question to 5 different people and get 5 different answers! It all depends on the individual and how much or little they want to spend. I’m very frugal and don’t require a lavish lifestyle. I live in a small condo in a province outside of Bangkok.
- Condo = 1,500 (US$44) baht per month.
- Electric = 300 baht (US$9) per month if you get it direct from the supplier and not through your apartment owner. This will increase if you use an air conditioner.
- Water = 60 – 180 (US$1.76 – 5.29) baht per month depending on where you live.
- Food = plate of rice with pork/shrimp/squid 40 baht (US$1.18)
- Pepsi = 15 baht (US$0.44)
- Restaurant = varies however usually about 300 baht to 600 baht (US$9- 18) for two people.
- Beer in Bangkok bars = 90 to 120 baht (US$2.64 – 3.53) per small bottle
- Beer outside tourist areas = 40 baht (US$1.18) per bottle
- Bus = 5 to 25 baht (US$0.15 – 0.74) depending on route and whether it’s air conditioned or not.
- Taxi = approximately 400 baht (US$11.76) for a journey of 20 km
How much money can the average teacher expect to save?
This is another question where you’ll get many different answers. However on a salary of 35,000 baht (US$1,029) per month I could save 20,000 baht (US$588).
What is the typical number of teaching hours per week?
If you work in the government school sector anything from 16 up to 25 per week.
How many weeks of holidays per year can teachers expect?
Depending on who you work for some companies might offer you two weeks holiday and some might offer you nothing. Though there are a lot of public holidays scattered throughout the year and you get paid for these.
Did your employer provide you with medical Insurance?
Yes, The insurance was part of the package which the employer provided. This sounds good doesn’t it? That’s what I thought until I looked closer at the package. I was only covered up to I think about 10,000 baht (US$294) per visit! Which certainly isn’t going to buy you a lot of medical treatment.
Do you recommend Thailand for other English teachers?
Yes, I do! Thailand has a few faults as do other places. Thailand’s visa laws are always in a constant state of change these days, and it’s getting harder to work without the proper certification now. On the whole I’d recommend Thailand as a good training ground for newcomer teachers into the esl world. Thai’s are fun to teach and quite laid back along with the cheap cost of living and friendly people Thailand is a great starting place.
What advice would you offer for others thinking of teaching English Abroad?
Get certified! You’ll need a Bachelors degree in any field! Then get some kind of tefl certificate and you’ll have no problems gaining employment. After that just do it! Pick your destination do your background research then get on that plane and make it happen!