Teaching English in Thailand is a unique life experience and can prove to be very rewarding for both students and teachers. Teaching English in Thailand involves engaging students directly and facilitating the learning process. Quality teaching and materials are important to allow students the best chance to study in and outside of classrooms. Unfortunately this standard varies greatly because; 1. Quality English teaching is questionable due to supply of qualified and experienced teachers combined with low barriers to entry. 2. There is no standardised national English curriculum and materials available to people teaching English in Thailand.

Teaching English in Thailand requires one to design their own course and test their own outcomes without scrutiny from external audits. Therefore a variable exists whether a class of students is faced with competent sustainable tuition or some other alternative. These two factors ultimately decide outcomes and weigh heavily on the success in the early stages of learning English in Thailand. In the absence of clear formalised standards, a teacher must make it their own legacy to maximise value for students and deliver their best possible effort.

A Thai person who has acquired some English language skills will have broader work and career opportunities finding employment in sectors such as tourism or international trade. Learning English gives Thai people the ability to communicate with foreigners to develop personal and business relationships. Studying English at school and achieving a competent level gives students a competitive advantage in many aspects of life that they would otherwise not have. All Thai students should have reasonable access to resources to enable as many opportunities in the future as possible.

Assembly at a Thai School

Image inside a Thai school at morning assembly around 8:00 AM

English teaching applicants are likely to experience occasions when schools contact to start immediately or perhaps do not reply at all. Applications should remain easy to read as the recruiter may not be proficient in English and a difficult application is easier overlooked. There are few routes for finding vacancies; approach institutions and recruitment agencies directly or respond to posted advertisements.

Job agencies have contracts to supply temporary and permanent teachers to schools and list many positions on websites such as Ajarn.com. Ajarn has a list of employers advertising teaching positions all over Thailand with individual job descriptions. Most positions state candidates’ requirements including; native speaker, university degree, prior teaching experience, a TEFL certificate, specified age range and a recent photograph.

Distant schools in rural areas have a greater demand for English teachers compared to popular cities or nearby expatriate towns. Less popular locations may have lower screening standards disregarding ethnicity, age and experience of applicants. Teachers who accept positions in these less developed communities can create fresh inspiration, however the trade offs include; language barriers, poor infrastructure and lack of entertainment. The benefit gives students a new opportunity to learn English face to face with a native English speaker. But once the teacher decides to retire from the area there may not be another person to continue the course and provide much needed leadership.

Commencing teaching with short notice is common because positions become available throughout the school year and need to be filled immediately. This may be a result of a teacher leaving the school or some other reason. Being available to fill these gaps are a good way to start teaching at some great schools and generally lead to full time employment.

Entrance at a Thai School

This image shows a sign posted at the main entrance to a government high school. The sign in written in Thai without English translation and may prove difficult for teachers arriving at to teach at a school in an unfamiliar location.

Traveling to an unfamiliar location for the first time is confusing and at first you probably won’t know where anything is, including the school. At minimum you should be given the name of the school and directions. A contact phone number for an English speaking staff member at the school will make finding it much easier and the option to discus local attractions for after work. If you can get GPS longitude and latitude coordinates then you should not require any assistance at all to get where you need to be. Agents from labour hire companies and school officers may provide someone to meet you at a major landmark such as shopping center upon your arrival to help with accommodation and getting to school. Ensure a surplus of travel time and note English speaking support may not exist during the journey.

Desks Inside a Thai Classroom

The inside of a Thai classroom. Wooden furniture and chalk style black boards are still widely in use throughout Thailand. It is worth arriving at a school with your own chalk stick and white board markers to save time searching for them when you arrive instead of getting ready for a lesson.

Head to the school administration office or English department and introduce yourself. Sign into the attendance ledger and learn the building layout room numbers for your classes. A weekly teaching schedule will be given to you and that’s probably about it. Material may exist from the previous teacher but likely you will find an empty desk. It’s best to prepare all your own material before arriving at school to teach English, as it is appropriate to have something ready. If no materials are available then we invite teachers to share lessons from our website.

The level of competence will vary greatly between class, age and school. Therefore a single structured lesson plan is not always the best fit for every class. Until you learn the current English level of the students you may need to adapt a dynamic approach and vary your lessons accordingly to maintain student participation. Teaching a group of around 50 children who speak only limited English might be challenging to an English teacher without any prior experience.

Thai School Teaching Timetable

The timetable cubes represents as followed: อ21203 – English module code for each year. 1/2, -1 representing the class year and -2 representing the class number, e.g. 1/3 would be 12 or 13 year old kids at a Mathayom school in class number 3. 2/1 would be 13/14 year olds kids in class number 1.

Usually 1 represents a higher academic level class compared to 6 or 7, however based on a sample of classes this may or may not be accurate. Generally in 5 and 6 year classes i.e. 17 year olds, class numbers are a lot smaller 20-30 down from 50 and concentration is much improved. The final number, 144 or 145 is the room number. Building 1, level 4, room 4. Easy to work out. If the rooms are written in Thai script ๑๔๔ instead of 144, then you will need to create a system to find the correct room.

The students are looking towards the teacher for leadership and it is always important to be well presented, polite and uphold a tidy presentation. A school does not require fancy buildings and expensive fixtures to deliver education. It is up to teachers to hold themselves to high standards and give every student the best opportunity possible. Patience and small successes along the way is the key and you should not expect to achieve all your teaching goals in a short period of time.

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