The following advice for how to land a teaching job in Thailand is from current observations and experience from teachers currently teaching in Bangkok.
First of all you will need a TEFL certificate, which you can usually complete in your home country or alternatively in Thailand. Even more respected is a CELTA course certificate which will be accepted in place of a TEFL certificate and will open even more doors to employment as a teacher within Thailand.
To get you on the road to finding TEFL or CELTA courses in Thailand here are a few helpful links.
You will also need a degree, from a recognized university, in any subject that required a minimum of four years of studying.
Do You Need to Speak Thai?
Within most language schools they do not mind if you do not speak Thai. This is because a new teacher using Thai in an English classroom is not only annoying, but it also does not help the students because it breaks the flow of speaking English in class. Some students, when they realize that you can speak Thai will revert to speaking Thai in class, which again does not help them.
That being said, if you learn Thai to the best of your ability when staying in Thailand, if you encounter a student who has a very low ability in the basics of English, you can help them along a little bit by speaking Thai only when absolutely necessary, just up until they have the fundamentals of speaking English pinned down.
How to Land a Job
The best way to land a teaching job is to hand deliver a quality CV to language schools as well as send out your CV to language schools advertising for positions.
So why hand deliver your CV? By dressing up smart in a suit, or in a shirt and tie it will make an impression on whoever comes into contact with you whilst delivering your CV. If there is a chance to inadvertently bump into the head teacher of the school to have a quick chat with them then all the better.
Dress Up Smart
If you play your cards right, you will have an edge over half of all other teachers in landing a teaching job by dressing formally and smart. Some potential teachers in Thailand often wear old shoes, no tie, look ragged, unkept or as if they have just emerged from a hangover. The good news is that by dressing up in a shirt and tie and turning up fresh and alert to an interview you will have an advantage over at least half of all other teachers gunning for the same position.
Credibility: Keep it Real
It is a sad fact that a huge number of expats re-invent their past. You will find many ex-pilots, ex CEOs, secret agents and heaven knows what other nonsense pasts they claim to have had. An experienced head teacher will normally be a street-wise expat/teacher who will be well aware of the BS he will often see on CVs. So, if you have climbed mount Everest for example or anything else considered amazing in life, just make sure you back this up with solid evidence. If you haven’t done anything amazing in life so far then keep your CV real. Trust me, finding an expat without any exaggerated stories about past successes or achievements will be a refreshing change for any experienced head teacher interviewing you or browsing through your CV.
Golden Rules to Follow as a Teacher in Thailand
If you are set to become a new teacher in Thailand, then by following these general guidelines you will make a good impression on any language school that employs you:
- Try not to speak Thai in class.
- Do not talk about the royal family or the students’ parents unless it is with the utmost respect.
- Always wear a tie, never get sloppy on your appearance, as it is not only the language school evaluating your appearance but also your students and the parents of your students.
- Avoid showing students cartoons/movies in class (even if paired with a questionnaire worksheet), as it just doesn’t sound good when students return home and announce to their parents that they’ve been watching TV in class.
- Avoid too much coloring for actives in class for students up to 6 years old; for children over 6 years old you should avoid coloring-in activities altogether unless it is for a class project.
- Avoid talking about yourself in class excessively. You will be surprised at how many teachers lecture their students instead of interacting with them. Put the spotlight on the student and encourage them to talk as much as possible.
- Do not make any threats of punishment for bad behavior which you cannot back up or are prepared to follow through. Plus, check with your language school before you dish out any punishments as to whether it is allowed; such as sending students outside or giving them lines etc. Try to leave any punishments to be dealt in the hands of the Thai staff.
- Do not use your mobile phone in class or sit there intermittently tapping on a laptop keyboard or a tablet. It looks bad and it will come across as lapse and lazy, even if it is lesson plan related.
- Never pat students on the head as this will be seen as an insult.
- Always be punctual. Even if your students turn up late and the culture in general seems to be more laid back than you are used to, always keep to being punctual whatever.
A good language school will have plenty of resources for you to piece together a lesson plan, although not all of them do. Whatever the case, as soon as you can, start to collect and order useful worksheets and lesson plan ideas. Get organized and invest in some folders and a pack of labels/post-it notes. If you have a readily accessible stash of lesson plan ideas and worksheets you’ll never be stuck for ideas. If you fill-in for an absent teacher you may have no time to plan, which is where having pre-planned activities and ideas will really benefit you.
Choose your language school where you wish to be employed wisely. Ask around in places where you can find expats who are currently teaching which are the best schools to work for. For starters you want a language school that sorts out your work permit and visa for you and pays on time with no complications. Some language schools have air conditioning and some don’t. Some have a teachers’ room chock full of teaching resources and some don’t. Some language schools treat you with respect, some don’t.
What Does it Feel Like to be a Teacher in Thailand?
When you have found a language school where you enjoy teaching at, it is a really nice feel-good-feeling helping students with business, traveling, scholarships and discovering the English language (or whatever language you will be teaching), where you will also be sharing each other’s culture and ideas. When you help another person, seeing the joy on their face is a far better feeling than doing anything solely for your own personal benefit. On top of this you get to live in the beauty of Thailand with some of the friendliest people in the world, with delicious food to choose from literally everywhere, 24/7.