Teaching English in Thailand
Since ASEAN has opened up many doors in Thailand and the region, the need to learn English in Thailand has soared. People are beginning to realize the importance of connecting with international businesses, and you will see English learning centers popping up throughout the country.
The problem is that many of these learning centers are of poor quality. Many of the teachers can barely hold a conversation in English let alone teach it properly. This is being offset by many qualified western teachers that have come to Thailand to pursue their careers teaching English in Thailand.
Many people end up leaving their home countries in search of something new as life in their hometowns rarely changes. Others come to Thailand for a holiday and quickly realize that they want to live here. I can’t blame them as the weather, food and people are great. The cost of living is also a big factor when deciding to live and work in Thailand.
It’s not all pina coladas and smiling faces though. Many teachers in Thailand receive low pay, and some teachers can end up frustrated with the Thai way of doing things. This goes for schools as well as many other businesses. For example, you might see an obviously much more efficient way of doing things, but even bringing up that sort of change might offend the person who is running the show. This loss of face could harm your relationship with the person, and may even end up costing you your job! What started out as a small gesture to try and help the school could turn into much more drama than you expected.
On the subject of what teachers get paid while teaching English in Thailand, many of the lower level schools pay around 30,000 to 40,000 baht per month. Depending on where you live, you will either be able to get by on this much or you will have to work extra hours after school to get enough to survive on. If you work in one of the provinces outside of Bangkok, teaching English on 40,000 baht per month could give a comfortable lifestyle. If you are teaching in the center of Bangkok on 40,000 baht per month, you’ll find it difficult, though not impossible, to survive on that amount. One thing to remember is that if you are getting paid close to your lowest amount, teacher burnout will come a lot faster than usual!
The benefits of teaching in Thailand can far outweigh the headaches and annoyances that occur in the workplace. Teachers are highly respected here, and getting to see smiling Thai children everyday is much better than sitting in a cubicle back in the west. You form relationships with the children and their families, and it’s wonderful to watch them grow and progress throughout the years. As you gain experience and knowledge within Thailand, your pay should increase. Some of the highest pay teachers in Thailand earn over 200,000 baht per month. However, those teachers are typically in the best international schools in Bangkok, are fully licensed to teach in their home countries, and they usually bring with them lots of experience at other international schools. It takes a lot of work to get there, but in my opinion it’s well worth the time. The vacations are great, the organizations are well run, and the additional benefits such as flights home every year, international health coverage and bonuses are more than just a cherry on top!
If you are considering teaching in Thailand, look at your goals first. Is this something that you think you want to do for the long term? Are you happy living in the city or in the country? Are you dedicated to improving the level of English in Thailand? These are all things to consider before taking the plunge. Either way, taking one year to see how it all pans out will be something you’ll always remember.