Hello and welcome to another edition of Travelstart’s FAQ Friday. This week we are going to be talking about teaching English in Thailand. For the first time we are bringing in someone from the outside. This week it is none other than Liam Kelly who usually films these FAQ Friday videos.
He is an expert on Teaching English in Thailand as he taught there for a year, and since returning has setup a company to help South Africans do the same.
Over to you, Liam!
Hey Nick, thanks for having me on an episode of FAQ Fridays. It is good to be on the other side of the camera. I look forward to answering these questions.
1. Why teach in Thailand over other countries?
I think the main thing about Thailand is the people. It’s not called the Land of Smiles for nothing and it really is an amazing place to live in. Whenever you hear about someone going there for a holiday they come back with a smile on their face and say that they had the most amazing experience there. But if you actually get to live and teach in the country it is a whole new level. The fact that there are amazing public transport networks all the way from the mountainous North to the island fill South, it is really easy to move around and travel during your holidays when you are a teacher.
Another great thing about living and working in Thailand as a teacher is that the cost of living is low and your salary is relatively high. One can earn between R9000 and R12000 per month. Your accommodation for a month is between R700 and R1500, dinner is R15 – R20 if you eat local, and a train ride from the bottom of Thailand right to the top only sets you back only R400. Generally speaking one can live like a bit of a king compared to how you would in Cape Town or other parts of South Africa.
2. What are the chances of getting a job on a popular island?
Many people who apply ask this question, especially about certain islands near Phuket, or Koh Phi Phi, Koh Sumui etc. Unfortunately the competition to get a job teaching in these areas is very high and therefore the chances of getting given a job in a famous tourist area is very low. Having said that, there are schools scattered around the coast of Thailand in less famous tourist destinations where one is able to find work.
3. How long does one usually spend teaching there?
Generally teaching contracts last for either a full year or 1 full term.
- November – February
- May – October
- March & April
4. How much of your day is spent teaching?
Generally one teaches for 5 days per week, 4-5 hours per day. When I was a teacher in Thailand I taught between 8am and 3pm. I would arrive at work at 8, they would have an assembly first thing, I would then teach 2 classes before an hour lunch break. After lunch I would teach another 2-3 classes before heading home. I would normally be home between 3pm and 4pm and have time to relax, explore or plan lessons for the following day.
5. Is it safe to do? What about for girls?
When I was in Thailand I felt very safe. In the touristy areas it is busier and one therefore needs to be more careful. But generally in Thailand one does not need to worry too much about crime.
Regarding if it is safe for girls:
Most of my applicants have been women, and most of the people I have sent over recently have been women. They have a very good time over there and feel very safe teaching there. Recently I interviewed a teacher from California by the name of Amanda Mathias, you can watch that interview by clicking here. She talks about her time in Thailand and the discussion of safety is addressed.
6. I have a teaching degree; do I still need a TESOL certificate?
That is a very good questions and the answer is yes, you will still need a TESOL certificate to teach English in Thailand. A teaching degree and experience teaching in South Africa is definitely a good thing and will put you in a good position for teaching in Thailand. But, having said that, teaching English in Thailand is very different to teaching in South Africa. There are various cultural challenges that one needs to address, there are also various teaching styles which one needs to learn, in order to effectively teach Thai students.
The TESOL course in Hua Hin addresses the Thai learning style, and is very much focused on Thailand itself. There is a one week long cultural orientation course that forms part of the TESOL course. It is not at all about teaching, but more about learning about Thailand and its culture. One learns about Thai politics, Thai history, you do Thai cooking lessons, you train at a Muay Thai gym, you also visit and learn about Buddhist temples. It is a great time to bond with other TESOL students from all over the world who are going there to do the same thing.
7. Is there an age restriction?
We generally accept people between the ages of 19 and 45 years old. However, if you are 18 or 19 you need to be mature enough to manage the responsibilities involved with this experience, as well as adapting to the local culture.
For older applicants between the ages of 45 and 60 we do consider your applications, but age does fit into one of the criteria that schools look at. They are looking for applicants with high energy that are going to adapt to living and teaching in Thailand. For that reason we generally accept for applicants between the 19 and 45 year old age bracket, but if you are older you can still apply, as there is other criteria such as experience and personality which play a large role.