Teach English in Thailand Q&A – FAQ Fridays

Video Transcription

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.

Term dates:

  • November – February
  • May – October

Holiday dates:

  • 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.

If you are interested to teach English in Thailand you can apply by clicking here. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel by clicking here.

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Our Readers Comments

  1. do you only consider South Africans?

    • Hi Bekkie,

      We accept people with one of the following passports: South Africa, UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

      These restrictions are governed by the Thai school system.

      – Liam

  2. I would like to know if its possible to do this with my daughter? I have a child, she is turning 5 this year and would need to take her with me if i decide to do it.

  3. Thank you for this informative video… I have just commenced with the TEFL course and am looking into teaching in Thailand.

  4. Hi there I have recently completed my TESOL course as well as my TEYL course (Teaching English to Young Learners) I am now investigating my options in terms of countries to get started. This is all new to me and I need some guidance as to where to start. very interested in teaching in Thailand, your input would be most appreciated

    Regards Camilla

  5. Hi I’m south African. Done my Tefl. Doing a bridge get Tefl in Thailand next week. What is the situation with work permits for non degree people
    I know we can work but the visa run situation has stopped

    • Hi Sally,

      Thank you for the question. If you do not have a degree the chances of getting a work permit are very slim. There are however ways around that. Most people teach on education and tourist visa.

      – Liam

  6. Hi Liam,

    if I may I have to tell you and your listeners some of the pitfalls of teaching in Thailand, I taught in Nan (north) for a year and at the age of 40 it was difficult – I had 40-50 little brats in the classes for an hour a week which meant I had contact will 1150 different children from 3 to 12 years old apart from their lack of respect and bahavioural issues and the negative Thai teachers it really isn’t the place for the more mature teacher. Basically you are a glorified entertainer. Other than this Thailand is wonderful, the food, safety etc. I am now living in Brazil and teaching Adults which for a mature teacher is far more rewarding and I’m making 3 time the money. I know I sound negative and I don’t mean to IT IS IDEAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE FOR A GAP YEAR but, if you are older in my opinion forget it. The Thais are very ageist and come on we’ve had enough racism experience in South Africa that we certainly don’t need to be subjected to a different type of prejudice? But again I emphasize it is great for young people.

    • Hey Tania,

      Thank you for sharing your experience and insight. I am sorry to hear that your experience in Thailand was not for-filling. Wishing you all the best for your time in Brazil 🙂

      – Liam

    • Dear Tania
      Dear Liam, Please tell me what TEFL course I have to do to teach in Brazil. Also how do I go about it? Is it the certificate course or the diploma course? I am older like you and have taught English in China, without a TEFL certificate.

  7. Hi! The webiste doesn’t seem to work on my phone, I am really keen to go teach in Thailand! I am 23, almost finished my BA degree, currently residing in KZN. Please send me some for information, I have some other questions I would like to ask as well, thank you!

    • Hi Selina,

      Thank you for contacting us. I will send you an email regarding the application process.

      – Liam

  8. Hi, may I know as to whether science teachers can also get teaching appointment in Thailand?
    Thank you.

    Regards.
    Twum P.K.

  9. Hi Liam

    My niece is in Thailand at the moment, and got a great teaching job. The bad news is that the military took over the government a couple of months ago, and they are sending all the foreigners out of the country. She has to leave in mid-September 2014.

    Unless something has changed? I’m not sure they are accepting new people.

    Regards
    M

    • Hi Megan,

      Thank you for the comment

      Things have changed in the last couple of months and the country has now stabilised. The government is not sending all foreign teachers out of the country as there is still a massive demand for native English speakers to be teachers. There have however been a few changes regarding visa regulations, but schools are still accepting new teachers and things are running as per usual.

      Regards

      Liam

  10. Good day Liam,

    I have been looking into teaching in Thailand with my boyfriend for a while now, to go as a couple, is that possible? my only block is finding an affordable TEFL course in our area we can do part time, as we both work 6 days a week currently.We are located in Durban, KZN. Please could you advise the cost of all the studies and travel costs, thank you, Regards, Quartney – quartney5@hotmail.co.nz

    • Hi Quartney,

      Thank you for getting in touch. It is possible to go over as a couple. We are able to find jobs for you and your boyfriend in the same area so that you are able to live together.

      Part of the program that we offer is a one month long TESOL course in Thailand itself. We highly recommend this TESOL course as it is focused on the skills needed to be a successful teacher in Thailand. Many of the TESOL/TEFL courses in SA or online are more general and do not prepare you adequately for living and working in Thailand. We also offer an online version of the Thai TESOL which you can do whilst still in South Africa.

      I will get in touch with you directly regarding applying,

      Regards

      Liam

  11. Stumbled upon this site while doing some teaching research. Some interesting reading.

    Liam, you may want to point out to ‘Twum P.K.’ and posts of this nature that subject teaching is most certainly viable, the pay is better than purely English teaching, and the teaching itself is far from high level teaching as such.

    Incidentally, there is a far higher demand for Western females in the schooling system than males, quite simply because of their femininity and novelty amongst the Thai’s, and their general inclination towards a more sedate lifestyle. Having been in Thailand for three years, it’s evident there are far more Western males than females, and according to articles I’ve read in Western publications, this is generally attributed to various factors, from the challenges one invariably face living in a third world country, through to the harsh weather conditions.

    I can quite honestly say that Thailand is a country to visit, and perhaps take up a teaching position in for a few months, but for the most part, the novelty and preconceived charm of the country wears off rather quickly.

    Those wanting to come over and teach needn’t spend fortunes on TEFL/TESOL certificates. I co-ordinate the hiring at my school and often wonder why so many have forked out thousands on these certificates. The Government schools essentially leave the teaching up to you, where some of the better private schools offer more guidance, but quite frankly one only needs the certificate in hand as a formality, as with the degree requirement.

    All that’s needed is a plane ticket and ideally a 30-90 day tourist visa (the school will then apply for the work permit and so forth once you’ve arrived). Simple.

    • Hi Dean,

      Thank you for your comment. It is nice to hear from a wide variety of people that have experienced living and working in Thailand.

      As you are aware there are various ways to go about becoming a teacher in Thailand. I’d like to share a bit more about the TESOL and Job Placement we offer to give you an idea of how it works from our side:

      The TESOL course is a one-month long and takes place in Hua Hin, Thailand. Participants from the USA, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Canada and New Zealand all take part in this course together. The wide variety of people one meets makes it a truly fun and memorable month. The course is broken up into 3 main parts:

      The first week is a Thai cultural orientation course during which you learn about Thai politics, customs, history, culture, language and religion. A PHD Candidate in Thai Political Movements gives these lectures, which are very informative and thought provoking. There is also a practical side to this learning, which includes trips to Thai temples, volunteering at dog shelters & elephant sanctuaries, Muay Thai lessons at the local gym and Thai cooking classes. This week is therefore a mix of fun and educational experience to introduce you to Thailand and help prepare you for living in the country.

      Week 2 – 4 of the course are dedicated to learning how to effectively teach English to Thai learners. It is all about acquiring the skills needed and practicing them with your peers to give you the confidence to effectively teach in Thailand. This TESOL course is tailored specifically to teaching in Thailand unlike the courses one might find online which tend to be a lot more general in their approach. It also prepares TESOL students for the challenges they might face in the Thai classroom.

      During the final week of the course students take part in a 2-day non-profit English teaching camp at a local Thai school. During this time you are marked and your teaching style is assessed. You are given valuable feedback and advice on how to improve your teaching.

      By the end of the course students have made new friends, developed a network of soon-to-be teachers across Thailand, learned about Thailand and its customs, as well as how to successfully teach in the country. For these reasons I highly recommend this course to anyone wanting to go over to teach, it certainly helped get set me up for an amazing time teaching in Thailand.

      After successfully graduating students are asked what age group they want to teach and in which area of Thailand they would most like to be placed. We ensure that couples and friends are placed in jobs nearby so that they can live together and we also ensure that all the schools we work with are reputable and offer a good salary with all schools being screened beforehand.

      Getting back to the point you made about going over and finding work with a degree and a tourist visa in hand. If the person choosing this option is happy to take it upon themselves to independently find work, is willing to risk finding themselves in a undesirable working environment and does not want the opportunity to meet and learn with other people then I would say it is up to them.

      Having completed this TESOL course and gone through the same job placement process, I personally stand behind the experience we offer and believe it adds great value to all the participants as well as the Thai schools who receive prepared and well-trained teachers.

      – Liam

    • Hi Dean, are you still involved with teaching English in Thailand?

  12. So after just 1 year in the country your an expert – let’s just have a little look see shall we ?
    “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.” Can you explain to me how an 18 or 19 year old has a degree already ? Seeing as having a degree is required for all Government schools.

    “That is a very good questions and the answer is yes, you will still need a TESOL certificate to teach English in Thailand” – Utter nonsense, while some employers may prefer you to have a TEFL or TESOL it is not a legal requirement, but then again you are selling your TESOL course, not giving accurate information.

    “Your accommodation for a month is between R700 and R1500” – at those prices you are going to live in a hovel way outside of any city centre, will not be long before you hate going back to your cheap room with no western toilet, old if any aircon and probably no hot water too, wow ! Living the dream.

    “Thank you for the question. If you do not have a degree the chances of getting a work permit are very slim. There are however ways around that. Most people teach on education and tourist visa.” Cool, your company encourages people to work illegally ! Of course if you had kept abreast of all the changes going on internally in Thailand you would realise that this is really no longer a viable option, but then again, you are the ‘expert’.

    • Hi Lloyd,

      Thank you for your engaging comments about the topic of teaching English in Thailand.

      Regarding the TESOL requirements of applicants: it is true that if one wants to independently go to Thailand and teach without using an agency you can do so without a TESOL – you are 100% correct in saying it is not a legal requirement. When going through our program one is required to do a TESOL course as the schools we work with appreciate the guidance and tutoring we offer our clients. At age 18 or 19 you are correct in saying that these applicants would not have degrees in hand. As you mentioned the labor department requires teachers at government schools to have degrees, but due to the high demand for English teachers in Thailand many schools overlook this requirement and employ TESOL holders. As I am sure you know there are many grey areas in Thailand, this being one of them.

      When referencing accommodation prices I had more rural areas in mind. I lived in Bang Laung (Nakhon Pathom Province), this was where I chose to live and my rent was very low, as it was a very small town with a low cost of living. I had no western toilet and no hot water. Although this was tough at first I grew to get used to it and it made me appreciate and value different things. Having said that not everyone wants to have this kind of experience and you make a good point that at R700 – R1500 one would not have the best accommodation. Thank you for pointing this out and I will make it clearer in the future when discussing this topic with my clients.

      Regarding the visa changes in Thailand post-coup, this situation is evolving but there are several other options besides tourist visas and schools and teachers and the community as a whole is adjusting to ensure that Thailand continues to meet its English language education goals even in the midst of major political changes.

      Thank you again for your comments

      – Liam

  13. The aim of my post wasn’t to deter unknowing travelers from applying through agencies, but money is often tight and perhaps better spent on other necessities. In terms of “learning how to effectively teach English to Thai learners”, as I said the teaching itself is far from high level and schools will always provide teachers with textbooks, as ours do. What does, however, have more bearing on applying at schools than any teaching aptitude, is simply a decent natured, upstanding and punctual character, which are seemingly few and far between.

    There’s a very slim chance of finding oneself in an ‘undesirable situation’ – http://www.ajarn.com for example, offers teaching resources and a job seekers portal with many hundreds of jobs to help get one started.

    One of our recently employed teachers who arrived from Johannesburg three weeks ago, got his tourist visa at Suvarnabhumi airport (there are two sections for those wanting tourist visas and those wanting a shorter visa exempt stamp), popped onto a website, gave us a call and two days later was introducing himself to the kids.

    Once a job is secured (which shouldn’t take longer than a day or two), weekend trips to the islands, Thai cooking classes and so forth are well within reach and cost next to nothing

    • Hi Dean,

      You raise some good points and show the other side of the coin. Our readers who are more inclined to go about things independently will certainly value your input.

      It is certainly true that a good-natured person who is upstanding and punctual will make a good teacher. We look out for this when screening our applicants.

      Thank you for the comments

      Liam

  14. “As you mentioned the labor department requires teachers at government schools to have degrees” Just be clear on this, I did not mention the labour department as it is not their jurisdiction, it is OBEC (The Office of Basic Education Commission) that set the pre-requisites for teachers at education establishments in Thailand.

  15. Hi. I am Phil, and I run ajarn.com, Thailand’s number one teaching website.

    What some people have said above is absolutely true – you do NOT need a TEFL certificate to teach in Thailand because it is NOT a legal requirement.

    However – and it’s a big however – having a TEFL certificate will do your job prospects no harm at all. The fact remains that many employers will ask for one

    I hired many teachers over the years in my 15-year TEFL career, and if the teacher didn’t have a TEFL certificate, I had no idea if that teacher could actually teach. So there would always have to be a demo lesson or two. And very often, those teachers with just degrees and no TEFL certificate really didn’t have the first idea what to do in the classroom.

  16. Hi Liam,

    I am 22 and only have a diploma in graphic design, but I have gained some experience at a local primary school – mainly teaching arts and culture to grades 4 to 7 for two terms – which is how I’ve come to consider teaching English abroad as an alternative to settling in an office job.

    Despite my lack of a degree, if I at least complete a TESOL course – would it be difficult to find a teaching position in a rural town, rather than a big city or popular tourist spot?

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you for the comment. There are many factors which schools take into consideration when deciding to employ a foreign English teacher. Factors such as nationality, age, maturity, education, experience, willingness to adapt to a new culture, enthusiasm etc all play a role.

      The fact that you have experience in teaching here in South Africa is a great thing and will assist you in the application process. As discussed in the video finding work in certain very popular tourist is more of a challenge, and it is easier to find jobs in lesser known areas.

      If you are interested in applying I suggest brushing up your CV and having it ready for the application process. If you would like to apply via Travelstart you can do so by clicking here:
      http://www.travelstart.co.za/lp/promotions/packages/become-an-english-teacher-in-thailand

      – Liam

  17. I am really interested in teaching in Thailand. How can I find out more about the application process etc?

  18. Hi there,

    Interested in hearing more, haven’t received a response to an email for around 3 weeks?

    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Desiree,

      We are very sorry about the delay. One of our consultants will be in touch with you today.

      Regards

      Liam

  19. Hi there

    I am already TEFL qualified (120 hour course).

    I am looking for work anywhere in Asia and I am looking for a company to assist with job placement.

    If you are able to assist, please advise.

    Regards,
    Bianca

  20. Hi there,

    So, I’m a 21 year old who just completed an architecture degree, and would like to take on this programme for a year. Is the TESOL certificate strictly required?
    And would like to receive further information on the programme.

    • Hi Terrence,

      Great to hear from you.

      To my knowledge yes it is strictly required if one is wanting to go teach English in Thailand.

      What I can recommend is that you e-mail liam@travelbudco.com and Liam will be able to assist with any further queries you might have.

      Best of Luck, it seems like a great experience and a lot of fun

  21. Hello,

    First of all thank you for such great info 🙂 I would like to go there as of September and so far I have found all the info I need. I do have one more question. How is it with holidays? School holidays? are they also paid like in EU ? ( Summer, winter, spring etc) Thank you

    • Hi Diana,

      Great to hear from you.

      You are welcome to e-mail Liam on: liam@travelbudco.com he specializes in this, and would be able to shed some more light on any further queries you might have.

      Pop him an e-mail and he will get back to you 🙂

  22. What about being married? My spouse doesn’t have a teaching degree. He has a lot of experienced in teaching guitar for almost 7 years. Is there something he can do abroad?

    • Hi Elandre,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      One does not need to be a qualified teacher to teach in Thailand. There are many teachers in Thailand who come from other fields to teach English.

      Best of Luck!

  23. How do I apply?

    • Hi Rudie,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to read the blog, it will explain all the necessary and important details.

      If you scroll to the bottom just above the FAQ you will see the following:

      “If you are interested to teach English in Thailand you can apply by clicking here. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel by clicking here.”

  24. Hi there,

    I have just returned from a holiday in Thailand, I love the country and would be interested in working in Thailand. My partner is also interested in going over.

    I have an online TEFL certification (not sure if that is enough?) and a degree in Marketing? would this be sufficient to apply?

    My partner has teaching assistant experience but no degree.

    How would we be able to go over?

  25. Hi

    Please inform me of the procedure to apply as the link is directed to booking a holiday. I cannot see where to navigate on that page.

    • Hi Thandi,

      You welcome to read the blog post which is very informative. Here it will provide you with all the information one needs should they be interested in teaching English in Thailand.

      The following link will help: http://travelbudco.com/ which is the company you apply through. And you can contact Liam on: liam@travelbudco.com he will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

  26. I am a Ghanaian but lives in South Africa and have been teaching for the past 1 year. I have more than 6 years of teaching experience. I possess Ghanaian passport but also has the South Africa work permit. I have a degree in business administration-accounting and a certificate in Education but do not have the TEFL . Do I qualify to apply to your humble institution?

    Thanks

    • Hi Sam,

      Thank you for the question,

      This will depend on a few factors such as your degree and the TESOL/TEFL course you have already taken. Could you please apply online via our partner site: http://travelbudco.com/apply-now/

      If you have any further questions you welcome to e-mail Liam at: liam@travelbudco.com

  27. Hi if I don’t have a degree but still do the tesol will I be able to do it and do you need to find a job before you get there or can you just go

    • Hi Damian,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You should be able to do the course but probably will only be able to work in certain countries.

      You welcome to e-mail Liam at: liam@travelbudco.com if you have any further questions he will be able to assist.

  28. Hi

    My fiance and I have decided that we want to teach in Thailand. Although we both do not have degrees but have finished Matric. Is it possible that we may still get through the programme in just doing the TEFL course?

    Thank you for your response

    • Hi Shannon,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Yes you would need a degree as well as take a TESOL OR TEFL course.

      The following link will help: http://travelbudco.com/ in providing more information. This is the company you apply through. And you can contact Liam on: liam@travelbudco.com he will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

  29. Hi Liam,
    After reading all that you have to say about teaching in Thailand, I would really love for my son, who is now 32 yrs old to teach in Thailand.
    What qualifications does he need to have, and also if he needs to train in South Africa, what will it consist of, and how long will it take.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Regards

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      You welcome to read the blog post which is very informative. Here it will provide you with all the information one needs should they be interested in teaching English in Thailand.

      The following link will help: http://travelbudco.com/ which is the company you apply through. And you can contact Liam on: liam@travelbudco.com he will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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