Most people who come to Thailand come here for the same reason, which is to find their small piece of paradise, to stumble on a remote sandy beach with that sunny non-contrast of powder white sand and crystal turquoise water, to follow a jungle path up to a treehouse at the edge of a jungle lake where there are elephants swimming, or to doze off in a hammock in the shade with a beverage and some friends on your own private island.
People find these things in Thailand, but how you approach your job hunting will make a big difference and help you avoid nightmare situations. This article will help you find a good school in a region of your liking.
Recommended for teaching English to adults and young learners in Thailand: Qualify for more TEFL jobs with the 168-hour Hybrid TEFL Certificate
Take Your Time to Find a TEFL Job in Thailand
There are plenty of opportunities for TEFL certified teachers to teach English in Thailand. The trouble isn’t lack of options, but that most of us will almost undoubtedly be faced with the task of choosing to live in a place we have never seen.
How can you be sure if you’ll be happy in a place you couldn’t hope to understand? You can do research on teaching jobs in Thailand, you can read about customs and culture shock, and you can identify the nation’s official religion (Theravada Buddhism), but still there is anxiety. The anxiety is a facet of the whole teaching abroad experience, and certainly not restricted to the Thai experience. There is always an element of the unknown and it’s partly why we do it.
My advice is to try to enjoy the job hunting process because it is the worst stage in the whole process. Finding a job is always rough, you have to make your resume, sell yourself, figure out what employers want to hear, and decide exactly how much you are willing to put up with. Once you get your momentum going, your CV will be tight, and you’ll find a job that works for you.
What TEFL Jobs Can I Expect to Find in Thailand?
There are a lot of TEFL jobs in Thailand, and some are better than others. With respect to pay, job location, and work environment you can basically find a really good job if you have an accredited TESOL certificate and some experience, or you can get a job for a little less pay and in a more remote area if you are less qualified.
The one TEFL job you should definitely avoid in Thailand is the internship type, which will cost you thousands of dollars to get your placement at a school you could easily find on your own and get paid three times as much.
The key to finding a decent TEFL job in Thailand is to take the time to get an idea of each position you apply for. Get a feel for how your day will be (ask questions) and decide if you can live like that for the duration of the contract. Do you enjoy teaching children or adults the most? This question alone should help you cross out the opportunities that don’t match with you.
Apply for TEFL jobs through the free OnTESOL Job Board!
What to Look for in a School?
Nobody is really ever ready for teaching English in Thailand. My first job was amazing! My class overlooked this rural river and it was like a dream, but then it all went wrong.
I don’t want to cause worry but there are some shady players in the language school game, so some things to watch for in a good employer are:
- Teacher autonomy. Do you have to leave your passport with your boss? Does your boss require a key to your room because the last teacher lost theirs? That’s weird. For me, it was a nightmare not to have a space my boss couldn’t reach me at.
- Payday. If there is a problem on payday, if some account got linked to some other account, if payday is going to be delayed this month, or if the payment is calculated on some weird system, then that is just not good. A school is only going to be as good as its teachers, so if you are not treated well then it’s a clue that the level of the school is low. Here is when it’ll pay off to have done some research.
Learn About Thai Regions
Getting familiar with the Thai landscape is beyond easy nowadays, any quick internet search or glance at a map will do. The best way to get a quick-and-easy layout of the land is to check the railway maps at thairailways.com
These maps clearly show an easy way to divide Thailand into manageable chunks. The first thing we see is that Bangkok is smack dab in the middle, which is probably where you will disembark, and from there you have four ways to go:
#1) The Eastern Line to Aranyaprathet and Cambodia.
This is a beautiful stretch of land, not really a teaching hotspot, but there are a few reputable international and private schools here, where you could get a good gig. Check it out!
#2) The Northeastern Line to Ratchathani or Possibly Nong Khai and Laos.
The border between Laos and Thailand is the mighty Mekong river, which creates a beautiful fertile land perfect for farming rice. There are always good jobs kicking around these areas and teachers always say good things about the food and lifestyle.
#3) The Northern Line Through Nakhon Sawan up to Chiang Mai.
The cities and villages up along this spine of the highway are all old and full of personality and history. You will find monkey temples, elephant loggers, and wicked bat caves.
#4) The Southern Line Through Chumphon and Hat Yai and Down into Malaysia.
This vast land is a real double-edged dagger: it has all the jewels of the land and all the problems that come with having jewels. My first TEFL job was in Surat Thani, where part of my contract included unlimited vacation stays at the only bungalow resort on this 10-km stretch of isolated coconut farm beach, the most magical place in the world, just an hour out of town. That job turned out to be a nightmare and didn’t last.
People have been teaching ESL in Thailand for a while now and you will not have any trouble searching out loads of opportunities and reviews as well as expert advice. Job hunting for TEFL jobs in Thailand can be a bit overwhelming, but simply put in some time and all the doubt will start to fade away. Soon you’ll be able to scan the whole country for job openings on a daily basis from the remote comfort of basically wherever you want to be.
How OnTESOL Helped Me Survive My First Year in Thailand
My first experience was very difficult because my class didn’t have an ESL textbook and the school didn’t provide me with any technology to at least play a movie and let time pass by. By the second week, the students picked up that I was just another young teacher who wanted to travel and wasn’t prepared for the job. After that job went wrong, I took the 120-hour online TESOL course with OnTESOL. I am happy I chose OnTESOL because I realized that I didn’t need a textbook in the first place to teach English.
I started to create lesson plans using the Communicative Approach, so the students were able to communicate as they learned grammatical structures. The first time I introduced authentic material was when I brought my laptop and played ‘Don’t Give Up’ by Bruno Mars to teach the present simple. In the next class, I played the trailer of Grey, with Liam Neeson, to teach the present continuous. That was the day the students realized that learning English would help them enjoy all the pop media that they love, without translations or subtitles. My English class became their favourite subject!