Deciding to teach English abroad has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far. My advice to you; If you’re thinking about doing it, DO IT. If you’re on this webpage, you already have one foot out the door. Here’s some FAQs that will help you take the next step:
Q: What are the basic requirements to teach English abroad?
A: You need a bachelors degree. It doesn’t have to be in education. My degree is in communications. Then you need to get TESOL or TEFL certified.
Q: What’s TESOL and TEFL?
A: TESOL and TEFL are pretty much the same thing. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Schools normally require you to have one of these certifications. If you already have a degree in teaching you usually don’t need to take one of these courses.
Q: How do I get certified in TESOL?
A: Oxford Seminars has classes all over the US. I almost went through them but decided to take my class in Bangkok through the American TESOL Institute (ATI). I paid about $1000 for the three week course. Accommodation was paid for and they gave us a week of real teaching experience at a Thai school.
Q: Why ATI?
A: I enrolled in the Special Thai Program which guaranteed me a teaching placement at the end of the course. I graduated on a Friday and had a job on Monday. It was perfect! It was also a great way to explore the culture and meet other westerners who will most likely become your lifelong friends. I would recommend taking the ATI class in PHUKET, THAILAND. Huge class, a ton of young, fun people and just a great time.
Q: What should I expect to get paid? Is it enough to live in Thailand?
A: When I started I was getting paid 35000 Baht a month which is about $1000 a month. That doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s very inexpensive to live in Thailand. I was able to save about $500 a month. My apartment was $150 a month, I was get daily massages, eating very well, shopping and going out – life was GOOD 🙂 Eventually I was raised to 44,000 baht a month which is about $1300 a month… then LIFE WAS GRAND lol. Seriously though.
Q: What’s it like to live in a non-English speaking country?
A: Patience is key. Some people will speak a little English but don’t assume that they will. You are in their country. Be respectful. And talking louder will not help them understand you — That’s my pet peeve!
My advice is try to learn the language a little. Have fun with it. It can definitely get frustrating at times, especially if you need directions or if you want to ask for something at a store but you get used to it. You’ll start to use non-verbal communication. Thai’s are pro’s at that. In the land of smiles, I’ve learned that sometimes that’s all you need.
Q: What made you want to teach abroad?
A: For me, it was a series of things. When I was in college I worked and lived at Disney World for six months. I met people from all over the world who had come to experience work and life in America. After that, I always wondered what it would be like to live in another country. Then when I was a senior in college, I studied abroad in China – I met an American who was teaching there and met his students and they all really inspired me. My college degree is in Communications and I ended up landing an Account Coordinator position at a PR firm in Manhattan after college. It was everything I ever wanted, but something was missing. I wanted to not just travel the world but I wanted to live around the world and I was determined to make that happen. After some research, teaching English seemed to be the key – So I quit my job and went for it.
Q: Why did you choose to teach in Thailand?
A: Thailand just fell into my lap. I had no preference to where I wanted to teach. When you want to do everything, it doesn’t really matter where you start as long as you start. Now that I taught in Thailand, I’m so happy I didn’t go anywhere else. The hospitality and the culture there is something I have never seen anywhere else.
Q: How did you like living in Bangkok?
A: Bangkok reminds me of New York city but it’s more laid back. I loved it there. The transportation system is incredible so it’s really easy to get around without a car. And since there is a very large expat community, it’s easy to get a taste of western life if you’re ever feeling homesick. There’s Mexican, English, Irish, and American food.. even found an Outback Steakhouse one day! Also, I’m not much of a shopper, but Bangkok has thee most amazing malls you’ll ever see in your life! Cheap and modern housing, friendly people, amazing nightlife, and plenty of markets, parks and street food to explore throughout the day.
The cheap cost of living in Thailand is what makes this possible.
Assumes 30 baht = $1 USD (go to xe.com to check your currency & current rates)
$10,000 USD = approximately 300,000 baht.
We assume a monthly salary of 35,000 baht. (This is a low-end salary.)
In order to save 300,000 baht/year, you must save 25,000 baht/month.
That means you must set a budget of 10,000 baht/month.
Intro to Cost of Living in Thailand
There will be a lot of people who will scream at me for writing this. The fact is those people are NOT responsible spenders. Most people don’t know how to SAVE $$$ nowadays. That’s also a fact. What you see here is WHAT I HAVE DONE. I have lived on this budget…and in no way did I feel like my life was compromised.
This table reflects responsible spending. That means drinking coffee from 7/11 instead of Starbucks. That means NOT getting McDonald’s delivered every day. The lower end ($100) reflects Thai standards, upcountry. The higher end reflects BASIC western standards:
Eating out instead of cooking at home
Taking taxis instead of local buses
Drinking lots of 1 baht 1.5 liter bottles of water and not 10 baht sodas and other crap
Drinking alcohol bought from 7/11 and not out at bars/clubs every night, etc.
I know teachers who live quite comfortably on $300/month in Bangkok. Some do it for even less. It’s really a personal choice. Remember, many upcountry Thais live on 1,000 baht/month ($33 USD). Now, I don’t recommend that, and you won’t be able to do that in Bangkok, but that does give you some perspective of the cost of living in Thailand.
Sample Monthly Budget in Thailand for Teachers
Rent + Utilities (fully furnished)
Up to You
Up to You
Housing Budget in Thailand
For 4,500 baht/month, you can get a new, furnished, clean studio condo in Downtown Bangkok (including utilities) like the photo to the right (430 sq. ft.). Obviously, the further away you are from Downtown Bangkok, the cheaper it gets. Towards the edges of the city, you can start to find 1 bedrooms for 4,500 baht/month.
I once lived in Chumporn, Thailand. Most people know it as the pit stop before going diving in Koh Tao or partying it up at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. While I was there, I lived in two places.
One was a BRAND NEW 4-story townhouse across from the school I worked at. I shared it with 2 other guys. We each had a whole floor to ourselves. Fully furnished, including kitchen. Cable and Internet included. Electricity and Water included. We paid 2,500 baht/month per person.
The other was either 2 or 3 stories, 3 bedrooms, furnished, etc. etc. That cost 4,000 baht/month, all inclusive. Which is 1,333 baht/month per person.
Does everyone find accommodations at these low prices? No. Most people try to live in a place that is nicer than anything they’ve ever lived in on their own. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not how to save money teaching English in Thailand.
Want to get a great deal on an accommodation? You can use these websites in Bangkok (easyhomes.tv, thaiapartment.com, soidb.com, etc). However, we recommend:
Find your school location.
Stay in a cheap guesthouse nearby
Meet with the English teaching staff (both Thai and non-Thai) and let them guide you.
They should be able to set you up in a proper place at a proper price.
A lot of the cheaper housing, even in Bangkok, won’t be listed online. You’ll have to walk the neighborhood yourself. This is why hooking up with someone from the school is so important. If you’re friendly, there will surely be a Thai who will be eager to take you around and translate for you.
Food Budget in Thailand
For one, most people OVEREAT!!! That’s your choice.
If you’re a serious over-eater, you’ll have to multiply the budget by 1.5 or 2. Once again, that’s your choice. This budget assumes responsible eating habits and normal caloric intake, 3 meals per day or 2 meals and a few snacks, and mostly rice/noodle dishes. If you cook your own rice/noodles, chicken, and vegetables, you can SAVE even more $$$.
Thailand is a place where it might be MORE EXPENSIVE to cook…especially if you’re living alone. The amount of time it takes to go to the market (not to mention the cost of the taxi), time spent preparing and cleaning up, food that will spoil, etc., makes eating at the food carts a BETTER option.
Yes, the food carts are plenty SAFE. With that said, if you see rats pooping in the rice, don’t eat at that one. Never seen it, but you will occasionally see a stall or food cart that looks dirty…Avoid it! Unless! Unless you see all the Thais eating there. Go where the Thais eat!
Remember, a 100 baht/day coffee habit is 3,000 baht/month is 36,000 baht/year is $1,200!!!!!!
Make your own dang coffee at home!!!
Transportation Budget in Thailand
In Bangkok. People typically take motorbike taxis (10-40 baht usually), car taxis (40-80 baht usually), the BTS (aka skytrain, 15-30 baht usually) and the MRT (aka subway, 15-30 baht usually) to get around the city.
We usually take buses when traveling to outside of the city. With that said, the buses go everywhere within Bangkok, arrive frequently, and are cheap! Heck, some are even FREE. They look like the pic down below; red bus with blue message on the window.
Outside of Bangkok. Walking and bicycling? Sure, why not. However, teachers typically get around via songtaews (pictured right), motorbike taxis, and tuk tuks. Those who are slightly more adventurous either rent motorbikes (1,000-2,500 baht/month) or buy one (used available for 7-15,000 baht).
Miscellaneous Expenses in Thailand
If I had to guess, I’d say most English teachers in Thailand blow their budget on renting an unnecessarily nice condo, food and ALCOHOL. Of course you should enjoy your life, but be careful not to blow your budget on any of those 3 things.
Drinking! Clubbing and excessive consumption of alcohol can be a weekly, even daily, drain on your savings.
Yes, alcohol is cheap at 7/11 and local Thai restaurants (and even at Thai clubs), but we recommend setting a monthly ‘drinking budget’. Let’s say you set it at 3,000 baht/month. That’s about 750 baht/week. That will buy you a 750-ml bottle of Absolut or Johnny Walker every week. In terms of beer, that will buy you about 17 1-Liter bottles of Chang Beer per week. If you drink more than that every week, then perhaps budgeting isn’t your problem (hint hint, alcoholism).
I’m not sure what attracts people to do a TEFL in Koh Samui. TEFL courses in Samui are 2nd-rate at best. None of the top providers have courses there. However, there is obviously demand for TEFL courses in Koh Samui, Thailand.
I understand the allure of islands and the sea. That’s my style. However, if ‘beach paradise’ is what you’re after, I would suggest doing your TEFL in Phuket and NOT in Samui. I can only guess that people do their TEFL in Samui because they want to go diving at Koh Tao or go to the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. During your TEFL course, you’re not going to have time to go diving in Koh Tao. And the Full Moon Party is something you can (and should) go to before or after your course.
Why Should I Do a TEFL in Phuket and Not Samui?
For most people, getting to and from Koh Samui will be more expensive than Phuket. Bangkok Airways owns the airport and Samui, and so it works kind of like a monopoly.
You’re HIGHLY unlikely to find a TEFL Job in Samui as a first-time teacher. Samui is a highly desirable place for teachers, so the competition is much higher. Although the same is true for Phuket, you are much more likely to find a job teaching English in Phuket. There are a lot more TEFL jobs in Phuket than in Samui.
Phuket offers a better mix of first world comforts + unspoiled natural beauty. It will be a much easier and smoother transition. Everything you can do in Koh Samui, you can do in Phuket. You can still go snorkeling and diving. And it’s only a few hours bus ride to get to boat that will take you to the Full Moon Party.
Best TEFL in Samui
None. I’m not sure what it is about Samui, but it seems to attract the less legitimate operations. Do a TEFL course in either Phuket or Bangkok.
Avoid These Samui TEFL Courses
Island TEFL in Samui
Their facilities are a joke. Their course is in a garage! They offered a friend of mine (who is not qualified to be a TEFL trainer) 30,000 baht to be their TEFL trainer. Yikes! Also, They don’t offer much job support. Pass.
TEFL Heaven in Koh Samui
They are new to the TEFL industry. I recommend them over Island TEFL and Samui TEFL, but I still would avoid them.
Definitely the worst and least reputable of these 3 TEFL courses in Samui. Logos aren’t everything, but could their logo be any cheesier?
TEFL World Samui
If you ABSOLUTELY must take a TEFL course in Koh Samui, then perhaps these are the guys to go with. We do NOT recommend them, but they are the most legitimate of the bunch.
Summary of TEFL Courses in Samui
Avoid all of the TEFL Samui courses.
We seriously can’t recommend a TEFL in Samui. Yes, it’s a great vacation, but almost impossible to find a job there. If you want your TEFL to be a beach holiday vacation, you’re better off doing it in Phuket for a 1,000 reasons. With all that said, we recommend doing a TEFL in Bangkok since that’s where the job recruiters and job placement professionals are.
If you somehow missed it, we recommend you do a TEFL course in Bangkok.
However, if you’ve got island fever, then Phuket is far and away the best island/beach location for a TEFL. Although much of Phuket is still unspoiled, it provides much of the first world comforts you’re used to; malls, cinemas, thriving bus system, etc.
Best TEFL in Phuket
ITTT TEFL in Phuket
They are a reputable company who have been in the business for 10+ years. You can be sure that you’ll get the support you need and a quality education.
$1490 (4-week, 120-hour course)
ARE NOT INCLUDED in the price. Unfortunately, they are a little shady/unclear about their accommodations. In any case, they say their accommodations start at 3000 baht ($100 USD). They don’t tell you how many nights that is for. They don’t show you pictures. They don’t say what the 3000 baht includes. They tell you to pay the $500 course deposit, and THEN they will send you the information. Personally, that puts me off.
Course Location: Phuket Town. Which is about the center of the island. Not near the beach.
Airport transportation: NOT mentioned.
Other TEFL Phuket Courses Reviewed
We would avoid these three below, but the choice is yours. They are marketers first, TEFL’ers second (if at all). Do NOT trust a course that is less than 4 weeks, unless it includes an online TEFL component.
Most of them are not accredited and hire inexperienced and untrained trainers without the proper credentials. They throw all sorts of stuff at the wall to see what tricks you into purchasing their product. Go with the company that is MOST transparent.
Avoid the 3-week course entirely. It says it’s 120-hours, but that’s impossible. Standard practice is that a 4-week course is 120 hours (30 hours/week). Also, it does NOT include teaching practice. Teaching practice is a standard part of any accredited 120-hour TEFL course. If you’re going with Island TEFL, do the 4-week course. They say it’s 150-hours, but this is really a 120-hour course (4 weeks times 30 hours/per week = 120 hours). It includes teaching practice.
15,000 baht ($500 USD) They look good, but not great. The price is reasonable, not great. It includes water, wifi, electricity and aircon.
Near the training center and near the beach. Only 5 are available, and they offer assistance finding something else nearby if it’s full. You will have your own bedroom, but you will be SHARING a bungalow.
*NOTE: the days in Package B are in addition to the days in Package A. If you use Island TEFL, do NOT do Package A. It’s worthless.
42,000 baht (or $1400 USD). Does not include accommodations.
Why does a simple GUESTHOUSE cost $600-$800 USD/month? Yes, you pay more because you are only staying 1 month, but a simple guesthouse should be less than $400/month. This makes us think 1 of 2 things; 1. either they are trying to bleed you of your money or 2. they are lazy/incapable of finding more affordable accommodations. Which begs the question, if they are lazy/incapable of finding reasonably priced accommodations, how are they going to help you find a TEFL job in Phuket? :/
*** They also offer a 1-week TEFL for 17,500 baht ($550 USD). If this included an online TEFL component, that would be good, but it doesn’t. You should be HIGHLY skeptical of any organization offering a 1-week TEFL without an online component. Also, their accommodations are priced HIGHER for this 1 week course (6 nights) than for the 4-week course (29 nights). What da Dr. Funkenstein!?!
Summary of TEFL in Phuket
Go with a TEFL in Bangkok. Even if you end up teaching in Phuket, it’s extremely likely that you’ll have to be in Bangkok to undergo the hiring process anyway. So why make all that extra work?
If you’re dead-set on getting a TEFL in Phuket, go with ITTT in Phuket. The rest of the competition is too unknown and/or untrustworthy.
Chiang Mai is a beautiful place to visit and to live. The pace is slower in Chiang Mai. It’s known for it’s cooler climates, mountains and lush scenery. Even though it’s less built up than Bangkok, it still has all the modern amenities you need.
WARNING: Even if you want to live and work in Chiang Mai, you might be better off doing your TEFL certificate course in Bangkok.
Why? Well, even if you get a job in Chiang Mai, it’s likely that you’ll have to apply and interview for it in Bangkok.
Best TEFL in Chiang Mai!
We cannot speak directly about the quality of their instruction, but we do know that they are a very reputable company. They’ve been conducting courses in Thailand for awhile, and we’ve never heard a complaint. There instruction is solid and their courses produce quality teachers.
Avoid These TEFL Courses!
We say this only because we know nothing about them which probably means they are a new player in the game. Or, it could mean they used to go by a different name and changed it because of poor reviews. They may be a great school, but we’ve never heard of them.
Other “Reputable” TEFL Courses
Chiang Mai University TEFL
They’ve been around for 5+ years, so that’s good news. We’re not sure if they are actually affiliated with Chiang Mai University, but it doesn’t matter one way or the other. If they do have an affiliation, it has no benefits in Thailand. We could equally include them in the “Avoid” section.
Same as above minus the Chiang Mai University affiliation.
Summary of TEFL in Chiang Mai
Go with a TEFL in Bangkok. Even if you end up teaching in Chiang Mai, it’s extremely likely that you’ll have to be in Bangkok to undergo the hiring process anyway. So why make all that extra work?
If you’re dead-set on getting a TEFL in Chiang Mai, go with SEE TEFL. The rest of the competition is too unknown.
Free to comment down below with you recommendations. Be
We use a mix of personal experience and what 100’s of TEFL graduates have conveyed to us. Any TEFL course not listed here should be AVOIDED. However, from time to time, a certificate course falls through the cracks. So, if you’ve found a TEFL course that is not listed here, ask us in the comments. We will get back to you ASAP.
***TEFL, TESOL & CELTA courses in Bangkok are equivalent. As such, we’ve included all varieties in this review.
Best TEFL in Bangkok
California Teachers College TEFL & TESOL Programs in Bangkok
Avoid These Bangkok TEFL Courses!
American TESOL Institute (ATI) Bangkok
It’s a real company, so it has that going for it. With that said, they are AGENTS. They are marketers & salesmen who make the sales and then split the students up amongst several schools. This means that once they have your money, their support ends there. You won’t get picked-up at the airport. You won’t get helped with your accommodation. Heck, you’ll be lucky to get the contact information for the TEFL school you’ll be going to!
AYC Bangkok, Thailand
AYC is one of the schools that ATI sends customers to. We’ve mentioned elsewhere that AYC is okay to use as an agent for finding you a job. However, we cannot recommend their TESOL course. For starters, they have horrible support because their customers come from agents like ATI, so you’re likely to get lost in the shuffle.
More importantly, for the last 2 years they have had a Thai person teaching the course. That’s not bad in and of itself, but the fact is, he was never trained to be a teacher, has no credentials in teaching, and in fact has very little (almost none) experience teaching English. He’s earnest and sincere, and he can get you in the mind of a second language learner, because he is one. However, you can get that elsewhere + a qualified teacher.
Very poorly located. On the outskirts of the north of Bangkok.
Other Reputable TEFL Courses
Text-and-Talk Academy Bangkok
We haven’t heard a whole lot one way or the other about this TEFL program and the instructor. However, that’s a good thing. We have strong reasons to believe the training is solid and we are sure it’s a legitimate business.
Location is okay. You CANNOT walk to the BTS or MRT, but can get there via a taxi.
International House Bangkok (IH Bangkok)
Same boat as Text-and Talk except that it is technically a CELTA course. We don’t want to get to in-depth on the differences between TEFL and CELTA courses. Suffice it to say employers consider them to be the same level of qualification and that CELTA courses are generally much more expensive.
Not our favorite location (Silom), but near to the BTS.
Offers both CELTA and TESOL courses in Bangkok. As we’ve alluded to, the content is essentially the same. We would actually argue that the content of TEFL & TESOL courses is better than CELTA, but it’s not worth the effort.
Not a horrible location, but not very close to the BTS or MRT (skytrain and subway), so it makes getting around slightly more difficult.
Summary of TEFL in Bangkok
If it’s not listed, AVOID IT!
There’s absolutely no reason to use anybody not mentioned on this page.
However, if you have a question about a TEFL course in Bangkok, leave a comment.
Teach English in Thailand & Get Straight Paid Boooyy!
Intro to Salaries in Thailand
You Will NOT Become a Millionaire Teaching English in Thailand, But You WILL Have a Great Time! Bottom Line.
Understand that all figures are approximate. They are meant to reflect the typical job. Obviously, every situation is unique.
Salaries Paid by Agencies & Government School Salaries
If you go through an agency and work at a government school, you can expect to get paid about 30-35,000 baht in BASE* salary. This is typical for entry-level English teaching jobs.
90%+ of the people we’ve trained (even non-native speakers of English) started at 35,000 baht/month or more and then moved on to 40,000-45,000 in their next job (after 3-6 months, sometimes sooner). If you follow our advice in this blog, and you were properly trained, you can easily get the 40,000-45,000 baht per month jobs.
*BASE. Does not include side jobs, bonuses, tutoring, etc.
Private School Salaries (e.g. Assumption College, Sarasas, St. Johns, etc.)
If you start teaching English at a private school you can expect to make about 50,000 baht/month.
University & Technical School Salaries
They typically pay 30,000 baht/month. The pay might seem low, but it’s less hours, more enjoyable work, more prestigious, and gives you access to higher-paying outside opportunities (e.g. editing, tutoring, etc.).
A lot of these jobs never get published & are filled via word of mouth. As such, it’s rare for you to land in Thailand and immediately acquire one of these positions. However, get out and network, and you can grab one of these sought after posts!
However, there’s the potential to get one off the bat if you have the fortitude and tenacity to do some research on universities, make contact with someone at the University, or just drop-in to talk with the appropriate staff at the Uni.
Just about every University has an English language program with a handful of people like you teaching.
Corporate Salaries (e.g. Inlingua, AUA, Wall Street Institute)
Here you can expect to make about 50,000 baht/month with many opportunities to earn money on the side.
International School Salaries (e.g. KIS & NIST International Schools)
This is a big subject unto itself and will be saved for another article on another day.
In short, if you’re looking to teach English in Thailand, you’re probably not qualified to teach at International Schools.
However, it’s not unusual for English teachers in Thailand to maneuver into positions as English teachers at International Schools. Usually they are the less desirable IS’s with the less desirable salaries, but for someone with just a TEFL, it’s the Holy Grail. Salaries here are 55,000+ baht/month and can go up to 150,000 baht/month for properly qualified subject-matter teachers.
Taxes & Benefits
Taxes are quite low in Thailand. Expect about 5% of your salary to go to taxes.
Benefits do vary, but most legitimate companies provide dental & medical (or will offer you the option to purchase it at a ridiculously cheap rate).
In our experience, they will deduct 750 baht/month from your salary, which pays for 1/2 of it. The company then pays the other half. Most people aren’t even aware of these benefits. Definitely inquire.
The medical and dental care I got for 750 baht/month was top-notch!!! I even got to pick my hospital, private hospitals included. (Guaranteed to get 1 out of the 3 you write down). I know people from the UK who needed major and serious surgery done. Instead of going back to England (where it’s covered for free), they were more than happy to use their insurance to go to a Thai hospital where the care is quality enough.
Copies & Folder. Make copies of all your relevant documents and bring them in a folder. Some HR people even assume that you will provide them with a copy of your resume at the interview.
Confirmation. Call the evening before the interview if it’s in the a.m. or call the morning of the interview day if it’s in the afternoon to confirm. (This makes you look organized and professional.)
Show-up 5-10 minutes early. Showing up too early sends a bad message. It puts undue pressure on the Hiring Manager to accommodate you and it actually shows that you’re not a good manager of your time.
We also like to go the day before to look around and get a feel for it all. Like a trial run. It makes the actual process run much smoother and stress free
Interviewing is like anything else, you get better at it with experience. If you haven’t interviewed in awhile, we suggest finding a friend to run you through a Mock Interview using something such as http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewquestionsanswers/a/interviewquest.htm.
The fact is, you just don’t know what the interviewer is going to ask. Assume they are going to ask the questions you least want them to ask and have answers ready. HR types look through 100s and 1000s of resumes, and can sort through the BS at a glance.
What to Wear?
It partially depends on the job. If it’s a management job or one of the better teaching English jobs, go with a suit, tie, and dress shoes. If it’s a job with an agency, a suit and tie sans jacket is more appropriate.
Keep in mind that teachers in Thailand are expected to wear a dress shirt, tie, slacks, and dress shoes to work. You might notice that the Thai teachers are not similarly dressed. Well, they’re also making 25% of what you’re making. So deal with it.
What to Do?
Smile (After all, this is the Land of Smiles. And don’t think a smile to the Thai staff will go unnoticed/unappreciated.)
Be polite and courteous while you wait.
Expect to shake hands with the interviewer. Not too hard and not too limp. There are many psychological studies that have shown that jobs are won or lost on this interaction alone. Occasionally, the interviewer will be a Thai, but as it’s likely to be a Thai accustomed to Western culture, he’ll expect to shake your hand. On the other hand, if he ‘wais’ you, then reply accordingly. Above all else, don’t force a Thai to shake your hand if they don’t want to.
Eye Contact. While shaking hands, make eye contact. Maintain eye contact throughout the duration of the interview.
Hands. Keep them comfortably in your lap. Don’t put them over your face. Don’t put them in your pocket.
Speaking. Speak clearly and confidently
Be comfortable. You’ve read this blog and followed our advice. You’re ready for this interview, and you’re going to get this job!
What to Say?
Realize that the interviewer has spent countless hours reading through emails, cover letters, and resumes. They’ve spent countless more replying to job seekers and scheduling interviews. And now they are spending even more time doing interviews?
What’s the point? Their time is limited and very valuable. They know what they’re looking for and what questions to ask in order to get a feel for you. So, let them lead the interview. Don’t take over the interview. Don’t go on 5-minute diatribes, story-telling, etc. to answer a simple question. More talking does not equate to a better answer. Sometimes more is less as they say. With every word you add, you have as much chance of doing harm to your candidacy as improving it.
Remember, it’s a dialogue, a conversation. It goes both ways. Engage in a conversation as you would normally, with a slightly greater amount of deference for the interviewer. But don’t over do it.
You should have scanned copies of the following documents prepared as most employers will ask for them:
First page of your passport
Any degree(s) you have
Your TEFL certification
Any other awards, certifications, training, etc. which might help.
#5 is less important. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked for my transcripts. In addition to the scans, I suggest bringing the originals. I have never been asked for my original degrees and certifications, but I know that it does occasionally happen.
Most people take the “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks approach”. Personally, I don’t recommend it, but the choice is yours. It seems like a lot of extra, and unnecessary work. Are you really going to write a specific email and cover letter for each job you apply to?
You want your email and/or cover letter to look like it was written SPECIFICALLY for the job you’re applying to.
An email and co and you’ll end up writing ‘canned’ emails and cover letters.
If you’ve applied to College/University, I’m sure you recall the following strategy
Following Up – Persistence
There is no hard and fast rule as to what is appropriate. However, doing it is a must.
As I mentioned in another article, I’ve followed up on an International University job that had been posted for only 2 hours that was filled by the time I called. That’s not the norm.
What I do is;
Call to see if the job is still available.
While doing this I try to find out some more information such as the Hiring Manager’s name. (*Be careful to not ask too many questions, especially questions that aren’t pertinent at the moment. It’s common for applicants to ask questions that will only matter IF I make them a job offer. Never mind that I haven’t even offered them an interview yet.)
I will do research on that person (Facebook). (*Yes, there is a 100% certainty that the potential employers will do the same to you. So it might be time to do a little housecleaning or to fiddle with permission controls.)
Next, I send my email out, making sure to include something I’ve gleaned from their Facebook page to form a connection with them. (*Make sure it doesn’t seem like you’ve stalked their Facebook :D)
Finally, I follow-up later in the day or the following morning to confirm my application was received. This shows that I’m organized, detailed-oriented, and that I don’t work off of assumptions. You can do this and it won’t feel like you’re pestering the employer. At this point, I will briefly inquire into the application timeline if it wasn’t mentioned in the job listing. For example, when is the start date, when will interviews take place, etc.
There’s a fine line between being persistent, and being annoying. If I tell you I’ll call you on the 7th, don’t call me on the 6th to follow up. Either call me late on the 7th or early on the 8th.
The Low-down on Finding a Job Teaching English in Thailand
Applying From Abroad vs. Being in Thailand
Newbie. If you aren’t here, in Thailand, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get a job offer. It happens, but don’t expect to get hired until you’re here.
But why? It’s easier and faster to hire someone ALREADY here. And that ALWAYS wins in this game, especially in Thailand (EVEN IF THEY ARE LESS QUALIFIED). Why bother with someone in South Africa when you can find someone already in Thailand NOW!?
Why deal with all the extra paperwork when you can avoid it by hiring someone who is here? Why bother at all when you have ZERO guarantee that the prospective teacher will come? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” A warm body today is better than the perfect teacher who might never come.
Veteran Teacher. If you’ve taught English in Korea, Spain, etc., it SLIGHTLY increases the likelihood that you can get a job without being in Thailand. Why? Well, you have experience, so an employer MIGHT (unlikely) think you’re worth the risk. Your experience shows that you’re a DOER and not just someone dreaming of teaching abroad. This means you’re more likely to follow through on coming.
However, since it’s easier and faster to hire someone in Thailand, especially given that job openings happen at the spur of the moment, you will likely be passed over for less desirable candidates who are already in Thailand.
Advice for Applying from Abroad
Start the application process before you come. Maybe 2 weeks beforehand. Make connections with employers. Schedule interviews. But intend to be here to go to interviews. Also, if you’re applying from abroad, you will be taken more SERIOUSLY, if you provide them with a copy of your flight itinerary.
Word of Mouth Jobs Teaching English in Thailand
Another reason to be here is that many jobs, especially the BEST jobs, never make it into the job market. Instead, an employer tells their employeesabout a vacancy. Those employees then turn around and tell their friends. This process taps deeply into human psychology and sociology. When you get ‘referred’ you automatically pass the ‘sniff-test’. Your friend’s referral ‘vouches’ for you, and employers figure, “If I like this guy, and he’s putting his name on the line, then I’m probably going to like the guy he referred.” This process is a lot faster and easier. Have I mentioned that they like to do things fast and easy here?!
Solution. Get out and get to know people. Personally, I don’t recommend going out and ‘targeting’ people, but get out there, develop relationships, and it will come naturally.
P.S. Word of mouth is not necessarily recommended for your first job. We recommend going with an agency. As you’re doing that job, you’ll develop relationships, which will lead to word of mouth opportunities. Also, people are not likely to share good word of mouth opportunities with people who just arrived. You gotta earn your stripes first!
Websites for Teaching English Jobs in Thailand
Super cool Facebook Group. Seriously f’ing cool. Especially for a newbie to Thailand!! You MUST join it! This particular one is for Bangkok (BKK), but you can find it for other locations. If you have any questions about Thailand, especially Bangkok, there will be someone there to answer it for you. The collective knowledge of this FB Group is unsurpassed. Guys like me had to work hard for 5+ years to get this knowledge and now you can access it, plus 1000’s of other people’s, by simply posting on the group.
Caveat. There are some know-it-alls, bitter expats, etc., and sometimes it turns into a pissing contest. Do your best to keep people focused on the topic, and they will.
This is my personal favorite for finding teaching jobs. They seem to have all the jobs the others have + some really interesting jobs not posted elsewhere. I also like that it’s a FREE SERVICE. This means they don’t try to push you to a particular employer who paid for advertising (e.g. Ajarn.com).
I used to love it, but now it’s a strictly for PROFIT site. This means they promote the companies who give them the most money, not because they believe in the company. Also, their blog is full of misinformation. It seems like their writers want to discourage people from teaching English in Thailand by making it sound difficult. That makes sense, because encouraging people to come means more competition for jobs. Lame! However, there are a lot of jobs on the website.
This is for jobs in general, but it has teaching jobs as well. It certainly has a greater variety and more interesting jobs than the 2 above.
Good old craigslist. It doesn’t have quite the same following in Thailand like it does in the US. That means 2 things. 1., not as many jobs get posted. 2., American employers do post on there because of their familiarity with it. 3., Because it doesn’t have quite the international following, there is the potential that there is less competition there.
A newer site. I’m not particularly sold on it. I don’t like how they don’t post the job listing date. Am I applying to a posting from 1 week ago, 1 month ago, 1 year ago, or what? That fact makes me a little sketchy. Also, it looks like they are simply re-posting ads from the other websites. If you have nobody to drink beer with, then check it out, because some of the ads did look interesting.
Cold-Calling | Walking-In
In Thailand, there is NOT a normal HR hiring process like I’m used to in the United States. The first acceptable candidate to walk through the door gets the job. I learned this after 2 weeks of job hunting. I saw a job posting online. It had JUST gone live. I admittedly sent my resume. I waited two hours. I called to follow-up to see if they received my resume. Job filled. And this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill job. This was a management position at an International University! To say I was confused is an understatement. As I’ve lived in Thailand, I’ve come to understand the rule of the “first acceptable candidate to walk through the door gets the job”. It’s not always the case, but I work under that assumption. When I assist people who are struggling to find work, I tell them this rule. Inevitably, they immediately get a job.
Cold-Calling. Now, I personally don’t cold call schools about jobs, but it does WORK! Dozens of people I’ve trained have taken my advice on persistence and initiative and gotten a dream job! It blows my mind when I see them get International School & University jobs when they JUST completed their TEFL training. However, THEY put themselves in the right place at the right time. INITIATIVE! And sometimes that’s all there is to it. Do you have the guts?!!
Unless you were given a direct line to the hiring staff, then you have no idea who is on the other line. Assume that what you’re doing is unexpected and that they won’t necessarily know how to process the request. Make sure the person who answers the phone gets you to the right person who would know about these things. You might say, “I’m calling to talk to the person who hires teachers.” Obviously, the more you know about that person (name???), the better.
Walking-In. Likewise, the staff won’t be used to this, so they might not know how to react. The point is, tread lightly and be polite, not pushy. However, be firm in what you’re trying to accomplish; get in touch with whoever is responsible for making hiring decisions. Perhaps, “I’m here to talk with the person responsible for hiring. Is that person available?” They’ll probably say “No.”, so be prepared to leave a phone number with a note (business card???) or a resume. Most people leave a resume. If I were to do a walk-in, I’d be inclined to leave a business card or my name, phone number, and a reason for them to contact me.
Hey, you might get lucky and walk-in the same day that someone quits. (That’s more common than you think.)
Teaching Career Progress in Thailand – A Plan for You!
Start With an Agency. Plan to start with an agency making 35,000 baht/month. If you’re able to do better, great! If not, no worries!
Second Semester. By this time, you’ve got a feel for Thailand and you’ve made connections. You should be gearing up to move on to a job in the 40,000-45,000 baht/month range, if not more. Plus, you should have developed tutoring gigs on the side to add another 5,000-15,000 baht/month.
Sitting Pretty. Honestly, most people never make it to #2 because they don’t have someone guiding them like this blog. So if you make it to #2, you’re sitting pretty!
Ambitious Sort. The next step would be a International School, Private School, Corporate gig or University. If this is your goal, and you follow this blog’s advice, you’ll get there. For sure. Because most people don’t even know that it’s a goal, never mind that they don’t know how to get there.
Your Dream Job Location
It helps if you have a general idea of WHERE you want to teach in Thailand. If you don’t, don’t worry. You should be able to find a job in the location you want. There’s plenty of availability of jobs all over, so you’ll get to go where you want to teach. 50% of people want to teach in the big cities (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya) and 50% want to teach in the smaller city. In the end, everyone gets to go to the place that’s right for them.