Da Low-down on English Teaching Life in Thailand

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.