Teach English In Thailand 12 Tips

Twelve Tips About Teaching English In Thailand

For anyone wanting to teach English in Thailand, here are seven useful tips about Teaching English in Thailand. There have been some significant changes in how the Education Department is certifying English teachers. A client asked my advice on the changes, I forwarded her email to the headmistress of an international school in Bangkok and asked her advice on how to get started teaching English in Thailand. With the permission of both of them, here’s her reply:

Dear Beth,

I heard you were looking to teach in Thailand, however, the restrictions have tightened in the Thailand TEFL industry. Teaching English in Thailand just isn’t what it used to be a decade ago. While the demand for teachers has increased, the Teachers’ Council of Thailand has tightened up stipulations to license foreign teachers, and there are many rumors of further restrictions on who exactly can officially work as a foreign teacher here.

I have noticed that there’s a great deal of uncertainty in Thailand in the post-coup environment as careless law-enforcement has become top priority for the Junta government. Visa restrictions are being tightened up, ED Visas are coming under scrutiny and teachers without licenses or waivers don’t believe they will have a job for much longer. However, getting qualified with a proper teaching diploma looks like the obvious way to ensure a long-term English teacher position in Thailand.

Recently there have been new stipulations put into place. Due to some issues with the previous government, some important changes were to be expected. The Ministry of Education may still go ahead later in 2014. In this Bangkok Post article (Sept 2013), the then education minister Chaturon Chaisaeng made it clear that they expect those with intention to teach full time in Thailand need to get properly qualified. He also conceded that some leniency would be needed due to the need to retain ESL teachers.

I read in a more recent article (the Nation – January 2014), that it was announced that approval had been made to propagate stricter minimum requirements for teachers in Thailand. This suggests that everyone would now need a teaching diploma or education degree as a minimum. Full details were revealed on the MoE’s website as minutes of the meeting. From the rumors I’ve heard, they will expect an education degree or masters which is far-fetched and simply unrealistic.

In short, they are intending to move towards licensing only those with a minimum one-year post graduate teaching diploma (in the absence of a degree in education). Obviously you’d need to have a general degree to achieve the diploma but, it is unlikely that such a move can be practically implemented immediately. I believe that without a grace period of at least a year, many schools would lose their ESL teachers. And we both know this would cause a crisis in the industry.

Presently, teachers are given a two-year grace, typically to ‘gain experience’ but mostly to accommodate the many foreigners working as TEFL tutors. Another two years is granted on case-by-case basis if you’ve got a good track record. Most likely they will reduce this to only a single two-year temporary license waiver. This would give ample time for teachers, like you, to get the diploma.

You may be wondering by now; “Why they are doing this?” From what I have heard, one reason is ‘office politics’. All Thai teachers are expected to be properly qualified and should have a completed degree and sat diploma exams with internships. Ex-minister Chaturon recently said that there’s an oversupply of Thai teachers, with more than 60,000 graduating each year, allowing only 20,000 openings. The main reason for this being their jobs are being potentially taken by foreigners.

The most a teacher can expect to earn in a standard school is usually 15,000 baht or about $469. However, if a young, inexperienced, foreigner with a degree irrelevant to teaching and with no training shows up, they are expecting to get no less than 30,000 baht ($938.00). This makes it difficult since the schools do need foreign teachers. And to me, it’s a logical solution to demand that everyone gets a certificate in teaching. This will get rid of some of the displeasure felt among local teachers. If you’re serious about making a career out of teaching in Thailand you should consider spending a year studying part-time towards this post-grad qualification.

From the TCT site, the qualifications are summarized as follows: to get a permanent teacher’s license you must

  • be over 21 years of age
  • have completed any degree
  • have completed one year of teaching experience
  • have a certificate/diploma in teaching from a recognized institution as an alternative to an education degree
  • have completed an ethics and culture course.

However, since this is all new, to accommodate a huge demand for TEFL teachers and trainee teachers, a temporary license is issued if you fulfill the first two requirements. Luckily, this lasts for two years. As I previously mentioned, it typically can be extended for two more years, if you have a consistent record at a particular school.

Being Thailand, there is usually inconsistent information given out, arbitrary implementation of the restrictions, and anecdotal evidence of people being granted leniency. This makes it difficult for anyone to give an absolute guideline. But the message is clear; the Ministry would like all teachers to meet a minimum professional standard according to tertiary level institutions.

To be fully licensed as a teacher in Thailand you clearly need either a degree in education or post-grad teaching diploma. This is the challenge faced by any TEFL teacher who has been in Thailand for four years already. Many are now looking for options to satisfy this. There is, however, an alternative offered: the Professional Knowledge test.

This is a set of five tests which are periodically offered by the TCT, with suggested study material. It is a substitute for a diploma and can, theoretically, be completed in a matter of months. But in truth those who have taken it mostly find it frustrating, incoherent at times, and difficult to pass on the first attempt. Some pass a couple of the tests to satisfy authorities towards an extension. It is not really that useful outside of Thailand however. For the effort involved, it is probably wiser to study for a diploma from one of the institutions abroad offering a distance learning program. If you do pass the PK test you have the right to feel proud – it’s quite a bother. However, it is cheaper than studying for a diploma.

If you’re curious about TEFL, I could explain the standard 120-hour certificate commonly offered in Thailand. It carries no weight. However, recruiters do like to see that you’ve taken the trouble to learn TEFL teaching methods and will usually favor those with a recognized TEFL certificate. This is important especially if you are an inexperienced teacher. At the very least you should enter the profession with this training. The shorter online courses are not recommended since they lack the teaching practicum component.

I know you will do the right thing and do what is best for you, but I wanted to make sure this information was properly given to you. Please feel free to write back if you have any questions about this. Good luck with your endeavors and I look forward to helping you along the way!

Your Friend,


Beth replied to this, asking about professional TEFL training in Thailand. Edwina’s response can be found here.

And here’s what a Thai teacher’s day looks like:

Here’s more reading if you want to teach English in Thailand

  • What Skills Will You Need to Be Able to Teach English in Thailand … – As a former English teacher in Thailand, before I even contemplated moving here to teach English, I researched the country’s education system thoroughly so I had an idea of which skills I would need to have to be able to not …
  • Teach English in Thailand | JimmyESL – An article about teaching english in Thailand. Finding a job in Thailand, the best time find a job and the cost of living in Thailand. Remarks By
  • President Obama to the Australian Parliament … – In Thailand, where we’re partnering for disaster relief. In the Philippines, where … History teaches us the greatest force the world has ever known for creating wealth and opportunity is free markets. So we seek economies that …
  • Why I Gave Up Flipped Instruction – … stone to a fully realized inquiry/PBL classroom. And the flip’s gradual disappearance from our learning space hasn’t been a conscious decision: it’s simply a casualty of our progression from a teacher-centred classroom to a student-centred one. …. She has taught high school English, science and technology, and currently works as a National Faculty member and PBL consultant for the Buck Institute for Education (BIE). Her passion is social justice and helping her …
  • [email protected]: Newton Piper, Customer Service Specialist … – When Newton Piper started out as a teacher in Thailand, he decided he would demonstrate students how plants absorb water by transforming himself into a human root system. So he went out and bought his own supplies—all … Kent spin” to get into a different teaching mindset. The experience required learning to employ a variety of instructional techniques and taught him a lot about how a child’s English ability can act as a fundamental barrier to his or her learning.

Now you know how to pick a course?

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