[This post is a continuation of Teaching English in Thailand]. There are special requirements for TEFL teaching in Thailand, but professional TEFL Teaching in Thailand can be much more lucrative than casual classroom teaching. Most professional TEFL instructors teach teachers in Thailand have advanced degrees in the subject. This is a quick survey of the possibilities if you’re thinking of becoming a professional TEFL teacher and moving to Thailand.
Most countries have a standard requirement for authorizing teachers, both in the public and private sphere. Typically they require you to take a post-graduate diploma in teaching, which includes internship. It really varies from one country to the next; some are called certificates, others licenses. In the United Kingdom you are expected to first pass the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), then spend a year or two as a trainee teacher before you are fully qualified with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
In Ireland, Australia and New Zealand they each have a similar standard referred to in each as the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). In the United States it is administered on a state level, with most local education departments expecting prospective teachers to sit exams which are presently administered by the Education Testing Service (ETS) or Pearson’s Education. Courses exist to guide you through this.
In Thailand the TCT maintains a worldwide database of authorized institutions to award degrees and diplomas. A teaching certificate from one of these will satisfy the teacher license application. The database is published online but it is not up-to-date so it’s necessary to enquire directly with the TCT (Khurusapa). In recent years a number of local universities or colleges have begun offering diplomas or education degrees. Unfortunately, several have been withdrawn after it was discovered that Isarn University was apparently selling certificates.
PGCE is the international version of the UK, offered by distance learning at several British universities and is the most likely choice for those wishing to do things properly, and not restrained by budget. However, its relationship to the full PGCE is quite vague and those universities offering it are clear that it’s specifically for teaching abroad and offer no guarantee that credits can be converted to the official PGCE.
Presently, there are four approved programs that I’m aware of that can be studied by correspondence, with exams sat in Thailand; this is not a definitive list but based on widely confirmed online forum feedback.
Nottingham University TEFL
They offer a popular PGCEi program in many centers around the world including Bangkok (with an orientation in Oct 2014); application deadline however has past (20 August). You need a second class degree minimum to apply. 60 credits towards an MA Education at the same university are awarded. Hitherto this seems to have been the only route in Thailand to study towards a recognized diploma where exams can be taking locally, and their recent intake included two dozen or more.
Full price: £3,170 (165,000thb) may not include local exam fees.
Keele University TEFL
Their PGCEi is far more thorough and expensive with variable fees according to your prior teaching experience. It’s now run from their Southeast Asian center in Malaysia with enrolment for the forthcoming year now closed (course started 11th August). You will need a good second class degree to apply. For future courses you will need to make three trips to KL for lecture sessions. This is more suitable for those serious about a career in international schools.
Full Price: £4,500/208,000thb for teachers 2 year experience in teaching, otherwise £6,000), may not include local exam fees.
Philippine Women’s University TEFL
This is not a PGCEi (which is a diploma specific to the United Kingdom), but a Certificate in Teaching Practice, licensed by CHED, which oversees all tertiary level education in the Philippines. It is the standard qualification for becoming a teacher in that country and I understand many Filipinos now work abroad in international schools with a similar certificate on top of Masters degrees in other subjects. It’s been offered in Thailand for a year now with UniTEFL in Chiang Mai appointed as the enrolment and examination representatives. However, it appears to only be available for Filipinos at this stage. Credits count towards their MA education. You need to have completed a degree to apply. Enrolment for August Trimester has passed, next enrolment is January.
Full Price: $3,790/121,000thb, all inclusive, payable in three trimesters.
New Era University TEFL
A similar course offered by PWU, known as the Certificate in Professional Teaching, which is open to all nationalities, and has just been launched, so has no track record. Also located in the Philippines, this university is well established and has a large distance learning program apparently. The course grants credits to their MA in education online. It’s significantly cheaper than the others and once proven to be of good standing is likely to be popular with Thailand teachers on a budget. It’s also administered in Thailand by UniTEFL, with exams sat in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. You need to have completed a degree to apply. Enrolment deadline for forthcoming semester is October 17th.
Full price: $3,360/108,000thb ($300 less for Filipinos), all inclusive. This will be slightly more if paying by semester.
All four programs are offered by universities listed in the OCSC database of recognized institutions according to the TCT for approved qualifications. I have met people who have graduated from each of these programs except the New Era one, claiming to have gained their teaching license once qualified. A representative at UniTEFL assured me that someone from CHED had met with the TCT to validate the two Philippines programs they are involved with, and a photograph on their website seems to support this. As a side note, The Philippines was ranked 42nd in the world for tertiary level education standards in the recent Times Supplement on Higher Learning. Thailand was 82nd and Malaysia 17th.
The PGCEi is specifically designed for teachers wanting to work at the highest level in countries where private schools seem to have one foot in each of two education departments. However, the various international schools, of which there are dozens and dozens in Thailand alone, have quite variable standards for recruiting teachers.
A top notch British Institution such as Shrewsbury almost certainly prefers British teachers with the QVT and an impressive CV of experience. Missionary Christian schools in Chiang Mai, such as Grace International, only accept teachers sponsored by churches in the US. Then there are private schools owned by a Thai family running GCSE O/A levels who will hire anyone suitable. And there are many of these, presenting good opportunities for experienced TEFL teachers who have attained a PGCEi or similar. Since their classroom is multi-cultural, they tend to hire a mix of nationalities to teach, so that a credible teaching diploma involving a rigorous one-year course of study is considered on a case-by-case basis.
In discussion with one headmistress from a new international school in Chiang Mai, off the record she said that a recognized teaching diploma from various countries would be considered alongside other strengths on their CV, but that all teachers hired should have the teaching certificate.
The EP is where the greatest opportunities lie for the standard TEFL teacher wanting to advance up the career ladder. This is a good reason why you should get certified as professional teacher. The rise of the English Program (EP) is phenomenal in Thailand, where more and more demand is emerging from the growing Middle Class.
These are private (and some public) Thai schools under the MoE supervision that are teaching the curriculum in English, using foreigners. You will be a homeroom teacher teaching various subjects, not just English, therefore its imperative you are correctly trained and certified as a proper teacher. The salaries are, on the whole, 30 per cent more and many TEFL teachers are now applying for these positions.
If you have been an ESL teacher in Thailand for several years, and will need to invest time and money in getting a diploma in teaching to maintain your license, this is the way to go – stepping up to EP and eventually International School jobs.
In case you’re interested in teaching English in Thailand, here’s some food for thought: a VERY experienced teacher discussing TEFL courses:
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