Is Teaching English in Thailand a Viable Option?
May 16, 2010 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) 2446 Views
It seems like a great idea - coming to Thailand and teaching English to Thais that desperately need help. English is a difficult language to learn, but it's radically different from Thai language and so is a rather difficult undertaking. Couple that with the Thai culture where embarrassing one's self in public is avoided at all costs and it becomes even more difficult. Just so you know - it's not all roses!
That said, there are many positives to teaching English in Thailand. There are many kids and adults that want to learn and need to learn to gain acceptance to a good university or land a good job after graduation.
Here are some tips that will help you prepare to teach English in Thailand:
1. Start learning Thai now. Learning the Thai language is not required in order for you to reach English, but, you'll feel a lot more comfortable knowing how to ask for simple things like salt, sugar, water, fruit, and the restroom. Pimsleur has an audio Thai program that is pretty good. Rosetta Stone has an interactive computer program to help you learn it that is also pretty good for the basics.
2. Attend one of the TOEFL courses (teaching English as a foreign language) because it will help you have an idea what is involved in teaching. You won't really have a good idea how to go about teaching until you teach for a year or so. The hands-on and doing is where you'll learn everything you need to know.
3. Save as much money before you go to Thailand as possible. I recommend you have $5,000 or more saved and available to you instantly through PayPal or some other means. You probably won't spend all that cash, but you may need it for some emergency.
4. Come to Thailand in January or February and start touring around to find an area you like first. From there, settle down and look for a teaching job that may open up in May-June. You can sign your contract in March-April time-frame usually at most schools.
5. Bring a friend so you'll be more likely to stay longer. It takes about a year to get used to Thailand and all the changes you'll experience. A friend will help you buffer that and you'll both learn a lot. It won't seem so bad with a friend, and will probably seem very good.
Some people come to Thailand to teach English and leave within the first school term. Others stay for many years because they are having so much fun. Which you are will depend on your expectations mostly. Expect to have a lot of fun teaching English, and expect to encounter some difficulties too. That's the best outlook to have really.
Read up on how to become an English teacher in Thailand before you go and prepare yourself mentally for the vast differences in Thai society than in your home country. Have an open mind and look at it all as an experience that will make you a better person. It certainly will!