Paul has spent many years teaching English as a foreign and second language. He has taught EFL in Taiwan and Thailand, and ESL in the U.S.
EFL Students in a Sixth Grade School Classroom
EFL Teaching Jobs in Thailand
Getting EFL teaching jobs in Thailand is easier than you think. With the explosion of English Programs as language immersions in an increasing number of schools across the country, there are jobs for just about any western or non-western English speaking foreigner who wants to teach. This article first discusses the EFL teaching environment in Thailand, and then it has six tips for securing a teaching position.
Popularity of English in Thailand
English has increasingly become more important as a language worth learning and as a means of instruction in Thailand classrooms since 2005. Not only are professional people and college students studying this language, but also you can find English taught starting from kindergarten in all schools across Thailand. Businessmen, engineers, and other professional career people take IELTS and GRE courses at many private language schools in preparation for going abroad. All colleges also teach many course disciplines in English.
In addition to this, students in kindergarten are exposed to English for the first time by foreign teachers. By first grade, many students are also receiving instruction in all core subjects such as math, science, and health education in English from western English speaking teachers in the recently established English Programs at schools.
EFL Teaching Environment in Thailand
Western foreigners coming over to Thailand can expect to find employment in one of the five types of schools: private internationally accredited grade and high schools; Thai - international private non-accredited grade and high schools; Thai government non-accredited grade and high schools; private language schools; and private colleges and universities.
1. Private Internationally Accredited Grade and High Schools
Positions at private internationally accredited grade and high schools are most desired by foreign teachers. Teaching positions in such schools as the International School Bangkok (ISB), American School of Bangkok, and Bangkok Pattana School pay an average monthly salary of 4,000 U.S. dollars (120,000 Thai baht) along with generous housing allowances and other benefits. To be qualified for work in these schools, a teacher must have at least a Bachelors's Degree in Education, a teacher's certification from a western country, and prior teaching experience. Students attending these internationally accredited schools include the children of foreign diplomats and businessmen. Thai nationals who can pass the schools' entrance exams and afford the high tuition can also attend. The primary language of instruction and for school affairs is English.
2. Thai - International Private Non-accredited Grade and High Schools
A step down from the internationally accredited schools are the Thai - international private non-accredited grade and high schools. Some of these schools are run by Christian churches and they include such institutions as Assumption Convent and Sarasas Ektra. Unlike internationally accredited schools, the primary language of instruction for students and school affairs is in Thai. Schools do have English Programs beginning with grade one in which students receive English instruction from foreign teachers in English, math, science, and health education. Students in higher grades also receive English instruction in social studies. Western foreign teachers employed at these schools receive average monthly salaries in the range of $1,500-$2,500 (45,000-77,000 Thai baht) with paid holidays and other benefits. To be qualified for work in these schools, a western foreign teacher must have at least a Bachelors Degree in any field with preference for a degree in Education. If qualified applicants pass a teaching demo, they are usually hired on a three-month probationary period. The majority of the students enrolled in these schools are Thai nationals who can pass the entrance tests and afford to pay the tuition. A few students of mixed nationality also attend.
3. Thai Government Non-Accredited Grade and High Schools
Thai government non-accredited grade and high schools are public institutions that all students may attend. Although the primary language of instruction is in Thai, students also can take English classes beginning in the elementary grades. An increasing number of government schools have also set up English Programs in recent years. Many schools, however, still hire western foreign teachers only to teach English conversation classes. The facilities of these schools are often inferior to those of private schools. Class sizes in the range of 50-60 are very often much higher than those in private schools. To work in the government school, western teachers should have a degree; however, many get a teaching position with only a Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. Pay at these schools varies in the range of $1,000-$1,500 (30,000-45,000 Thai baht) per month with paid holidays and some benefits.
4. Private Language Schools
If one doesn't like teaching young people, there are numerous private language schools in Thailand. These schools usually offer advanced English instruction to adults who are interested in traveling, studying, or working abroad. Many of the schools will advertise small group special IELTS or GRE test preparation classes, and also have individual tutorials set up according to the needs of students. To work in these schools, a teacher should theoretically have a degree; however, many western teachers who put on a good teaching demo are hired with only a high school diploma. Teachers usually work part-time at these schools in the evenings and on weekends. The pay is usually $10-$15 (300-450 Thai baht) per hour. Many young back-packers pick up extra coin by working at private language schools.
5. Private Colleges and Universities
Finally, there are a few western teachers who find positions as English teachers at Thai colleges and universities. Western teachers are expected to have a college degree; however, degrees in education aren't necessary or desired as they are in internationally accredited schools and Thai - international private schools. Pay at these colleges and universities is lower than what teachers receive at government and private schools. It usually averages no more than $1,000 (30,000 Thai baht) per month.
Teaching ESL in Thailand
Tips for Getting an EFL or ESL Teaching Job
Based on my personal experiences, there are six ways of securing an EFL or ESL teaching job in Thailand. Each one will be explained along with its advantages and disadvantages. They are as follows:
1. Getting a Teaching Position After Obtaining a TEFL or TESOL Certificate
This seems to be the most popular method for westerners who have never taught English before and are coming to Thailand for the first time. TEFL and TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificates are awarded after a candidate western teacher completes usually a four-week 160-hour course in how to teach English as a foreign language. These classes are taught both inside and outside of Thailand.
The advantages of taking these classes are one, they give you the basic mechanics of how to teach foreign learners; and two, if you teach a TEFL course in Thailand, the business operating the TEFL class will many times help you find your first teaching job here. The disadvantages are: one, the classes are expensive; and two, they aren't necessary to get a teaching position in many schools.
2. Hire an Agent to Assist You in Getting a Job While Inside or Outside of Thailand
Working through an agent seems to be the second most popular way for newcomers to Thailand to get a teaching job. The agents who operate in large agencies or who freelance are essentially middle-men and middle-women who find fits for western foreigners in both government and private schools.
The advantages of hiring an agent are: one, through their network of contacts, they can chauffeur you around and find that job you want very quickly; and two, they save the applicant the time and trouble of searching for a job for the first time in a strange country. The disadvantages are: one, agents often make you sign a one year contract and take a very high commission for their services. For many new teachers, a school will pay the agent 47,000 Thai baht each month for the teacher's services. Because the teacher now works for the agent and not the school, some agents will keep 17,000 of the 47,000 baht, and give the teacher only 30,000 Thai baht; two, when a teacher works for an agent, the agent will not pay the teacher for vacation time between semesters or school years; and three, many agents are dishonest in their dealings with teachers, especially the ones they recruit from outside of Thailand.
3. Getting a Position Through Popular Teacher Forum Websites in Thailand
Many new westerners and other foreigners in Thailand find jobs through the assistance of the popular teacher forum website called www.ajarn.com and the Teachers in Thailand group on Facebook. These popular websites are open for a free membership to all. Most of the members of these websites are EFL and ESL teachers presently living and working in Thailand, and those westerners and other foreigners who have previously taught in Thailand.
By being a member of Ajarn and Teachers in Thailand, one has the following advantages: one, you can post a resume on the website; two, you have access to jobs listings which you can read and apply for teaching positions in Thailand advertised by schools and agencies; and three, you can read about the lives of western foreign teachers in Thailand. The disadvantages are that some forum members post negative and distasteful threads.
4. Prepare a Resume And Apply For a Teaching Job By Yourself
This method of applying for a job is more popular among the people who have been living in Thailand for a while. After preparing a resume and supporting documents such as degrees, transcripts, and criminal background checks, an applicant will first identify schools having the potential to hire, and then visit them requesting a job. The best time to do this is during the second half of April and the first part of May before the new Thai school year begins during the second half of May. The advantages of this method are: one, the job applicant is not tied up with an agent in a one year contract; and two, the foreigner will make more money. The disadvantages are one, it is very time consuming; and two, it is difficult for a person new to Thailand who can't speak or read the Thai language.
5. Use Your Networking Skills
This is getting a job by being introduced to one by relatives, neighbors, friends, or friends of friends. The advantages of this method are one, it saves you time in searching for a job; and two, it will give you an advantage when applying in competition with other applicants. The only disadvantage might be that you will be indebted to the person who helped you get the job.
6. Attend Job Fairs
Every January internationally accredited schools in Southeast Asia will hold job fairs in Bangkok. Interested applicants should attend these to get leads for positions in international schools not only in Thailand, but also for schools in neighboring countries like Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
The teaching of English as a foreign language will continue to become increasingly important as Thailand completes its transformation into a completely developed ASEAN member country. In the future, there will be numerous English language teaching positions for western foreigners. These jobs should be easy to find for the informed, daring westerner who isn't afraid to roll the dice.
Getting a Teaching Job in Thailand
Getting an EFL Teaching Job in Thailand
Hubs Related to Teaching English in Thailand
- Who Are the Foreign English Language Teachers in Thailand?
The foreign English language teachers in Thailand are a blend of young and old male and female mostly from western countries. This hub examines the foreign English language teachers in Thailand.
- Surviving as a New Foreign English Teacher in Thailand
English teaching in Thailand is much different from that of western countries. Based on my seven years of teaching in Bangkok, learn how to survive as a new foreign English teacher in Thailand.
- Teaching English in Thailand Schools: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Teaching EFL in Thailand is a lot different from my previous experiences of teaching EFL and ESL in Taiwan and the United States. Read about the good, the bad, and the ugly of teaching in Thailand.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 20, 2016:
&JasmenVilando , Thank you very much for reading and your comments. I'm happy you liked this hub and thank you for the website reference.
Jasmen Vilando from Yokohama on January 19, 2016:
I enjoyed reading this hub very much. It seems teaching English in Thailand is very different from teaching English in my country (Philippines). In the Philippines, most ESL students are from other countries and come to places like Cebu to learn English from local teachers. By the way, a good website for ESL/EFL materials is www.eslresourcebank.com
Thank you for this hub and have a great day!
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 08, 2013:
Thank you for the very interesting comments. I'm happy to hear you are doing well financially at your language school. This is my sixth year at a private school and I am now up to 65,000 per month, but I had to fight for all of that money as well as my job. For the past two years, the school has been trying to dismiss me due to my age. I am over 65. When I tell the school I am due severance pay based on Thai labor law, they always change their tune.
stu on August 08, 2013:
I would agree, I am working in Thailand at the moment (4 years). Most English classes are now being taught / taken over by Filipino people as it seems that the schools here want to cut back on wages = more profit (bad idea in my view) Also the average wage for an English teacher from experience now is about 35-38,000Baht. This would be with ESL qualifications, experience and a Uni degree at a bilingual school. With no experience 25,30,000B. The average p/m seems to have gone down since I arrived in 2009. Now I am working at a language school. I work a fair few hours but thankfully my wage is pretty good - 65,000 a month average. Really happy, easy, stress free life (well relatively).
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 25, 2013:
Thank you for your very candid comments. Perhaps I am somewhat of a dreamer, but if you were here teaching ESL, you would have to be optimistic, too, to get through the day. I don't dispute your comments about ESL/EFL education in Thailand. One of the problems is that the Ministry of Education has a policy where no student can really fail in their school courses even though the passing score is only 50. Yes, a lot of Filipina teachers are being employed, but they don't tend to teach that much EP English classes where the parents are paying more money for their kids' education. Yes, throughout Thailand the average salary is 22,000 baht, but in the private school where I teach parents pay about 20,000 baht per month to send their kids to EP (bilingual programs.)
Paul on May 25, 2013:
You are such a dreamer :-) Your salary scales are way off base, Thailand Education ESL is falling every day, the students are not interested, that's why they have fallen from 9th in the Asean group to 10th. The average mark in Eng tests last year was between 15 to 20%. The averagse salary according to Thailand Bank surveys is 22 000 bht. The trend is not to employ native English speakers anymore but to rather employ Filipino English teachers, but you're on the ball so you knew all the above.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 18, 2012:
Thanks for the favorable comments, Bill. If you want to know more let me know.
Bill Russo from Cape Cod on April 18, 2012:
Excellent article, packed with useful information. Paul, I had no idea of the scope of this program.
I have never visited that area of the world but was honored in the 1990s to work in the States with a number of people from Cambodia and Laos. They were fabulous workers and were liked and respected by all.
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 17, 2012:
Thanks for the favorable comment. Yes, the experience of working abroad is extremely valuable!
Leah Lefler from Western New York on April 17, 2012:
What a great article about teaching English as a foreign language overseas - Thailand sounds like a great country. I really want to visit sometime! We worked overseas for a year (in biotech, and in Ireland) and the foreign income tax exclusion act really boosted our earnings for the year. The experience of working abroad is extremely worthwhile!