Teaching English in Thailand: 6 tips before you leave home
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Teaching English in Thailand is a lot easier than you might think it is, but it’s still a big commitment that should be approached with proper planning. Mistakes will be made along the way, but diligent research and some help from us here at TEFL Campus will help minimize those mistakes. If you’re giving serious thought to teaching English in Thailand, or enrolling in a TEFL certification course, here are six great tips before taking the plunge:
1. It’s best to find a job teaching English in Thailand once you’re here
Put yourself if an employer’s shoes: I can hire someone who looks good on paper but whose skills remain to be seen, or I can hire someone who’s qualified and is ready to prove their skills in a demonstration lesson right now.
As much as no one wants to take the risk of moving to Thailand without a TEFL job, employers don’t want to risk committing to a teacher they’ve never met. Don’t waste your time applying for jobs, as most employers won’t reply to you. Instead, spend your time researching other things that will ensure you’ll find a job once you’re in Thailand. Any good TEFL course will be able to help you secure a job anyways.
2. Get a local phone number
Communicating via email isn’t going to suffice. Many schools don’t have Westerners handling applications and the vast majority of Thais are either too embarrassed about their English-language writing skills, or they just don’t have time to write emails. Employers want to pick up the phone; schedule an interview and get that done as quickly as possible.
3. Expect the unexpected
From unintelligible directions to incomprehensible English, be prepared for anything. If your interviewer is Thai, don’t expect tough questions but do expect last-minute requests for demonstration lessons, and to be told you’re starting the next day. Administrative forethought is nonexistent here and when schools need teachers, they need them now.
4. Bring documents for teaching English in Thailand
This tip is all over the internet, yet applicants arrive every day without required documentation. If you have a degree, bring the original and sealed transcripts—there are no substitutions. Finally, obtain copies of your criminal background check; schools here will almost always ask for one.
5. Become a legal motorbike driver
Following on from our first tip, you’ll need to travel around Phuket in order to visit schools. Unless you can afford daily taxis, you’re ready to walk in Phuket’s heat and rain, or you can put down at least US$ 1,500 on a car, you need to rent or buy a motorbike. You’ll also need travel insurance and unless your international driver’s license has a motorbike endorsement—most insurance providers won’t cover accidents. And remember: once you get your visa and work permit, you’ll need to get a Thai driver’s license.
6. Hold off on long-term accommodation
One thing we tell trainees who want to teach English in Phuket is that they shouldn’t commit to accommodation until they have a job and know where they’re working. This saves time and money, and it lessens your chances of a road accident. Also, the best places aren’t advertised. You can use a reputable rental agent Teachers will usually know someone who’s renting a nice house at an affordable price. Rent an apartment for a month or two and then commit to a one-year lease.
Oh, and one final tip: it’s pronounced, ‘Poo-ket’, not ‘Foo-ket’. Don’t phorget it!