We have been getting a lot of questions about teaching in Thailand lately. So, we thought we would create a step-by-step guide of what we did and how to become a teacher in Thailand.
Why Were We Interested In Teaching in Thailand?
We walked into STA Travel one day to check out their different work abroad opportunities. I (Tammy) was in my last year at university and I wanted to travel before we both became stuck in the ever-familiar monotonous daily grind of “normal” life.
I was handed a pamphlet about teaching in Thailand, which I laughed at and tossed aside.
Cut to two weeks later… and I couldn’t get Thailand off my mind!
I began to look for the pamphlet which was now sitting in my junk pile. After I found it, I immediately researched the company’s name that was on the pamphlet, XploreAsia.
I watched some of their videos on their website, read through all of the information and I was sold.
So, let me answer some of your questions.
Who Do I Approach?
Find a reliable company that will help you with your journey to becoming a teacher. If you want, you can always visit a travel agency near you, many of them have “work abroad” opportunities and they WILL be reliable.
XploreAsia has a LOT of information on their website! They even have video’s, blogs and teacher stories.
We understand that it’s a very difficult thing to choose a company to go with because you are investing a lot of money and moving to a whole new country, you don’t want to be ripped off or left stranded!
So, you have us vouching for XploreAsia. Alternatively, if you know somebody who has gone before you, why not ask them who they went through.
Do I need To Go Through An Agency?
Not at all!
BUT it makes things a lot easier.
What we really appreciated about going through an agency was the comforts and introductions to the culture. They understood our apprehensions, where we might be scared or confused, what’s important to know and were always willing to answer the ‘silliest’ questions.
XploreAsia provides an orientation week when you arrive. You learn some of the language, visits markets, take public transport and get a general understanding of the culture. That was super helpful!
It was also really nice to spend a week (or month for the full TESOL course as we did) with a group of like-minded people. You make friends, go on adventures and end up making life-long connections around the planet!
Once your orientation week and/or TESOL course is complete, they help you get placed with a local Thai agency. The local agency then takes over. They find you a school, keep your documents in order and make sure your teaching in Thailand goes as smoothly as possible.
Alternatively, you can make your own arrangements with a school, connect with a local Thai agency by yourself or meet up with a friend who is already in Thailand and knows the ropes.
It is not forbidden, it’s just a little more daunting.
How Do I Apply?
We applied on XploreAsia’s website and was given a point of contact in South Africa (our home country) that would help us prepare all of the necessary documents we needed and who would take us through all of the steps.
From there on it was pretty simple, we just started receiving and sending a lot of emails.
TESOL / TEFL
If you didn’t already know you are going to need to complete a TESOL or TEFL course in order to teach abroad. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is exactly the same thing it just focuses more on grammar than conversation skills.
It is a course you can complete at home, online or, like us, in Thailand with XploreAsia. Let me just mention that in Thailand you don’t necessarily need a degree to teach, although it will benefit you.
Either TESOL or TEFL will supposedly allow you to teach in Thailand. Our Thai agency liked our TESOL but preferred a TEFL and thus put us through another course themselves. It was actually a lot of fun, living in Bangkok for a while and going to university… Anyway, the point is, we now have both!
Choose Your Teaching In Thailand Package
a) TESOL Course
As I said, you can do your TESOL Course with XploreAsia in Hua Hin or Chiang Mai.
It is a month-long course that starts off with one week of orientation, where they show you around, take you on some really cool adventures, teach you about Thai culture, history, politics, religion, and society and give you a few basic Thai language lessons.
The course itself practically teaches you how to teach children of different ages and how to control a class as well as what the best practices are for getting through to students who may not understand you.
You will even get to teach at an English Camp for two days so that you can test out the waters.
Although the course is long, it is a lot more immersive than merely doing it online. If you can take this option, we highly recommend it.
b) Placement Option
Then the other option is for those who already have TESOL or TEFL certification. You can just choose the placement option. You can still participate in the orientation week, but while everyone else goes off to do the course, you will be immediately placed with a school.
Preparing To Leave
XploreAsia will begin to ask you for a bunch of different things as it gets nearer to your departure date. This is so that they can start looking for positions for you.
You will need to create a CV, provide a professional headshot of yourself and create a video where you introduce yourself to the school. Don’t worry, they will explain all of that to you.
Visas And Documentation
Your visa is one of the first things that gets underway. It’s not really an issue because your local point of contact in your home country will have everything you need to fill out, explain all the costs to you and have the visa couriered to you once it’s ready.
Most countries (including South Africa) are eligible for Visas on Arrival, however those cannot be extended and are much harder to change over to a work permit (or whichever visa your agency deems necessary for you). So make sure you get whichever visa you are advised to get.
If you have a degree and are from South Africa, get it authenticated quite a few weeks before you leave because they only tell you to do that when it’s almost too late to get it. At least that’s what happened to us.
It has to be authenticated by the Dept of Higher Education, by DIRCO – Dept of International Relations and Cooperation and the Thai Embassy in SA. There are companies who will do that for you at a cost.
There will be a lot of communication going on and it’s important to keep track of everything you need to do. They will send you a booklet regarding all of the information you will need like where you will stay, who will pick you up from the airport and so on. You will also be asked to join a Facebook group with all the new teachers joining you on your course.
Your point of contact back home will not only assist with your visa, but also help you book your flights.
The general procedure would be a flight to Bangkok, you’d be fetched and taken to a hotel for a night or two. From there a van would take you straight to Hua Hin for your course. I’d imagine something similar happening for the Chiang Mai course, except you’d probably fly straight into Chiang Mai instead of Bangkok.
Be aware that the months of April and October are school holidays in Thailand.
This means if you do the course in February, you might only be placed in a school by May. This is something we didn’t know until we got there.
Yip it happened to us. This meant that we were stuck in another country with limited funds to survive a good four months without a salary… So, make sure you bring extra money to assist in those first few months, just in case something does happen!
For more information – Check out the XploreAsia Website!
Do I Need A Degree To Teach In Thailand?
As I said, you don’t NEED a degree and will be perfectly eligible to teach in Thailand without one.
If you have a degree, you get the opportunity to teach an MEP (Mini English Program) class if you so desire. This means that you teach one class all of their subjects, rather than just teach English to a lot of classes. The other subjects you will likely teach are maths, science, health, scouting, English club and of course English conversation and English grammar.
These choices have their own pros and cons, but we can say with certainty that you get paid a little more.
Read all about your options when teaching in Thailand in our blog linked below:
Having a degree may also help you find more lucrative teaching positions later on if you decide to stay and perhaps veer away from your agency. A degree in education or literature will be highly regarded if you’re planning on teaching at an International School in Thailand – and that is a WHOLE lot more cash.
A Vlog Series Of Arriving And Teaching In Thailand
For the first few days of arriving in Thailand, we decided to make a vlog series. We felt like there weren’t enough videos showing what it’s really like teaching in Thailand. And where there are, they’re not about what it feels like to arrive initially!
We watched so many videos of people having the time of their lives, but never saw the apprehension they felt when they arrived or how they even ended up teaching at the school.
So hopefully this gives you a little insight into the reality of going to teach in Thailand!
And One More Video Just For Fun
I Need More Advice About Teaching In Thailand
Then look no further: Your Options When Teaching In Thailand.
If you’re there already and need to Send money from Thailand to South Africa, then check this out (which was a whole lot of research, but really paid off!)
If you’re looking for encouragement; we can simply say it was a life-changing experience that we are grateful we took each day. Actually, we recounted our experience right here:
Tips For Travelling In Thailand
What we will say is that we booked everything through 12Go Asia. They were the best! Especially since most things are written in Thai! It made our lives a whole lot easier.
Are you worried about teaching abroad? Do you have any questions about teaching in Thailand? Ask us below and we will help you out!
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