If you’ve developed a love for English teaching and are considering relocating and revamping your lifestyle but don’t want to trade off on South Africa’s sunshine, we have the answer: Teach English in Thailand! As one of the world’s most treasured tourist hubs, Thailand has much to offer TESOL teachers itching to gain experience teaching abroad. Ponder on the following points to help you decide if teaching English abroad in Thailand is right for you.
Why Teach in Thailand?
Thailand’s beckoning beaches, subtropical climate, welcoming citizens, and awaiting adventures on days off are enough to tempt even the timidest of teachers. You can live a comfortable life, immerse yourself in Thai culture, save money, and have a lasting influence on your students. Who knows where their EFL acquisition will take them, and where your Thailand teaching experience will take you?
However, the primary reason to consider teaching in Thailand is that your English teaching skills are needed! Used as a foreign language, English in Thailand is seen as essential for the country’s economy which is dependent on exports, tourism, and business. To be competitive in the global economy, Thai citizens value English proficiency. Therefore, there is always a demand for EFL teachers and an abundance of eager learners.
Which is best: Public, Private, or Language schools?
The answer to this question is usually quite subjective. Here’s a list of pros and cons to aid in your decision-making.
- Public schools: The pros of teaching at Thai government schools include job stability, consistent curriculum, and a rewarding experience as a respected teacher. Cons: Expect a lower salary, large class sizes, and strict rules regarding dress codes (think formal business attire) and proper conduct.
- Private schools: While these schools may be more relaxed with more curriculum flexibility, have smaller class sizes, better resources, and pay higher salaries, the workload is increased.
- Language academies: In these schools, classes are usually held before a regular school day, in the afternoons, evenings, and on weekends. While the schedule may seem less desirable, the pros include smaller class sizes and freedom with your lesson plans.
Whichever option you aim for, you’ll find your English teaching career fulfilling as you see your students’ progress. The choice is yours!
Average Salary as an ESL/EFL Teacher in Thailand
Like most countries, your salary will be based on your experience, qualifications, and where in Thailand your school is located. Salaries In Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, are higher, ranging from 30 000 Thai baht to 120 000+ THB (+- 800-3800 USD). Conversely, teaching salaries on the islands range from 20 000 – 60 000 THB (+- 600-2000 USD).
Cost of Living in Thailand
One of the main reasons South Africans trickle to Thailand is that this is one country where the ZAR is stronger. From food to housing, Thailand is affordable! Yet, you’ll still need to allocate your funds accordingly to save or to splash out on your heart’s desires.
- Accommodation: Generally, you can find fully furnished apartments starting from 6000 THB (+- $190) a month — depending, of course, on where you want to stay. This eliminates your need to budget for those extra expenses such as appliances. However, be prepared to put down a full two-month deposit.
- Transportation: Thailand has a range of efficient transportation options. The budget-friendly choice is to travel by bus or train. Alternatively, if you opt for taxis, beware that they incur a higher cost, which over time will put a strain on your pocketbook. Wherever you’re situated in comparison to your school, calculate the most economical and safest mode of transport. And leave the tuk-tuks for the tourists!
- Food: You’ll be eating like royalty in Thailand with its inexpensive, mouthwatering morsels! Generally, you may find yourself buying a lot more street food due to its convenience and price. Cooking Western meals can be expensive as you’ll most likely be buying imported products. A rough estimate for monthly sustenance is about 10 000 THB (+- $300) a month, which includes groceries, treats and going out for dinner at least once per week.
Note that not many schools provide TEFL teachers with accommodation or travel costs anymore. If you need assistance in setting up your new life in Thailand, it’s recommended to start teaching with an agency first as they have resources to help you.
While South African passport holders do not require a tourist visa to suntan and sightsee for up to a maximum of 30 days in Thailand, you DO need a visa to be a legal English as a foreign language teacher in the Land of Smiles. For more information on the required visa and how to obtain it, contact the Royal Thai Embassy in Pretoria (http://www.dirco.gov.za/foreign/sa_abroad/sat.htm#thai). Note that what may affect your visa need and travel itinerary is that Thailand’s school year runs from May to February and the hiring process typically commences either in February/March or mid-semester in October/ November. Plan wisely!
What do I need to Teach English in Thailand?
- An accredited 120-Hour TEFL/TESOL certificate;
- Native-level English proficiency, and
- A degree (in any field).
Remember, the more time you dedicate to educating yourself in the TEFL field, the higher your chances are of successfully landing a well-paying and stable position. If you feel motivated to join the TEFL task force in Thailand but first need an accredited TEFL certificate, hop over to our website to download our course prospectus. Your journey to teaching English in Thailand is a click away!