Expectation VS Reality

The Truth About Teaching in Thailand

If you are interested in teaching in Thailand, then you’ll want to do as much research as you can before making any commitments. However, there’s only so much research you can do without overthinking it—it’s about finding the right balance.

In this article we will aim to offer as much information as possible so that you can get a good idea as to how things work. Naturally, everyone’s experiences are different, each with their own preferences and priorities. So, what you must do is ensure that you are prepared with all the technicalities (e.g., qualifications, visa & work permits, accommodation etc), and everything else should fall into place.

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One of the beautiful things about leaving your home country behind to live and work abroad, is that there’s an element of spontaneity involved; and therein lies the thrill of adventure. That said, it’s always worth having a backup plan (i.e., money set aside for flights home should you not take to your new life as anticipated).

Finding suitable accommodation

Expectation: 

Accommodation in Thailand is incredibly cheap, and you will have a swimming pool, a large balcony and lots of money left over for the rest of the month.

Reality

A dated misconception is that everything in Thailand is super cheap, especially the accommodation. Now, comparatively with the UK for example, you will get more for your money. However, you should not expect to “live like a King” as so many people say. Certainly, you will have a great quality of life, but you will still have to live within your means.

The reality is that your accommodation could end up costing you a third of your salary. It really depends on what you are looking for. If you’d like your own kitchen and bathroom in a studio apartment, you’ll be looking at some 8,000 THB (approx. US$240p/m).

Don’t panic though, as you can find cheaper accommodation, you just have to shop around and make certain sacrifices (e.g., a fan in exchange for aircon, no hot showers, no kitchen etc).

If you are travelling with your partner, or you’re happy to live with a roommate, then you’ll have more options. In any case, it is affordable living in Thailand, and you can certainly find a suitable place to live with plenty of money leftover to survive the month. However, it’s not as cheap as it once was.

Summary & Advice

Even if you were to spend 8,000 THB a month (which would afford you a beautiful studio apartment, find here), you can still live comfortably for the rest of the month. If you enjoy Thai food (you’d be mad not to), you can eat out for 30 / 40 THB a meal. So, under the assumption that you eat lunch and dinner at Thai street stalls and cafeterias, you’ll only need to set aside around 2,400 THB a month. If you embrace the Thai way of life, you will live very comfortably.

Another important thing to note is that you shouldn’t settle for the cheapest accommodation for the sake of saving money. Remember, you’re going to spend a lot of your time there, so it’s worth finding something comfortable and secure.

We will be more than happy to advise and assist you when looking for accommodation. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or somewhat worried, simply reach out to us and we will do what we can to help.

Working & teaching in a Thai school

Expectation: 

Most people imagine the management aspect of Thai schools to run similarly to that of those in the West. You’d expect to turn up to your new job and have all the information that you require provided upon arrival, including a tour of the school, and perhaps a welcome assembly. Naturally, you would get the opportunity to meet all the Thai staff, and walk around high fiving all your students who are all desperately excited to meet you.

Reality

The reality is that no two schools in Thailand are the same, so what you will experience when you arrive at your first school may be entirely different to what you’ve heard from other teachers (particularly if they’re referring to their experience some years ago).

You will likely have to ask for most information that you would otherwise expect to be provided with in the West. Some schools are very much on the ball and will hand you a huge binder full of everything that you need to know, others may simply provide you with your weekly schedule and be done with it.

Some schools will have a shared Western and Thai teacher office, others will be separate. So, you might get the chance to meet and engage with the Thai teachers, but you may also be left to your own devices. Just be yourself and try to introduce yourself to people as you get the chance.

In most schools, there is a high turn over of Western English teaching staff (due to the nature of people wanting to travel and move around more), so rarely is a huge fuss made of your arrival. Certainly, your new students may be quite excited to see you (or rather, to gauge how much fun you’re going to be, or how naughty they’ll be able to away with being); but other than that, you’ll more or less be thrown into the deep end.

Summary & Advice

Don’t let any of this put you off. Provided that you pay close attention in your TEFL course and ask all the right questions, you will be fully prepared for life as an English teacher in a Thai school. Yes, you will be a bag of nerves when you arrive on your first day, but you will soon find yourself settling in and finding your feet.

Also, never be afraid to ask questions or request more information. Sometimes details are lost in translation. All of the Thai schools are different, but so long as you are prepared, you will surely hit the ground running.

Be prepared to have a lot of fun with your students and try not to take yourself too seriously. Remain hydrated (as Thailand can get very hot, especially the classrooms), and well fed! Look after yourself and enjoy it.

We will help you find a placement in a school upon completion of your TEFL course, and we will also ensure that the transition runs as smoothly as possible. We are here for your convenience, so try not to stress too much.

Adjusting to life in Thailand, making friends, and embracing the culture

Expectation: 

Unless you’ve been to Thailand before, it’s hard to know what to expect. Sure, as Thailand is commonly referred to as ‘the Land of Smiles’, you may expect absolutely everyone to be incredibly pleased to see you, and to make loads of friends within the first couple of weeks. However, it’s important that you are prepared to put yourself out there first.

Reality:

Whilst most Thai people are incredibly friendly and warming, you may notice a lot of people staring and laughing amongst themselves. Don’t let this get to you, as often its simply a case of harmless curiosity. Remember, in the more rural areas of Thailand, Western people are a rarity, so to many people you will be rather exotic and attractive—if anything, take it as a compliment.

Another thing to remember is that most Thai people can be quite shy when it comes to speaking English. Even if they have a relatively good grasp of the language, they could still be conscious of speaking to you. Make an effort to learn the basics of the Thai language and brush up on your Thai Wai etiquette (the prayer hands gesture and bowing of the head).

Thai people are very proud of their culture and are always excited to share and teach Westerners as much as they can. So, have fun and try to embrace their culture and you’ll soon find yourself making friends and meeting lots of new faces.

Additionally, whether you’re in Krabi, Pattaya or Chiang Mai, you will discover a welcoming expat community. Immerse yourself!

Summary & Advice

It’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling lonely and missing home at times. Don’t be afraid to open up to your fellow teachers about your feelings. You will discover that they can relate more to your situation than your friends and family back home. That said, you should always try to Skype and Facetime your family and friends as often as you can. It’s amazing how a quick 10-minute chat with a familiar face can really make your day.

Be respectful of the Thai culture and you will be welcomed with open arms. Also, be certain to say yes to every opportunity presented! This is a great chance for you to embrace some life changing experiences and to make new friends for life.

Rest assured that you will make plenty of friends on one of our TEFL courses! You may even be lucky enough to be posted in the same town as one of your fellow students. Relax, you’ll be just fine.

 

Your free time and exploring Thailand

Expectation: 

The main motivation for wanting to teach in Thailand is having the ability to explore the beautiful country and to live the highlife on the tropical beaches. You may also expect to have loads of free time as you won’t necessarily be putting a huge number of hours into teaching. This will invariably free you up to explore the temples, markets and all the other enticingly exciting sights.

Reality:

Don’t underestimate the amount of preparation involved with teaching. Even if you are only teaching 16-20 hours or so of classes, you will still need to prepare for those classes each week. Fortunately, you will have plenty of breaks throughout the day where you can sit down and squeeze your planning in, and an hour or two at the end of the day as well.

And whilst everything is relatively cheap in Thailand, it all adds up rather quickly. Thus, you won’t be able to visit a new tropical island every weekend to party. Realistically, you may only be able to afford it once a month. That said, there will be so much beauty in your surrounding area, so you’ll be certain to explore and have some fun. This will save you money, and you never know what stunning scenery you may discover.

Summary & Advice

Use your time wisely. Since you’re in the office already, you just as well use that time to plan your lessons, so that you don’t have to take your work home with you.

We would also advise that you save up enough money to do some travelling before settling down to teach. A month or so of exploring the islands will give you an incredible opportunity to have a lot of fun and to get it all out of your system before getting stuck into your work.

One of the amazing things about our premium TEFL programs, is that you will have the opportunity to engage on several excursions and day trips with your fellow students to learn more about the country and its rich cultural tapestry.

When living in a new and exciting place, it can be temping to go out every night, especially when you make new friends. Yes, you can have a lot of fun, and if you don’t go too crazy, you can socialise regularly. However, you must be prepared to exercise a little self-control and spend some evenings at home, saving money and relaxing.

The fact is, travelling whilst teaching fulltime can be rather exhausting, so you won’t want to be on the road every single weekend. Instead, you’ll be happy to spend a quiet evening watching Netflix here and there, or enjoying a quiet beer and a game of cards with some of your new friends.

Conclusion

Teaching in Thailand will absolutely change your life but be careful not to put too much faith in your expectations. Refrain from listening to all of the horror stories as well. Provided that you are careful, mindful, and respectful, you won’t run into any problems.

Again, it’s about being prepared, whilst simultaneously opening yourself up to new experiences. It won’t be exactly as you expect it, but it will almost certainly exceed your expectations!

If you have any further questions or would like to explore one of our TEFL programs, then please feel free to contact us at your convenience to schedule an appointment. We will gladly answer any questions that you might have and put your mind at ease should you have any fears or concerns.

Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

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