Find out how to qualify to teach English in Chiang Mai Thailand
Many people who visit Chiang Mai in Thailand, end up staying for much longer periods than they originally planned. One of the easiest ways to tackle the Visa and income issues is to get a job Teaching English. Not so long ago a shaggy headed unshaven backpacker from an English speaking country could walk into any school and get a job. Today this does not happen, you will need to have an accreditation to show you have been trained to Teach English as a second language.
Thailand has recently started to prepare itself for ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) which has a focus on the economic development of member countries through trade using English as the common language. The Thai government are currently trying to boost English language skills and schools are on the lookout for native speakers from countries such as the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa. Nationalism has meant Thailand has been slow to promote the English language for many years, usually only required for tourism. Now however there is a push to have it’s business population and children learn … so the opportunities have never been better.
Why be an English Teacher in Thailand?
Teachers (called ‘Kruu’) in Thailand are respected by the student and society alike. In the rankings of respect and admiration in Thailand, First and foremost is the King and Royal family, then Buddha/Monks and Parents tiring for 2nd place, then come Teachers, following down the list are high ranking Military officials and further down politicians.
As a Teacher of the English Language you will (providing you live up to the reputation) be regarded as an important and essential member of Thai Society.
Not fantastic by western standards, but sufficient to live here quite comfortably. Rates vary from 180 to 400 baht per hour, but the average is 250 baht per hour. The more experienced and qualified you are the higher the rate and employment opportunities. Full time teaching positions are less common here because of the high number of teachers.
Full time contracts are less common than part time at hourly rates, due to an over supply of demand to learn English over the number of teachers available. Typically a teacher will get about US $1200 a month or more.
Being a teacher is an incredibly rewarding experiencing, not only because you get to witness the students becoming more proficient and confident; but you also in a prime position to learn about the culture of Thailand from them. Students will often invite their teachers over for dinner or to join them in celebrations and milestones in their lives. And a nice bonus is that the children are very polite, quiet and studious.
It goes without saying that you are partaking in the advancement of Thailand’s future. Whether you stay here or move to another country, or back to your home – you will always feel a deep connection for the country, it’s people and have a sense of family pride as you watch it develop in the future.
Teaching English in Thailand is easy work. You already have a grasp of the subject matter, and within a month at a proper training school you will be qualified to work. Your day is usually finished by 4 pm leaving you plenty of time to explore. Thai schools have long holidays so you can explore the rest of Thailand and visit other exciting parts of South-east Asia like Laos, Myanmar, China, India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines.
VISA to stay in Thailand
After the Coup in Thailand, the Military are tightening up on what was previously an free for all ability to come and stay (almost forever) in Thailand. Now the visa situation is quite honestly becoming a nightmare with people being turned away when Immigration suspect they are not here to contribute to the development of the country. As a teacher you do not have this concern. Your employer will arrange and fill out all the necessary forms for you, and once every 90 days you will check in with Immigration.
Where will you be Teaching English?
After you have completed your 4 week course to qualify as an English Teacher, unless you have previous degree level qualifications in Education you will more than likely find employment with one of the many Private Language Institutes.
Private Language Institutes
Private language institutes are usually small schools of a couple to a dozen classrooms where English language instruction is provided by native English speaking teachers. Students are paying customers who usually have a specific reason for improving their English skills. It maybe to assist in current or future employment, to study overseas, or in an attempt to better be able to communicate with a foreign partner.
Language institutes used to be the biggest sector of the English teaching industry in terms of the number of native English speakers employed. However now with the recent government attempts to bring Thailand into economic growth the government run schools have many foreign language teachers. Getting a position in a government school will require University qualifications or a great deal of teaching experience.
Private language institutes can be found all over the country with the highest concentration in Bangkok, followed by Chiang Mai. In Bangkok there are hundreds of individual and branches of chained schools. Language schools are difficult business to run due to the increasing competition and high demands and expectations of the students. If you are applying to work in one of these companies, especially with a full time or long term contract, you would be prudent to ask how long they have been in business.
Classes in private language institutes can last anything from 1 – 3 hours, with around 2 hours the norm. There’s usually a break in the middle of class. Thais like to have fun and generally don’t have a very long attention span, so teaching longer classes can be a bit of a struggle towards the end.
The Elite Private Language Schools
The better private language institutes hire teachers with a specific teaching qualification like the CELTA or equivalent. Without a degree or advanced certification in Education or Teaching it will be extremely difficult to obtain employment here. The Thailand Ministry of Education requires this qualification before they will issue a teacher’s licence, so chances are the schools will not be interested in the candidate without them.
In addition these schools cost sufficiently more for the students to attend. Usually they are younger adults and business people with advanced qualifications and University degrees themselves. They will not be able to comprehend or understand that their teacher does not also come without equal or higher status. Weekend classes are often 3 hours in language institutes. In a worst-case scenario, a teacher may get 2 x 3-hour classes on each of Saturday and Sunday – which could make for a long and tiring weekend![hr]
Your Likely Students in Language Institutes in Thailand are
Most people who start to Teach English in Thailand will be working in private English Schools. These will have paid students that generally fall into one of 3 categories.
1. School Students
Children already attending school aged fro 5 – 18, who have usually been sent by their parents because they are not doing so well in class, or to give them a head start and advantage over their peers. School children will be attending English class at night and during the weekend, and under instructions from their parents. Already burden with massive amounts of school homework, sometimes they are not the most enthusiastic or energetic during English Class.
2. Young Adults / University Students.
They study to improve their English to enhance their current studies which in turn increases the chance of getting a good job, or a promotion if they are already employed. Some also cram to prepare themselves for study abroad. In a small number of cases, they may simply be studying English and biding time because they do not really know what they want to do with their life.
3. Employed Adults.
Adults already in employment, they may be studying to improve their English, to improve their chances of promotion or simply because they are interested in English. Some are interested in English, others have been paid by their employer to increase their understanding. Language students in this group typically study in the evening and some may choose a Business English course. These students are keen to learn and often want to talk with native speakers to gain a greater understanding of the world and our thoughts towards Thailand.
4. Older Adults.
Shop keepers who are noticing an increase number of foreigners doing business, partners of English speaking people who want to increase their ability to communicate with other English speaking people. These students are dedicated and will often want to steer the class and instruction to issues that pertain to their lives.
How to get Qualified to Teach English Language
Teach English as a Foreign Language Courses & Qualifications
If you have done any research yourself online about how to teach English as a second language in Thailand (or anywhere in the world) you are probably feeling confused. It seems there are enough acronyms and shortened abbreviations in the Learn to Teach English industry, you could almost complete the alphabet. IELTS, TOEIC, GMAT, GRE, ELTS, TOEFL, CES, BEET, LSI, TEFL, and the list goes on and on. So what does it all mean?
Not all that much.
Many of the business and organizations that have set up to qualify you to teach English have taken advantage of the lack of any world wide universal regulations and standards. There is no central international body with the authority to monitor or accredit all courses, and no co-ordination among education representatives from various countries. The local education department where you are teaching applies their own rules to license TEFL teachers.
[callout1]In fact all of the letters are just acronyms and do not refer to any standard of educational or skill requirement. TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), along with TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults).[/callout1]
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Bad News
– In Thailand the Ministry of Education does not look for a TEFL certificate to get a temporary or permanent teacher’s licence. Obtaining a job via a government department is going to require a degree in Education and probably a good command of the Thai language.
– Anyone can can open a TEFL training center and issue a qualifying certificate. Because the industry is unregulated, there is no requirement to go through the hops to align the business with an accredited training program or University.
– Some schools will self accredit themselves (which means nothing of value), or attach themselves to an education institution. You should investigate and find out how widely known their accreditation bureau or organization is, whether they are international, and any evidence that they actually moderate the quality of the course.
– There are about half a dozen private international schools in Chiang Mai, although they tend to recruit properly qualified people through overseas agencies. A local with good knowledge and experience might occasionally get work here.
– Signing up for a school with a fabulous website and marketing is no guarantee they have a good reputation among the local schools and private institutions who are likely to employ you.
– Many of the local ESL and TEFL schools work one on one with the private language institutions who are likely to employ you. Employment opportunities are monopolized by the local supply and often not advertized on national or international job boards.
– Online course without class instruction are generally disregarded as a decent qualification on their own. Teaching is a real world occupation that requires real world experience. If you are looking at an online course, you should already have other teaching qualifications and looking to educate yourself in the English as a second Language skill set.
The Good News
– There is still a shortage of quality English Teachers here in Chiang Mai. You will likely over time be able to get to get employment with your non local based training.
– Previous Experience counts, If you are already qualified with an accredited teaching certificate, and have experience, there are positions available in Chiang Mai.
– Westerners who have settled in Chiang Mai and opened local schools here, are heavily invested in providing the best students possible. They go the extra mile to ensure accreditation and quality of teaching.
– Many English Teaching training schools that run the courses are registered as businesses in the category of training. Most of them operate in conjunction with a school licence permitting them to teach English to Thais. The good schools will also have healthy working relationship and job placement programs with the various locals employers. You are likely to obtain employment through your training school.
– Some English as a Second Language Training schools with good reputations will have as part of there course real world experience with what might be potential employers. Also a handy bonus if part of your job interview is going to involve a spontaneous lesson. Experience counts!
How to choose which TEFL Training School is best for you.
It is always difficult to make a decision looking online at the various websites for which school you should pick. Almost Universally the pricing structure of the schools is the same. It will cost you about US $1,400 to get your training and qualifications to Teach English as a Second Language in Thailand. If you are looking online for a School to qualify you to Teach English in Chiang Mai make sure you do a little research and look for:
1) Accredited with an International TEFL Organization, or University
2) Classroom time, both Learning & Practical in a Language Institute
3) Video Testimonial of past students (anyone can write on a website)
4) Job Placement after training is completed
5) Location of School to your Residence
Here is a list of the more popular training schools in Chiang Mai
US University validated TEFL International Certificate – 4-week course with lifetime access to worldwide TI jobs network. Real classroom practicums. All inclusive packages with accommodation, job placement and day trips. MA Ed. and Dip. teaching also offered through NEU.
The only 4-week university accredited TEFL certification program in Chiang Mai. Study an internationally recognized TEFL program on a university campus. Benefit from world class instruction. Teaching practice with Thai students.
Externally accredited and audited 120-hour TEFL certification from an ISO 9001 company. Benefits include teaching practice in real schools, non-immigrant visa, job guarantee, cultural awareness training, Thai language instruction and internship option. Licensed by the MOE to conduct TEFL programs.
International House CELTA
This is a local branch of a worldwide operation that originally formulated the CELTA certification, which is now monitored by UCLES in Cambridge England and bound by strict standards which set a benchmark. It’s a desirable qualification for those serious about a teaching career but it’s a tough one to pass and significantly more expensive. New purpose built premises, with nearby resort, no add on’s. Courses are staggered, some months there isn’t one offered. Limited spaces. More details.
A relatively new branch of an established group, popular with South Africans, and well reviewed. They work successfully with an agency to place everyone in provincial jobs, and have comfy resort accommodation and social activities. You get to spend 3 full days in a school for practicums and they take you on jungle trips. They train large numbers, and have a shiny new office. They also have a number of professional affiliations. More details.
A course that only runs when they have sufficient numbers and is an add on to a language school. It’s a cheap alternative but lacks experience, accreditation or credible training credentials. One advantage is that you’ll most likely get hired at the end since they act as recruiters. Frequently run half-price specials. More details.
Guroo Asia’s Recommendation ….
At Guroo Asia we are partial to the Nimman area of town in Chiang Mai. Luckily for us there is a school located in the area that checks off all the points you should look for when selecting a School to teach and qualify in Teaching English as a Foreign language.
There is also another school located further west closer to the train and railway stations. Both Schools are excellent choices and we are happy to answer questions for you about each as an independent point of view.
UniTEFL Chiang Mai
* Owned by a westerner who loves and is committed to Thailand
* Team has trained more than 600 students together since 2009
* They find their graduates good jobs
* Provide additional tours and cultural experience
* Nice location near Nimminhemin
* Students have real practice with Thai students in real schools
* Excellent local reputation as a quality training center
* One of only 2 TEFL Schools in Chiang Mai that is properly accredited by a worldwide TEFL organization and additionally backed by a US university
SeeTEFL Chiang Mai
Full TEFL Certification (120 hours)
Thai Ministry of Education accreditation
ISO 9001:2008 certification ensures world-wide recognition of SEE’s TEFL program
6 1-hour observed teaching practices with real students at a range of levels and ages in local real schools
Cultural awareness training (1 day)
Survival Thai language instruction (10 hours)
Each course is limited to 18 trainees
SEE TEFL provides a job guarantee
Free Non-immigrant visa assistance
Free Volunteer option teaching underprivileged children in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Balance payments are not due until the end of the first day of training
On-going job and living support from the SEE TEFL staff
Free Wireless Internet throughout the training center
24-hour emergency Thai/English helpline
All course materials are included in the course fee
Request Information about Teaching English in Chiang Mai
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