It is a shame that Bangkok has become stagnant in so many ways. Wages are falling, cost are rising and call-backs or even acknowledgements are very slow in coming.
Pop it in the ajarn postbox!
It’s been almost four years since we interviewed Phil Dunne, The Managing Director of Island TEFL on Koh Samui. Back in July 2010, Phil had in fact just purchased the company and had some very ambitious plans. Let’s find out how life’s treating him?
Andrew Fleming (update)
Why not try your luck in one of our ajarn competitions? Answer easy questions and win polo shirts, text books, and free nights out courtesy of local restaurants. Anyone can sponsor an ajarn competition if there are nice prizes for teachers.
Your contributions always welcome
Can you spare some time to help fellow teachers?
Whether you fancy putting yourself up for a hot seat interview, airing your views in the ajarn postbox, telling us about where you live in a region guide or spending a few moments over a great escape survey, we would really love to have your contributions.
Will I find work in Thailand?
Is there a definitive answer to this incredibly common question?
I wish I could look at the main scenarios, the reasons teachers ask if they will find work in Thailand, and give everyone a straight "yes, you will" or "no, you won't" answer. But unfortunately it's nowhere near that straightforward.
Avoid falling into any of these teacher traps
Ajarn has put together a list of the most common mistakes that teachers make in Thailand - both new arrivals and those who have been here a while.
Tackling the Skype interview
Having an interview on Skype is nothing to fear if you are well-prepared
Skype is now used by many companies as part of their recruitment drive. If you are faced with the 'ordeal' of a Skype interview for a teaching position, what can you do to improve your chances of performing well and landing the job?
New teacher scam alert
Be on your guard for anyone asking for an interview fee
We removed a bogus job ad from the ajarn.com job listings today for an international school in Bangkok. The job ad had unfortunately been on-line for several days and was offering attractive salaries of 50k plus. The scammer had gone to considerable trouble and even included the name of the actual person responsible for hiring teachers at the school.
Fashion tips for the female EFL teacher
We've long had a fashion guide for male teachers wanting to teach in Thailand. Now it's the turn of the ladies and what to wear and what not to wear in the classroom.
Who does my job ad appeal to?
What can you do when filling your teacher vacancies becomes impossible?
If you've been around teacher recruitment in Thailand for as long as I have, then you'll know that by insisting on too many requirements, a school is narrowing its field down to almost non-existent
The teacher fashion guide
Dress for success!
If you're thinking of coming to teach in Thailand then don't leave home without reading our indispensable guide to cutting a dash in the classroom. How many neckties do I need? Will the pony-tail have to go? From the moment you walk in the room, you'll be turning heads and not stomachs. On no, not all five Spice Girls please!!!!
The perfect neighborhood
What ten things are most important to you?
For some people it would be a good selection of restaurants, for others it might be a movie theater or perhaps a park or a choice of well-stocked supermarkets. What's most important for you when selecting a Bangkok neighborhood?
The tattoo curse
Is body art affecting your job prospects?
An ajarn reader wrote in to ask for advice. "I'm clean and well-presented with a good resume. But is the tattoo that covers most of my hand going to hold me back?" Over to you.
The essential guide to teaching English and living in Thailand
As they neared the end of their first year in Thailand, Michael and Sarah suddenly realized that while chatting with new arrivals, they were answering the same questions over and over again. So they began to compile a guide to help others who might want to give TEFL in Thailand a try.
Ever thought about going it alone?
How easy is it to go the freelance route in Bangkok and make money charging students upwards of 500 baht an hour? Well, here are some of the perils and pitfalls of teaching from your home, the student's home or perhaps even in the nearest McDonalds.
Teacher nightmares part two
What happens when teaching in Thailand all goes horribly wrong
More stories from teachers in Thailand who have found themselves in difficult situations often through no fault of their own. Can you offer them some good advice?
Ethical job ad posting
Why too much choice is not always a good thing
There's no reason why ajarn.com should have a monopoly on this particular business and I actually think that competition is healthy in many ways. But there is certainly a moral issue. This is something that affects both the employers and advertisers and more importantly, you, the teacher
What are your rights?
Where questions are thrown out to real teachers.....or just thrown out
Number one in probably a series of one. A teacher has a problem that ajarn.com just can't answer (it happens quite often to be honest) and we ask all you teachers out there to chip in with your two cents, particularly those of you who have been in the same situation. Who's been there, done that and bought the 12-piece gift set?
Absolute pile of sh*te
Are the job ads really that bad?
A disgruntled ajarn.com reader wrote in to say that he had never seen such low quality job ads on the Thailand TEFL websites. Is he right in his assumption? And if so, what are the reasons?
How’s the Thailand TEFL job market?
Are salaries really going down?
Ajarn.com asked about thirty recruiters, language school owners, government school hirers and firers, etc for their opinions on the TEFL job market in Thailand. So then - are teacher salaries really going down?
Young teachers vs old teachers?
Which age group do Thai employers really prefer?
It’s the argument that refuses to go away. Which teacher group do Thai schools really prefer to hire and for what reasons? In this light-hearted ajarn article, older teachers and their young counterparts square up to each other over 11 rounds. Seconds out!
The dreaded demo lesson
How to make sure your demo lesson goes as smoothly as possible
Now that the busy hiring season is almost upon us, many schools will be asking potential teachers for a demo lesson. Don't panic. Let them know who the professional is.
Top teacher movies
Could your teaching be inspired by this selection of cinematic greats?
Ajarn.com presents a selection of the greatest 'teacher movies' of all time and tries to figure out what you could learn from each one.
Working smart, not working hard
Making the most of your teaching time
By paying more attention to your teaching hours and your overall availability, it's possible to juggle teaching jobs around and watch your monthly earnings soar.
Teachers left devastated by floods
The flood disaster is heaping misery on numerous foreign teachers
Many teachers are unsure of when they will be able to return to work or even if they are going to get paid for the down time.
Scammers looking for teachers
You develop a sixth sense for these online teacher scams
You need to develop a sixth sense when you run an online business that takes credit card payments. It can often be hours before a bank flags up a credit card as stolen and in those few hours, the scammer can use their credits to view teacher resumes and dupe unsuspecting victims.
Who do you work with?
Recognize any of your colleagues from this list?
Nothing more than a playful poke at some of the teaching characters we've all worked with down the years. Maybe you can even recognise yourself in there somewhere?
Looking good in the classroom
What's the ideal hairstyle for a female foreign teacher?
I am coming to Thailand at the end of the year and would be grateful if you could advise me as to what's appropriate and inappropriate in terms of women's hairstyles (in relation to teaching posts).
Ask Joyce Armitage
When only a wise old head will do.
I am here to answer all those nagging ‘teacher etiquette’ questions that sometimes even your best friends and colleagues can’t or won’t answer. Please don’t be afraid to ask. With years of experience behind me, I’m hopeful that I can always come up with a solution that keeps a smile on everybody’s face and keeps the work-place harmonious. Best regards, Joyce Armitage
What happens when teaching in Thailand all goes horribly wrong
I started this section of the ajarn website because I simply felt it was needed. Although for legal reasons, companies and individuals cannot be named or implied, and details of stories are impossible to confirm, they are stories that need to be heard. If only because they serve as a warning of what can happen here.
Home or away?
Where is the best place to do a TEFL course - Thailand or your own country?
A good question that occasionally pops up on the ajarn discussion forum is “should I take a TEFL course in Thailand or in my home country (USA, England, etc)? I’ve noticed that the question never really gets a decent answer, so I turned to a dozen or so of Thailand’s TEFL course providers and asked them for their input.
Working for the man
Are teaching agents spelling disaster for hard-working chalkies?
The main problem that teachers seem to have with agencies is the salaries on offer. Teacher agents and 30,000 baht a month salaries have suddenly become the Siamese twins of the Thailand TEFL game. They're joined at the hip.
E-mailing for jobs
Doing it the right way!
One of the most soul-destroying things for many job applicants is to not receive replies to your emails. But are you going about things the right way? Read recruiter Chris's excellent guide on how to do it right.
Bangkok or up-country? Which is best?
Are you a city boy or a country bumpkin?
Ajarn.com attempts to answer that burning question - is it better to live and work as a teacher in Bangkok or out in the boonies? We've decided to divide Thailand into two sections - Bangkok and everywhere else. Even the Thais refer to every city, town and village outside the capital as 'up-country' so who are we to argue?
Tossed on the TEFL scrapheap
Is teaching in Thailand a young man's game?
These are older teachers who have made their life in Thailand, perhaps even got married and raised children, and are now contemplating the unthinkable. Leaving the home they love. For many it’s either a case of seeking out pastures new or returning home to a country they left behind a long time ago.
Ajarn.com’s book of the month
Macmillan Collocations Dictionary
I can see perhaps a very serious student of written English dipping into it if there is truly a word whose possible collocations they want to find out more about. And for any teacher with an intermediate class, they might take a word and use the collocations as a ten-minute lesson filler, but I'm struggling to see the dictionary's value beyond that.
How can you find private students?
What works when it comes to marketing yourself as a private teacher?
Teaching private students in your home, or even in the local McDonalds, can be a great way to put five to ten thousand baht a month in the kitty. The problem for many teachers is how to find private students - and then how to keep them.
Only non-smokers need apply
Are we witnessing the start of a new trend?
In the 90’s, there was no shame attached to being a male teacher who smoked. You were part of the fashionable majority. But times have changed. As more and more teaching jobs are asking for 'non-smokers' only, is it time to say goodbye to the foul weed?
It’s goodbye to teaching
Stories from folks that have found things they would much rather do
Here are stories from a dozen folks who resigned themselves to teaching because they mistakenly thought it was the only job they could get in Thailand. Then lo and behold, Lady Luck came a-knocking.
An English teacher and proud
Do those who don't teach English in Thailand look down on those that do?
What do expats who work in Thailand but don't teach English think of us teachers? Are we ridiculed when out of earshot or do even the high-flyers afford us maximum respect. An invitation to a business networking evening. A chance to really find out.
Back in the groove again
Stepping back into a Thai training room after three years away
A two-day seminar on the topic of ‘Executive E-mail Writing' for fifteen participants at one of the world's largest auditing companies. That's what I had been asked to deliver. Despite having plenty of experience, it was still a daunting challenge given the fact I hadn't walked into a training room to conduct a workshop or seminar in almost three years. It was time to put my trainer hat on and get back into the groove.
Where do you stand on gate duty?
Do you approach those extra responsiblities with commendable gusto?
For those readers who have spent their teaching career cooped up in private language schools, gate duty is when a foreign teacher at say a government or Thai secondary school is told to stand in front of the school building – usually in the morning or at the end of the school day - and look like an asset to the institution.
I work for the school from hell
Why the Thailand TEFL watchdog site is doomed to failure
Where can a teacher go to on the internet if they want to warn other teachers about a particular school and tell others how they have to work with an insane farang-hating nun, an alcoholic academic director who spends most of the day flirting with the Thai staff and a cross-dressing senior teacher who stands up in the middle of observations and shouts "you dare to call this an English lesson"?
In the thick of it
How are you coping with the troubles?
Calling all teachers. How has all this civil unrest in Thailand affected you? Has it made you afraid to live here? What about those of you planning to come and work here? Have recent events put you off?
Phil’s Memory Lane
Now you see it, now you don't.
A light-hearted look at some of the things Bangkokians once took for granted but are now nothing more than a distant memory. Your contributions welcome.
Is it doom or gloom?
Is Thailand's TEFL market going to hell in a handbasket?
Job vacancies seem to be down on this time last year and we're hearing stories of some government schools slashing budgets and not being able to take on foreign teachers next term. In addition the corporate job market seems to have hit rock bottom. What do you teachers think?
Here's a well-used teacher scam that's doing the rounds.
Be careful. The world is full of teacher scams like this one. If you hear of any more then please let us know about them.
Four times the salary of a local Thai?
What a load of bullshit!
Nothing irks me more than reading that statement and you see it all over the web wherever the topic of teaching in Thailand is discussed or promoted. It’s a statement that’s both grossly misleading and wildly inaccurate.
Those crazy interviewees
A tongue-in-cheek look at some rather eccentric teachers
I’ve always been wary of religious types. Let me be the last man to begrudge anyone the right to have a faith but there’s a time and a place. Sunday morning in church springs instantly to mind. But if I ever saw the name ‘Jesus’ written on a lesson plan I would subconsciously file the teacher under ‘one to keep an eye on’.
How employable are you?
Take our fun quiz
Find out if you're the kind of teacher who any school would be proud to have as part of their team.......or perhaps why no one ever sends you a reply to your e-mail application?
A time of change
How does teaching in Thailand now compare to twenty years ago?
For those of you pissing and moaning about visa runs, the immigration department, the work permit process, the unpredictability of the consulates in neighboring countries - let me tell you this - it was no better in the early 90s. In fact I'd say marginally worse.
Teacher licensing regulations 2009
What you will need to do or have in order to become a legal teacher
With the help of one of Bangkok's top teacher recruiters and a few contacts at the Thailand Ministry of Education and The Teacher's Council of Thailand, ajarn.com has come up with the following information regarding what will be involved if you want to teach legally in Thailand as of mid-May 2009 (the start of the next academic year)
What do Thai students think of us?
Straight from the horses's mouth
I wondered if our Thai students really had a true picture of the salaries we earn, the hardships we face, and the hoops we have to jump through? I put ten questions to a range of Thai corporate staff - male, female, single, married with kids. What do they really know? And is there any respect left for the 'ajarn farang'?
Quotes from the discussion board
These are the hilights
Here are some of the top quotes from members of various teacher discussion boards taken from over the past twelve months or so. Let's call it the best of the teacher's room
The A to Z of teaching TEFL in Thailand
A playful look at this sometimes crazy industry
Thanks to the combined efforts of the ajarn.com discussion board members, we've come up with the ultimate A to Z of teaching TEFL in Thailand.
When illness strikes
Are you prepared for the unhealthier times?
As the old saying goes - don't leave home without it! Not your health insurance card anyway. Bangkok Phil explores the options open to you if you want to take out health insurance in Thailand and why you shouldn't get too excited if schools offer 'free health cover'
Black teachers in Thailand
Are Thai employers just a little bit racist?
Over the years, ajarn.com has always asked the question 'do black teachers have a harder time finding work in Thailand. Racism? Xenophobia? Fear of the unfamiliar? These have been some of the responses from various teachers.
The ajarn.com teacher survey
We asked the questions and you gave us the answers
We asked the teachers of Thailand to fill in a simple questionnaire about their jobs and their lifestyle. You answered the call in your thousands.....well, 98 of you to be exact.
The anatomy of a teachers room
What goes on in that cramped, airless little room?
For all those who have ever taught in Asia - laugh along at 'the anatomy of a teacher's room' from the water-kettle that's never full to the pot-plant that always needs watering.
Thai teaching assistants
Angels from the planet Xerox or Satan's snitch?
They are as much a part of a teaching package as subsidized health insurance, the occasional sports day and possible unpaid test-marking. We want to hear about yours. When asked to make photocopies does she say "coming right up oh great white-skinned one" or does she beat a path to the dean's door to remind him that slavery has been abolished?
Problems at your school
There are always problems where you work
So there are 25 things wrong with your teaching job? Actually there are 25 things wrong with every teaching job - you just pray they don't all happen on the same day. As Phil explains, it's the way you handle these often 'minor inconveniences' that will make or break your time in Thailand.
Ten of the best
Give us your top ten of any Thailand TEFL-related topic
Nothing more than a bit of fun. Send us your 'list of ten' on any topic you like as long as they are in someway associated with the wonderful world of TEFL.
Go on, give us a job!
No degree? No teaching certificate? No experience?
All you've got is the language you learned as a baby. Is it still possible to get a job teaching English in Thailand? Ajarn.com picked eight random phone numbers from the jobs offered board and called them up. Dangerous things happen when ajarn.com's got time on its hands. (Names have been changed to avoid causing embarrassment. And there's certainly plenty of that)
Nonthaburi Oh Nonthaburi
Is it truly 'the teacher's graveyard'?
Someone said to me the other day that if you're too old, too unqualified, and you're sick of constant interview rejection.....there is always Nonthaburi.
The mass transit factor
Where do they go and what do they know?
Ajarn takes a look at the Bangkok underground and sky-train systems. How has the average Bangkok teacher's life improved since the systems started operating?
More power to us
I lay myself prostrate at the threshold of your venerable institute
The Filipino teaching community is huge here in Thailand. But as many of them bombard recruiters inboxes with over-formal cover letters and speculative applications for jobs they are sometimes not qualified to do, ajarn.com asks the question 'can Filipinos make it easier for themselves to find jobs?'
Will I need a degree to teach in Thailand?
A question that will rage forever and a day.
Ajarn.com asks just how many teachers are teaching with fake credentials. Will schools employ teachers without a degree? And does a degree even make you a better teacher? Ajarn.com also braves the sticky, sweaty Khao San Road and comes face to face with not only foreign women that have let themselves go, but the degree makers themselves. Graduate for 600 baht? Surely not.
The ajarn.com job survey
Some brilliant answers to some frankly daft and predictable questions
We surveyed twenty-five schools and institutes that advertise regularly on the ajarn.com jobs board. Here is a selection of their answers. We fed the answers into the bat-computer and came up with an interesting combination of academic analysis and bullshit that does nothing else if not just fill up web-pages.
First lesson memories
Do you remember the moment?
The ink is still wet on your brand new teacher training certificate and you're suddenly faced with the prospect of standing in front of your first ever class and dishing up hearty portions of education and entertainment. We asked for your first lesson in Thailand memories. Were you as cool as a cucumber....or absolutely bricking it?
Beating the teacher trap
Is teaching English really all there is?
Is it possible to escape the teacher trap? If you think that teaching is the only thing in Thailand that foreigners can do (apart from own a beer bar in Pattaya of course) - well here are ten stories to prove you wrong.
As a refreshing change from someone writing about their ten years of hell in a Thai prison, you might want to take a look at Bangkok Exit written by Ryan Humphreys. Ryan gives readers a humorous warts 'n' all account of his first year teaching in Thailand at Sathit Wittaya School.
25K a month? You must be joking
Surely you can't live on such a pitiful salary.
Numerous jobs in Thailand still pay around 25,000 baht a month. Is it really enough to live on? The fur really flies in our heated ajarn debate. So how much do you really need to earn in order to survive? A selection of teachers have their say on the whole issue of pay scales.
Are they the devil in disguise?
If you're looking for a definition of a teacher agency, I guess it's someone who benefits financially from the teacher's employment. The money can be got in several ways with the most common being the monthly deduction method. The school will pay the agency let's say 40,000 baht a month, and the agency will pass on 32,000 baht to the teacher. Sometimes more, very often less.
The evil expatriates
What the hell do you think you're looking at?
Ever had a farang teacher look you up and down on the sky-train? It could be that they want to share lesson plans or maybe they're simply wondering what you've got to be so happy about. Either way - what's happened to the expat community spirit?
Are those teachers over 45 suddenly too long in the tooth?
With one or two positions on the jobs board asking for teachers no older than 45, ajarn.com asks if this is the start of a terrifying trend and whether our middle-aged days are numbered? Is the TEFL industry about to be over-run with lantern-jawed buck studs who've barely started shaving? Your e-mails came in by the truckload but strangely no one under 45 years old had an opinion (well, only a couple). As someone who turns 42 next month, I'm already finding out the locations of reputable nursing homes. Enough of all this - I need to go again.
Is the end really nigh?
We'll send a teacher to your company two nights a week and after forty hours your employees will be gassing to each other like natives. Yeah, right. Why are so many Bangkok-based companies saying 'enough is enough' where English language training is concerned?
The negative interview mindset
Is it sometimes too easy to get a teaching job in Thailand?
A growing number of foreign teachers (particularly male) think that it's so easy to get an English teaching job in Thailand that all you have to do on interview day is turn up. Ajarn.com looks at a common mindset behind interviewing for TEFL jobs
Where are all the teachers?
Is there a severe shortage of warm TEFL bodies?
Is there really a chronic teacher shortage in Thailand? As 40,000 baht a month jobs go begging, Ajarn.com asked ten teacher recruiters their opinions on why there seems to be an acute shortage of quality teachers at present. Is it really a case of accepting the first farang that sticks his or her head around the door? No individual people or specific schools are mentioned.
Ajarn.com in the Bangkok Post
Five minutes of fame
The Bangkok Post ran a full-page article on the ajarn.com website as part of its Learning Post education section on 22nd February 2005.
Cameroonian (male, 38 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (4), Diploma (1), BSc (1)
Filipino (male, 32 years old, native Tagalog speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Australian (male, 53 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
BA (1), MA (1), Phd (1), Certificate (1), Diploma (1)
American (male, 43 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (11), BA (1), MA (1)
American (male, 48 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Diploma (2), Certificate (1), BA (1)
British (male, 51 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (3), BSc (1)
American (male, 52 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
BEd (1), MA (1), BA (1)
Indian (male, 30 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Filipino (female, 27 years old, native Tagalog speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
South African (male, 24 years old, native Afrikaans speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Ajarn.com was started as a small hobby website in 1999 by Ian McNamara. It was a simple way for one Bangkok teacher to share his Thailand experiences and pass on advice. The website developed a loyal and enthusiastic following. In 2004, Ian handed over the reins to Phil Williams and 'Bangkok Phil' has run the ajarn website ever since.
Ajarn.com has grown enormously and is now the most popular TEFL site in Thailand - possibly even South East Asia. Although best-known for its vibrant jobs page, Ajarn has a wealth of articles, blogs, features and help and advice. But one principle has always remained at Ajarn's core - to tell things like they are and to do it with a sense of humor. Thailand can be Heaven or Hell for an English teacher. It's always been Ajarn.com's duty to present both sides of the equation. Thanks for stopping by.