Using a program to teach English abroad is a double-edged sword. No program is perfect, but some are certainly better than the rest, while others are just straight up scams. Here’s my story about my program experience and what I would change if I could go back in time.
When I first came to visit, I planned it on my own, but I chose two programs to help me when I decided to live and work in Thailand. The companies I worked with were Global Work & Travel Co. (GWT) and XploreAsia (XA). GWT helped me get over here, and XA certified me to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and find placement as a teacher in a Thai school.
Global Work & Travel Co. was a program I found online. There were some good reviews, but there were also some dodgy reviews. I decided to go with GWT because I knew people who used the program, and they gave pretty solid reviews. Sadly, in the end, it was a mistake. I ended up wasting a lot of money by going through a program that did nothing but connect me with who I needed to deal with, which was XA. Global Work and Travel Co. was supposed to help with my pre-departure necessities, but they were of practically no use. I got all of my flights, my documents, my clearances, and my visa on my own. The company also engaged in high-pressure tactics to get me to commit to almost all of their offers. If a program has to press you to do something immediately, it’s because they know there are better ones you could find if you took some extra time. When I look back, I tell myself I paid for comfortability, which would have made sense, had I never accidentally spent four months in Thailand. So, do not do what I did. Do not use GWT. Go directly to XA if you must use a program at all.
I spent three weeks in Hua Hin, a beach town three hours south of Bangkok, and I did my TESOL certification there along with 45 westerners from the U.S.A, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia. My accommodation was a five-minute walk from the beach, and life was good. The XA program ended up being a great way to assimilate into the country before moving into a full-time position. Of course, the glitz and glamour of Thailand had long worn off for me by the start of the program, but I still appreciated it for the other participants. XploreAsia made me feel like I was a freshman in college again. It was similar in the sense that everyone was nervous, so it was easy to get to know people. We always learn a lot about ourselves when we step out of our comfort zones, but it can be just as exciting to learn about others. Learning about others can give you a perspective you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Pros: Meeting new people
You’ll receive a teaching certification, which will boost your resume
Take your time to get comfortable in the country and learn about the culture
Helps you to not feel so alone
Cons: It’s unnecessary to spend a bunch of extra money to move to a new country
You don’t need a program to help you find a job, especially a great job, in Thailand
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a teaching certification
If you don’t want to use a program, read my article about How to Find a Job as an English Teacher in Thailand, it is full of tips to land a teaching gig on your own.