The Truth About Teaching in Thailand

When I first came to Thailand I was told by a random woman to try and get a position at a private school. I wouldn’t realize how useful that advice would be until months later.

In Thailand there are government schools, private schools and international schools. Government schools (what we would consider public schools) are the schools with no air-con and 50 students per class. Private schools are slightly nicer, meaning they have air-con and only 40 students per class. International schools are the most elite and are normally attended by children whose parents are keen to have them develop a more global way of thinking and/or study internationally.

I did my teacher training at a hot ass government school, but I currently work at a much cooler private school in an English Program (EP). An EP is a separate program at a school where all subjects are conducted in English. The teachers can be from various countries such as the Philippines, America, United Kingdom, India, Singapore, etc. The teachers should be from a country that teaches English as a primary or secondary language.

GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS

  • Where NES teachers are needed the most
  • Low proficiency levels
  • Lower pay because they’re government funded and there’s a set budget for foreign teachers
  • More traditional, wear certain colors for certain holidays, celebrate certain holidays with more grandeur

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

  • Parents run the show
  • Mixed proficiency levels
  • Run in a more western fashion

GENERAL THAI SCHOOL CULTURE

Nothing starts on time. Think black-people-time, but worse. If first period starts at 8:20 don’t expect the kids to get there before 8:30.

How to handle this? Break your lessons up into smaller segments, so that you’re not cramming your lesson into an impossible timeframe.

Everything is on short notice. Oh, M-5 (eleventh grade) is taking a class photo? You’re lucky if you find out the day before.

How to handle this? Be flexible! You can’t control everything. Accept the things you can’t change and keep it moving.

There’s a no fail policy. Pretty much the same as what goes on in America. Many students float through the school system. It’s easy to do so when classes have upwards of 40 students.

How to handle this? I’ve decided that having a positive relationship with the students is more important than being a hard ass because in the end everyone moves right along.

There is little disciplinary action. Lunch detentions, after school detentions, parental phone calls and stern talking to’s are non-existent. Lucky for me, Thai students are pretty easy to manage.

How to handle this? Make sure you have a good grasp of classroom management and get to know your students. Connect with them so you can work to diffuse situations before they escalate.

Learning disabilities have a tendency to be overlooked. I reckon it’s just the nature of the culture. If a parent can afford for their child to be in a certain class or program then be in it they will.

How to handle this? Identify your students who are struggling and try to give them the extra attention they might need to flourish.

English teacher in Thailand

If you have any other questions feel free to DM me on Instagram or comment on this post!

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2 thoughts on “The Truth About Teaching in Thailand

  1. Very interesting read. I can’t image having 50 or even 40 students in one classroom. American public schools are being pushed to their limits by requiring teachers to somehow teach 30 students at one time, increasing that number by 10 or 20 seems almost impossible.

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    1. 40-50 students is very difficult to manage, but many teachers have to find ways to deal with it here. Teachers play lots of games OR they just teach the surface of the topic without going to deep. Having that many students definitely means sacrificing some part of the learning experience.

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