Tips for Applying as a Teacher in a Thai School

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I have told you before that it is one of my jobs to look after the foreign teachers at our school. It is also my job to read any e-mails that might come in from people applying for a job as an English teacher. What I thought I would do today is give you some tips on how to make your application stand out from the crowd. I will also give some advice on not what to do!

* Always do some homework before you write your letter. Many schools have their own web sites or Facebook pages on the internet. Find out the names of some people and include them in your letter. Compliment the school on how beautiful it looks on the web site. Include any information that makes it look like you know their school already.

* If the school is asking for a native speaker then make sure you are a native speaker. Many schools are run like a business. They have to bow to consumer pressure. If parents insist that they want their children taught by teachers from the UK or America then the school has to provide these native speakers. It doesn’t really matter if a teacher from The Philippines or India is more qualified. (In my experience, teachers from The Philippines are often better qualified to teach.)

* Include all the relevant information in the opening paragraph. If they are asking for degree holders, TEFL certificate, native speaker, a woman etc. then make sure you make it clear you are fully qualified straight away. Then go into more details later. Not everyone will be fluent in English and might be put off by long letters. Also, don’t forget we receive many applications so we usually only read the first paragraph and skim the rest of the letter!

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* Don’t send a blank email with just attachments. We get that so often. Always take the time to introduce yourself. In fact, being friendly is key to getting a job. If you are turned down, make sure that you reply to thank them for taking the time to reply. You never know, they may change their mind if you can show how sincere you can be.

* If you don’t receive an answer from your letter after a week then follow it up with another. It is possible that your first e-mail went missing.

* Don’t worry if you don’t have a TEFL certificate. Most schools will prefer if you have had some real classroom experience. If you have already taught in your home country or inside Thailand then consider taking an online TEFL course instead. It is much cheaper. Most schools won’t know the difference. Anyway, some schools won’t even care you don’t have a TEFL.

* If they ask for a degree then make sure you have one. To work legally in Thailand you need a work permit. To get a work permit you need a degree in any field. Some schools might not ask for a degree but then they won’t be employing you legally.

* If you are just interested in making lots of money then you are coming to the wrong country. You would be better off visiting one of our more affluent neighbours. Thai teachers have a starting wage of only 8,000 baht per month. People with more experience get about 10,000 baht per month. I know some foreign teachers who only get 20,000-35,000 baht. However, if you work in Bangkok you can expect 35,000-90,000 baht per month.

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* Don’t send your letters as BCC – spam filters these days are very sensitive and will probably just put your application into the junk box. The chances are it won’t be seen. Also, try to avoid sending it by CC as well. We don’t really want to see that you are sending the exact same letter to other schools as well. We like to think that you have personally chosen our school and that we are the only people you are talking to!

* Don’t write to a normal Thai school looking for a job as a Geography or Math teacher. What makes you think you can teach Geography better than a local Thai teacher? Can you speak Thai fluently? Unless you have skills that a local person doesn’t have (i.e. you are a native English speaker) then you won’t get the job. If you insist on teaching something other than English, then apply for a job at an international school or somewhere that has a bilingual programme.

* Include a photograph of yourself. A smart appearance is very important. If you are a man, make sure you are clean shaven and don’t have a beard. If you are a woman, don’t wear a spaghetti strap top in the photo. Also don’t have any visible tattoos in the photo.

* Make sure your grammar is correct and that you haven’t made any spelling mistakes. It is surprising the number of letters we receive from people who make some clumsy spelling mistakes. Many word processors come with a spellchecker. Use it!

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 * Don’t start your letter with the phrase “it has always been my dream to teach in Thailand”. From experience, we know that 90% of the time you really are dreaming! We have wasted so much time writing back and forth to these people, even setting dates for their arrival, only to find they don’t turn up. These days, unless you can show you are sincere, we won’t take you seriously.

* A number of people suggest you shouldn’t visit the school unannounced. Personally I wouldn’t object. I would meet the person and give them advice of where to go if we couldn’t offer them a job. You never know, we might be looking for someone the very day you come knocking on the door. We would much prefer to give a job to someone we know that can speak English clearly than to someone who wrote a letter 1000 miles away.

* If you are going to visit a school, don’t turn up with your Thai girlfriend. Even more so if she looks like a “bar girl”. This may seem like common sense, but we have had several people do this. The school directors can be very conservative at times and won’t give you a second chance if it looks like you visit go-go bars.

* One of our main worries when we receive letters is whether that person can speak English clearly. If you are in Thailand, telephone the school. If the person that answers the phone doesn’t speak English then they will quickly transfer you to someone that does.

* If you have the skills, make a mini web site about yourself. If you have some pictures of you teaching children, then show them. It would also be cool if you could upload some video or sound clips so that we could hear you speak.

* If you are on holiday in Thailand and not ready to start teaching yet, then offer to teach at a school as a volunteer. If they like you, then they are more likely to invite you back in the future to teach fulltime. Certainly they would take you more seriously if you later write a letter saying you want to come back to teach in Thailand.

* Finally, if you are replying to a job advert, make sure that you read the qualifications section carefully. If they ask for a female native speaker, then don’t bother applying if you are a man from Nigeria. I know it sounds funny, but people do just that. It shows us straight away that they didn’t bother to read the advert properly. Or maybe they are not very good at English comprehension.

Anyway, good luck. Maybe one day we will be able to work together here in Thailand.

26 comments

  1. Amit dutta says:

    Hi, I’m a 37 yr old guy with an Indian passport. I have a bachelor degree and I have cleared IELTS exam with 7 bands. I’m coming to Bangkok on 5 th of May on a tourist visa. I want a teaching job in Thailand? Will TEFL course help me in getting job in Thailand?

    • RichardBarrow says:

      It doesn’t hurt to do a TEFL course. But most school look for experienced teachers first. Have you visited job listing sites like http://www.ajarn.com yet to see what opportunities there are for you? As a non-native speaker I am afraid the opportunities are smaller.

      • Amit dutta says:

        Can I apply for a work visa in Thailand while visiting there on a tourist visa? If I join TEFL for 1 year course, may be then?

  2. simon says:

    Hello Richard I have heard of you
    I think you used to teach at a school
    In paknam I have corresponded with you before on several occasions regarding teaching
    I have been teaching in Thailand on and off for about 5 years
    Just because some one is a native speaker doesn’t follow that you can teach it
    There are currently more jobs than teachers
    But when the asean kicks in end of year
    We are likely to see a change in teaching positions as the teaching market will be flooded by phillipino teachers. But as to whether this will be a good thing
    Only time will tell

    • RichardBarrow says:

      Yes, I am still at the same school in Paknam. I agree with you about the so-called native teachers. I would like to see some teachers from The Philippines at my school but the administration haven’t agreed to it yet.

      • Chip says:

        Since Asean has now kicked in, how are things looking for native English speaking teachers? Do they still prefer western English speaking teachers? I am an American going back to the 9-5 job after being out of the US for ten years. I think I am going to miss the life in Thailand so I am looking to see what the options are if my wife gets homesick too soon. I have worked in computers for 25 years and taught computer classes and a few English classes for my fellow church members here in Bangkok. For the English classes I was thrown in as you were and found I liked it. My degree is in Business Admin. Your blog caught my eye. Thanks for the information.

  3. Choo Wan Yat says:

    Hi Richard

    I am an English language teacher in Malaysia. Having taught for almost 30 years (from primary to secondary to college students), I wish to teach in Thailand upon my retirement in about 4 years’ time. Have you come across any Malaysians teaching in Thailand?.

  4. Hi, Richard. The tips are spot on. I am Filipino teacher with English teaching credentials. I applied to several schools in Thailand. Twice, i received an invite for an”employment interview”. Since I am currently in the Philippines, I requested for an online interview via Skype but was refused and was told to contact them when I arrive in Thailand.

    My questions –
    1. Is it legal to attend an employment interview on a tourist visa?
    2. If the school decides to offer me an employment right away, I understand that I would need a Non-Immigrant Visa B, a teaching license and a work permit. Can i convert my tourist visa to NIVB in Thailand? Or do I need to do that in the Philippines and just request the school to provide me with an Offer of Employment and Employment Contract? Which option is most appropriate?

    Thanks for your kind attention. Anticipating your kind reply.
    3.

    • RichardBarrow says:

      You can look for work on a Tourist visa. If we like you, we can change your Tourist Visa to a Non-B visa here in Thailand. Our school does this for you as well as organize work permit and temporary teaching license. I am sure other schools are the same.

  5. Elisa C. Balisi says:

    Hi! I’m elisa c. balisi from philippines.. I’m a bachelors degree taking up a secondary education major in social studies… I only have 1 year experience teaching kindergarten,
    Grade9 and Grade 10.. I’am very passinate in teaching especially i love children… Can you please recommend school, so that i can apply… Thank you and more power….. God Bless!!!

  6. Maureen luseka says:

    Am Maureen from Nairobi Kenya am a trained trainer and have a diploma and certificate for early childhood education I am well conversant with the small children in kindergarten and also love children too am kind to children and understand my job well I teach Fluent English till my pupils are able to speak pronounce word’s clearly.I also learnt sycollogy in the young children and help those who tend to withdraw from school to love the place am ready for a direct interview on Skype through my kype id Maureen luseka. Thank you I wait to hear from you soon education is the key and begins at lower age.

  7. Noemi Mendez says:

    HI, Richard!
    I am a Filipino licensed English teacher. I taught in the Secondary Level for four years. Currently, I am employed as an ESL Online Teacher. Is it necessary for me to take a TOEFL course here in the Philippines even though I already have a license? What usually are the expenses of an ESL teacher-aspirant there in Thailand prior to the employment?
    Thank you.

    P.S. I hope you could send me details to my email ad. 🙂

  8. Choo Wan Yat says:

    hi Richard, do we write to the ministry of education of Thailand to seek employment as English teachers or to the respective government schools where vacancies are available? Must the foreign teacher be fluent in thai or just a smattering understanding of the language?

  9. Thanh Huyen Nguyen says:

    I am Vietnamese. I have just gradated English teaching major from my University last year. I have spent one month to practice teaching English in Thailand when I was fourth years student. Now, I am going to come back Thailand to find a job.
    Hope to receive more experience from you..
    Many thanks!

  10. sam says:

    Hi Greetings I want information about admission in thai school. My son is 8 years old. I am living in wat dan samrong. Is any school one know about the school near to my place. Thanks

  11. Mr Kingdom says:

    Hello Richard!
    I must appreciate you first, for your awesome article.

    I am a Nigerian English educator with over six years practical teaching experience.
    I want to expand my career and with an international experience; so I have decided to migrate to Thailand soon.

    I have Professional Diploma (Business Education) and Final Professional Diploma in EDUCATION – Language and Communication Arts (English) aside other academic qualifications.

    Do you think I will have good prospects?
    When do think is the best time /season for me to be in Thailand?
    Thanks.

  12. Mark Newman says:

    “If you are going to visit a school, don’t turn up with your Thai girlfriend…”

    I disagree with this. There has never been a situation in my 16 years in Thailand where having my girlfriend with me has put me at a disadvantage.

    It’s important for employers to see that you are settled and in a long term commitment to your partner and the city/area where you live.

  13. Ash says:

    Hi, I’ve always wanted to teach in Asia, particularly in Thailand and Korea. I just want to know whether my American teacher certification will be accepted there or not.

  14. Patrick Banks says:

    Hey I am moving to Thailand in August 2017. I have a BS(psychology) and a TEFL qualification. I unfortunately will not be able to show my official documentation of my BS until December 2017, but can provide a full academic transcript of my units. Will this be ok when applying for jobs?

  15. Anja Hugo says:

    Hello Richard,

    I have recently read quite a lot about “teaching in thailand” and I must say I am intrigued.

    I am currently working in a retail pharmacy, doing my practical hours as a Pharmacist Assistant while finishing off my studies, but I am really considering taking a break from the whole pharmaceutical industry for a year or two.

    I absolutely love children and think that this could be exactly what I need just to get focused again.

    I do have one concern and I hope that you would be able to help me.

    I am a single mother, of a 4-year old boy. I solely come from an Afrikaans speaking family but already he is familiar with other languages such as one or two phrases in Sotho, and a few words in French. But nonetheless, he speaks both Afrikaans and English fluent so I think he would really adapt quick and easy in a foreign country.
    But the question is, do they allow that?

    Would I be able at all to apply, as well as taking him with me?

    Really hope to hear from you soon, if you are able to assist me in the matter.

    Thank you,
    Anja

  16. Charleston Hera says:

    Hi, Good day, This is Charleston Hera. I’m really interested in teaching in other countries like here in Thailand. I’m a licensed teacher and I’ve been teaching here in private schools for 6 years. For me, teaching is not new to me but in the way, I handle the pupils is somewhat like ” expect the unexpected”.

  17. Alditya Pratap Shahi says:

    Hello sir,

    Will you please tell me, if i passed mathematics in engineering with grace marks.. Am i able to teach maths in thailand in lower classes..

  18. Jenny says:

    hello sir Richard,
    I am now in Philippines and plan to apply as a teacher in Thailand. I have a degree course but not in teaching related, but i have took up 8 units for Professional Teaching.
    should i qualify to apply as a teacher in Thailand?

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