With breathtaking landscapes, ancient traditions, a welcoming atmosphere, and a very affordable cost of living, South-East Asia is increasingly becoming one of the most popular destinations for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
Out of the eleven countries that form this region, Thailand and Vietnam are the favourite locations among TEFL teachers. Thailand’s central location makes it the ideal base for those who want to explore its neighbouring countries, with the country’s low living and travelling costs.
Living in Thailand is a wonderful experience not only for its incredible seafood-based cuisine, but also for the locals’ kindness and friendliness, which is renowned worldwide. This is not surprising, from a country that has been nicknamed the ‘Land of Smiles’ and whose language has 13 different ways to describe a smile – or yim.
Teaching in Thailand – Requirements
If you are considering moving to Thailand to teach English, the good news is that lack of teaching experience shouldn’t jeopardise your chance of finding a job. A friendly personality and the right aptitude for the job are considered far more important. However, there are some requirements that must be met:
- Being a proficient speaker of the language. If English is not your first language, you should have a minimum IELTS score of 5 or a TOEIC score of 600.
- Holding a bachelor’s degree as a minimum
- If your degree is not in the field of education, you need to apply for a teaching licence which can be valid for up to six years.
- Having a clear police background check from your home country
- Passing a basic health check
- obtaining a visa
The Visa Process
Teaching without a visa shouldn’t even be considered, as it is illegal. As well as receiving fines and penalties if you are caught, you also miss out on all your employment rights.
Your first visa is the ‘non-immigrant B (business) visa’, valid for three months. Once your school has applied for a work permit, the validity of your visa will be extended to match your work permit, which is usually determined by the duration of your contract. You can also enter Thailand on a ‘tourist visa’ from your home country, and you can then apply for the business visa once you’re there. The documents required for the ‘non-immigrant B visa’ are:
- a passport with six months validity as a minimum and two blank pages for the visa
- passport photos
- original copies of degrees and relevant qualifications (authenticated)
- a clear police background check from your home country
- a letter of employment provided by the employer
- payment of visa application fee
Living in Thailand as a TEFL Teacher
As previously mentioned, the cost of living in this country is low, and the salaries reflect that.
You can rent an apartment for less than $200 USD, but employers either assist their international teachers in finding accommodation or they will have it already arranged for them. Generally speaking, the rooms are basic and bare, so don’t expect much to avoid disappointment.
The life of a teacher in Thailand can be busy, so you might end up eating out quite often – but don’t worry, a basic meal can cost as little as $4 USD. Your salary could be anything between $800 and $1200 USD, depending on the institution you work for. This might seem pretty low according to western standards, but in Thailand this kind of salary allows you to live a comfortable life and have some spare money for travelling.
In terms of schedule, a teacher in Thailand usually teaches for 18 hours a week, but the remaining 22 hours are occupied with marking homework, planning lessons, and general admin. As a farang – non-Thai – teacher, you might spend your work time outside the classroom in a staffroom especially for international teachers. Other schools, however, promote interaction between local and foreign teachers by providing a mixed staffroom. Whatever the case, try to socialise with your local colleagues: it will help you settle in the new country and work environment seamlessly and more quickly. Take a look at this article to know more about how to do teach English in Thailand from The TEFL Org. It covers everything from visa requirements to cultural considerations, and making it an resource for anyone who interested to teaching abroad.
Where to Teach in Thailand
From north to south, Thailand is a magical country to explore in its entirety. With so much to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which location should be your new home away from home. Have a look at some ideas below for inspiration.
- Bangkok is Thailand’s capital and it is also the country’s largest city, home to 14 million residents. This is a vibrant city to live in where it is impossible to get bored. However, it can be easy to feel lost and confused in such a busy environment. Familiarising yourself with the public transport system will help you feel at home and there are established expat communities that can help you settle in. As is often the case in large cities, the demand for TEFL teachers is higher than in other parts of the country. Salaries are higher there as is the cost of living.
- Phuket is a city famous for its jaw-dropping beaches and stunning landscape on its homonymous island. This is a popular tourist destination so the cost of living here is higher than on the mainland, and this is reflected in the salaries. Although the demand for TEFL teachers is high there, the competition is fierce because it is such a sought-after location.
- Chiang Mai is ideal if you aren’t interested in living by the sea. This is a peaceful city steeped in history and rich in culture in the north of Thailand. This area isn’t particularly busy with tourists, so the cost of living is low. However, life there is far from dull and there are projects in place to connect Chiang Mai to the capital.
Your Thai Adventure begins here
Thailand is undoubtedly a gem in South-East Asia and more and more TEFL teachers have moved there on a permanent basis. As well as beautiful beaches, incredible landscapes, and a world-famous cuisine, this country wins its visitors over with the friendly and welcoming approach of its locals. A world of adventure awaits you and there are plenty of teaching opportunities if you meet the requirements. Go on, dive right into that sea of smiles!