Thailand: Teaching ESL in Thailand
Teaching English in Thailand is a great way to gain valuable experience and hone teaching skills while enjoying beautiful beaches, bustling markets and amazing cuisine.
Living and Teaching in Thailand
Peak ESL Hiring Season in Thailand
How to Find Jobs Teaching English in Thailand
Chain Schools in Thailand
Tips for ESL Teachers in Thailand
Teaching Requirements for ESL Teachers in Thailand
Embassy and Consulate Information for Thailand
Thailand’s school year generally begins in May and ends in March, with a three-week semester break in mid-October. The school year is followed by a two-month summer vacation. Hiring for most schools is done in February and March in preparation for the first semester starting in May. July-August is the next hiring push for universities and the October term.
Public and Private School System
Public education is provided by the government from pre-school through high school. The private sector includes for-profit schools and fee paying non-profit schools often run by charitable organizations, the Catholic Church being one of the most prominent of these. The school calendar works on a semester system beginning in May and ending in March. There is a two or three-week break between semesters in September, and then a long summer break during the hottest part of the year when Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, takes place.
Students of all ages in the public school system, and generally speaking in the private school system, are required to wear school uniforms. During the primary levels, students follow eight core subjects, including mathematics, science, Thai, and art, and then in high school are able to vary their subjects slightly with elective courses.
Deciphering the difference between public and private schools is often under debate. The biggest differences tend to be class sizes, cost and accessibility.
|Accessibility||many local schools||may need to travel in rural areas|
It is argued that private schools offer a better education and secure better quality teachers. However, many maintain that, as the government’s contribution to the Ministry of Education is very significant and focuses on teacher training, teachers in the public school system have a greater opportunity to receive ongoing training and funds are available to do so. The private sector does tend to have a lower student-teacher ratio however, which is a definite advantage. Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses, and ESL teachers would need to determine in which environment they would be most effective.
Private Language Schools
Private language schools are a great place for new ESL teachers to find a teaching position. These schools conduct classes and hire throughout the calendar year.
In some cases, language schools open first thing in the morning to accommodate business people taking lessons prior to starting work, and then open again mid-afternoon until mid-to-late evening to accommodate lessons for children after they have completed their studies at school.
Universities and Colleges
Universities and colleges in Thailand fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of University Affairs in both public and private sectors. With greater government focus on education in recent years, Thai universities have begun to climb in ranking, and in 2006, three universities were designated as “excellent” in Academics and Research by the Commission on Higher Education.
ESL teachers desiring to teach in a Thai university will most often find that a BA (Masters preferred), TESOL certificate and teaching experience are required.
While calendars vary between universities, a two-semester system generally begins in June and ends in May.
ESL teachers wishing to earn extra money often consider private tutoring. Some contracts specifically prohibit such activity, usually with conflict of interest as the primary reason. However, should it be permissible, ESL teachers can earn 300 - 1000 Baht/hour and sometimes more.
Graduates of Oxford Seminars receive our Graduate Placement Service with exclusive access to established schools and recruiters around the world.
Searching the internet will also yield many resources for finding ESL teaching positions in Thailand, including:
- ECC (Thailand) - is one of the largest private language and computer schools in Thailand with more than 50 branches throughout the country. Students at ECC cover all ages and ability levels, and have access to a wide variety of courses including general conversation and specialized test preparation.
- Inlingua – has branches worldwide and only uses native English instructors to teach their English classes. They offer many types of courses and languages at all levels through small classes or private tuition. Currently there are language centers in seven of Bangkok’s most populated areas.
Additional ESL Resources to Help Teach English in Thailand
Below is a sampling of the many resources available to ESL teachers living abroad.
- Oxford Seminars' ESL Teaching Resources
- About.com - ESL Teaching Resources
- EHow Teaching Resources
- Transitions Abroad
- Discovery Education
- Songs for Teaching
- Genki English
- Escape Artist
- A smile goes a long way in the “Land of Smiles”!
- Things move at a slower pace in Thailand than they do in the West. Learning to be patient and avoid being in a hurry will lessen stress.
- The Thai are a gracious, non-confrontational people. Any conflict should be handled in a calm, private manner avoiding accusations or assigning blame so as to “save face”.
- Foreigners should always carry official identification.
- Always carry tissue and hand sanitizer because public washrooms rarely provide toilet paper or soap.
- Keep in mind that wearing gold or yellow may suggest that you support the king and that wearing a red shirt may suggest strong political ties (anti-government).
- As you will have to leave your footwear at the door of restaurants, choose an inexpensive pair so that good ones don’t get taken.
- Because of the high humidity during hot season, clothing may take up to 24 hours to dry.
- ‘Farang’ is the term for foreigners.
- When purchasing a calling card, check to make sure that pay phones in the area are able to make international calls.
- Clothing and shoes for Western sizes are not always in abundance. Taking footwear may be prudent. Having clothing made to fit at a very reasonable price is a great option once in Thailand.
- Carrying a shawl or light jacket will be helpful in air-conditioned buildings or vehicles.
Historically, finding a teaching position in Thailand was relatively easy. In recent years, however, the government has focused its attention on this sector, dedicating a large financial portion to teacher training and creating a new trend of higher requirements for teachers of English from outside of Thailand. Generally speaking, a College Diploma or a Bachelor’s Degree with the Oxford Seminars TESOL/TESL/TEFL certificate is required; however, there are some exceptions to this rule.
For instance, some programs allow teachers to only possess a high school diploma though preference will often be given the those with higher education. Finding jobs without a degree is most easily done in person or with location flexibility.
ESL teachers interested in Thailand can apply for a few different visas, the most common one being the Non-Immigrant B Visa.
The requirements and guidelines below are listed for ESL teacher applicants to Thailand who are citizens of United States, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. Citizens of other countries may be required to produce additional documentation. It is important to consult the consular services of the Thai embassy/consulate to confirm details of each application.
Minimum Requirements to Apply for Teaching Positions in Thailand:
- High School Diploma, or BA (3 or 4 year) from a recognized university. If it is in Education or related field then you may be able to skip the Thai culture course
- TESOL Certification (120 hrs preferred but not required)
- Native English speaking ability
- 20 hour Thai culture course (upon arrival) is nearly always required
Types of Applicable Visas:
- Non-Immigrant B Visa (Valid for ESL teachers to work legally)
- O Visa (Spousal or Dependants Visa)
- O-A (One year visa issued for retirees over 50)
- Working Holiday Visa (WHV) – for citizens of Australia/New Zealand ages 18-30. The purpose of the WHV is for touring and allows those using it to work in-country in order to cover the expenses of travel. As such, this visa may not be suitable for teaching English.
Important Visa Information:
- One must apply for a visa from their country of citizenship or show proof of permanent residency in the country from which they are applying
- Visas will only be granted if there is sufficient time remaining on the applicant’s passport after end of stay in Thailand (one year preferred)
- Leaving the country without a re-entry permit essentially cancels one’s visa
- A “border hop” or “visa run” (leaving and re-entering the country of residence to renew/obtain a visa) is a common requirement in many countries
Standard Process for Obtaining Documentation to Work Legally in Thailand:
- Applicant secures a contract with a legitimate school (who would work on behalf of applicant in the following steps)
- School applies for work permit on behalf of applicant
- Applicant applies for Non-Immigrant B Visa (along with single entry permit) at embassy or consulate in home country (takes approximately 1-3 business days to process)
- Once in Thailand, a 90-day stay permit is granted to process temporary work permit (through Department of Employment) and other essential documentation (school initiated/assisted)
- Application for Extension of Stay Permit and Re-entry Permit are submitted to Immigration Bureau before departing for “border hop” (visa run – see details below)
- Application for Extension of Work Permit is submitted at Department of Employment (school initiated/assisted)
- Teaching License is issued by the Ministry of Education once all criteria are met (school initiated/assisted)
Standard Required Documents for Visas:
(Important to check with Thai embassy/consulate as variations in requirements sometimes occur)
- A valid passport with approximately one year remaining after travel dates (This should be confirmed with local embassy/consulate)
- Completed visa application
- Passport photos
- Original diploma/degree and transcripts
- Original TESOL certificate
- Criminal Background Check
- Health certificate if entering Thailand from certain countries (check with embassy/consulate)
American Embassy and Consular Offices in Thailand
Embassy of the United States in Thailand
120 - 122 Wireless Road and 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok
Phone: +66-2-205-4000 (Switchboard open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day)
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 07:00-16:00, excluding official holidays.
United States Consulate, Chiang Mai
387 Wichayanond Road
City: Chiang Mai
Phone: (66-53) 107-700 (outside Thailand), (053) 107-700 (within Thailand)
Fax: (66-53) 252-633 (outside Thailand), (053) 252-633 (within Thailand)
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 07:30-16:30, excluding official holidays.
Canadian Embassy and Consular Offices in Thailand
Embassy of Canada in Thailand
15th Floor, Abdulrahim Place
990 Rama IV Road
Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
Phone: +66 (0) 2646-4300
Fax: +66 (0) 2646-4336
Hours of Operation: Monday - Thursday: 07:30-16:15; Friday: 07:30-13:00
Canadian Consulate, Chiang Mai
151 Super Highway
Chiang Mai 50000
City: Chiang Mai
Phone: +66 (0) 5385-0147 or +66 (0) 5324-2292
Fax: +66 (0) 5385-0332
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 09:00-12:00
Australian Embassy and Consular Offices in Thailand
Australian Embassy in Thailand
37 South Sathorn Road
Phone: +66 2 344 6300
Fax: +66 2 344 6593
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 08:30-16:30 except embassy public holidays
British Embassy and Consular Offices in Thailand
British Embassy in Thailand
14 Wireless Road
Phone: +66 (0) 2 305 8333
Fax: +66 (0) 2 255 9278
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs: 08:00-12:00 / 12:45-16:30; Fri: 08:00-13:00 (Local time)
British Consulate, Chiang Mai
198 Bumrungraj Road
Chiang Mai 50000
City: Chiang Mai
Phone: (+66) (53) 263 015
Fax: (+66) (53) 263 016
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday: 09:00-11:30 (Local time)
Irish Embassy and Consular Offices in Thailand
Honorary Consulate of Ireland in Thailand
4th Floor, Rm 407 Thaniya Building 62,
Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
Phone: +66.2.632 6720
Fax: +66 2 632 6721
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 08:30-12:30
Honorary Consulate of Ireland, Phuket
Tamarind Valley, Moo 4
Soi Suksan, Viset Road
Rawai, Muang, Phuket 83130
Phone: +66 76 281 273
Fax: +66 76 384 425
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 09:00-12:00
New Zealand's Embassy and Consular Offices in Thailand
Embassy of New Zealand in Thailand
M Thai Tower, 14th Floor
All Seasons Place
87 Wireless Road
Phone: +66 2 254 2530
Fax: +66 2 253 9045 or 253 0249
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 08:00-12:00/13:00-16:30
Embassy Offices Outside Thailand
Thailand Embassy in the United States
Embassy of Thailand in Washington, DC
1024 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 401
Washington D.C 20007 - 3681
City: Washington, DC
Phone: 1-(202) 944-3600
Thailand Embassy in Canada
Embassy of Thailand in Ottawa
180 Island Park Drive
Ottawa, ON K1Y 0A2
Fax: 1 (613)722-6624
Next: Financial Snapshot
Previous: Living in Thailand