Becoming an English Teacher in Thailand
If there is one thing that impels young professionals to come and visit Thailand, it is the conception of many that the grass looks greener on this side of the world. Indeed, Thailand offers vast employment opportunities to foreigners, especially in the field of education. I recall being reluctant and interested at the same time when I was looking into the possibility of becoming a teacher about a year ago.
When I first came to Thailand, I worked as a manager at an international law firm in Bangkok for two and a half years. My decision to shift to a different career was swayed by many different elements and, as corny as it may sound, my passion for teaching has been a major factor. I developed the interest gradually when I was asked to teach basic English to a small youth group in our church for two months. That’s when I realized that I love teaching. Then I thought to myself that perhaps, I can be a real professional teacher in Thailand.
Subsequently, I started inquiring and researching on how I could secure a teaching job if I were to resign from my legal manager position. I discovered that it was not as easy as I thought and would take time. The first thing I did was return to my home country to retrieve my diploma and official transcripts from the university where I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree. However more than academic credentials are required to meet the qualifications to become a professional teacher.
Many schools in Thailand require foreigners who are non-teacher by profession to have some sort of relevant training and teaching certificates before their applications can get considered. After I left my previous company, I enrolled in a training center in Bangkok and took a 4-week Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program. An integral part of this course is to complete an 8-hour practical teaching requirement at different educational levels. This experience was quite helpful for me as it gave me an idea of the typical classroom setting in Thailand. The critical understanding of the job enabled me to develop practical teaching techniques which I then use and apply later in in my career.
After having obtained my TEFL certificate, I felt more than ready to begin searching for a teaching job. I thought that it would be difficult for me to obtain a job because the school year had already started and I am not considered a “Native English Speaker” even though I have spoken English my entire life. But I was fortunate to find the right school about a week after I completed my TEFL course.
I was offered positions at three different schools in Thailand but I chose a school located in the province of Rayong. It is not the ideal location if you like living in a city, but the school is near the beach and the people are very nice. I was lucky that I entered Thailand on a Non- B visa because of my previous employment. Those who entered Thailand on another type of visa would have to leave the country and apply for a Non-B visa at an outside Thai consulate then reenter Thailand.
About a week later. I started my employment with the school, I was informed by my agency that I wouldd need to take and pass the TOEIC exam as a requirement for non-native English speakers. I took a day off from work to travel from Rayong to the TOEIC test center which is located in Bangkok. I was happy that I passed the exam my first time.
I was instructed by my agency to prepare documents from my university so they can start my teaching license application. The agency where I obtained my TEFL proved to be quite helpful and accommodating during this process. Within a short period of time, I obtained my teaching certificate.
To legally become a teacher in Thailand demands a significant and sometimes is an exigent process. The task of acquiring the proper visa and work permit can be time consuming and stressful. Although there are some who work in Thai schools without the proper visa and permits, it is still far more sensible to be prepared and compliant. After all, no one would want to end up in a bad situation in case they get caught and remanded by the Thai authorities.
By Eric Johnde Guzman and Robert Virasin
Mr. Robert R. Virasin is a licensed U.S. Attorney and managing director of Virasin & Partners. He can be reached at www.virasin.com. Mr. Eric John de Guzman is a teaches at a public high school in Rayong, Thailand.
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