As the world slowly but surely creeps its way back to something resembling normality, TEFL-certified teachers, backpackers and tourist are cautiously beginning to book flights to explore Thailand once again.
Thailand has always been one of the most famous tourist destinations as the world has become increasingly connected, with everything from the Bangkok nightlife, Phuket beaches to the fireworks at Phra Nakhon Khiri contributing to roughly 40 million tourists visiting the country in 2019 alone.
Estimates claim that tourism makes up to 17% of the GDP of the country, and there are already signs that things are beginning to climb again after the disruptions of the past couple of years. But, a lesser talked-about arm of this industry has been the emergence of Thailand as one of the world leaders for teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). Here’s exactly why Thailand is becoming the number one destination for foreign English teachers.
The Staggering Rise Of TEFL
Even before taking the Land of Sunshine and its huge demands into account, the industry around TEFL jobs has been on the rise right across the globe. With the likes of China, the UAE and Japan all popular destinations across Asia for would-be teachers, it’s not uncommon for salaries to break past the $3,000USD barrier, with more than 20,000 new jobs being listed each month.
There are now over 40,000 private language institutes around the world on top of the number of public schools and universities that are increasingly making English a mandatory language to learn, and, in the wake of everything digital getting a serious injection in the wake of the pandemic, online language learning services are growing at a rate of 6% year on year.
The flexibility that comes with the TEFL industry these days is all good news for travellers, who are free to teach the Anglo language to a Thai classroom from anywhere in the world, only requiring a stable internet connection.
What Do TEFL Teachers Need To Teach In Thailand?
Most schools and educational institutions in Thailand will have their own specifications when it comes to TEFL jobs, however, almost all of them will insist on the following:
- A TEFL Certificate from a registered TEFL School
- A Fluent-level of Speaking/Writing/Reading English
- A University Degree
A university degree is not a requirement for obtaining a TEFL certificate, however, Thailand is unlike other countries in the region such as Cambodia or Laos in so far as a degree is required to register as a teacher in the country.
TEFL courses are available to be completed anywhere in the world, and it is really up to the teacher whether they want to leave their native country armed with the qualification to teach or immerse themselves in the Thai culture before picking up their certificate.
It should be also said that whilst you don’t have to be a native English speaker to acquire a TEFL qualification, most Thai schools will show a preference for native tongues and those without a strong ‘foreign’ accent.
What Does Teaching In Thailand Look Like?
Whilst the Thai economy is not the most developed compared to other prospects for teaching English in Asia, most TEFL suppliers are able to make up to anywhere between 30%-50% of their income after expenses in the country.
Depending on the experience a TEFL teacher arrives with, salaries are often around 30,000-35,000 Thai Baht (approximately $850-$1,000 USD), though the more veteran classroom leaders can sometimes earn more than that.
For those reading this in the West in countries like the UK or US, that might not seem like a wage packet with a lot of wiggle room, however, it’s certainly scalable and represents roughly the same amount a younger person would typically make in an entry-level position. Couple in the otherworldly beauty and experiences that come with Thailand, and the remarkably cheap standard of living in regards to food, travel and rent, you begin to get a good sense of the appeal.
Because of this latter point especially, there are ample opportunities to save up for TEFL teachers too. Most English teachers are able to save anywhere from $150-$200 USD each and every month teaching in Thailand, with some even managing to push that number up to $500 in certain regions.
For example, a basic, but certainly hearty and admittedly delicious, meal in Chiang Rai or Bangkok might only cost a TEFL teacher the equivalent of $1-$3 at a time.
Saving up to $250 USD in Thailand is the equivalent of saving $1,000 in purchases in the United States, so you once again see just why TEFL jobs are fast-becoming just as lucrative an experience for some teachers, as they are a culturally rich and fulfilling one.