Thailand is consistently ranked one of the best countries to teach English abroad. No surprise, right? Not only is there a high demand for ESL and TEFL teachers and a plethora of teaching opportunities, but there’s also incredible food, tropical beaches, and a relatively low cost of living. The “mai pen rai” (no worries) attitude is contagious in the Land of Smiles.
If you’re thinking about teaching English in Thailand, you might be curious about what to expect. You’ll find plenty of freedom in finding your perfect teaching job, which also means plenty of decisions to make. Here is a quick guide on the essential facts and tips before traveling to Thailand as an English teacher.
A bachelor’s degree is required to teach in Thailand legally, and being TEFL certified is highly encouraged (better yet, take an in-class TEFL course in Thailand!). However, the exact teaching qualifications will vary depending on whether you’d like to work at a public school, training center, international school, language academy, or university.
You’ll also have to get a non-immigrant B visa (single entry) before arriving in Thailand. This should be done after you receive an offer of employment from a school, so your employer or recruitment agency can help you with this process. Once you start working, you’ll need to apply for a work permit that lasts longer than 90 days. This requires your approved visa, passport, a copy of your degree and teaching credentials, and your Thailand departure card. Be ready to pass a criminal background check, too.
“I had a great recruitment experience with Teaching Nomad. There is a wide range of roles and locations to offer. I love that you are assigned a personal recruiter… This was a far better experience than most recruitment websites and agencies.”
Where to Live
Most people immediately consider Bangkok and reasonably so. The country’s capital has the highest concentration and largest variety of ESL teaching jobs to choose from. You’ll find many expats in this expansive city to connect with and befriend. Its central location also makes it a convenient home base to travel from and see other parts of the area.
However, there are many other great options. Chiang Mai — a sprawling, modern city in the mountainous northwest part of the country — is a popular alternative if you want a more relaxed and peaceful vibe. In southern cities like Phuket, Krabi, and Surat Thani, you’ll be close to tropical islands, stunning beaches, and limestone cliffs along the Gulf of Thailand. If you’d rather live in a smaller town or village, look into rural locations such as Ayutthaya, Chonburi, Sukhothai, and Wang Nam Khiao.
Where to Teach
As mentioned above, ESL and TEFL teachers have a lot of choices for teaching jobs in Thailand. Dedicate some time researching what’s available (or work with a reputable agency like Teaching Nomad!). The school or organization you work for can make or break your experience, both in and outside the classroom.
From public schools to private academies, each employer has different teaching requirements, class sizes, student ages, curriculum guidance, available resources, and expectations around hours and workload. They also vary in how much assistance they’ll provide you to find housing, transportation, and other necessities. The public K-12 school year in Thailand follows a similar schedule as western countries. It’s best to apply 4-5 months in advance for fall positions and 2-3 months in advance for spring.
Try to work with knowledgeable placement professionals or at least ask experienced ESL/TEFL teachers to find the best schools that fit your exact needs.
“I was getting frustrated with looking for jobs online, and then I found Teaching Nomad. The range of potential job opportunities is larger than I have seen elsewhere. … My recruitment consultant was great throughout the whole experience. She always managed to make time for my many questions and she took a genuine interest in all stages of my application.”
Navigating Thailand as a “Farang”
Depending on where you’re from, some cultural practices and norms in Thailand might go against what you expect at home as a “farang,” or foreigner. Here are the most noteworthy changes to expect:
- “Sabai Sabai” loosely translates to “happy, comfortable, feeling fine, take it easy” — essentially the Thai way of life. Be aware that Thai people generally have a more relaxed approach to time, so meetings and events typically start late. Students can seem less focused or disciplined in the classroom, too, and that’s simply a reflection of their easygoing culture.
- Holidays are a big deal, and they happen more frequently than in countries like the United States. Thailand celebrates many Buddhist holidays, and schools host elaborate celebrations for their staff and students to enjoy. This translates to additional long weekends and days off work to travel and immerse yourself in the local culture.
- Bring conservative, professional, and breathable outfits from home. It may be hard to find clothes that fit you in Thai markets and shops, and you’ll want a versatile wardrobe that can take you from the sweltering heat outside to air-conditioned indoors.
- Foreigners are a frequent target for scams in Thailand — it happens to almost everyone at least once. Research the common types before you arrive, and be sure to talk to locals to make sure you’re paying a fair price for goods and services.
Now that you know the essentials, it’s time to make your dream of moving to Thailand a reality!
Teaching Nomad’s team of placement professionals can help you get started and will walk you through every step of the process to teach English in Thailand. We offer an in-class TEFL course in Thailand if you need certification, plus a Thailand-specific job board with plenty of openings posted every week. Let our team of experts help you find a job that meets all your needs!
“From the moment I signed up until I got an official offer, I was taken care of. I was given so much guidance and support, which I did not expect. My recruiting specialist understood my needs and didn’t bombard me with applications but saw opportunities suited to my needs. Within a short span of time, I had interviews and offers lined up.
Even after accepting my offer, my recruiter kept checking up on me and gave me pointers and tips on concerns I had to raise with the company I had accepted the offer from. I took her advice, and it paid off majorly. Even as I sit now writing this review, I have a bunch of emails with documents to read with what to expect from the journey that awaits me so I am truly prepared. I’m truly thankful and thrilled for the adventure that awaits!”