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Teaching English in Bangkok

Local cculture

As Thailand's biggest business hub, Bangkok is a fascinating city that offers a real insight into Thai culture. It is the ideal destination for those considering teaching abroad.  It welcomes visitors with a heady blend of modern west meets exotic east. Its gleaming shopping malls and skyscrapers rub shoulders with ancient temples and bustling, open air markets. The English language is becoming more and more important for Bangkok's growing urban middle class, and there is a rising demand for English teachers in this dynamic city.

As this demand has become more widely known the numbers of hopeful applicants to Bangkok is increasing, and it is vital therefore that anyone hoping to secure a good, reasonably-paid job there, fits the bill. All applicants hoping to teach English in Thailand are expected to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an English-speaking country, and have English as their native language. Proof of relevant work experience or TEFL qualifications will put candidates ahead of the pack. The most respected TEFL courses are the Cambridge CELTA course or Trinity TESOL, both of which can be taken at course centers all over the world.

With so much competition for positions, English teachers are expected to be well presented and clean cut. Appearance is more important than you might think: For men, this means a prospective teacher is expected to wear a tie, long-sleeved shirt and full-length pants. Thai culture places a great deal of respect on smart dress and cleanliness and sloppy appearance is not tolerated in schools.

English teachers in Bangkok can find themselves teaching school children, university students or employed adults. Class sizes can be big: it's possible to find yourself teaching 50 or 60 students. Classes vary in age from school children aged 5 to 18, to young university-aged students and employed adults; similarly, the knowledge level varies. Students can be playful but are easily bored: you should walk in the room with the charismatic presence of a game show host. That said, students are generally also extremely respectful of the teacher role.

With so many schools looking for teachers in Thailand, finding a job isn't difficult - though finding one that pays reasonably and that you like in the area you want to be in might be a little more challenging. A comfortable standard of living in Bangkok can be had on a teacher salary of between 40-50,000 baht a month; accepting a lower salary is not advisable.

Everyone working as an English teacher in Thailand is legally required to have a work permit and should not start working without one. Before applying for a work permit - which must be done in Thailand - all prospective teachers must apply for a non-Immigrant B visa at a Thai embassy back home.

Should you not have a degree, don't give up, and don't ever be tempted to buy a fake degree from a street vendor: Being caught with a fake degree is considered worse than working without a work permit. If you have a TEFL qualification, it may be possible to find work even without a degree, but don't be tempted to lie.

Accommodation is cheap and easy to find all over the city and with so many English teachers and TEFL students in Bangkok, it may also be possible to share a house with kindred souls. Food is cheap, tasty and freely available from mouthwatering street kitchens, so cooking at home ought to be a pleasure, not a necessity.

Getting to Thailand from North America is fairly simple, with most airlines including a layover in Hong Kong or Tokyo on scheduled flights to Bangkok from most major US cities.


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