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Thailand Teaching - tell us why you think it's a positive experience

Discussion in 'Staffroom' started by bahn_farang, 23 Dec 2016.

  1. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Since the name of the forum suggests that the site is about teaching within the Kingdom of Thailand, I thought it would be enlightening to post a thread about the positives of living here. Certainly, there are those who prefer, whether for financial or other reasons, to live and inspire the young/adult learners in other countries. This thread is not about how other places behold grass which is greener nor does this thread suggest that those outside the borders of the kingdom do not have valid reasons for leaving or choosing others places to grow roots.

    What this thread attempts to gain is insight into the positives of teaching in Thailand. For sure there are numerous.

    My own thoughts.

    1) The Kingdom offers unlimited opportunity to those willing to put in the work to improve themselves or if the whim takes teach extra hours to boost income.

    2) The Kingdom is an imperfect one which allows the possibility of improvement within the field of education.

    Perhaps those who are working within the Kingdom have other positive points to add.

    Now, regrettably some will post the negatives. These negatives will originate from personal reasons, perhaps based on experience, this of course does not make them any less valid, but this thread is about the pleasantries of working in the Kingdom.

    Fellow teachers, yours positivity is welcomed
     
  2. SageAdvice

    SageAdvice Well-Known Member

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    If that's the case, you might want to change the title of your thread from a question to a statement. Here's a suggestion: Thailand Teaching: tell us why you think it's a positive experience.
     
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  3. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Ok, point taken and accepted, perhaps the mods would be so kind. :smiling

    Any positive thoughts?
     
  4. Gor Blimey Guvnur!

    Gor Blimey Guvnur! What the duck ! Staff Member

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    For me, Teaching in Thailand has primarily served as a means to an end. I find it a bit or a love-hate relationship over the last 13 plus years of being a teechar. What it has given me is a very comfortable living, short hours, long holidays equalling little stress. However, once the detached house is paid off in 2018 then my teaching days may be over but I will always be happy that I did what I did. That's a good thing right?

    I like living in a provincial capital and have not pursued further educational development as there is no financial incentive to do so ...I did consider working in the big mango and then I would have furthered myself educationally to step up the ladder ....choices made and I decided to stick at it where I am without a dredded commute.

    Many guavas come to the land of smiles for a short while and the majority of them stick at it for 6 months to say 2 or so years. It can be a great life experience too and many that do this see it as a 'time out' before getting a serious career going back in farangland. Thailand has many jobs on offer for the 'no experience' guava with a degree thus the low paid jobs are snapped up by those seeking a quick fix ... win-win for the guava and the reluctant paying schools eh. ... oh and a few spots for the 'no degree on a tourist visa' too.

    For the minority that stay here long term, yes it is a good idea to become more qualified by means of postgrad Dip Ed, M Ed and the likes as this can lead to a more fruitful position in an international school or a good bilingual school ....IF indeed that is your goal.

    Being a teacher all these years with my present chushty position has made me appreciate living in Thailand too. The comparision to being a qualified engineer in the UK to being a teacher in Thailand puts a huge smile on my face every time I think about it ...no more 60 hour weeks, no more long commutes, no more rediculous half of my wage mortgage payments, no more 4 weeks a year holiday. In a nutshell, quality of life, and that is far more important than a big bag of cash to me.

    Yes, Thailand can be a great place to work as a teacher, but it ain't for everyone ....figure out the pitfalls and try to avoid them and you can have a great time here short or long term. RE 'pitfalls': plenty of threads here on TT and you may find some good pointers with a bit of a search...do your homework! says the teechar.
     
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  5. spidey

    spidey Well-Known Member

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    The reason why most of us stay here is because its a pretty cruisy gig. I am going to be obtuse here because I dont want too many snoops putting two and two together and catching my drift in this conversation. I like my current employment situation. Its not overly demanding, the moola is about what would be expected in a job where I can scurry off home when the day is done. I aint expected to keep my seat warm when classes are done. I dont go for much of the of professional development because, at the end of the day its not going to amount to much more in the way of the green stuff, if you get my drift. I would if it seemed worthwhile but, at the end of the day we are working in a system that really doesnt care too much about the little fella. The little fella, both student and teacher dont get a look in as far as the bigger picture goes. We are cogs in a much bigger wheel that is driving us along, we cant do much to change the gears. We can only go where the machine takes us. I know we can make small improvements, but at the end of the day what is spewed out, what is called 'ready for society' is a far cry from what would be expected in more affluent places. We can teach people how to communicate in the language of business and science but if the powers that be arent interested in Joe Bloggs being able to hold a coversation much past food and travel then........then let us all just play the game and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
     
  6. gungchang

    gungchang Over the hill for at least the 6th time!

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    Living in Thailand is part of teaching in Thailand. The tail wags the dog. The food, the health care, the cost of living, the exotic locale, the infrastructure, the western amenities, the tolerance of locals for outsiders, blah blah blah all impact why one teaches in Thailand. I suspect that more than a few teachers are teaching in Thailand so that they may live in Thailand.

    Now that I've stepped outside for a third time (Egypt, Korea, China), I've concluded that teaching isn't all that different from country to country. My uni girls are more polite than the the Thai secondary boys I most recently had, but they still keep their phones on in their laps and are two legged copy machines. The children I've had are not as wild as the little monsters I had in Thailand, but there are still monkeys in the room. The secondary students I had in Korea didn't play football in the room, but they could still ignore the teacher One girl in Korea didn't conceal her phone and used it and refused to turn it off. I dragged her desk, with her sitting at it, out of the room.

    Same crap, different commode.
     
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  7. SageAdvice

    SageAdvice Well-Known Member

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    :smiling Pretty much sums up the life of the traveling tefler...
     
  8. ttompatz

    ttompatz Just another teacher

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    I would like to offer a somewhat different perspective.

    I came here back in 2010 as a generic EFL teacher.
    To me, this was just another / the next EFL job in a (at the time) 12 year career of teaching EFL.
    Coming here had nothing to do with the weather (I think it is too hot), the women (I was then and still am married to a not-Thai lady), or the food (I am not a big fan of most Thai food). It was just another teaching job.

    Fast forward -
    I made a difference.
    I am now the head of Program and our main school and drive the program in 15 affiliate schools.
    I earn substantially more than 30k I was earning when I came here back in 2010 and have a nice benefits package.
    I am still with the same employer and will likely remain here until I retire.

    The ability to make that difference and move ahead was based on 4 things:
    Personal pride, professional development (previous and on-going) and entrepreneurial spirit and the drive to make a difference.

    While some have felt the need to move out to move ahead there are those of us who have done OK by moving to Thailand.
    Thailand IS a place where you can work, network and get ahead in spite of what is often spouted by the naysayers on this and other Thai or EFL related boards.
     
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  9. DigitalGypsy

    DigitalGypsy Well-Known Member

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    Morning,

    Allow me to chime in with my own subjective thoughts: :smile

    I'll start with a little nod to my past to contrast with present gains as I feel it would serve as an injustice to list off Thailand's gems without a backstory. So, mid-thirties, no kids, in a fulfilling LTR but not married (yet), and spent 10+ years working in 2 American investment banks. While both offered excellent experience, a fine-tuning of life skills, collaborative skills, responsibility and so on, I ultimately found the work to be soul destroying. I was slave to the wage and found myself on a conveyor belt of futility, one week bled into the next and I yearned for the weekend. My health suffered, and my quality of life was terrible overall. I found myself drinking more, chain-smoking, feeling depressed, and going from one failed, empty relationship to the next. It was a dead-end endeavor. Yes, it offered good pay, a pension, a modicum of stability and security, but my happiness was found wanting. I certainly wasn't prepared to spend the rest of my life torturing myself just to receive nods of approval when asked my vocation, or to collect a wad of cash at the end of the month. There had to be meaning, purpose, desire, motivation, goals, achievements, a sense of worth, a fulfillment of some kind. None of these things existed. It's like that quote in the Machinist: everything in my life seemed like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy....

    Even my own personal outlook and attitude was skewed, I was wasting money on nonsensical and unnecessary purchases and pursuits. The society I found myself in seemed sick, imbalanced, or deranged. I felt a pressure to subscribe to an ill-fitting way of life, or behavior. I felt the need to do certain things, buy certain clothes, or follow a certain direction that was set out before me in age markers: "you need to be married before 25, you need to own your own house by 27, you need to be on your 3rd car before turning 28, have 2 kids before 30.." and so on ad nauseam. If one did not subscribe to these 'life goals' then one was a failure and subtly reminded of it at every turn. This was evident all around me, in work, in my social life, in my locality, in the media that bombarded and assailed my senses at every turn. I saw it happening to myself, and I saw it with my friends too. It was even in the language that was spoken: the first question one would be met with when conversing with members of the opposite sex in a social setting was in relation to your career or pay packet. Likewise, family members and peers would be prompting you to climb 'property ladders', offering unsolicited advice, reminders, and nods to all and sundry. I'm sorry, but a property is something one lives in. This idea that it's a chip at a fcking casino is what brought the property market crash and disrupted the livelihoods of millions of people. This is and was the very greed I wanted to remove myself from. It was everywhere, in society, in work, and in people I knew. It was a narrative I couldn't escape. (And yes, I know it exists in varying forms here too, but that's another story).

    A number of circumstances came to pass inclusive of economic Armageddon in the banking industry, the unforeseen passing of a number of people in my immediate family, a modest financial windfall, and a personal awakening of sorts. I walked from the job, and returned to education to complete my degree a decade after previously dropping out of university, and embarked on my travels. The first stop was Japan. My life to date is a dichotomy of two worlds: who I was before I first experienced Japan, and who I became thereafter. From that moment on I started to see things in hi-definition and haven't looked back. It changed everything, how I saw the world, and where I saw myself in it, tattooing an ellipsis with indelible ink on my very soul. Transfixed by her delicate perfections I became a refugee to my own past. I waved goodbye to my 'default world' and set the dominoes in motion.

    *There are a few chapters-worth of material to add before arriving at the here and now, but I'll omit them to save you from unnecessary boredom.

    Now to the present. Having spent four years living and working in Thailand my life could not be more different to that past I walked out on. Yes, there are many pitfalls, downsides, obstacles, and worries to contend with but I'll leave them for another post. Let's just focus on the silver lining shall we. I'm healthier, happier, and more contented in my life now. I have a much better diet, quit smoking three years ago, and barely ever drink (and when I do it's in extreme moderation). I now also exercise regularly, something that I never did before living here. I travel often to explore new locations, try different food, and experience new cultural perspectives and angles. I'm also trying to learn a new language, and complete my masters to boot, with a view to a second masters to follow shortly afterwards, possibly even a PhD as a long-term projection. In short, I have direction, motivation, and joy - in levels that were hitherto non-existent. I was always an avid reader, writer, and fascinated by English and it served as a compliment to pursuing a role as ESL teacher. Admittedly, it was a profession that found me and not the other way around, but we clicked in a way that I never thought was possible for me. My role consumed me, and I threw myself at my work. It's been the most prolific working period of my life, and one where I've adapted, evolved, and matured in a myriad ways I did not during my decade of corporate experience. However, all was not lost during that decade - many of the skills garnered during that time helped me immensely in the classroom in terms of approach, organization, and technical detail. I have found extreme happiness via teaching, it's been an exceptionally fulfilling vocation, and one that offers a fun and dynamic environment. It's also an opportunity to keep learning and improving myself in unison with my students. In sum, the health and well-being benefits, coupled with my vocational contentment offer a life I had never known in my home country.

    I have been very lucky in my work environment here also. I've spent the past two years working for a private school in Nakhon Ratchasima. My boss is a fluent English speaker (educated in the U.S.) and in complete contrast to other schools allows the foreign staff a platform to speak, communicate, and connect with school authority. They have been extremely accommodating and helpful throughout my time working with them. They even built an apartment complex from the ground up and provided all of their teachers with a free and furnished apartment each (all mod cons), with the only expense being utility bills and a small cleaning and maintenance charge. To date, said room is the nicest abode I've lived in here in South East Asia. Our classrooms are kitted out with large screen TVs, good wifi, and we also have an Oxford University Press prescribed English syllabus for each level. Plus, all teachers were given their own free laptop and access to a plethora of expensive digital resources. All in, (considering free accommodation) my job puts me in the 40k baht bracket, and while that's not a significant amount in the city, where I live it affords me quite a good lifestyle. Yes, not a lifestyle to build a career on or offer much security but considering the options in the land of smiles it's a lot better than what most end up with here. Let's call it a good ESL Everest base camp, to rest awhile, recoup, and commence the climb later when fully refreshed, well-stocked, and primed for ascent.

    I do have a plan for the future, and a road map to hopefully enable that plan to come to fruition, which I've discussed in other threads. But, for now - this is my life, this is my home, and it's pretty good for the short term IMO. When I look back at my friends from home, I see that not much has changed either. Job insecurity pervades, people are struggling, the cost of living has rocketed, many seem miserable, directionless, dragging their asses from one working day to the next. And all for what? Just to perpetuate the bland struggle to survive another paycheck, to continue the fruitless cycle. I'm sorry, call me misguided but I won't subscribe to a life like that. I refuse to. I won't surrender my principles, my aspirations, or my own personal happiness just to barely navigate a bland and meaningless forty to fifty+ year obstacle course to own measly bricks and mortar, and a bare dribble from a pension at struggle's end to sustain any remaining life in my weathered and beaten body. I want to live, not to delay living to somewhat secure a time that I may not even live to see? What kind of blinkered approach to life is that?! The only thing we have is the waking moment, the now. And it's sandwiched between two fictions: the past we choose to remember (and edit to suit our needs), and the future we anticipate and sometimes unwittingly sacrifice the present for, one that quite often ultimately never arrives. Yes, balance is required for an optimal living experience, but some of our perspectives and priorities as a species need re-tuning.

    Finally, and last but not least, there's my partner to consider here. Again, these are subjective observations and the opinions of others may vary, but these are mine, and to me very very real. My experience with the female gender in my homeland is a long and colorful storyboard. However, the average western lass pales in comparison to her Asian cousins. I like my women to be women, if you know what I mean? The fillies back home were too fond of being loud and brash, mouthy, boisterous, with pint glass of cider in one hand, and waving a fag in the other whilst sporting the latest local team footie kit. Not all mind you, but many. I have a weak spot for the achingly beautiful Asian tenderness, that subtle smile, those alluring almond eyes, all framed in jet-black hair and exotic hues of soft skin that whispers to my very soul. Again, not all - but many... oh so very many. As I mentioned with health and vocation previously, I too found unmatched solace with my partner here in Siam. We clicked from the start and haven't looked back. At this point I cannot imagine a life without her, she has become an elixir (yes, a worn cliché, I know...), but health, work and l'affaire de couer are the mainstays of our lives, are they not? Everything else outside of these play supporting roles of a lesser nature.

    Thus concludes my 'Encomium to Siam - An Ode to the Kingdom', it's a work in progress and one with no definite conclusion as yet. Still with me, or have I rendered you comatose with my rambling myopic missives? Fear not my digital friends, the end is nigh. I have probably offered more details than necessary in this post, but hey - it's all authentic and jettisoned from the heart. It felt kind of therapeutic putting it out there, like an exorcism of demons, you might say. Hope it's been of interest, if not a giggle, or at very least a scoff at my naivety. It was all for love, a love for life. :wink2


    Merry Christmas folks! Have a great one :cheers

    Best,

    DG



    PS. I'll leave this here, it's from a personal hero of mine. Consider it a Christmas gift for all here on Thailand Teaching, it gives me the warm fuzzies every time:

    What do you desire? - Alan Watts
     
    Last edited: 24 Dec 2016
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  10. stfranalum

    stfranalum Well-Known Member

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    thats not just optimistic but going down the rabbit hole

    of the two reasons you had, this is in #2. :slowclap:

    lol just busting your chops. the point is that if you have to think up a list as to why some place is good, then you're trying to keep buoyant a rationalization that is at best, difficult to maintain.

    this is what most teachers come to realize

    so, i think this is the first time, on two forums that id have to disagree with you here. in your situation you got lucky in that you have a window to show your skills. so in your case, getting some new responsibility wasn't a product of your hard work and networking and such, but timing and seizing the opportunity you were given. that doesnt mean you got it for free, but if working hard meant growth for thai teflers, then you would have already seen major educational reforms, even if just in the english classroom.


    -------------

    the best thing about teaching english in thailand is that you can experiment with what youre doing and you wont get too much crap for it. for a young teacher, its a great incubator of ideas. its a pity that the students arent more outspoken, but i'll leave it at that. i tried many a creative idea there in my classroom, many of them were fun and engaging, but just not great language lessons. i was very happy to do that though and in the end, i learned a lot.

    thailand is also a good place to learn about yourself. with a great many temtations out there and also with relationships and such, a guy can learn about the ups and downs in life, in short order.

    so my two reasons piggyback on each other. learning about teaching and learning about yourself. if it amounted to monetary reward or professional growth, it would be The Best place to be.

    it was however a place to develop and gain one's rewards inwardly. thats not a bad thing. in fact, for me and for many i met, it was the only takeaway that was solid. the rest was fluff that you could have attained anywhere else, and for much more gain. thailand though, was a place that allowed the growth time and nurture.

    :wai:
     
  11. spidey

    spidey Well-Known Member

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    Ok, that post was written after a night out. I re read it and, although it may have seemed a little pessimistic I stand by its general thingumejig. In reality I have not got a glass half empty outlook. After teaching here for about 13 years I can get happiness from the small things. I realise I can make a difference in SOME individuals and thats great! I dont take teaching here overly seriously though and by that I DONT mean that I do a half arsed job. What I mean is that I just dont sweat it much anymore. To be honest the most beneficial thing I have learnt in Thailand goes against ALL current ESL theory.....I learnt to speak Thai. I use it in the classroom especially with kids. I use it to help explain things more efficiently and I also use it to bond more with my students.....and they love me for it. I teach at companies in the evenings and the money is pretty good. They also WANT a person that understand their language and that can relate to them. Professional development be damned, the most beneficial thing a farang can do here to help their career along is to learn the lingo.....certificates only carry so much weight here, its not like back home. I have all the certs I need now (apart from the Thai culCHER course) and to be honest thats quite enough for me...for quite a while BECAUSE......

    I am picking my work permit up next week!!! Dont like a dinner! I have to say, getting a work permit on a Non O has been a walk in the park compared to the shite I went though to get a NON B. I didnt step foot once in Karusapa for some reason. Will be picking the little blue meanie up Friday. I am a happy little chappy.....

    Merry Christmas!
     
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  12. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all the positivity
     
  13. Clown

    Clown Well-Known Member

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    Well, the students! I like them, it's as simple as that.

    * Excellent and affordable food. Back home I wouldn't dream of eating out several times a day.

    * The relaxed life style, good weather (in Winter) and a good bus network.

    * cheap rents: am paying 1,500 THB for an okay room with en suite bathroom and free wifi :thumbs up

    * Get a cheap motorcycle and explore the town and area.

    Berge4.jpg
     
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  14. SundayJam

    SundayJam Well-Known Member

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    I see the difficulties with Thai staff as being one akin to that of sibling rivalry. I'd really rather not go into the details of this point, but believe me when I say they are much worse off than we are in many respects.

    In regard to the kids...I've stayed in touch with many of the kids I've taught from day one. I love the fact that the nails sticking out of the wood here aren't hammered back down. I get psyched by the opportunity to make a difference in a kid's life. When a mom sends me a copy of her kids report card and states, "you're the difference," I have all that I need.

    Having said that, I don't offer my services for free. I am paid a fair wage by the schools that manage the whole affair amicably. Sure, I show up earlier than many of my counterparts and pursue educational improvements that are not for the benefit of the MOE, but I do this for the benefit of my kids.

    At the end of the day, I want to make a difference. I separate the noise that is the personal peer/employer drama from my mission. I focus on my mission.

    Sure, I chose this profession as a result of choosing to live in Thailand. However, I've since found that I'm quite good at it. What's more, I love doing it.

    I don't give up anything by teaching in Thailand. I absolutely adore world standard Thai cuisine. It is even more delicious here when combined with the cheapest, most varietal, and freshest produce that I've ever experienced. I even love creating my own fusion takes on it. Ever try a Phat Krapao burrito? Delish. How about pasta with moo yaw and Thai basil with olive oil? Delish.

    I could go on but I don't want to write a book.
     
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  15. macos11

    macos11 Member

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    Many things come to mind:

    *Everything is very convenient. Inexpensive taxis, food deliveries, weekend getaways, BTS, MRT, a wide variety of decently priced restaurants/cheap food stalls.

    *Luxuries not available in my home country: pool and gym in the condo, inexpensive cleaners, possibility to jump in a cab to the next city.

    *Cheap internet and phone bills.

    *Warm weather.

    *People are respectful and not overly loud.

    *Students are great. Playful but still respectful.

    *Great professional development opportunities and a chance to start a career teaching internationally.

    *Regular daylight instead of long nights during winter (does make a difference if you come from northern countries)

    *Low income taxes.

    *Somewhat competitive salary. At least when adjusted for purchase power.

    *A bustling and constantly evolving bar and restaurant scene in Bangkok. You never run out of option. Only money.

    *Contrasts in everyday life: luxury malls next to run down buildings, great smells from food stalls and less great from the sewage, luxury restaurants and cheap food stalls, clean and modern BTS next to barely walkable sidewalks, tourist areas and local areas and mixes between the two.

    *Beautiful nature with beaches, mountains and rainforests.
     

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