Who Are the Foreign English Language Teachers in Thailand?

Foreign English Language Teachers in Thailand

The author and two foreign English language teaching colleagues at Saint Joseph Bangna School in the Bangkok area.  Photo taken in February of 2013.
The author and two foreign English language teaching colleagues at Saint Joseph Bangna School in the Bangkok area. Photo taken in February of 2013. | Source

Foreign English Language Teachers in Thailand

The foreign English language teachers or EFL instructors in Thailand are different from the English or ESL teachers you find in western countries. EFL teachers in Thailand come from almost any country of the world and generally don't have a formal teacher's school certification. Many of the instructors have learned English as a second language and don't regard EFL teaching as their life-long career. In this hub, I examine the different kinds of EFL teachers I ran into while teaching EFL in Bangkok for almost seven years.

EFL Teachers in Thailand

The author teaching EFL at a school summer camp in 2009.
The author teaching EFL at a school summer camp in 2009. | Source

Who Are the EFL Teachers in Thailand?

The EFL teachers in Thailand belong to a diverse group which includes individuals from almost every continent of the world. If you broke the foreign English teachers up into groups, you would find middle-aged and elderly western men, men and women from the Philippines, young backpackers, single western women, and racial minorities. In following sections, this hub will look at each one of these groups in detail.

Professional Requirement for Foreign English Language Teachers

What should be the minimum professional requirement for foreign English language teachers in Thailand?

  • A teaching certificate
  • A Bachelor's Degree in any subject
  • A Bachelor's Degree in Education
  • High School graduate
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Middle-Aged and Elderly Western Men

Middle-aged and elderly Caucasian western men comprise the largest group of EFL teachers in Thailand. These teachers include English native language speakers from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. They also include English non-native second language speakers from European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

Most of the western teachers have degrees from their native country or from universities in Thailand. The teachers, however, have no certification as teachers from educational schools in or outside of Thailand. For this reason, they must periodically take and attempt to pass teaching proficiency tests sponsored and given by the Teachers Council of Thailand.

While teaching in the Bangkok area, I learned that a great number of the middle-aged and elderly western men have local Thai wives or partners. These teachers had also lived in Thailand for at least 10 years.

EFL Teachers from the Philippines

Author and two Filipina teachers at a training seminar in Bangkok in 2009.
Author and two Filipina teachers at a training seminar in Bangkok in 2009. | Source

Men and Women from the Philippines

Young and middle-aged men and women from the Philippines make up the second biggest group of EFL teachers in Thailand. Most of these teachers are women (Filipina) who almost all have teacher certification in the Philippines.

Even though the men and women from the Philippines have learned English as a second language, Thailand schools like to hire EFL teachers from the Philippines because they are almost all certified teachers and will work for half the pay of western men. Many of the Filipina teachers are also able to teach math, science, health, physical education, and music in Thailand schools' English Programs where core subjects are taught in English.

Filipina teachers will also accept EFL jobs in small villages where other western teachers will not work because of the low pay.

Day in Life Teaching in Thailand

Young Backpackers

Young male and female backpackers from western countries make up the third biggest group of EFL teachers. Many of these young people are only looking for a few months of teaching to help pay for their excursions throughout Southeast Asia. Some of the backpackers have no degrees while I met others who had taught as licensed music and biology teachers in the United States. Most of these young people will work anywhere in Thailand.

Teaching in Thailand

Single Western Women

The fourth largest group of EFL teachers is comprised of single western women. These are not backpackers, but rather uncertified EFL teachers who mostly have college degrees. Most of these women are traveling and living in foreign countries after graduation and before settling down to a job or marriage in their native country. While teaching in Bangkok, I met single women from Poland, Romania, and Ireland.

Racial Minorities

Racial minorities make up the smallest group of EFL teachers in Thailand. In the largest minority group of black teachers, I worked with males from the Cameroons, Nigeria, and Ghana. The next largest minority group was composed of men and women from India who taught math, music, and EFL.

Summary

As you can see, it is not necessary to be a white English native language speaker from a western country to get an EFL job in Thailand. Since English is being taught as a global rather than a foreign language, most schools welcome both native and non-native speakers from anywhere in the world.

© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 8 comments

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 20 months ago from Oklahoma

Sounds like an interesting place to teach.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 20 months ago from Southeast Asia

I took a course especially to teach English in Thailand. It didn't do me an ounce of good though. Turned out I am too old. I've been speaking English far longer than many....you would think it would count for something.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 20 months ago from Templeton, CA

As a certified English teacher in the United States, I can tell you that most of the education classes I took were useless. When I began tutoring Vietnamese immigrants (boat people) here in the United States, I basically taught myself how to communicate with them to teach them English.


Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 20 months ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Great info Paul.

Seems you haven't met a Kenyan yet. Does the Thai Government's Ministry of Education supply the teachers with a standard curriculum?


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 20 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Yes, Thailand is a very interesting place to teach. If you have the time and interest, come over here and try teaching for a while. You are never too old to be hired some place here in Thailand.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 20 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Teaching native speakers and second language speakers is certainly a lot different. Yes, you definitely have to understand something about your immigrant's culture and language before you can start teaching them. Thanks for your comments.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 20 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Hi Emmanuel! It's great to hear from you again. The Thai government's MOE has a vague generalized curriculum, and the teacher is left with a lot work handling the nuts and bolts of teaching. No, I haven't met a Kenyan in Thailand yet.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 20 months ago from North Texas

Good information for anyone wondering if they would fit into this career choice even for a short time as the backpackers you mentioned. Interesting to see the diversity. Voted up, UI, and sharing on HP. Also, pinning to Awesome Hubpages.

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