Education is taken seriously in Thailand. They push their students further each year. Children begin learning English at a young age now, and some schools have programs such as the Mini English Program.
The Mini English Program focuses on a range of courses taught in English: health, math, English, and sometimes science. Teachers who’s native language is English, come from all around the world to teach in this program. Each classroom will have an assistant teacher who speaks Thai in order to help translate some things.
I have had the great opportunity to become one of these teachers at the school in Sing Buri.
Sing Buri is a small city near Lop Buri in central Thailand. There’s a small college and several other schools. The school I’ll be working in is located downtown and close to several stores and the hospital. This makes things a bit easier, and the house I’ll be staying in is fairly close.
Documents for Teaching in Thailand
Thailand is strict on its documentation but relaxed on hiring its teachers. Education is important in this country. People strive to put their kids into private schools and send them off to various countries for higher education. They want their kids to be prepared, and learning English is one way to set them apart from others.
Thailand loves gathering native English speakers from various countries to teach in English. This helps students learn the language from first hand speakers. You don’t have to go to college to become one of these teachers, or even have a TEFL certification here, but English should be your first language.
Before coming here, I was required to have all of my documents Already. They did seem pretty strict about me at least having my bachelor’s degree and proof of higher education. This is a bit contradictory to what I’m hearing being here in person.
Here are the following documents I needed:
- Original Bachelor’s Degree
- Letter of college completion
- Official college transcript
- TEFL Certification documents
It would’ve been good if I had my background completed before I arrived, but since I was hired so quickly I was unable to complete the document. When you get a background check for teaching overseas, they’ll require a federal one with fingerprints.
Since I didn’t have time in the states to get my background check done, I had to go to Bangkok with one of my agents and file one. It didn’t seem too hard, but it was very intimidating. Also, remember that they use the metric system over here. I forgot about that when I was filing out the paperwork.
Non – Immigration Visa B
Another document you need to apply for once in Thailand is the Non-Immigration Visa B for working over here. You will need all of your documents, at least two recent photos, and your background check.
My agents are going to arrange for me to go to Bangkok where I will catch a bus to Laos. In Laos, I will apply for this visa at the Thai Embassy. It will take about a day, and then I’ll catch the bus back to Bangkok.
I’m currently waiting for my background check to come in before I do this, so I’m not entirely sure how easy the process is. It seems daunting and very intimidating; especially, since I don’t know any of the language here.
This particular visa allows you to work for 90 days, but you cannot leave the country to visit other places and re-enter. If you do so, you will have to apply for another visa.
The next document needed to start teaching in Thailand is your work permit. You will need your Visa and documents from the school you will be teaching at. They will send the information to the board of education.
This documentation basically gives you a teaching certification for Thailand and says that you are eligible to work. Until this document comes in, you will not be able to start teaching. This is something they are strict on since they can be fined heavily for breaking the rule.
Visiting the School
I’m fortunate to have some wonderful agents helping me out with this entire process. It’s worth getting one to get through all of the paperwork. They will take a portion of your salary, so be ready to see a drop in that.
Depending on which agents you get will depend on how much they take from your monthly salary.
When working in Thailand, you will have to pay Thai taxes and social security. This is something you will not get away from. After three months of paying into this, you will be eligible and covered for health insurance. This makes going to the doctor a lot easier. If you need to go before that time it will cost you a bit more so be prepared.
You will need to sign a contract with the school upon your arrival. This will become part of your documentation for completing everything to be certified to teach here.
My school is located in downtown Sing Buri. The schools here are different from the United States. We entered through a gate, and the courtyard was very open. Some areas are air conditioned, but I’m not entirely sure on every classroom. The office for sure was air conditioned. It’s still hot, but at least they have some moving air.
The office is one of the few places you will be required to take your shoes off before entering. If you’re working in the primary school, you will keep your shoes on while teaching. But if you’re teaching kindergarten, you will most likely be barefoot the entire day.
Each foreign teacher will have one to two assistants. I met my assistant a few nights ago and she seemed very friendly. They’re there to help you communicate with the kids and navigate the school. Sometimes there’s still the language barrier, but for the most part you have a good chance of getting a good assistant.
One thing you have to keep in mind when teaching in Thailand is that nothing is ever set in stone. Things will change at the last minute. You will be told one thing and it will turn into another. Answers will come at the last second. You will feel like you’re in limbo 24/7.
So far, I have been told so many different things that I don’t even know what is up and what’s down. As of this moment, I am to be preparing lessons at the school until I receive my teaching permit. I hope this is what I’ll be doing, but who knows. It could easily change at the drop of a hat.
For me, this is the hardest thing to get used to. I’m slightly OCD and love to be prepared for everything. So, not being able to plan or have adequate information is killing me, but I’m trying to learn to go with the flow and understand the Thai culture more. It’s hard, but a good thing for me to learn.
I’ll have more information in regards to teaching in Thailand the further I go, but these are a few things that will help you prepare should you decide to teach here as well.
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