Known as the jewel of Southeast Asia, as well as a backpacker’s paradise, Thailand is a wildly popular destination for teachers seeking TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training abroad. With its enticing beaches, awe-inspiring temples, and friendly people, it’s no wonder that teachers flock to Thailand. Really, tell me what could be better than taking your TEFL course and munching on a side of delicious mi krop for lunch?! Whether you are looking to teach temporarily or as a lifelong career, most teachers will find a suitable course in the Kingdom of Thailand.
Bangkok is probably the first city TEFL course students would consider when looking at TEFL courses in Thailand. Although there are numerous quality options in Bangkok and it has great access to Western amenities, not everyone is a fan of the expat life in bustling Bangkok.
For alternative options, Thailand's second biggest city, Chiang Mai, has quite a few TEFL courses as well. It's a bit like "Bangkok light" and as it's located in the north, is home to a lot of delicious (and spicy!) northern Thai dishes. There's also some fantastic rock climbing and hiking nearby, which makes it a better city for travelers who want to get into nature more often.
Still, it's landlocked. For a more beach-side destination, consider Phuket or Krabi. Both of these cities are easy to get to and provide a more laid-back lifestyle than Bangkok. However, if you want to go reaaal laid back, the tiny island of Koh Samui has a TEFL course center.
As with any profession, it’s essential to learn the fundamental methods of teaching, particularly with instruction of the English language to non-native speakers. While the majority of TEFL participants in Thailand will go on to teach children, some will find employment teaching English to adults or corporate employees. Any well-rounded TEFL course will cover these basics, as well as the practical information to handle a group of rowdy students or a room full of businesspeople. Before choosing a program, be sure to consider what kind of environment best suits your professional, personal, and financial goals. You will invest many hours (and possibly weeks) into a TEFL course; it’s essential to choose the right course for yourself!
TEFL + Teach:
A combination TEFL + teach course will include intensive teacher training and assistance with job placement following completion of the course. Typically training lasts for three weeks, covering the same key topics as a longer course. For teachers planning to stay in Thailand, a combined course is an ideal option. Often times, these TEFL providers partner with recruiters to place ESL teachers in local schools. Your TEFL trainers might also serve as helpful advisors to assist you in transitioning to a Thai classroom.
120-Hour TEFL Courses:
The most popular course length in the TEFL business, the 120-hour course is widely offered in Thailand. A great choice for teachers looking to travel to Thailand, but teach elsewhere, the 120-hour course can last anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks. Rather than quickly go through course material, 120-hour courses allow for individuals to develop relationships with their instructors and fellow students. While most of the course is devoted to learning teaching practices, about 10 or so hours are reserved for mock lessons; teachers will have the chance to perform sample lessons in front of actual English learners or fellow classmates!
140-Hour TEFL Courses:
Although just 20 hours longer than the popular 120-hour course, the 140-hour option includes extra time in the classroom. With additional practice in lesson planning and public speaking, teachers will feel ultra-confident in undertaking a new job. Longer courses means more time to settle in Thailand, and enjoy a few bonus days of travel and relaxation. Additionally, if you are looking to make teaching a permanent career, the supplementary lectures and classroom time will only strengthen your understanding of teaching methods and general trends in English language education.
When and Where to Look:
As a popular destination for global adventurers and expats, Thailand is a goldmine of TEFL courses for teacher trainees. While there are certainly a number of courses in the bustling capital city of Bangkok, many programs are heading to smaller cities or islands to keep teachers away from the obvious distractions of urban life. Phuket and Koh Samui are among the many resort towns that are now
Conveniently, most providers offer monthly start dates for TEFL courses in Thailand. Typically the course will begin in the first week of the month, with online applications due about 2 or 3 months prior.
While some TEFL providers will allow high school graduates to participate, most companies are looking for those with a college degree (as older participants are oftentimes planning to teach English as a profession). The majority of TEFL providers require that you are a native English speaker; a few courses will take on teachers that are non-native speakers, but you must have a bachelor’s degree in English language or literature (or a related field). Note that course instructors do not expect participants to have any background in teaching – everyone is new to TEFL and eager to learn!
If your course dates are less than 90 days, you can travel to Thailand on a Non-Immigrant/Tourist visa (given that you are a citizen of the US, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe). Luckily, most TEFL providers have years of experience dealing with visas; the company staff will likely help with any and all visa arrangements. If you plan to stay past your course end date, you’ll apply for a work visa through your school/employer. This can only be done within Thailand.
Upon completion of TEFL training, teachers have a number of options for employment in Thailand. Educators, looking to work primarily with children, can find jobs in language academies or public schools. Language academies are the most common places of employment for foreign teachers, as they are private institutions that offer flexible schedules. Public school teaching jobs vary by region and overall demand. Most foreign teachers will find teaching stints in public schools located in rural areas, where resources are limited and there aren’t many native speakers around.
Another option is to teach at a Thai university, instructing English or other courses to college students. Professors will likely be required to have a master’s degree in their field or a few years of experience. If you fit this description, and plan to get TEFL-certified for additional qualifications, a position at a university is highly coveted. On top of any teaching job, educators can offer private tutoring as a side gig. This is a great way to earn extra income and meet local students or families! Lastly, don’t be afraid to use your instructor or experienced teacher friends as resources for post-TEFL course life in Thailand. They’re the best people to talk to about all topics related to teaching abroad!
Cost of Living:
General cost of living is relatively low in Thailand; TEFL participants will find affordable food and accommodation for the most part. In general, TEFL course costs will include housing for the length of the program. However, those costs will not include airfare or funds for social activities (unless organized by the program). Excluding rent, it’s possible to live on $500 or less per month. Not too shabby!