English Teacher in Thailand?

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November 1st 2007
Published: November 1st 2007
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I’m sure there will be a happy ending to this story, but the initial drama involved with finding my first English teaching job has been more than I expected.

It’s been a whirlwind recently. Over the course of 6 consecutive business days, I interviewed 5 times. Those interviews varied greatly. The shortest was 30 minutes; the longest was 3 hours and included a 45 minute teaching demonstration. I received offers from 3 of the schools, and was the runner-up on a 4th. I never heard from the 5th school which I had ruled out anyway after discovering it was over 1 hour away. You’d think I’d have a job after all that. You’d be wrong.

Where to begin?

It started simply enough after my return from vacationing in the Philippines. On Monday, October 22, I went into Text & Talk Academy. This is where I received my teaching credential (TEFL). In addition to the TEFL courses, they also employ English teachers (hourly basis) for their language center which has classes on weeknights and weekends (teaching English to Thai teenagers and adults). Although this wasn’t of interest to me, I wanted to see if they knew of any positions
Saiaksorn School EntranceSaiaksorn School EntranceSaiaksorn School Entrance

Primary (K-6) school on RamInthra
for full-time work on weekdays.

They actually had a position available with a private school teaching primary students (K-6). The teacher would be hired directly by Text & Talk, and placed in the school to teach through the end of term (March 2008). The pay was fairly standard for hourly work (380 baht per hour; approx $11). The positives: within 30 minutes; no long term commitment. The negatives: no benefits (medical; paid vacations; etc); heavy teaching load (28 teaching hours; standard is 20-22); and large classes (50 students). I would be teaching 7 grade levels (K-6). Every student in the school (and there are a lot) would be making their way through my classroom once per week. How much can I teach in 50 minute classes of that size? Sounds like babysitting.

In spite of all the negatives, I contacted the teacher who vacated the position to get more info. Amazingly, he actually liked the job. There was no pressure and the class time mostly consisted of English language games. He left though because the pay wasn’t consistent due to the many holidays/breaks (no paid holidays/vacations). He also mentioned that the school may be willing to reduce the
Saiaksorn New BuildingSaiaksorn New BuildingSaiaksorn New Building

Brand new building at the primary (K-6) school on RamInthra in northern Bangkok
hours to 24 by eliminating the Kindergarten classes. I visited the school the next day, and it appeared to be pretty nice (newer facilities & A/C rooms). I spoke with Text & Talk and said I’d be interested, but only if the teaching hours were reduced to 24 and I could get time off for a trip to America for Christmas.

Meanwhile, I continued my search. I suspected I could do better.

Tuesday was a holiday so most schools and language centers were closed.

On Wednesday I scheduled interviews for Thursday & Friday. I also found out from Text & Talk that the primary school wouldn’t accept anything less than 28 teaching hours per week. Ok, that didn’t sound appealing. I gave the go-ahead for Text & Talk to look elsewhere.

Thursday’s interview was full of surprises. It was for a position at a K-12 private school (Udomsuksa). First off, the address I was given was wrong. It took 1 hour by taxi to find the school (ran up that taxi fare). Bad start. The second surprise came after I finally found the school. There were 3 people waiting there with me to interview for 1
Udomsuksa EntranceUdomsuksa EntranceUdomsuksa Entrance

Private school (K-12) near Ladprao Rd
teaching position, which at this point, I didn’t even want. We all filled out the applications, and performed a 10 minute teaching demonstration (with absolutely no prep time) in front of some school administrators and teachers. Then we had a group interview. Huh? Yes, all 4 of us interviewed together. That’s a first for me.

Friday was a more significant interview. This was at a reputable Language Center on the Saint John University Campus. The campus is located about 20-40 minutes away (depending on traffic). My interview was for a position teaching M1, 2, 4, & 6 students (grades 7, 8, 10, & 12 in America). I initially performed a 45 minute teaching demonstration in front of Mattayom 6 students (6 students; 12th graders). It went ok, but I could tell my lesson was too challenging for the students. Note to self…keep it simple, stupid. The teaching demonstration was observed by the person who was doing the hiring. Following the demonstration was a 2 ½ hour interview with the director of the language center and his assistant (both British). This was the type of interview I would expect in the states…challenging. The kind with lots of “what would you
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do if” type questions. However, I felt confident that I would get offered the job. It seemed like a good fit for me. The classes were small (normally 12-15 students) and held in rooms with A/C. It also had some great benefits (8 weeks paid vacation - including 2 weeks during Christmas/New Years; paid holidays; sick leave; medical) with decent pay for Thailand - 37,000 baht; approx $1,100 per month. Unfortunately, I discovered at the end that they interviewed another American that morning who they also liked. In fact, they were going to see if they could hire both of us even though only 1 position was open.

Although I wanted the job at Saint John’s, I had the feeling it wasn’t going to happen. They said they would notify me by Tuesday. Meanwhile, I needed to keep looking.

Well, later that day I got a call from Wall Street Institute. This is a world-wide company that began in Italy. It’s the latest “big thing” in the English teaching industry in Thailand, with high-profile locations and significant advertising efforts. I had spoken to a representative in the past, but they only had openings in their retail centers at
Saai and Pui Saai and Pui Saai and Pui

At lunch last weekend.
that time. Work hours were weeknights and weekends. I told them previously I wasn’t interested in a position with those times. Well, now they called to advise me of an open position in one of their corporate centers with weekday hours. That was a possibility. I scheduled an interview for Monday morning in their Silom office (their original retail center in Thailand - they now have 5 retail centers in Bangkok).

Anyway, the job itself involved teaching at one of their corporate centers. They have 6 (?) corporate accounts in Bangkok. These businesses have hired Wall Street Institute to set up “mini” retail centers in their offices to teach English to their employees. Each corporate center is staffed with native English speaking teachers plus English speaking Thai nationals.

The pay is very good (well, by Thai standards). They pay 52,000 baht (approx $1,500 per month) for native English teachers in their corporate centers. This was definitely at the top of the pay scale for me in Thailand with no teaching experience.

The interview went well, although it was brief (30 minutes). I liked the guys who interviewed me (British & American). They wanted to fit me into
Satit Kaset EntranceSatit Kaset EntranceSatit Kaset Entrance

The government school (K-12) within Kasetsart University's campus.
their TOT (telephone organization of Thailand) corporate center which is located in Laksi (10-15 minutes from me). The location was good. The pay was good. The job itself seemed interesting. I would be teaching English to upper management at the TOT. Most of the teaching hours would be in small groups not exceeding 4 adults. However, it felt a bit too much like corporate America. I’m in Thailand, right? The job included a 1 year contract with only 2 weeks of paid vacation (and that, only after a 3 month probation period). I wouldn’t be getting Christmas off. Hmmm. Still in the running but Saint John’s was in the forefront.

On Monday night (9:40 p.m.), I got a text message from EF English First. They had an opening at Satit Kaset. EF English First is an agency that supplies teachers to Satit Kaset (K-12 grade school), located within the campus of Kasetsart University. Sound familiar? Saai graduated from Kasetsart University, and Satit Kaset is where she did her student teaching. Kasetsart University never worked out for me (no job openings when I returned from the Philippines), but maybe Satit Kaset would work? I called the rep from EF English

@ Swenson's last night for ice cream.
First back immediately, and set up an interview for the next morning.

The position had just become available because the previous hire had backed out at the last moment because he decided the school was too far away from his apartment.

The interview on Tuesday with EF English First went well. It was very informal and about 1 hour long. The position involved teaching Mattayom 1, 3 & 5 (comparable to grades 7, 9, & 11 in the American school system) at Satit Kaset. The pay was reasonable. I would get medical benefits and paid holidays, but no paid vacations. However, I could get a leave of absence for Christmas if desired. I was offered the position on the spot. Should I accept it?

I had been praying regularly to God for wisdom in selecting a job. I knew he would provide work for me. He always has. His time table isn’t always my desired time table, but He knows best. Not my will, but His will be done.

I was given what appeared to be a good option in Satit Kaset. What about Saint John’s and Wall Street? I still felt good about Saint John’s. I was less sure about Wall Street (yes, I know it paid the most).

So…I asked the English First rep if she would hold the position for me until I spoke with Saint John’s later that day. She agreed in spite of having several other interviews scheduled.

I talked to Saint John’s shortly afterwards, and was advised (as expected) they had selected the other teacher and could not hire a second teacher. However, they remained very interested in me and wanted to keep the lines of communication open in case of another opening in the future.

At that point, I felt good about accepting the position at EF English First to work at Satit Kaset (Saai’s first choice by the way). I called the EF English First rep to advise of my acceptance.

Guess who called me 1 hour later?

Wall Street. They told me I was their guy, and they had been trying to reach me all day. They offered me the position and said they may even be willing to consider giving me vacation during Christmas. Although I was flattered, I advised them I had already accepted another position.

End of story? Hardly.

The following morning I started getting text messages from EF English First regarding complications with Satit Kaset. The school and original teacher were trying to work things out. Thus, there was a conflict between the agency (EF English First) who had already found a replacement (me) and their original teacher/Satit Kaset.

12:00 passed, and I was unable to reach EF English First. So I called Wall Street to determine my options. They, as expected, had offered the position to another applicant after I had declined the previous day. Still, they wanted me but didn’t have an opening in their corporate centers.

How about EF English First? At 2:00 I got the call from their rep. The verdict: the original teacher was staying, and therefore, I wouldn’t be working at Satit Kaset. They were sorry. I was sorry. Saai was sorry. Umm, we all were sorry. Bummer.


Let’s recap. 5 interviews; 3 offers; 1 acceptance, and yet, no job.

Stay tuned to see how the story ends. It’ll be a happy ending; I just don’t know what it is yet.

Look! There goes Dave!


4th November 2007

Philippines... why not?
There's a lot of new call centers in the Philippines. Maybe they need someone to conduct American Accent training?
16th April 2010

wall street
liked your story! was hoping you could gimme some advice... as a student 3/4ths of my way through university, dya think Wall Street would hire me to teach English part time? looking for extra money and need it fast... drop me an email if you can thanks!

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