Sunday, March 4, 2007

Interesting Article on Teaching English in Thailand

Teaching in Thailand with or without qualification

“Good morning, Teacher Ejnar”, 25 children yell as they see their teacher by the whiteboard. A peek into the classroom of a bilingual school north of Bangkok reveals a passionate teacher and a classroom full of enthusiastic students.

Ejnar is a foreign teacher in Thailand – a country that according to official statistics hosts approximately 3000 foreign teachers. Most of them have been ‘imported’ through various channels of invitations and exchange programmes, but others have just turned up on the doorstep of a bilingual school as it was the case for Ejnar from Denmark. He showed up at this school north of Bangkok three years ago and was immediately hired.

Actually, the Thai rules state that you must have a bachelor degree and as well as some years of teaching experience if you do not possess a certificate stating that you are in fact a trained teacher. Up until now no one ever cared about these rules as the schools were so eager to get as many foreign teachers as possible.

But the official mood towards foreign teachers is changing, according to Philip Williams who is the editor of, a website for foreign teachers in Thailand. “Not long time ago it was easy to become a teacher in Thailand, but not anymore”, he says.

“There are so many new regulations regarding degrees and criminal records. I think the degree issue will be the stumbling block for most foreign teachers, because as far as I know about 60 – 70 per cent of the people who want to come here and teach do not have a degree”, Philip Williams explains. His experience goes back to 1998 when he started his website.

Then and now the single most common question asked is: ‘Will I be able to find a job without a degree?’ The answer that Philip Williams’ website provides these worriers with is: ‘There is such a shortage of teachers here that very often the lack of degree will be overlooked’.



Anonymous said...

"Philip Williams who is the editor of, a website for foreign teachers in Thailand."

Why anyone would ask Mr Williams' anything about teaching is beyond me, an opinion of a someone who has absolutely no qualifications or any knowledge beyond what can be gleaned in the pub from other like minded individuals.

Fonzi said...

I really don't know much about it. I thought it was interesting from a "rule of law" perspective.

Does Thailand want qualified teachers or not?

Does Thailand want native speakers or not? (I found this at a Scandinavian website, ironically)

Does Thailand want to track down the criminal records of teachers or not?

Also, when I read that 70% of more of the English teachers don't have degrees, I was shocked.

By the way, I don't know Philip, but I went to check out the website.

He has taught here for many years at many schools in many different capacities.

He may not know everything, but I think he knows more than just "bar talk."

Anonymous said...

Phillip Williams is well respected as a teacher and on Ajarn so I assume that the other anonymous poster must have some sort of a grudge to bear.

There are many teachers in Thaiand without degrees. many of them are excellent teachers and to be frank, the standard of Thai education is such that even good A level passes would qualify a teacher to dramatically improve Thai learning. If you doubt this ask around to see how seriously degrees from Thai Universities are taken.

In any event, I have met more complete drongos with degrees that you could shake a stick at. A degree is not a particularly good indicator of worth as a teacher for grades up to 12. The requirement is arbitrary in a country where arbitrary is the best the Government can achieve, and is only designed to create the impression that Thailand actualy cares very much about the quality of teachers. Many schools are known to have cared so much that they suggested degree-less teachers visit Khao San Road to correct that situation!