Making the Most of Your TEFL Year in Thailand

Written by Robert Oakden

If you want to start a career teaching English overseas, then Thailand is a great choice. Taking a year to teach in Thailand is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience and it can be the start of a long and fulfilling career - but you have to make the most of it.

Some TEFL teachers have an amazing time on their first year
but others miss out because they don't make the effort

Here are few simple ways that you can ensure your first year of TEFL teaching is a success:

Setting the Right Expectations

Travelling in Thailand is very popular and you may already have been there, but travelling for fun and living there as a teacher can be a very different experience.  If you expect your year as a teacher to be a constant holiday, be prepared for some adjustment.

If you are visiting Thailand for the first time, you will of course meet some culture shock. Fortunately, the more developed parts of the country are very friendly to westerners, so adjusting to the practicalities is not too difficult for most people

But you do need to be prepared for a lot of culture shock
particularly in terms of how the school systems work

It is a good idea to research the area of Thailand that you plan to be working in and get a feel for what that area is like to live in, what facilities are available and whether there is a strong expat community.

Picking a School

Just like in the UK, there are a wide range of different types of school in Thailand, from government schools to private international schools and you can teach a wide range of age groups, from primary to adult learners.

In bigger cities there are much bigger schools where you can teach a precise age range, whereas if you want to teach in a smaller town, you may have to work at a school teaching a wider age range.

Think carefully about what matters most to you:
  • The age group
  • The location of the school
  • How much you get paid
The best paid jobs are usually those in large international schools where you can teach the wealthier members of the Thai community, or even teaching adults at a business school or graduate school.  Some people prefer to work in smaller schools where they feel they can make a difference, so really it is a personal decision.

Try to Embrace the Culture

As I mentioned, moving to Thailand will be a big culture shock - but to many people that's half the reason for doing it.  You either shy away from the culture, become insulated and home sick or you can embrace it and expand your experience.

If you are working in a popular area, then you will no doubt meet plenty of other expats and you will be tempted to just spend all your time with those new friends.  But it is well worth trying to get to know the native teachers.

It is all too easy for a group of teachers to become segregated
especially due to the natural language barrier

Just be Open Minded

The key to a year of teaching is to be open minded to the experiences on offer.  There will undoubtedly be things that you don't like and things that frustrate you.

Don't compare any experiences you already have with your experience teaching in Thailand and be prepared for differences in how things are taught.  You should of course bring your experience to your job, but accept that you may be expected to teach in different ways than you are used to.

You also need to be open minded with cultural differences too. Trying to learn some Thai is a great way to understand the culture better as well as gaining the respect of your fellow teachers.

Author Bio:
Robert is an experienced traveller from United Kingdom. He is connected with ICAL TEFL who offers online TEFL training courses as well as other resources to help aspiring teachers get started with a career in TEFL teaching overseas.   


  1. The best and worst thing about Thailand: Mai Ben Rai.

    1. Thanks Eric for dropping by. It is much appreciated.


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