Category: chiangmai

The TCT Teaching License

Many have heard about EFL teachers in Thailand panicking about TCT exams. The reason for the panic is because teachers are unaware of what exams they need to pass and by when, to legally teach in Thailand. Thankfully, since the end of last year (2012) the situation has become clearer. What is the TCT The […]



SEE TEFL Course Graduates and Feedback

The following are course graduates and some of the feedback received on the course. We at SEE TEFL strive to ensure a quality experience. 7 Jan – 1 Feb, 2013 – SEE TEFL Class Graduates I think that this course is fantastic. I would/will be recommending it to anyone who could benefit from it. I […]


The 3Ps Teaching Methodology for TEFL

The Teaching Process for EFL During your SEE TEFL certification course you will become more familiar with an established methodology for teaching English as a foreign language known as 3Ps – presentation, practice, production. The 3Ps’ method could be characterised as a common-sense approach to teaching as it consists of 3 stages that most people […]


English Teacher Training and Paid Internship

2 Weeks TEFL Training, Rural School Paid Internship

SEE TEFL has taught a standard 4-week 120-hour TEFL Course for over seven years with 600+ successful graduates. SEE TEFL now offers a Teacher Training and Paid Internship opportunity twice per year, coinciding with the start of the two Thai school semesters.

The SEE TEFL Internship Program is an ideal way for people who wish to experience the real Thailand as a paid English language teacher but who are not ready to commit to a 4-week training course and a teaching commitment longer than 5 months. The Internship involves pre-arrival classroom familiarization training, 2 weeks face-to-face classroom skills and cultural awareness induction training in Chiang Mai, and then a paid 1-semester (4-5 months) teaching job in a rural or provincial Thai formal school.

Teaching Essentials and English Teacher Internship Placement Program

Our TEFL Internship induction training in Chiang Mai will equip you with the essentials you’ll need before you step into the classroom: classroom management techniques, a simple common-sense teaching methodology, language awareness, cultural considerations, some Thai language and bags of confidence.

Each TEFL Internship participant receives a guaranteed job with a salary of not less than 25,000 baht per month. This provides a very comfortable life style in Thailand. It’s possible to save enough money from this salary during the internship period to afford at the end of the teaching placement a few months traveling Thailand and SE Asia and/or sitting on a beach under a palm tree.

The academic year in Thailand runs from early May to late March. Our teacher placement and the two induction training sessions coincide with the start of the two academic semesters in early May (First Semester) and late October (Second Semester) each academic school year. Induction sessions take place for two weeks in culturally-rich Chiang Mai, Thailand during April and early October.

Thai Holidays and Teacher Training Essentials

Our April intake shares in the excitement and water fight madness of the 5-day Songkran holiday celebrated to mark the start of the Thai New Year. October’s induction finishes approximately a month before Loy Krathong / Yi Peng, the 3-night festival of floating lights. The internship fee includes comfortable resort accommodation during the 2-week induction period in Chiang Mai.

The Real Thailand Awaits

The real Thailand can only be visited by straying from the beaten path. After induction training finishes, you’ll have one or two weeks to relax and travel before you need to make your way to your teaching placement. You’ll have plenty of support from our staff who will advise on transport and accommodation. Teaching placements are always in formal schools in towns far from tourist crowds. In fact, it’s highly likely you won’t meet a tourist during your placement. There will be other foreigners in the internship placement town, but these are likely to be other teachers, adventurous travelers or expats. However, when the urge for a burger or pizza grows strong, large cities with McDonalds and Pizza Hut are never more than a few hours away by local bus.

SEE TEFL and TEFL Internships

Why should you choose SEE for your TEFL Internship? During the last 7 years we have trained over 600 people like you to teach English as a second language. We believe we are very good at what we do. Google SEE TEFL for blogs and reviews written by previous participants of our programs to discover that previous participants feel the same. Also, take a look at the SEE TEFL YouTube channel and SEE TEFL Facebook Page. Then take some time to consider this life-changing opportunity.

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TEFL Internship Eligibility Requirements

Teaching placements are normally for 1 semester of 4–5 months. However, placements that start at the beginning of the academic year (Semester 1) have the option of extending their placement to 1 academic year for no additional charge.

Requirements for Participants of the TEFL Internship

  • Be physically and mentally fit.
  • Be adaptable and flexible.
  • Be a university graduate and hold a recognized bachelor’s degree.
  • Be no older than 55 and no younger than 21.
  • Be an English native speaker (UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand).
    • South Africans are not considered native speakers by the Thai Ministry of Education. Therefore, in order to join the Internship program they will need to show evidence of a language proficiency of:
      • TOEIC – 600, or
      • TOEFL – 550, or
      • IELTS – 5.5

These are easy to achieve standards for anyone whose first language is English. A TOEIC testing center is located 200m from our school.

It’s not necessary to possess previous teaching experience or to know any Thai language. Induction training will equip you with teaching and Thai basics. This training will give you the ability to make a confident and successful start to your teaching experience.

Placements are in formal Thai schools. Opportunities exist to teach in kindergarten (anubahn), primary school (pratom), secondary school (matayom) and colleges working Monday to Friday from around 7:30am to 4:00pm each day. A working week normally involves 18 – 22 teaching periods of between 50 and 60 minutes.

TEFL Internship Fees and Dates

The standard fee for the complete course is $1,295 USD. Payment is made in two parts:

  • $495 USD deposit payment which reserves the place on the course
  • $800 USD balance payment, which is due at the end of the first day of the course

Note that payment includes 2 weeks resort accommodation during the induction period in Chiang Mai.

Some participants may want to consider various ideas for raising funds to cover the cost of the SEE TEFL Internship

Second Semester, 2013 First Semester, 2014
Training Dates 30 Sep – 11 Oct, 2013 31 Mar – 11 Apr, 2014
Internship Length 4-5 Months 4-5 Months
Seats Available Yes Yes
  • Note: For 2014-2015, the Ministry of Education is planning to delay the start of the academic year by 1 month in order to make the Thai academic year consistent with other ASEAN countries. It is very difficult to find definitive information on this. If the change happens, the Songran program will need to start post-Songran and the Loy Krathong program in early November in 2014 (closer to Loy Krathong / Yi Peng).

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Teacher Training and Teaching Internship Details

TEFL Teacher Training Components

There are two training components:

  • Pre-arrival: Videos and assignments that introduce classroom management skills and review common grammar terminology.
  • Post-arrival: 2 weeks of face-to-face group training that focuses on developing essential EFL classroom teaching skills and language awareness. In addition, there is basic Thai language instruction, cultural awareness training and excursions.

TEFL Salary – Paid Internship

Interns are paid at least 25,000 Thai baht per month during the placement period. Thailand has low living costs, so this provides a very comfortable lifestyle while teaching in Thailand. This internship is actual employment by a school in Thailand. Interns must be employed by a school in order to obtain non-imm B visas and work permits.

Inclusive Resort-style Accommodation

Resort accommodation with breakfast is included in the Internship fee for two weeks during post-arrival training in Chiang Mai. Rooms are shared with other same-sex Interns. Single-occupancy can be arranged for an additional fee.

After training and during placement periods, Interns are responsible for the cost of their own accommodation. However, comfortable 1-bedroom apartments only cost between 3,000 and 5,000 Thai baht per month. This will usually include air-conditioning, a double bed and a separate bathroom. Thai apartments rarely have kitchen areas as most Thais eat out as eating food at restaurants or takeaway from markets is very inexpensive.

Transportation to and around Thailand

  • Budget flights to Thailand are available through Kayak and Orbitz and travel affordable travel in the region can be found on Bangkok Airlines and Air Asia.
  • Fixed-rate taxis cost between 150-200 Thai Baht (around 5-8 USD) from Chiang Mai airport to the resort accommodation and are available 24 hours each day.
  • Traveling around Thailand by bus, train or plane is inexpensive and convenient. We will advise on transport between Chiang Mai and the placement school.

Extra Costs and Budgeting

It is recommended that Interns budget $30 USD per day (1,000 THB) to cover living expenses during the time between completing training and their first salary payment. This period will range between 5 and 8 weeks, as salaries are usually paid at the end of the working month.

Thai Visa Support for Training and Internship

SEE TEFL will provide paperwork to support 3-month single-entry non-immigrant B (Business) visa applications. It is most convenient to do this in your home country before departure. However, this visa can also be obtained from the Thai embassy in Vientiane, Laos during the period after training and before placement. Placement schools are responsible for obtaining work permits and extending visas to cover the placement period.

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Choosing Between a 4-Week TEFL and the TEFL Internship

The vast majority of TEFL teacher trainees will select the traditional 4-Week TEFL course. However, this unique TEFL Internship will appeal to some of our future English teachers.

4-week TEFL certification

  • Work anywhere in Thailand, SE Asia or the world
  • Choose the type of school, location and age group
  • Comprehensive training
  • Experience during training 6 observed teaching practices in real schools with a range of real students
  • Fulfills a general employment requirement for TEFL teaching jobs around the world

TEFL Internship

  • Guaranteed job
  • Cannot choose the type of school, location and age group; however, we will endeavor to meet our Intern’s preferences
  • Experience the real Thailand
  • Get paid a minimum of 25,000 Thai baht per month
  • 4-5 month commitment
  • Inclusive training with resort accommodation

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Fundraising for TEFL Training

Some people may have not have the funds to take a TEFL course, travel the world, volunteer and earn a living Teaching English. Fundraising allows people who could not normally afford the adventure of world travel to do so. There are several ways of fundraising, including crowdfunding, sponsorship, and various kinds of fundraising events . Going abroad for a gap year or career break can be costly even for people who are committed to living frugally. If the individual intends to spend this time volunteering, it doesn’t mean that they get to travel the world for free – they will still need to find a way to finance this experience.

Fundraising to Teach and Volunteer Abroad

The most common reason for why people miss out on the opportunity to travel or volunteer abroad is lack of money. These individuals will have no problem appreciating how such an adventure would be a life changing experience. However, many give up on this dream because they do not know how to finance it. Fundraising is where an individual (or group) attempts to collect contributions from other people in order to help them complete some goal. If friends, family and community members can be convinced that the proposed project is interesting enough, or noble enough, they may be willing to invest some of their own money to make it a reality. Indeed, if someone wants to visit Thailand to teach English to underprivileged children, there are likely to be other people who want to support this effort by providing some cash not only for expenses but also for the TEFL training that the person needs to become an effective teacher.

Fundraising to Pay for a TEFL Course

In order to work successfully as a volunteer teacher abroad, it is necessary to have some training such as the standard 120-hour TEFL teacher training course. This will not only provide the individual with some skills for the classroom, but also means they are in a better position to apply for teaching jobs. This course does require an initial financial investment, but those who are interested may be able to raise the funds to cover the cost of this through fundraising. Once people have completed this course, they will have many more options when it comes to working abroad. It can even mean that if people decide to stay living abroad permanently, they will have a way to make a living.

Fundraising for Travel

In order to be able to raise some funds to finance a trip, the individual needs to be able to convince other people that it is somehow in their interest to provide this money. The most obvious type of noble cause is volunteer work abroad, as there are many people out there who want to have a positive impact on the world, and financing a volunteer can be a way to do this. However, it is also possible to win support for projects that do not involve charity work. For example, in recent years there have been people who won funding for travel documentaries. So long as the project is presented effectively, there is the possibility of finding people who are willing to fund it. Another approach would be to organize some type of event that people will be willing to pay to attend, or to provide some type of product or service that people will want to buy, such as bake sales or car washes and the like.

Types of Fundraising

If people who are looking to raise some money to fund their travels abroad, there are a number of ways that they can go about this. The most popular types of fundraising include:

  • Using the profits from some type of organized event such as: a barn dance, sports competition, art exhibition, New Year’s Eve party, magic show, or quiz night. The benefit of this approach is that it can even attract people who are not particularly interested in the cause – they just want to take part in the event.
  • Crowdfunding often involves using the Internet, and it means that a group of people contribute to a pool of money (see below).
  • There are sponsorship and grants available that are just waiting to be claimed. So long as the individual meets the criteria to apply for this money, they have a good chance of obtaining it.
  • It is also possible to raise funds by selling products or services.


Crowdfunding is a type of fundraising that deserves special mention here because it can be particularly effective as a means to raise finance. The success that people will have with this approach will almost fully depend on their ability to sell the idea. It does take a great deal of effort and research to create a proposal that is likely to win crowdfunding, but if people are serious about traveling around the world it will be worth it. There are now a number of web sites that can help people interested in this type of fundraising including:

It is worth visiting these websites to see the approach that other people have taking in order to win funding for their travels and volunteer work abroad.

Tips for Successful Fundraising

In order to have a good chance of raising funds to finance a trip abroad it is a good idea to:

  • A common reason for why people do not sound convincing when looking for funding is that they have not done their homework. So for example, if the person wants to teach English in Southeast Asia, they will need to be able to provide some type of breakdown of the costs and potential benefits to show that their ideas are not half-baked.
  • It looks more professional if those seeking funding can create some type of pamphlet or brochure that provides the key information about the proposal.
  • Every person will have something that they are good at or something they really enjoy, and it is worth considering if this talent can be used to assist fundraising.
  • It can be a good idea to target people who are most likely to be sympathetic to the project. For example, there are people who feel strongly that a good education should be available for everyone, and they may therefore be more likely to contribute some money to volunteers who want to work in schools abroad – there should be no problem finding people who are sympathetic to this type of important educational work.
  • If people are organizing some type of event to raise money, they will need to plan everything careful so that the cost of putting on the event is not going to be more than the money raised – this can be tricky.


The Wat Ket Neighborhood of Chiang Mai

I was sitting in a small garden coffee shop just behind my school sipping a cooling iced-coffee yesterday afternoon, when I started to think about the area surrounding me. Its history is the history of foreigners in Chiang Mai, as this area is where the first foreigners settled, lived and worked in the late nineteenth century.

History of the Wat Ket Neighborhood

Many of the old wooden buildings, places of worship and homes these foreigners built are still standing. There are so many of them tucked away down hidden paths or behind crumbling brick walls that a few years ago UNESCO even considered making this area a world heritage site. Nowadays, the area’s history is complemented by an eclectic mix of restaurants, schools, designer shops and charitable organizations making it an exceedingly interesting area to work.

The Wat Ket area I am familiar with stretches from the east side of the Ping River between the Nakorn Ping and Nawarat Bridges east to Bumrungrad Road and is bordered to the north by Kaewnawarat Road and to the south by Charoenmuang Road. It’s a fair-sized chunk of real estate that in the not too distant past was mostly owned by a member of the Scottish aristocracy; but more of that later. Its post code, 50000, actually encompasses a slightly larger area.

A Walk through the Wat Ket Neighborhood

I think to really get a feel for this area I should take you on a walking tour of the area. After exiting my school and turning right, we turn right again into soi 3 Kaewnawarat Road. This is a quiet little road containing some mighty fine eating. There’s the superb home-cooked style American menu of Bake & Bite. Close by is Ton Wah (jambolan tree in Thai), or the 3 sisters as it’s known to many regular diners. This place serves delicious cheap Thai dishes to order in the garden of the 3 sisters’ home. Baan Thai Rom Yen (cool shade Thai house in Thai) opposite offers a kanom jin (rice noodles with soup) buffet experience; and a little further along this soi is the atmospheric Huen Khachao (my house in Northern Thai). This restaurant is only a few years old but wonderfully recreates a typical wooden mom & pop village store/restaurant/pub/cinema from the time before the opening of TESCO and Big C forced many of these types of places to close. The food is northern and delicious. It’s also very affordable.

Chinese Attaqwa Mosque

Turning left out of Huen Khachao and then turning left again at the end of this soi, we come across the Chinese Attaqwa Mosque. Built in the late 1960s by descendents of Muslim Jin Haw (galloping Chinese) traders from Yunnan in China who used mule trains to haul and trade goods such as tobacco and opium from market to market across the mountains of Burma, Laos and Northern Thailand. They were the transport company that drug warlords such as Burmese Khun Sa ( ) contracted to bring black gold out of the Shan mountains. During the 1960s, 70s and 80s much of the opium grown in Burma came through Chiang Mai on its way to the heroin addicts of Europe and North America. I’m sure therefore, it’s just a coincidence that along this same quiet road is an especially large house occupied by the very old Chinese widow of one Khun Sa’s senior lieutenants, allegedly.

Local Barber Shop, Wat Ket Neighborhood

Taking the first right turn past the mosque is a row of shops. One of them is occupied by my regular barber. If he’s not in his shop, I need to pop my head into one of the other shops or the mosque to find him. He calls me ajarn and is always apologetic that he wasn’t in his shop waiting for me. To trim the fluff from my neck he uses a cut-throat razor. I make a point of never visiting on days when Britain and the USA invade another oil-rich Muslim country in their jihad to fight international terrorism, just in case he coughs or slips and the cut throat razor lives up to its name.

Heading on past the shops for a further 50m we turn left at the t-junction. There’s an interesting little building named the Saiyuri Complex just on the right hand side of this short road. In English the sign reads coffee shop and snooker but in Thai it reads ap op nuat (wash, dry and then massage). It’s quite a busy little place. I’ve never visited as I’ve heard the coffee is terrible and I don’t like snooker.

Tales of the British Council, Chiang Mai

Walking briskly forward with eyes straight ahead we promptly hit Bumrungrad Road. The British Council is located along this road. The British Council was my employer from 2000 to 2002, and I’ve also been an IELTS examiner for them since 2004. The British Council compound is comprised of the teaching centre and the consulate and was moved to this location from where the Chedi Hotel is now located on the river Ping during Margaret Thatcher’s maniacal cost cutting of all government budgets during the 1980s.

The teaching centre is built in and around an old wooden bank building which is said to be haunted by a former Thai member of staff who was killed in an accident riding his motorbike to work one morning. It’s said – by Thais – that his spirit doesn’t realize it is dead so continues to clock-in and walk around the building occasionally. Of course, stamping feet while climbing the wooden stairs to the Thai staff’s office in the morning was a regular pastime of a few of the more mischievous and immature foreign teachers working there.

The Price of Coconut Trees

I remember one day during my teaching days at the Council that the centre director and honorary British Consul, David, made the decision to cut down one of the two tall and leaning coconut trees growing in the front garden. As many receptions were held in the garden rather than hotels to save money, the threat of falling coconuts was deemed serious enough to warrant capital punishment. Coconut skulls Chiang Mai Governor would have been a Sun newspaper headline too humiliating for the British nation to bear, so it was decided that the left leaning one had to go. David spoke to the centre’s elderly Thai accountant and asked whether she knew of a cheap tree surgeon. She did. He would not only cut down the tree, he would also remove the wood from the compound; and he wouldn’t charge a single baht. This made David very happy.

So, a few days later we were all watching from the safety of the first floor air-conditioned teachers’ staff room when a tiny little Thai man who looked at least 100 years old rode into the compound on his battered old Honda Dream with side car. Due to his frailty he took ages to remove his tools and place them on the lawn between the two trees. He then did something quite extraordinary: he picked up his axe and flew at the right leaning tree with the force and accuracy of Conan the Barbarian. David reacted swiftly and ran out of the building, but he wasn’t quick enough to stop Conan cutting down the wrong tree. The tree was lying dead on the lawn as David reached Conan. Conan had by now morphed back into a frail old man and started to wai and apologize profusely. The old man was now struggling to lift his axe but valiantly persevered anyway and eventually cut down the correct tree. After he had removed the last of the timber and rode off into the sunset, I heard David tell our elderly accountant that at least the British taxpayer wouldn’t have to pay that bloody fool anything. Our elderly accountant started to giggle after David had left the office. I asked what was so funny. She said with a glint in her eye and a smile on her face that coconut wood is very expensive.

Somchai and the Fighting Cock

Security at the British Council compound was a little relaxed to say the least. There was Somchai, the Thai security guard, and his ever faithful fighting cock who accompanied him everywhere; and that was about it. As soon as Somchai arrived for work around mid-morning, he would head straight to the caretaker’s antique wooden house in the far corner of the compound. The old lady who lived there was also the school’s cleaner. As Somchai slowly rocked in the hammock hanging in front of her house, the old lady would serve him breakfast and fuss over his cock while he relaxed. For most of the day Somchai kept a low-key security presence which coincidentally was in tune with the UK’s world-wide influence at that time. However, his days of leisure were numbered once Tony Blair made his unilateral decision to fight global terrorism by invading countries that had nothing to do with it.

Protests at the British Council

The Chiang Mai Muslim community were outraged when the UK and the USA invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, and protests were quickly planned for the front of the US and UK consulates. The protest was completely ignored when a large group of agitated Muslims and their placards arrived at the 3 meter security walls that completely surround the US compound. Their request to deliver a letter to the US consul also failed as armed security guards pointed out that they hadn’t booked an appointment through the consulate’s website at least 3 months in advance.

As the armed guards encouraged them to move on, the hoard turned and headed for the British Council. We were expecting them, and so were most of the Thai press. Anticipating blood and gore there were TV news cameras and photographers crowding around outside the fragile 1.5 meter railings built more for decoration than defence at the front of our compound. Again, we watched from the safety of the first floor teachers’ room as David valiantly strode forward to receive the protest letter; and in true British stiff upper lip fashion, he carried with him an umbrella for protection.

Jocularity aside, it must have been an intimidating situation that met him at the gate. However, he politely received the letter, shook some hands, posed for the press and returned to the safety of the staff room. At this point it seemed that the hoard was about to riot as arms started flailing and a number of bullhorns relayed angry messages to the protestors. As I was looking for someone to pull in front of me in anticipation of the sacking of the Council, the tension was defused by our Thai examinations officer, Khun Rawi. He had been translating into English the messages from the hoard and was now telling us that they were only arguing over where to eat lunch.

A close reader of the description of the previous serious security breach at the British Council has probably noticed that there is no mention of Somchai. Unfortunately there can be no mention, as he slept through the whole incident in his hammock in front of the cleaner’s house. I guess as a direct result of this serious and potentially dangerous failure, security was consequently and significantly upgraded. There is now an extra security guard at the gate whose job is to lever up and down the metal bar that was installed in order to stop bicycles; because it certainly isn’t capable of stopping cars.

To be continued…


Teaching Jobs in Chiang Mai

Over the last 10 years Chiang Mai has become one of the most popular expat cities in Thailand and Southeast Asia. It blends tradition with history, culture, delicious food, friendly locals and spectacular scenery. Compared to most Western cities, the cost of living is amazingly low. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that this city has also become a popular destination for foreign TEFL teachers.

Number of English Teaching Jobs in Chiang Mai

A comment sometimes read on forums is that there are few English teaching jobs in Chiang Mai. This simply isn’t accurate. Chiang Mai is the education hub of Northern Thailand and Thai education emphasizes the development of English-language skills with foreign teachers. ASEAN will open its doors in 2015 and the lingua franca of this region from that time will be English. This has led to a strong need for foreign teachers to meet this demand. There are 6 universities, 8 vocational colleges, around 6 International schools, at least 30 private schools, around 20 government schools, numerous kindergartens and approximately 25 language schools in Chiang Mai which all employ foreign teachers. Some employ as many as 30 foreign TEFL teachers. I would estimate there are many hundreds and perhaps even close to one thousand teaching jobs for foreigners in and around the city. As 2015 approaches this number will probably increase significantly.

List of Schools Hiring English Teachers in Chiang Mai

Contact information in English for the Chiang Mai schools is difficult to find. However, all SEE trainees receive lists of these schools on their last day of training along with a workshop on CV/Resume writing and how to find work. SEE itself employs 30+ teachers in outside teacher management contracts at a wide range of Chiang Mai schools. These jobs are always offered to our trainees first.

How to Find an English Teacher Position in Chiang Mai

Another comment I occasionally read is that it’s difficult to land the teaching jobs in Chiang Mai. This is particularly true for teachers who come directly to this city without any support, guidance, training or knowledge about how schools recruit teachers here. However, a prepared, patient and flexible teacher will find work. Initially, the work may not be ideal, but it will be a stepping stone to more desired future employment. Also, it’s important to note that hiring at many schools takes place before each of the two academic year semesters, i.e., during March and April ready for May and September and October ready for November. However, there is turn over at most schools throughout the year and flexible and patient teachers will still find work quickly outside of these months.

Salaries tend to be lower in Chiang Mai than in some other regions of Thailand. They range from 23 – 33,000 baht per month (as of 2013) in most formal schools. However, unless a foreigner needs to eat lots of Western food and drink large amounts of alcohol most nights, the salaries provide a comfortable lifestyle. A good apartment can cost around 4,000 – 6,000 baht per month. Eating out is very inexpensive as many Thai dishes can cost around 30 – 35 baht at various restaurants around town. A shared taxi (songthaew) ride to most parts of the city is 20 baht. Salaries can always be complemented by part-time hours teaching in language schools and/or private classes with their own students.

I have lived and worked in Chiang Mai for over 13 years. Over that time I have looked for work, been employed and recruited over 100 teachers for my employers. The process of finding work here is very different to the West. Schools rarely advertise their positions, schools value conservative behavior and dress, and schools sometimes recruit through 3rd parties.

Where Jobs are Advertised and How to Find Them

Few jobs in Chiang Mai are advertised on the Internet. Schools that do advertise tend to involve a foreigner with the hiring process. A couple of good examples of these schools are DARA Academy and Varee Chiang Mai. Recruitment usually involves filtering at the email application stage, short-listing, interviewing (face-to-face, Skype or telephone) and demo classes. The demo class will be with young learners aged anywhere between 3 and 18 depending upon the responsibilities of the position.

Most other schools rely on teachers walking in, depositing a CV/Resume and completing an application form. The school may not be actively recruiting at the time of the application. However, most applications are kept on file and pulled out when the school needs someone. Remember that the person tasked with finding teachers also has a full-time teaching or managerial job. Therefore, they don’t have time to waste. Finding teachers is often a spontaneous activity with the time between seeking and employing just a few days at most. Often the first suitable person the school can contact who is still looking for work and available to come to the school within a few hours to interview will be offered the job.

Important Cultural Differences when Seeking Work

The Thai definition of suitable can vary greatly to the Western notion of this word. In Thailand, appearance and behavior are very important factors in deciding whether a school will employ someone. When looking for work, foreigners should dress conservatively. Men should wear plain dark trousers (no chinos or jeans). Shoes should be dark and polished. Shirts should ideally be white and can be short, or long, sleeved but generally long is better. A tie is better than no tie. Women should wear the female professional equivalent. Facial jewelry should be removed but earrings for females are acceptable. Tattoos need to be hidden. Not being appropriately dressed is a deal breaker for most Thais unless the school is desperate for teachers.

Thai norms of behavior are rarely understood by foreigners. Many foreigners come to Thailand believing that Thai minds are conditioned by the same factors as their own, and therefore process the world in a similar way. This is not accurate and leads to many misunderstandings between foreigners and Thais. I strongly advise that all new foreign teachers receive some cultural awareness training or at the very least read a few books about the differences between our different cultural worlds. These misunderstandings often lead to frustration and foreigners leaving their jobs prematurely. There are too many differences to summarize in a short blog, but I will briefly describe some of the important ones.

Thailand is a hierarchical society and great importance is placed on respect for this hierarchy. Potential employers are puu yai (bigger person) and employees are puu noi (smaller person). Therefore the puu noi wai first and speak last. Allow Thai puu yai to speak without interruption. Don’t be too assertive and never be confrontational, aggressive or display emotion.

Importance of Networking for Teaching Jobs

Schools sometimes rely on other sources to find new teachers. It’s quite normal for a Thai employer to ask foreign teachers already working at their school whether they have friends looking for work. This is a strong recommendation, and so long as an on-site interview confirms the person looks presentable and behaves appropriately, they will more than likely be offered employment. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to network. Teachers new to Chiang Mai will have an instant network of friends (the other trainees and their trainers) if they complete TEFL training in Chiang Mai. Other sources that schools use are established and reputable TEFL courses and agencies.

The CV/Resume for Teaching Jobs in Thailand

Schools will expect to see a CV/Resume summarizing their qualifications and experience. It’s expected that a CV/Resume includes a good photo of the applicant. This helps the school to remember people who previously visited and suggests to the school whether their appearance is suitable. The photo should show head and shoulders. The pose should be natural and engaging. Thai employers don’t value stern looking people. The teacher should be dressed for work, so a plain shirt and tie for males and the equivalent for females. Hair should be neat and tidy with facial hair removed. Bad guys on Thai soap operas often wear stick-on beards and moustaches to enhance their menace. Culturally, facial hair can be intimidating to Thais. I’ve been told that when my two daughters grow up and start attracting interest from boys, I should grow a moustache to scare the boys away.

Telephone use for Teaching Job Contact in Thailand

It’s also very important to list a mobile phone number. Thais rarely use email to communicate and are more likely to phone. Therefore, a phone should always be charged and switched on during the job search period. Answer quickly as employers are busy and may impatiently hang up after 6 or 8 rings. Voicemail is also more rarely used, and so answering the phone when it rings is even more important in Thailand than in the West. Speaking to a potential Thai employer should involve consideration for their cultural values.

The CV/Resume should not in any way indicate that the foreigner’s stay is transient. Hence, don’t use a guest house address, don’t write I’ve been travelling for… and do have a phone number. Also, a cover note/email should include an indication that the applicant is interested in that particular school. Include the name of the school and relate any specific details about the school to the applicant if possible. Schools receive a lot of spam and experienced employers recognize the difference between applications from people who are serious about working at their school and people who are just spamming every school they can find. Spammers are often treated as time wasters and ignored.

Patience and Persistance in the Job Search

During the job search teachers must remain positive. It is easy to start to feel despondent if after a few weeks there’s been little response to visits, emails and phone calls. However, persistence and patience will always pay off. When I arrived over 13 years ago there were few employers of foreign teachers and I had visited nearly all of them by the end of my first day of looking for work. I waited and waited. My thoughts started to turn to my options if I needed to leave. However, after a few weeks of waiting I returned to my guest house one afternoon and a message was waiting for me from a school. It was a job offer. I accepted it and had a great first year in Chiang Mai. Then, a connection I made while working at that school led to my next job. And so it went on.


John Quinn, Director and Senior Trainer, SEE TEFL