I have put down some information that might be helpful with your decision to teach in Thailand or not. If you really want to make a difference by being a teacher and have a great time traveling and seeing a beautiful and friendly country then you are in the right place.
TEFL, TESOL, ESL Certification
These terms have been and continue to be somewhat confusing at best but I will endeavor to explain as best I can.
So what is the difference between TEFL, TESL, TESOL, and CELTA courses? First let’s look at what they are and then explore some differences.
- TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course: This course prepares teachers to teach English in a country where English is not the primary language. If I were going to teach in Thailand for example.
- TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) course: This course prepares a teacher to teach in an English speaking country to students whose first language isn’t English. I, being in The USA, can teach English to students, living in The USA who want to learn English.
- TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course: This course includes both TEFL and TESL and can mean either one or both. TESOL prepares a teacher to teach any student or students whose native language isn’t English. If I have a TESOL certification I can teach any student learning English in most any country, English speaking or not.
Even though these are different they are often used interchangeably. Even though they all mean different things many people (including myself) use them all the same way. TESOL and TEFL are the most common terms used when speaking of teacher training courses, however, TESL gets gets used as well. Some people stick to the rules though and use them according to their actual meanings. For our purposes we are going to lump them all together and call them TESOL.
- CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course: This is a specific brand of TESOL course operating under the umbrella of Cambridge University. Think of TESOL as the type of product and CELTA as a specific brand. The CELTA course is the most well known and some consider it the most respected of TESOL courses.
There are basically 2 ways to take a TESOL course, online and at a school in a classroom. Many certification agencies have schools in country. Such as the one that I received my certification from. I attended a course in Phuket, Thailand. It was a 4 week course for 120 hours of teaching that included 10 hours of actual classroom experience. Although this was quite intense the time in Thailand was great. However, the cost was a bit high as between the course and the transportation over the cost was in excell of $3,000 USD. Which brings me to the Online service.
If the cost of attending an in-country classroom course is a bit steep, then perhaps an "online course" would be better for you. There are and abundance of courses available online for prices that also vary greatly (depending on quality) from $200 to $4,000 USD, but generally less than the CELTA courses. On Average about $1,400 USD.
Here are some links to a few of the schools that have a high rating and years of experience:
Much-a-do about Thai Visas
Thai Visa’s have always been somewhat of a subject of controversy with those wanting to go to Thailand and/or those currently living in Thailand. The Thai laws are more than a bit different than those in the USA and other European countries. The Thai Immigration is always changing and updating and/or re-enforcing laws that have become lax.
I have included an excerpt from the US Passports & International Travel web page as follows:
If you are a U.S. citizen tourist staying in Thailand for fewer than 30 days, you do not requi
re a visa to enter the country, but your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand. Thai immigration officials may ask for your onward/return ticket, and airlines may ask for this information when you book or check in. If you are a tourist entering Thailand by air or land without a visa, you are allowed to stay in Thailand for 30 days per visit.
Note that Thai immigration authorities are closely scrutinizing travelers who receive a 30-day visa through the visa exemption program, and who then attempt to reenter Thailand repeatedly for an additional 30 days under the same program. If it appears individuals are entering and reentering Thailand to reside rather than for tourism, they are being denied reentry and referred to the nearest Thai embassy to apply for the appropriate Thai visa. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate are not able to intervene with Thai immigration or the airlines regarding their regulations and policies.
Business travelers should check with the Royal Thai Embassy about visa requirements. You must pay a Passenger Service Charge in Thai baht (Thai currency) when you depart from any of Thailand’s international airports; this charge is included in the ticket price for flights from Bangkok’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi International.
When you enter the country, Thai immigration officials stamp your passport with the date your authorized stay will expire. Make sure your passport has been stamped with the date your authorized stay will expire before you leave the immigration counter. Replacing a missing stamp later often requires a trip back to your original port of entry.
If you remain in Thailand beyond the date of your authorized stay without getting an official extension, Thai immigration officials will fine you 500 baht per day, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht (approximately 625 USD at 32 baht/1USD) when you leave Thailand. In cases of excessive overstay, as determined by Thai officials on a case-by-case basis, you may be arrested for violating immigration law and be detained as you undergo official deportation proceedings. If the police find that you are out of legal status before you leave the country (for example, during a Thai Immigration “sweep” through a guesthouse or in a popular a tourist area), you will be detained, fined, and deported at your own expense, and you may also be barred from re-entering Thailand. These determinations are the legal prerogative of the Royal Thai government, and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate may not intervene in the application of Thai law. Private “visa extension services,” even those advertising in major periodicals or located close to immigration offices or police stations, are illegal. A number of U.S. citizens are arrested at border crossings each year with counterfeit visas and entry stamps they have obtained through these illegal services.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens carry proper travel documentation at all times. Thai police occasionally stop travelers in popular tourist areas to check their passports. Please carry at a minimum a copy of your U.S. passport identification page and current Thai visa to avoid detention by the Thai immigration police.
It is illegal for foreigners to work in Thailand without a work permit. This includes unpaid work, volunteer work (even for charitable causes), and work in exchange for room and board. If you work in Thailand without a work permit, you are subject to arrest, jail time, a fine, and deportation. Before traveling to Thailand for work—whether or not you will receive compensation—you should check with the Royal Thai Embassy to ensure that your plans are consistent with Thai law. If you are employed as a teacher with an agency, independently check to confirm the placement agency is in compliance with Thai visa rules and work permits before signing contracts. Several U.S. citizens are arrested each year due to work permit violations.
Thailand’s entry/exit information is subject to change without notice. For further information on Thailand’s entry/exit requirements, contact the Royal Thai Embassy at 1024 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20007, telephone (202)-944-3600, or contact the Thai consulate in Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York City. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs website lists the Thai embassies and consulates worldwide and provides current information about Thailand, including visa and other policies. The Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau maintains an English-language website as well.
Ebola restrictions. Upon arrival into Thailand, persons traveling from affected West African countries may be asked to see a doctor at the Suvarnabhumi Airport’s Health Control Unit. Such travelers will need to register with the Thai Ministry of Public Health for daily follow-up over a 21-day period to determine if symptoms present. Failure to do so may result in deportation.
HIV/AIDS restrictions. Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Thailand. However, these restrictions are generally not enforced. Please verify this information with the Royal Thai Embassy before you travel.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
The link for this is: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/thailand.html
(also this link contains a lot of useful info: http://www.mfa.go.th/thailandconnect_english/ )
Finding A Teaching Job in Thailand
This can be one of the most difficult and frustrating parts of going to Thailand to teach and travel. There are thousands of schools in Thailand (over 37,000 in 2011 according to Wikipedia) and they all teach English as a second language. Most of these schools do not have native English speakers to teach English. This is done by Thai teachers that have a mediocre ability to speak English. There are many English teach placement agencies in Thailand to help with placing you with a good school. I have listed several of these agencies and have rated them as to how helpful they are for the teachers that work for them.
One word of caution though. While most of these agencies are ok and do a good service for would be teachers, there are a few that are not so up and up about making sure the legalities are taken care of properly. And also some of the agencies have been known to not pay the teachers on time and sometimes not at all.. so be aware and careful about who you choose to go with. Make sure they are reputable and have a lengthy history.
Having said that, most are ok and will help you. I used them when I first came to Thailand and did for a few years. However, I don't use an agency now. I work directly for the school. I have cut out the "middle man" so to speak.
See below for a few of the agencies that I recommend:
This is a subject that is as diverse as nearly anyplace in the world. All the way from majestic rain forest covered mountains to lush valleys covered with jungle to some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the world with warm crystal clear water to swim, snorkel and sail in. The beauty of the thousands of temples with tall pointed spires and statues of buddha … Ancient temples to explore.. The choices are vast and can be visited during your off time from teaching.
I have been teaching in Thailand off and on for nearly 10 years now. actual time in country is about 6 years. Over the years I have had the opportunity to experience some of the most breath taking scenery imaginable.
I am a photographer and I have traveled a lot in my life. From Europe to Asia... and through out the USA. I have taken thousands of photographs along the way. My stay in Thailand has proven to be one of the best places I have been, and certainly one of the most beautiful in terms of landscapes. The people here and friendly and the whole country is bathed in a rich Buddhist culture. This culture has produced some exquisitely ornate and beautiful temples and structures that are centuries old. This Tropical country has some of the most lush and vividly awesome rain forests full of a rich supply of exotic and rare animals and birds. From tiny insects that you have never heard of to Elephants and everything in between...
Starting from the north.. Chiang Mai... I stayed in Chiang Mai for about 2 months and a month in near by Chiang Rai , north of Chiang Mai. I enjoyed my time there and was able to travel from there throughout the northern part of Thailand. I visited many places that previously sounded so exotic and far away.
Chiang Mai is an old city with many temples temples and surrounded by jungles. As I said it is a good central station so to speak for jungle treks into the area; there is an elephant sanctuary near by, and the Chiang Mai night market in the inner city or old city is an exciting and interesting way to shop for some of the best handicrafts and deals in the country.
Moving south we come to Nakhon Ratchasima, or Karat as it is known, I spent a full term teaching near there in a rural (understatement) school out in the middle of the jungle. Literally in the middle of the jungle... totally isolated and for the most part cut off from the big city life of Karat. But the area around there was wonderful. My school sits at the base of Kao Yai Mountain. One of the most famous mountains in all of Thailand... the area is scattered with resorts and things to do .. trekking and camping are high on the list. There are orchid farms there that have orchids that you would not even believe are real.
Bangkok:.. What can I say. One of the largest cities in the world with literally everything that any other city has. From ancient temples to the floating market to the all infamous night life... Bangkok truly has it all.
From Bangkok to the East is Pattaya. Everyone has heard of Pattaya and it infamous bar scene and beaches. Personally I have never been there and probably never will... just not my cup of tea..lol.. sorry.. But if you are looking for excitement and a great nightlife and some great and beautiful beaches I am sure you will not be disappointed.
Going down the peninsula toward Malaysia you first come to Hua Hin, Maybe the oldest resort city and beach area in Thailand. the beaches are long and beautiful and the hotels range from 400 baht per night rooms to as much as 3000 baht per night luxury hotels. and like Bangkok it has it all except it has a beach. A big long beautiful beach with hundreds of luxury hotels and resorts overlooking the beaches.
Moving more south you come to my home town Ranong. Ranong is a small town with small town mentality. I came here 4 years ago to teach and I have been here teaching ever since. I totally fell in love with this quiet beautiful little town with all the beautiful waterfalls, hot springs, beaches and Temples...
Moving past Ranong you come to Krabi... Beautiful beaches and majestic coastal cliffs and tiny islands. From catching a tour on a large tourist barge or going it on a speed boat. Kayaking and snorkeling to tiny fish nibbling at your toes and legs... Krabi is the home of the famous James Bond Island where part of the movie Gold Finger was filmed. A must visit location. Next comes Phuket Island. I lived on this Island for nearly a year. I was teaching at a high school in the Cherng Talay Village. There are so so many beaches on Phuket including the famously infamous Pattong Beach. Pattong is kind of a smaller version of Pattaya and I have been there and therefore I don't see a need to go to Pattaya.. lol... but.. it is a very popular location for all of the younger generation... (I'm 66 years old and just not interested anymore..lol...)
I have touched on some of the most well know places in Thailand. There are thousands more areas and sites and wonders to behold and experience. One word of caution though... as in any foreign country you should be aware of where you are... and be cautious about what you say and where you go. I personally know people who didn't and ended up in jail or laying on the side of the road with no money or passport or anything else.. and usually bleeding.
I love Thailand and I have never had any problems here because I learned from the start to not go where I don't belong.. or say what I should not say and not do what I should not do. Unlike USA and else ware in the west They don't have a sense a humor about breaking their laws... "when in Rome.. Do as the Romans do"....