Teaching environment vs. Thailand

Has anyone here previously worked in Thailand? Can you speak to any of the following issues comparing it to Taiwan?

  1. workload

  2. stress

  3. students

  4. administration

  5. coworkers

  6. anything else you can think of related to comparing the overall experience between the two, disregarding pay and benefits.

Sorry for the late reply - I haven’t checked the forum for a few months.

I worked in Taiwan for about 2 years in total. My experience may be unique because I chose smaller places (outside the big cities) to work because I dislike crowds and the pollution in places like Taipei.

Since coming to Thailand last november, I have worked at a couple of buxiban style schools and have now been working at a private girls school since the 6th of January this year.

The buxiban style schools seem to be identical to the ones in Taiwan ie: run by people that shouldn’t have any right to be operating something called a ‘school’.

I guess that’s just the TEFL industry then. Business person wants to make $$, opens a school and then does their best to extract $$ from parents whilst saving as much money as they can. Of course there must be exceptions but I didn’t have the opportunity to work for them :wink:

But anyhow, this isn’t another one of my whiney anti-buxiban posts :whistle:

To address your questions…

1. Workload
This was a big change for me! I have been very lucky to find a job at a school where the head of English has got us a good deal re: hours.

Most schools here make the foreign teachers work from 8am to 4pm. However, my school lets us leave after the last class of the day, and be there 20 mins before our first class.
Eg: Today I worked from 9.20am to 2pm. On Friday however, I work 8.30am to 4.45pm. My daily schedule is 4 x 50 minute classes.

The kids are often late, so the class time usually ends up being 35-40 minutes each.

I do 2 x 45 minute extra classes a week, which gives me an extra 3,200 a month.

In addition I do 2 hours at a buxiban each Sunday which adds another 2,800 a month to my income. My 2 after school classes + the 2 hours on Sunday make as much money as a lot of local peoples monthly salary!

2. Stress
This is a HUGE difference for me. I was stressed most of the time I was in Taiwan last year. I became a hermit, put on 12kgs and started to get paranoid. It definitely wasn’t a good time for me. This was mostly due to my job stability, issues with workmates, and issues with management at the schools I worked at.

I went to Taiwan a very laid back, optimistic person. I left late last year with a cancelled ARC and on the brink of a nervous breakdown. I know some people on this forum that can back me up here!

In Thailand my first month was stressful because my savings soon ran out. However since starting my full time job, life has been a dream. I was waiting for the catch, but there doesn’t seem to be any. The people here are lovely, my students are respectful and polite and my co-workers are a good group of people (most of them are British which I think helps).

3. Students
Chalk and cheese. My students here stand up when I enter the classroom, bow and wai when they see me in the school grounds, and although some of them aren’t particularly bright - they try their hardest in class.

In Taiwan most of my students were spoilt and treated buxiban time as ‘letting off steam’ time.

However, Taiwanese kids seemed to just be better at learning English, or perhaps their English learning started at an earlier age. I need to put more energy into my classes here to keep the kids attention.

Thai kids seem to have better manners and have more respect for adults. This carries over into the classroom and makes my job a whole lot easier.

4. Administration
I have very little contact with the administration. The head of English hired me, and showed me the ropes. The little contact I have had with admin has been positive though. I got an advance on my first salary, and reimbursed for visa fees. I regularly go down to the office to do copying and the staff are always friendly.

This seems to be different to a lot of schools here. I’ve heard horror stories of schools making foreign teachers do ‘greeting’ duty each morning, wear a tie and long sleeves and pay for photocopying.

5. coworkers
This is another big difference for me, because I worked at 4 buxibans in Taiwan and only one of them had more than 1 foreign teacher.

The people I work with now have all been in Thailand for more than 2 years. They have been supportive and helpful in finding accomodation, places to eat etc.

I am supposed to have a co teacher for my grade 2 classes, but she has never shown up. I just found out that she had a baby before I started - which explains that :laughing:

Co teachers are normal for grades 1 to 3 here. Better schools have co teachers for all levels, but they are usually expensive schools.

6. anything else you can think of related to comparing the overall experience between the two, disregarding pay and benefits.
Thailand has a unique culture that really has to be experienced first hand to appreciate. It’s called the ‘land of smiles’ but this seems more apt for touristy places where the smiles are usually to do with some money you just handed over.

I live in a city in north east Thailand (Isaan region). It’s about 6 hours from Bangkok and about 10 years behind Bangkok in terms of mod cons. This is changing, though. A huge mall just opened and we are getting taxis this month for the first time.

A lot of Thailand is very poor. This was different for me, because overall Taiwan seems to be a fairly middle class society. There are families here that live on 100 nt a day. 7/11 workers get 28 baht per hour.

The women here are more laid back and friendly than in Taiwan, and I’m not just talking about bargirls and their ilk (although this brings a lot of teachers to Thailand).

People stare a lot in the place where I live. Sometimes it is hostile, but violence is rare.

The difference in salary is the biggest issue for me in comparing Taiwan and Thailand. I was earning 50,000 a month in Taiwan working 20 hours a week. I teach for 20 hours a week here but only earn 30,000.

Having said that, the holidays here are ridiculous. The foreign teachers at my school get 30k a month for the entire year, but 3 -almost 4 months of the year are paid holidays. Then you have the many public holidays, festivals, student outings, musical rehearsals, christmas shows, dancing, music, art shows etc etc… All of these extra curricular activities mean that we get to go home for the day.

Since starting last month, we have had 3 days where we came to work and then were able to leave.

We also get 7 days sick leave, 10 days ‘personal’ leave, paid health insurance, social security payments and free meals each day.

At the end of the day - what price happiness? I have been working since I was 16 (22 years ago) and this is the first job that I have honestly enjoyed. For me, that easily cancels out the difference in salary.

Life is cheap here. My serviced apartment is 6,000 nt a month. This is a huge amount of money for this area, but I like the location and convenience. A fantastic, colorful, tasty Thai dinner costs me 30 nt at the eatery across from my room. There are also vietnamese, chinese, italian and chinese places to eat at all a short walk from here.

Foreign food is more expensive. A woodfired pizza, soup, salad and dessert costs about 380 nt. I usually eat that once or twice a month.

The local markets are very cheap too. I can get a kg of tomatos, cucumbers, onions or potatos for 10 nt. Lettuces are about 15 nt and eggs are about 2 nt each.

Electronics are a little more expensive here, which is a shame because I like my gadgets! I just bought a netbook computer which cost about 900 nt more than it would have in Taiwan.

Loved Thailand. Hard work if you don’t speak Thai, though.

pubba: Congratulations! That’s wonderful that things have improved so much for you. I wish you continued success and happiness.

Nice post, Pubba! :bravo:

Yeah, glad it worked out. You seemed to have a run of bad luck in the 'wan. Mind you, you always seemed to gravitate towards those shitsville little towns … And now you’re in Isaan. :laughing:


Glad to hear everything is going well.

Thanks everyone. It’s nice to come back and have a read through here. Reminds me of what I miss (and don’t miss!) about Taiwan.

Now that I have taken off my rose colored glasses, I have some more info to add about Thailand. This is probably more for rural Thailand as opposed to the big city centres.

The expats here are more cliquey and close knit than the ones that I encountered in Taiwan. There is definitely a more pronounced ‘my Thailand’ syndrome going on here too. Some expats will cross the road or just turn their back to you rather than having to make contact or return a ‘hello’.

Having said that, the expats here are a more interesting bunch. A local told me that 90% of the expats here are running from something. Whether that be a marriage breakup, debt, criminal conviction - whatever. Not sure what I was running from… Maybe all of the above? I’m still trying to work it out.

I seem to have fallen afoul of the local British expat clique which is a shame because I am usually fond of English folks. The ones here are particularly nasty and vindictive, and are long termers.

I made the gross error of complaining about a buxiban here that ripped me off. Turns out that some of my new colleagues work there, and now I have been labelled ‘trouble’.

I could work hard, be nice to everyone etc for the next year or so - but why bother when it’s for only 30k a month? I’m just going to keep myself and keep enjoying what I have here. Nice students, a cheap lifestyle and my gf and daughter.

Miss Taiwan very much and even thinking about returning later this year. Will definitely choose a city next time!

Hmm - not so different from Taiwan, then? Did the local speculate as to what you’re on the run from, or are you a ‘good whitey’ because you smile a lot?

Well, the ‘running from something’ seems to be more of a whitey theory rather than one that the locals believe.

The local teachers hardly interact with us at all at the school where I work, but that’s mostly a language/losing face barrier I think. Plus the existing expat workers there haven’t made any effort. It’s a real ‘us vs. them’ kind of thing.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you all have a great break and enjoy the time off. :rainbow:

I’m finishing up here on the 17th of March and then after I get paid on the 25th will catch a train to Vietnam to do some sightseeing and check out job options there.

Will keep checking up on here to catch all the latest news etc.