Deciding to teach English abroad has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far. My advice to you; If you’re thinking about doing it, DO IT. If you’re on this webpage, you already have one foot out the door. Here’s some FAQs that will help you take the next step:
Q: What are the basic requirements to teach English abroad?
A: You need a bachelors degree. It doesn’t have to be in education. My degree is in communications. Then you need to get TESOL or TEFL certified.
Q: What’s TESOL and TEFL?
A: TESOL and TEFL are pretty much the same thing. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Schools normally require you to have one of these certifications. If you already have a degree in teaching you usually don’t need to take one of these courses.
Q: How do I get certified in TESOl?
A: Oxford Seminars has classes all over the US. I almost went through them but decided to take my class in Bangkok through the American TESOL Institute (ATI). I paid about $1000 for the three week course. Accommodation was paid for and they gave us a week of real teaching experience at a Thai school.
Q: Why ATI?
A: I enrolled in the Special Thai Program which guaranteed me a teaching placement at the end of the course. I graduated on a Friday and had a job on Monday. It was perfect! It was also a great way to explore the culture and meet other westerners who will most likely become your lifelong friends. I would recommend taking the ATI class in PHUKET, THAILAND. Huge class, a ton of young, fun people and just a great time.
Q: What should I expect to get paid? Is it enough to live in Thailand?
A: When I started I was getting paid 35000 Baht a month which is about $1000 a month. That doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s very inexpensive to live in Thailand. I was able to save about $500 a month. My apartment was $150 a month, I was get daily massages, eating very well, shopping and going out – life was GOOD :) Eventually I was raised to 44,000 baht a month which is about $1300 a month… then LIFE WAS GRAND lol. Seriously though.
Q: What’s it like to live in a non-English speaking country?
A: Patience is key. Some people will speak a little English but don’t assume that they will. You are in their country. Be respectful. And talking louder will not help them understand you — That’s my pet peeve!
My advice is try to learn the language a little. Have fun with it. It can definitely get frustrating at times, especially if you need directions or if you want to ask for something at a store but you get used to it. You’ll start to use non-verbal communication. Thai’s are pro’s at that. In the land of smiles, I’ve learned that sometimes that’s all you need.
Q: What made you want to teach abroad?
A: For me, it was a series of things. When I was in college I worked and lived at Disney World for six months. I met people from all over the world who had come to experience work and life in America. After that, I always wondered what it would be like to live in another country. Then when I was a senior in college, I studied abroad in China – I met an American who was teaching there and met his students and they all really inspired me. My college degree is in Communications and I ended up landing an Account Coordinator position at a PR firm in Manhattan after college. It was everything I ever wanted, but something was missing. I wanted to not just travel the world but I wanted to live around the world and I was determined to make that happen. After some research, teaching English seemed to be the key – So I quit my job and went for it.
Q: Why did you choose to teach in Thailand?
A: Thailand just fell into my lap. I had no preference to where I wanted to teach. When you want to do everything, it doesn’t really matter where you start as long as you start. Now that I taught in Thailand, I’m so happy I didn’t go anywhere else. The hospitality and the culture there is something I have never seen anywhere else.
Q: How did you like living in Bangkok?
A: Bangkok reminds me of New York city but it’s more laid back. I loved it there. The transportation system is incredible so it’s really easy to get around without a car. And since there is a very large expat community, it’s easy to get a taste of western life if you’re ever feeling homesick. There’s Mexican, English, Irish, and American food.. even found an Outback Steakhouse one day! Also, I’m not much of a shopper, but Bangkok has thee most amazing malls you’ll ever see in your life! Cheap and modern housing, friendly people, amazing nightlife, and plenty of markets, parks and street food to explore throughout the day.
Have more questions? Please comment below!
Hi Kate! I stumbled upon your blog when I was searching blogs about teaching English in Thailand. I’m thinking about going there this fall, but I’m so unsure. I’ve enjoyed reading all your tips! I think they will be very useful in helping me make my decision :)
WOW you are such an inspiration!! Keep it up! I recently just quit my busy job at a salon and I am moving to Africa in about 7 months to pursue the adventure of a lifetime, traveling and working my way through in another culture!! <3
How long did you teach in Thailand? Is there a minimum or maximum time you can stay?
This is so strange, because I feel like we have a similar background in the sense that I’m going to graduate with a Communications degree in the Spring and I’ve actually done the Oxford Seminars course. I plan to start teaching in Europe, but who knows, maybe I’ll make it to Thailand someday :) Your blog is great and it really inspired me to keep going with my dreams instead of getting a reasonable job like my parents expect me to.
Hi Kate!!! I came across your blog and I’m so inspired, I own 2 bootcamps here in Orlando but I just feel like I want more and I don’t wan to really be a business owner and have all the stress I want to travel and live around the world. I would love to go to Australia, but Thailand was actually on my list too. Is teaching the best way to start living abroad? I also want to experience the culture and lifestyle. You said if you take the TEFL course in Bangkok you are guaranteed a job there? Is that all the time or just in your case? I would love to talk more, I have so many questions!!! Thank you thank you!!!
I’m considering teaching English abroad right now, I was thinking China because I have a pretty good connection and they offer to pay for my flight and shit like that. However, I don’t like the idea of China as a country too much and Thailand is like an ex-pat hub of awesome badassery, so thanks for your info. *high five*
AH so awesome! start a blog and I will follow!
My question relates to this. How long were you there? Did you get a work visa for Thailand? Were you able to switch from a tourist visa to a working visa after you got your job? That generally seems to be a problem.
I was there for a year. Started out on a one semester contract and then I extended. My school helped me get a non-immigrant B visa from my double entry tourist. I know some people who got their non-immigrant B before hand but I didn’t.
Hi Kate! Love your blog :) I’ve been thinking about doing a TEFL or TESOL course in Thailand too, though I’m not a native English speaker. Do you have any experience with people who wanted to teach English in Thailand/abroad without English being their monthertongue? Thanks!
One of the other teachers at my school was from Portugal and English was her second language so it is possible :)
My dad taught in Japan for over 10 years and loved it!!! It is all he talks about now that he is back in the states. Sounds like a great opportunity!
Hi Kate! I am also thinking about experiencing teaching English in Thailand. Did the 3 week course give you your actual certification at the end or was it just training? Also, did you have to pay again to extend your contract after the first semester? Last, while you are guaranteed a job, did you have to find it yourself or did ATI assist? Thank you!
I love your posts and they have completely inspired me to persue my dream of traveling, however I’m only part way through my degree and taking a gap year so do you have any advice on jobs over in Thailand that you can get without a degree? Thanks!
Yes I received my certification from them and they found me a job. Make sure it says that in the course if you decide to sign up. Some places don’t. And no, I didn’t have to pay to extend. Actually, I received a raise when I extended :) Good luck!
Hi Kate, it’s soo good to see your last response was Jan. 3, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. I am getting goosebumps and butterflies as I write this. I wrote on your fb wall, but I’ll do this just in case. I also liked your call center photo; I am ‘Clark Khent.’ First of all, you are very inspirational and I am ready to travel too! Did you live in thailand and then do TESOL or did you land there first and then worked? If so, I am going to do the same. Thank you so much. Enjoy Australia.
Hey Kate! My fiancé and are about to graduate college and she is going to grad school. After grad school we plan on traveling extensively starting in New Zealand or Australia, but she has student loans. Should we do like you did and just go for it and put student loans on the card? I plan on getting frequent flier miles to get their like you talked about in your other post. Also do you have any advice to someone just starting extensive travel?
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What a coincidence! I am leaving for Bangkok in 5 hours from Korea. I have been teaching English for 20 years in Korea. Hope to see you in Bangkok. Take care.
Traveling is the one thing that I want to do in life more than anything else and Thailand has always been the place I’ve wanted to go! As money is tight I’ve often considered teaching abroad but wasn’t sure if it was for me…you see, being the youngest in my family I’m not exactly skilled with children or extremely confortable around them – do you have any thoughts on that as it pertains to teaching abroad?? Also, I hope that this does not at all come off rudely, but would you be willing to share what the approximate cost of your participation was when all was said and done (total program costs, visa, plane ticket, other fees, etc.)? If not I completely understand! Just trying to get a ballpark idea of what the entire process would run.
Thanks so much for being an inspiration!
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You have seriously inspired me to pick up my things and move to Thailand…..and well after talking to my family and friends everyone seems to be very supportive of me doing this. I just graduated from college and like you I landed a good in the field I majored in. But I don’t feel like it is enough for me. So now I’m on to the next big thing which is travel. I have so many questions for you. Do you ever respond by email?
Hi! What you’re doing is exactly what I want to do. You have blown me away with your story and advice! So for that, thank you! One question comes to mind because I’m 27 and my parents want me to work to establish myself and set myself up for success in my future. They don’t want me to start late and then not be able to retire until I’m 70 – ha! So what is your plan for your future (as in work and retirement) once you come back? I really hope I hear from you. This question is the only thing holding me back!
Hey Kate! A fellow “Kate” here wanting to teach English in Thailand. I taught in Spain last year but I’m just soooo drawn to SE Asia. I have my TEFL cert and I’m looking for jobs now. Any suggestions on where to look/how to land a job?! Thanks so much!
Great tips on teaching in Thailand. It sure is a great country with very nice people to teach in!
My name is Paige McCauley and I am applying to assistant teach in Thailand. I have more questions about your experience and would love to talk with you! I stumbled upon your blog trying to see what it was like or other Americans teaching overseas!
My name is Luke and I am about to begin a one month TEFL course in Chiang Mai and will be placed with a school after that. I am unsure where to teach in Thailand. Where did you teach/do you have any suggestions?
Thanks so much for your help!
I am seriously considering it. I’ve been to Thailand about 15 times and am still getting better at the language.
The big strike against me is my age – 64.
On the other hand, people in US have always thanked me for quality of training that I have provided.
I’m a pharmacist.
Do you see others my age that make it as teachers? BTW – I love Thai people and have always gotten along well with them.
I am currently finishing up a K-12 art education degree at American University (DC). I am applying to teach English in Thailand for the upcoming year through the Fulbright ETA grant program. I was wondering if I could interview you on your experience there within the next couple of weeks? Let me know, thanks!
I agree about speaking Thai in Thailand. So many people come here and think they don’t need to learn even the basics. Speaking Thai goes a long way and will open up so many doors. And it will raise your status in the eyes of Thais.
I am 56 years old and want to teach English in Chiang Mai. I took a 160 hour TEFL/TESOL through TEFLEXPRESS.CO.UK (online) and earned my certificate in 2015. I have a master of science in geology and I have been teaching community college for the past three years. I have prior extensive teaching experience with all ages and adults. Do you think it is better to use a teaching program to facilitate the process of teaching in Thailand? Based on the information provided, should I anticipate any difficulties finding employment in Chiang Mai? Thank you for your help.
Hi Kate I am so inspired I am from south Africa holding a bachelor’s degree in education and I would like to teach in Thailand and aslo to register for TEFL.my problem I have two kids 7 and 4 years is it possible to travel with them?
Kate, my name is Hunter. I was wondering if you know of any positions currently available. I’m tesol certified with a degree and I’ve been teaching in China and Malaysia for 8 years. My email is huntershaw_80@ yahoo.com
Hi Kate,I’m also a teacher in Thailand,another way of doing things is to teach English online,this way you can live in any place you wish,that is as long as it has an ok internet connection.There’s an online company called http://www.beanonlineteacher.com which provides you with everything you need to become an online English teacher :,a custom made website,for beginner teachers a course with step by step teaching instructions,a guide on how to use you computer to present your lesson materials and info on how to get a high ranking on the internet search engines and promote your website and business.
This blog has helped me so much, and I wpuld really love if you wpuld email me about a few more questions that I have! I graduate in English Ed. In two weeks and this is the parh that I want next :)
This blog has helped me so much, and I would really love if you would email me about a few more questions that I have! I graduate in English Ed. in two weeks and this is the path that I want next :)