You’ve earned your TEFL or CELTA. Congratulations. You spent the last four-to-six weeks dreaming about teaching English in Thailand.
And now what?
If the school you earned your ESL certificate from doesn’t help you find a job (which isn’t unheard of), follow this guide.
This 7-step guide is for anyone who wants to stay out of the school system and teach English to adults in Thailand. If you want to teach in the school system, you can use this guide. But you’ll have to visit schools or look online for open positions instead of going to language centers.
The 7-Step Guide to Getting A Job Teaching English in Thailand
Step 1: Create an unmissable CV.
Thousands of teachers live in Thailand. It’s safe to assume a few of them are competing for the same job you’re applying for. If you want to stand out from the rest of the teachers you need to create and unmissable CV (or resume for my American friends).
How do you create an unmissable CV, especially if you don’t have any experience? Start off with your bio first, as you would with any CV. Next, list your qualifications. This is where you’ll put your education experience, teaching qualifications, and TEFL certificate. Then list any relevant work experience.
If you don’t have experience, don’t lie. Whoever looks at your CV has probably seen hundreds of teachers put “Private Tutoring” as their only experience. You should talk about your strengths in detail. You have special skills that separate you from everyone else. List these skills on your CV.
Your character will tell more about you as a potential teacher than your experience—or lack of it.
Step 2: Get a headshot.
After you’ve created your CV, run to the local photo mart and get yourself a headshot. Your headshot will be the first thing on your CV that employers look at. Thai society tends to focus on appearance first. So you can’t just be a teacher; you have to look like a teacher too.
When you get your headshot the person working at the photo mart will meticulously touch up your digital headpiece. They’ll even out your skin tone, darken your hair, and make you look smooth and smart. Like I said, Thais love appearance. Attach this headshot to your CV.
Whatever you do, don’t show up to a language center with a printed out picture of a smartphone selfie. Unless you want to stay unemployed the rest of your life.
Step 3: Get a phone.
The next thing to do is get a phone. You can go to MBK in Bangkok to get a phone and a prepaid phone card. Bring your passport with you. You’ll need it to register a sim card as a Westerner.
Thais aren’t fond of email. You can list it on your CV but they’ll never use it to contact you. You’re better off having a working phone and use either the phone or Line ID. Everyone loves to use Line ID in Thailand.
Step 4: Look your best.
Now that you have your CV and attached headshot and working phone, put on your Sunday best. You won’t need to deliver your CV at language centers in a suit and tie, but you can’t show up in sneakers and jeans either.
Men should wear dress pants and a dress shirt with casual shoes. Women could wear the same or opt for a long skirt. Women shouldn’t reveal too much skin. Men, don’t show up with a 5 o’clock shadow. And iron your clothes. If you smoke, wait until after you drop off your CV to have your fix.
Step 5: Submit your CV to as many language centers as possible.
Language centers are everywhere in major cities around Thailand—at malls, shopping centers, along main avenues. Language centers are your gateway to teaching English in Thailand to adults. You can submit your CV online, but I’d recommend showing up in person.
At language centers you’ll teach in-house and at corporations. Teaching in-house, you’ll teach learners of all ages, but academic directors won’t hold you to the same strict demands of school administrators. With due patience, your time will come to teach at corporations, and you can build your adult teaching schedule from there.
Step 6: Take a basic grammar skills test.
When you submit your CV some language centers will ask you to take a basic grammar skills test. If you’ve just finished your TEFL the basics should be fresh in your mind. If it’s been a while since you took your TEFL course, review the English tenses.
Many language centers are desperate for teachers and overlook the fact that some teachers don’t know the basics of grammar. If you want to stand out, ace the test. In order to ace it, prepare for it.
Step 7: Interview for a position.
Most of the time language centers want to know more about who you are than what experience you have. They know teachers have to start somewhere, so academic directors will give new teachers leeway. They might ask you the basics of teaching ESL to non-native speakers, like how you’ll talk to your students when they are 0-level learners. So prepare yourself to answer questions on classroom management.
But they’ll also ask you questions that reveal your character. They’ll ask you what you like and dislike about Thailand. Don’t lie. Be honest. If you say you love everything about Thailand they’ll know you’re lying, and this will be a reflection of poor character.
An academic director once asked me what three things I disliked about Thailand and I answered with two funny things and one serious thing. It showed them I was light-hearted but saw a side of Thailand I didn’t like.
Teachers come and go in Thailand overnight. Positions are always opening up. If you submit your CV to enough language centers you’ll land a job. And when you get the call for a job, prepare yourself to give a demo lesson. Demo lessons are short lessons which showcase your teaching skills.
The first job you get might not be the one you want, but it’s the one you need. You’ll have to take as many classes as possible to build up your experience and show the owner of the language center you are a reliable and professional teacher.
Landing a job teaching English in Thailand to adults is only the first step to becoming a successful teacher in Thailand. You still have to keep that job. This means you’ll need to know how to deal with cultural dos and don’ts in the classroom, how to make yourself unforgettable as a teacher, and how to add value to all of your students’ lives.
P.S. You don’t have to learn how to become an English teacher in Thailand hard way. Download the Teach English in Thailand Audio Guide and find out how you can teach English to adults in Thailand.