Ever since I started teaching English in Thailand, I have been getting questions. Questions like:
“How are you able to do such a thing, Lauren?”
“Is going to Thailand worth it?”
“How can I teach abroad? I fucking hate my job.”
It’s no secret that most of us South Africans are DYING to get work experience abroad. The only catch is that no countries offer us a working holiday visa. And with experience overseas being such a converted resume item these days, it is no wonder there are so many South Africans are teaching English around the world.
But fear not little munchkins. Today, the oracle of teaching English overseas in Thailand with a South African passport will divulge all you ever wanted to know.
I’ll help you decide if you should get a TEFL or CELTA, how to find a legit qualification provider and how much you can expect to earn on a Thai teachers salary.
Here is a quick and easy guide to what you need to know about teaching English in Thailand as a South African!
1. Should You Get a TEFL or a CELTA?
The first step to being able to teach English in Thailand as a South African is to decide if you want to invest in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) qualification.
What’s the difference?
The main difference between a TEFL and a CELTA qualification is the price tag, entry requirements and your intentions.
If you are looking to make this a more permanent career move and you want to increase our earning potential – suck up the higher cost and get a CELTA. You will thank your wise self in the years to come. But, as CELTA is accredited by Cambridge University, you will also need to meet their entry requirements.
TEFL, on the other hand, doesn’t have any red tape. You don’t need a degree to get the qualification and just have to be over 18. TEFL courses are a lot cheaper and the best choice if you are looking to only teach abroad for a year or a semester.
2. Where to get your TEFL or CELTA Qualification in South Africa
The next step in your teaching English in Thailand journey is deciding which TEFL or CELTA provider to choose.
This is a crucial step in the process that will decide how easy or hard it will be for you to find work as an English teacher in Thailand and how much money you might waste in the long run.
This is because there are a lot of scammers out there offering TEFL qualifications that teach you nothing about classroom management and techniques. OR they are fly by night companies set up to just take your money and disappear. So put on your adult pants and do your research!
What to look for in a reputable TEFL Provider:
- Internationally accredited TEFL provider
- TEFL certification is 140+ hours
- Good reviews and testimonials from a variety of sources
It’s also important to make sure the course you choose has a practical teaching component. More and more schools are choosing to hire applicants that have this experience on their CV’s and ignoring those with only “online theory”.
So while you can certainly just do an online course, you will be putting yourself at a disadvantage during the job hunt stage.
Where Did I Do My TEFL Training?
I decided to do my TEFL training through i-to-i in Cape Town. Their 120 hour TEFL course has a small practical component at the end and gives you up to three months to complete all the coursework.
I can’t say that I was totally thrilled with my course. I would have liked more practical hours for lesson planning and demo lessons. However, I did find their theory comprehensive, and the feedback from the online tutors helped a lot.
After only getting into a classroom 5 months after completing my course, I have been surprised by how much I retained and haven’t felt out of my element in the classroom at all.
What Did My TEFL Course Cost?
I paid just under R 5 000 for i-to-i’s 120 hour TEFL course. I am also a blatant cheapskate and waited until the course was on sale.
How to Choose a CELTA Provider in South Africa
Just like I mentioned above, researching your provider is crucial. Make sure the institution offering the course is accredited by Cambridge University and is recognised as a CELTA course provider.
Where to do your CELTA course in South Africa
As I have only done my TEFL, I can’t recommend any firsthand, but I did some research for this piece and found a South African institution called Study CELTA.
They offer full-time and part-time courses in major city centres. They also seem to offer a DELTA (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) which is a nice postgraduate qualification to invest in after you have racked up 1200 hours of teaching experience.
How Much Does a CELTA Course Cost?
The median price for CELTA courses in South Africa looks to be around R 14 000 – R 16 000.
3. Do You Need a Degree to Teach English in Thailand?
No, you do not NEED a degree for teaching English in Thailand, but if you want a work permit, you will need one.
While I type this, I am currently going through all the mountains of paperwork to get my work visa. But I only have a 3-year Business Management Diploma from Boston City Campus. I’m still not exactly sure why they are accepting it – maybe because it’s a three-year qualification? But I am not complaining.
But if you are fresh out of high school, dropping out of university or just tired of the corporate life and don’t have a degree to your name you can get a teaching job without a problem as long as you have a South African passport.
Plus you will get to do visa runs to neighbouring countries like Laos, Malaysia and Cambodia every couple of months.
What a hard life.
4. Finding an English Teaching Job in Thailand as a South African
If you have made it to this stage of your blossoming TEFL career – well done! You only have one more level to unlock before get to do the best and final part – book your plane tickets!
There are a variety of websites that you can use to find open positions. Also, if you do a TEFL internship with i-to-i, they will help find a placement for you. This helps take the stress out of finding a school, and you can be sure everything is legit.
You also need to decide if you have a preference for teaching kindergarten, primary or high school. I’m teaching kindergarten and primary because I don’t want to deal with teenage hormones.
My favourite Job Searching Websites for Teaching English in Thailand:
How I Found My Teaching Placement in Thailand
I already knew friends teaching in Thailand. So after I had completed my TEFL and had handed in my resignation letter to my boss at the time, I got in touch and asked to speak to their agent.
My friends helped me put together my CV and two weeks later, I was planning my farewell bash and buying my one-way ticket to Thailand.
So if you already have friends or know of people teaching overseas – reach out and start networking. It’s a great way to avoid scams and find an agent and a school that is not going to screw you over.
Don’t Pay ANYONE Money To Get You A Job Teaching English in Thailand
This is the biggest scam when it comes to teaching abroad. You do not need to give an agent money to find you a job in Thailand or any other country around the world.
Before signing with an agent, do your research.
Google the shit out of them and see what other teachers are saying about the school and agency.
5. Salary Expectations for Teaching English in Thailand
South Africans, my little skats, I know these numbers I am about to repeat to you are going to seem like you will be rolling in the dough. Your eyes are going to gleam over, and your imagination will kick in.
You will start to picture yourself finally owning all that sweet, sweet technology that is so damn expensive in SA. You will mentally start to plan how many tattoos a month that equals.
STOP IT. Take a depth breath and calm the fuck down.
While the cost of living in Thailand is a hella lot cheaper compared to South Africa, you still need to watch your money if you want to have enough stashed away for emergencies or if the urge to travel violently seizes you.
Depending on where you teach in Thailand, your salary will change.
If you get placed in Bangkok, you will most likely earn 50 000 baht per month. But Bangkok is also fucking expensive. You will bleed money just by breathing in this city. So as fun and amazing as it would be to get placed here, you will need to be frugal as fuck to live comfortably.
Other places in Thailand will see foreign teachers earning between 30 000 – 35 000 baht per month.
If you watch your money and don’t go on giant spending sprees every month, you can easily get away with only spending 10 000 baht a month. That is generally what my expenses have tallied up to be in the last four months.
This includes my rent, water and electricity, food, toiletries and general spending money.
Living like this helped me out when I had my passport stolen in Chiang Mai and had to face the hard reality of flying back to South Africa to fetch my new one. Luckily, it arrived in Bangkok in time, and I didn’t have to spend 25 000 baht on a plane ticket.
But at least I had the money and didn’t have to cry to my parents.
So there you have it, guys. My guide to teaching English in Thailand as a South African! I hope this has answered all your questions and inspires you to take the plunge.