Teach in Thailand: Do You Know Your Different Teaching Options_

Teach in Thailand: Do You Know Your Different Teaching Options?

Making the decision to move abroad and teach English is an exciting new adventure. You are able to work, travel as well as completely immerse yourself in a new culture. Maybe you doing this for the travel opportunity, or to save some money for your next big business venture or perhaps you’re like me who has a passion for teaching, which you have not yet been able to fulfil.

How much do you really know about your options of teaching in a foreign country? You’ve completed your TEFL course through an agency, who will now organize a job for you, but is that job going to be the best fit for you and your goals? Before you rush into the first available position make yourself aware of the different teaching options and what each one has to offer. I’m going to give you a breakdown of these options as well as a look at the pros and cons of each.

(Editor’s note: These are based on the teacher’s experience in Thailand. Other countries differ wildly.)

Government Schools

The government schools are run on a similar structure to the public schooling back home. They are either fully or partially funded by the state. Making these schools more affordable for the average person in that country. Due to the way different governments are run around the world the structure and standard of these schools can vary greatly. What to expect as a teacher at a government school is as follows:

  • Workday: 8 am to 4 pm and maybe after school commitments
  • Salary: Mid- to low-range pay
  • Location: make sure you are aware of the location as some may be very rural
  • Experience: a passion for teaching and to have a cultural experience
  • Personality: have an open mind and be willing to learn and adapt to different and new ways of working
  • Staff: local staff
  • Bonus: long school holidays to take time to travel

International Schools

The international schools are privately owned schools which are run by education companies from abroad. For example, you may have an American International School in Bangkok, this school is run to a high standard by an American education company and they will more than likely own a few schools around the world. Parents send their children to these schools to receive the highest standard of education. The students will be educated in the British or American school structure, which later enables them to further their studies at places like Harvard or Cambridge if they wish. If you only have a TEFL course you can still apply as a teaching assistant or on an internship. This option is for people who are very serious about long-term teaching.

  • Workday: 8 am to 4 pm and maybe after school commitments
  • Salary: mid- to high-level including benefits
  • Location: cities and affluent, cosmopolitan areas, many expats in the area
  • Experience: similar to home life, passion for teaching, long-term commitment to school
  • Personality: able to work well with others and in a chain of command; keep up a high standard
  • Staff: an international mix of expats and local staff
  • Bonus: school holidays as well as great benefits specific to school

English Language Schools

An English Language School (like Shane English School) is structured in a way that the classes are scheduled to suit the students. Here your students range from kindergartens to adults, meaning your classes will more than likely be in the evenings and on the weekends. Language schools are often run as franchises and the school is ultimately a business. So be careful when applying for jobs at language schools as many are run too much like a business with income first and education second. Make sure your pay level is up to industry standard and be aware of the structure of the school. If this is your first time teaching and you hold a TEFL certificate but no degree, then this is the best option for you.

  • Workday: evenings and weekends, 2 weekdays off
  • Salary: mid- to high-level; room to grow into a business role
  • Location: cities and smaller towns, with many branches if it is a good school
  • Experience: free time; travel time; 1-year contract; training provided
  • Personality: able to work outside of 9-5, have fun, be flexible
  • Staff: an international mix of expats and local staff
  • Bonus: no experience needed, helpful staff, free time, set curriculum


Don’t feel the need to rush into anything just because it’s in front of you, make sure you know and are comfortable with all the details of a position up front. As mentioned before with the language schools do your research. Many can be run too much like a business and this removes the joy of teaching. Shane English School was founded by an ex TEFL teacher who truly understands the importance of a high standard of education as well as running a solid business. This enables Shane English Schools to offer a well-balanced language school which feels like a high standard international school.

Now that you know more about your teaching options, this may make it easier to decide which will be the best fit for you. Let your agency know which you might prefer, as you do not want to get stuck in a long contract at a school you do not like or with something you did not except. If you have any other questions about what your options teaching are getting hold of any of the recruiters at Shane and they will be able to help you out with any questions.

Happy Teaching!

Want more like this? Be sure to visit our Teaching Jobs Abroad blog. Or take your teaching up a notch at our Teacher Training blog.

About the Author

Tatum Condon a 27-year-old South African girl with Irish family. Her dream growing up was to be a mechanical engineer for Formula One’s Team McLaren. Any sport which is in water, she does it. Even if the water is frozen, count her in. She is currently teaching and living in the land of smiles, Thailand, while sharing stories of my life adventures and experiences. She hopes you enjoy.