Teaching In Thailand: A Professional Western Teacher’s Perspective (2.24)

2017-11-14T23:09:09+00:00


What do pro Western teachers think about teaching in Thailand? And are we seeing the end of Uber in Bangkok? And if so, will canal taxis pick up the slack? All that and more on this episode of The Bangkok Podcast

Taxis in Bangkok would probably make for a good Love, Loathe, or Leave segment, but recent moves by Thailand to restrict popular “ridesharing” services make it worthy of our opening banter.

After that, Greg has a chat with Sheila Dee a Western-trained, professional educator working in Thailand. There are lots of Westerners acting as English teachers in Thailand. Greg used to be one of them. But Sheila’s a bit different, holding a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.

In the Thai private school where she teaches, five subjects — English, Math, Science, Physical Education, and Computers — are taught by native English teachers. Social studies and Thai (as in the language) are taught in Thai, and her students also study Chinese (actually in Chinese, if that’s not obvious). For her school as well as the many international schools in Bangkok, that level of immersion and integration requires educators trained in their subject field, not just someone who happens to be a native English-speaker.

As a Western trained teacher, Sheila’s learning how to modify her style. As an American teacher, she knows how to deal with American students. But not all of that directly translates to teaching in Thailand, with different expectations from administration, parents, and students. Some of those are a net positive, like the premium administration places on Western teachers and the noticeable lack of discipline issues, for example. But some require her to change her expectations, like translating the concept of “saving face” into classroom management and not trying to “fix” everything.

It’s not easy being a teacher, which is why Thailand is starting to change how they look for teachers. Yes, there are still plenty of teachers with a degree in something (anything) and a TEFL certificate. However, Sheila’s seeing an emphasis on seeking out real teachers (like her) with real experience of prior teaching in the Western world.

Love, Loathe, or Leave?

It’s our first listener submission! ThailightZone wants us to talk about the khlong boats, specifically those that shuttle busy commuters along the saen saep canal. It’s a uniquely local Thai experience, but you’ll have to listen to see how we feel about this odd transportation style.

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