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Opinion: 3 solutions to Thailand’s English teacher shortage

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3 solutions to Thailand’s English teacher shortage

By The Thaiger

by Eric Haeg




Thailand needs 10,000 English teachers. News of a teacher shortage is no surprise, but news that the Ministry of Education has recently urged embassies to find English teachers has raised eyebrows.  The US Embassy confirmed it participated in the meeting, and it has also been reported that over 20 other embassies participated in the discussions.


According to Thailand’s Education Minister, “The aim of the discussion was to seek cooperation from embassies.” He went on to say, that foreign teachers must have some professional training to qualify for the job, adding that a language teaching certificate is preferred.


It’s refreshing to see the MoE taking proactive measures, but finding workable solutions on a large scale may be far off.With the start of the next academic school year coming up this May, here are three possible solutions that could be implemented by schools now.  


1. Cut out the middleman

Many schools outsource teacher recruitment and employment to agencies. The agencies charge fees to the school, thereby driving down teacher salaries to offset costs. As a result, Vietnam and even China have lured many teachers away from teaching English in Thailand.


Schools cannot afford the luxury of agencies, nor the inconvenience of high turnover when teachers quit because they’ll be paid more at a new direct hire job. 


2.Hire fluent non-native speakers

While most experts agree fluency is what’s important, most Thai students, parents of students, and teachers assume an English teacher’s most important qualification is their nationality. Hiring only native speakers is understandable if that’s what the market wants. The problem is that the demand is based on a false assumption.


Well-informed school administrators hire non-native speakers who can prove their fluency, some hire non-natives but only after they can’t find a native speaker. Others flat out refuse. As a result, countless qualified applicants are turned off or completely discouraged from finding work in Thailand after reading most of its job ads for native English speakers who only come from six countries as per the MoE’s definition.


Perhaps the embassies could bring in experts to help share information about the value qualified, fluent non-native teachers bring to the classroom. This information can then be shared within local communities to better understand what makes a good English teacher. Over time, the market may increase its acceptance of non-native English teachers. 


3. Hire from abroad

Thai employers prefer hiring teachers within Thailand, yet most prospective teachers hope to secure employment before taking the massive commitment of moving to Thailand.Those who aren’t prepared to come over without a job end up looking for work in countries like South Korea, Japan and China, where they can do Skype interviews and sign contracts before leaving home.


While there are inherent risks associated with hiring from abroad, there are also benefits, like attracting more teachers.  


In order to mitigate the risks, schools could at least consider overseas recruitment for applicants who have teaching experience, can provide years’ worth of teaching portfolios, as well as those who’ve already taught English abroad. Without at least trying, Thailand remains at risk of losing quality candidates who need job security before moving here.


These solutions may seem difficult, but actions worth doing usually are. Approaching embassies may help further down the road, but students need solutions now.


If current recruitment trends continue, Thailand can hardly expect to increase its English teacher workforce by 140% as planned.


One definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results. Well, perhaps it’s time to try something new.


Eric Haeg is the Course Director of TEFL Campus and has been training English teachers in Phuket since 2007.

information on teaching English in Thailand, email HERE .


Source: https://thethaiger.com/news/national/3-solutions-to-thailands-english-teacher-shortage




-- © Copyright The Thaiger 2020-02-19
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Lots of people from different countries speak multiple languages (or at least are trying to). Only the people from native English speaking countries have no interest in speaking another language or get upset when somebody can't speak their language??

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29 minutes ago, Thaiwrath said:

If this meant the school directors, it would be the best solution.

Instead, they will continue to increase their personal wealth, by paying less wages to future teachers, than that allocated by the education ministry.

A Few Thoughts From My Experience

On the contract my company or agency says that the teacher's salary is 60,000฿....while only paying the teacher about 40,000฿ a month. The Thai teachers through gossip  see this and look down on and even hate the foreigner teachers think we there is this gigantic pay gap thus creating a less than ideal work place. So the school and agency lie about the salary..... and all the while the director gets huge kick backs for signing with the agency. 


Most schools want the agency to do the paper work associated with the Visas and work permits. So until the government has some kind of streamlined Visa process for English teachers don't expect the agency to go anywhere. 


And as usual the corruption associated with agency and the school directors will almost ensure that the agency's don't go anywhere. 


The agency I work for only pays is for 9  1/2 months. They refuse to hold the salary and disperse it over 12 months which means most teachers are out the door quick to new and greener pastures. The long Thai holidays October, March- May means no money for the foreign teacher so they are usually done after one term. 


This too is the norm and not the exception. 


Moreover, the total lack of support from the schools in supporting the foreign teacher put the teacher at a huge disadvanatge. Especially when many of the students have such poor English already. Thai schools assign assistant or co-teachers but in my experience those teachers show up about 20% of the time. 



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