Dos and don’ts of coming to Thailand…to teach.


>Do get used to your students falling asleep in class, this is a pretty hot country.
>Do get a sensible haircut, if you want to look like Bob Marley then go find a job at a bar on Koh Phan-ngan.
>Do arrive at the job interview looking smart, such a thing is more than essential in Thailand.
>Do get used to half the class talking on their mobiles, reading cartoon books and drawing pictures, if they don’t want to learn that’s up to them.
>Do realise your kids want to enjoy learning, just forget half what they taught you on that TEFL course.
>Do try and not bite your nails, Thais think only drug-addicts and football hooligans do such a thing.
>Do, as an in-house teacher, be careful with bodily odours, your student doesn’t need a whiff of you smelly-sock syndrome.
>Do get used to your students receiving awards, even the crappiest of student gets one now and then.
>Do, if you see your boys completely bored, just mention the word ‘Liverpool’, to them football is even more important than girls.
>Do, if you drink at night, brush your teeth four times before class, Thais have better noses than mosquitoes.
>Do, if your students seem completely bored, resort to some Thai, they’ll enjoying laughing at your attempt.
>Do, as a handsome young teacher, keep your distance from the older girls, they’ll be wanting to see more than just your explanation of the ‘past perfect tense’.
>Do, if you get personally fed-up with your class, just completely make up a ghost story, you’ll scare the living daylights out of them.


>Don’t bother taking that grammar book of your to class, they’ve been learning that stuff for the past 6 years with a Thai teacher and still ‘don’t get it’.
>Don’t take your class too seriously, they expect to have fun learning with the funny looking Farang.
>And certainly don’t lose your temper in class, there are more things to worry about in life than darned lazy students.
Don’t go complaining too much in the staff room, you don’t need to find out that ‘you’ve been replaced’.
Don’t, if you live with a partner your not actually married to, tell your students; you don’t need to go promoting so-called ‘un-Thainess’.
>Don’t arrive at to class late all the time, you don’t want half the Thai teachers gossiping behind your back.
Don’t, as a smoker, puff away in front of the school gates, Thais are quite sensitive about such a thing.
>Don’t stop at the local shop outside the school and drink every day, they see enough ‘drunkos’ in their ‘soi’ as it is.
>Don’t bother complaining about half your girls doing their make-up in class, trying to inform them that education is ‘important’ is a complete waste of time.
Don’t even tell your students the truth about what you do at the weekends, just say you eat ‘papaya bok-bok’ and ride a buffalo, you’ll have them in stitches.
>Don’t draw ‘proper’ pictures on the whiteboard, Thai students just love silly drawings.
And finally, don’t wear the same Thai tie or blouse to class two days in a row, by darned the Thais are observant!

I know I know Richard here wrote up a blog on the dos & don’ts of teaching a few weeks back but I had this blog in note form a couple of months before he posted his one. Richard’s title was in fact exactly the same as the one I previously planned, so that’s the only thing I changed.
I personally give any teachers out there permission to use this blog of mine here in your class as teaching material, would love to know what your students think!
This is the ninth part of me ‘dos and don’ts’ series so if you like it then check out the others in me archives. Cheers


Have a whiff = have a smell
To be fed up = to be really bored
To puff away = to smoke
A drunko = someone who drinks too much, a common disorder found in half the Farang male teachers working in Bangkok
Papaya bok-bok = Thai-English word for ‘somtum’, that the Thais made up and think is absolutely hilarious

Visit Steve’s main page at Steve’s Weblog

14 responses to “Dos and don’ts of coming to Thailand…to teach.

  1. Your “Dos and Donts” are always hilarious !!!

    As always, well done 🙂

  2. Hi Steve,

    I have just arrived in Thailand from my home in Nova Scotia Canada and I don’t want to go back there because its too cold in the winter and the place I live keeps the temperature low.

    I would like to try myself out as a teacher here in Bangkok for at least a couple of months to see if I like it. I want to know though if you think i’ll be given a hard time by the students. I am older than you, and maybe older than your old folks too! 65 to be exact and just last year I lost a foot to gangrene. I have an education though and spent years in the civil service along with tutoring workers at a local cannery during lunch breaks.

    I appreciate your advice in advance of you giving it.


  3. Do and Don’t again ,I like to reading this blogs so much. Funny Funy !!

  4. You know Steve, I want to like your “dos and don’ts…” I really do…but you always end up writing something never fails to get under my skin.
    I guess the great thing about the world is that people can have differing opinions, and that’s ok. Right?

  5. Hi Steve,

    Enjoyed your blog thoroughly and I think anyone who has spent (the connotations of “done” are too negative) their time in Thailand’s classroom will be sure to agree with you.

    Pompenkroo – what specifically got under your skin about that blog? Seemed pretty light-hearted to me.

    (Though someone including *sigh* partway through a post might raise my irritation levels slightly! JK!)


  6. Don’t bother complaining about half your girls doing their make-up in class, trying to inform them that education is ‘important’ is a complete waste of time.

    Absolutely right.. LOL It’s very funny ka. Keep up good blog 🙂

  7. Hi Jake…

    I don’t know if I can specifically articulate what bugs me about this post…it’s just when my sacred cows are slaughtered…even with a wink and a nod….it hurts.

  8. Well, this Gus Pike sounds like a bit of a case!!! Well, come give it a go….. Gus!

    Again, thanks for the comments here. As for Phompenkroo, glad to read that this blog ‘bugs you a bit’. Nevermind, that dos and donts farang guy i wrote up a while back certainly did ‘bug’ a couple of people!


  9. Richard Smith

    Hello Steve,
    I want to respond to this, but not here. Perhaps when we meet.
    But, to Gus I say, by all means go and teach. if you have the ability and patience to impart knowledge to young people, then you would be remiss not to do it. Go for it.

  10. thanks for the info i havent had time lately to look at your blogs nice to catch up always interesting maybe you should write a book
    all the best

  11. gus you never know untill you have a go please keep us posted

  12. Hi Terry, didn’t see you around for a while.

    Certainly thinking about it. Richard too is thinking of putting out a thai-blogs mag. soon. Us two have certainly knocked up quite a few words over the months!


  13. Steve – Have you taught in the U.S. at an inner-city
    school? We have the same problems. Moreover, we have problems with gangs of various ethnic groups. In some cases, rival gang members bring weapons to school and use them – on and off campus.

    It seems to me that you have it just right.


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