Unlike most Asian countries where jobs for non-native speakers are quite scarce, in Thailand, job prospects for non-native speaking teachers remain excellent. 

Non-native speakers can teach in Thailand, but the requirements and opportunities may vary depending on the type of institution and the level of teaching. And of course, the type of accent you have.

To work legally as an English teacher in Thailand, you will need to obtain a work permit and a Non-Immigrant B visa. The Thai government requires that foreign teachers have a minimum of a bachelor's degree, regardless of their native language.

For some schools, a TEFL or TESOL certification is also a requirement, but this can vary. Non-native speakers who wish to teach in Thailand should have a high level of fluency in English and a good understanding of grammar and usage.

It's important to note that competition for English teaching jobs in Thailand can be high, so having additional qualifications or experience in teaching English as a foreign language can increase your chances of finding a job, and beating native speaking teachers in landing that teaching position.

Note that as a non-native speaker, in most cases, you will be earning a little less than native speaking teachers. However, if you are experienced and a licensed teacher in your home country, it is possible to make the same or in some cases even more working at an international school in Thailand, especially teaching Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Science and Math subjects since there is a shortage of capable experienced qualified licensed native speaking teachers to teach these subjects at the secondary level. It is thus possible for you as a licensed teacher to apply directly to international schools and negotiate a very nice renumeration package that matches your talent and skills.

The chances of making just as much or even more than native speakers also go up considerably if you have graduated from a western university in the UK, US, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand or Canada, your accent is neutral native-like, and you’re truly proficient.

If you are not a native speaker from these countries, you will also be able to get a teaching job. Just like South African teachers, you just need to pass a TOEIC exam with a score of a minimum of 600 to prove your proficiency. When applying for a job, schools will want to know about your qualifications, experience and also your ability to communicate clearly. A reason schools choose native English speakers is because they are able to communicate in a way that students can easily understand, so if you can show that you can do the same, you will be able to get a job whether you are a native English speaker or not. 

Many private Thai bilingual schools consider north Europeans from Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands possessing a Bachelor’s of Arts, a TEFL certificate or a diploma fluent enough to employ them on native speaker salaries of approximately 40,000 Baht per month.

Ultimately, the salary for a teaching position in Thailand will depend on various factors, including the employer, the location, the type of institution, and the individual's qualifications and experience.

Most native speakers want to teach in popular tourist destinations such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi or Koh Samui, and as such smaller off the beaten track Thai towns offer better teaching job opportunities. This is not to say that it is impossible to find work as a non-native speaker in popular cities, quite the contrary, it remains possible, albeit a little harder.

Some native speakers may doubt the effectiveness of a non native speaking teacher. This is simply unjustified and as a native speaker myself, I strongly disagree with this. A teacher is not and should not be determined solely by their native language. Non-native teachers can be just as efficient and effective as their native-speaking counterparts if they possess the necessary qualifications, skills, and experience.

In fact, non-native teachers may have certain advantages, such as a deeper understanding of the difficulties that students face when learning the language, and a greater ability to explain complex grammar concepts in a way that is more accessible to learners.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of a teacher is not only related to their language skills, but also to their teaching abilities, such as their classroom management skills, ability to engage students, and their knowledge of the subject matter. These skills can be developed through training, experience, and professional development opportunities, regardless of a teacher's native language.

This is one of the reasons I am amazed that some non-native speaking teachers in Thailand accept to work for less than 30,000 Baht. Filipinos especially, (not all but way too many) are notorious for selling themselves short, accepting low paid teaching jobs. It’s a shame really as the majority are licensed, qualified, experienced and dedicated to their craft.

Yes, there are many non-native speakers who are employed as English teachers in Thailand. In fact, the demand for English teachers in Thailand is high, and there are not enough native English speakers to meet this demand. Therefore, many schools and language centers in Thailand also hire non-native speakers who have a good command of English to teach the language.

There are several reasons why it can be beneficial for English language learners to learn from non-native teachers with various accents:

- Exposure to diverse accents:

When learners interact with non-native teachers with different accents, they get exposure to a variety of accents and pronunciations, which can help them better understand different ways of speaking English. This can be especially helpful for learners who may encounter different accents in their personal or professional lives.

- Better understanding of language difficulties:

Non-native teachers may have had to work through similar language difficulties as their students, which can help them relate to and better understand the challenges their students are facing. They may be able to offer specific tips and strategies that worked for them in overcoming those difficulties.

- Cultural understanding:

Non-native teachers can also provide valuable insights into the cultural context of the English language, which can help learners understand how the language is used in different parts of the world. This can include differences in grammar, vocabulary, and expressions, as well as social and cultural norms.

- Language authenticity:

Non-native teachers can provide a more authentic language experience, as they have learned the language as a second language and have likely encountered similar challenges as their students. This can make the language learning experience more relatable and less intimidating.

Increased empathy:

Learning from non-native teachers can help learners develop greater empathy and understanding towards people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. This can promote greater cultural sensitivity and understanding, which can be valuable in today's globalized world.

While native English speakers may have an advantage in terms of their language proficiency and familiarity with English-speaking cultures, non-native English teachers can bring their own unique cultural perspectives and teaching styles to the classroom. Overall, both native and non-native English teachers can make excellent educators in Thailand, as long as they are qualified and passionate about teaching.

In my opinion, ultimately, what matters most is the teacher's dedication, passion, and commitment to helping their students learn and succeed, regardless of their linguistic background.

Overall, while being a non-native speaker may present some challenges in finding a teaching job in Thailand, it is still possible to pursue a career as an English teacher with the right qualifications and experience.

Below some tips on increasing your chances of getting hired as non-native speaking teacher:

  • Dress professionally:
    This is important, it helps the schools see that you are serious about your work and can be a strong asset to their team.
  • Smile:

    Teaching English is fun, and every student loves a friendly teacher. This helps show that you are a positive, friendly and energetic person.
  • Speak clearly:

Accent is important. This is one of the reasons the industry focuses on native English speakers. The students will have a tough time if they cannot understand what their teacher is saying.

  • Update your CV:

Make sure you’ve updated your CV with a recent photo of yourself as well as all your qualifications and past experiences.

  • Send a video:

When applying for jobs, don’t just send your CV. Record a short clip introducing yourself and applying the above 3 points. Dress professionally, smile and speak CLEARLY. This can just be a few seconds long, introducing yourself and sharing something interesting about yourself or why you want to be a teacher in Thailand.

Language schools that recruit non native speakers with near-native fluency of the English language with a neutral accent:

AUA Language Centers
Inlingua Language Centers

Sarasas Bilingual Schools - there are 40 of them, most on the outskirts of the capital Bangkok. Google is your friend!

There are many more of course, but these are the biggest ones. It's worth mentioning that Sarasas is especially good for Filipinos starting out in Thailand and that both AUA and Inlingua are great options for non natives with neutral accents who have graduated from western universities.

Last, did you know that there are actually more non-native speakers teaching in Thai schools than native speakers?

Well, now you know. Happy job hunting in Thailand!


Blog by Ajarn Mandy in Bangkok


Note that the author of the blog is expressing personal thoughts and musings, which do not necessarily reflect those of KruTeacher. Therefore, KruTeacher.com cannot be held responsible for any potential inaccuracies that may be present in the blog.

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