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Teaching in South East Asia

Posted by samsie23 on 1/11/2010 at 04:14

Hi all,

I'm thinking of teaching English as a foreign language. First draw back is that I don't have a degree. I know i can teach in Indonesia with just a certificate, but wondered how difficult it was to work in Thailand, South Korea or Japan without one. I've heard its possible, but would like to hear from people with pratical experience advice in advance.

Also which is the best course to take?

Massive kind regards,


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Posted by caseyprich on 1/11/2010 at 15:59

South Korea and Japan it'd be easier to say you must have a degree - but there are ways around it. That involves certification, a few years of experience in your home country (that's how the Kiwi I knew pulled it off), and some damn fine references. Even then it is sketchy to try and go forward with just CELTA or TEFL/TESOL. Most people get there degree and then get certified, so that's how people get jobs without being teaching certified but still have these certificates.

There are a large number of students who want to go to the United States, so TEFL/TESOL is highly regarded - at least a familiarity with the language of the exam would be helpful. That said, IELTS is still very popular in former and current Common Wealth countries - Australia, New Zealand, and Canada included - and they draw a lot of students from East Asia. CELTA is more closely connected to the IELTS exam. I found in the past that teaching IELTS was easier than teaching TEFL and I've heard CELTA opens up more doors in Europe - but I think it is a toss-up in East Asia.

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Posted by mattocmd on 5/11/2010 at 17:10

South Korea has a TALK program, that allows you to teach without a degree. But I'm not sure of the exact details or requirements. Look into that.

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Posted by samsie23 on 8/7/2011 at 18:56

thanks all great help :)

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Posted by christay2009 on 8/7/2011 at 19:03

I think that you must have a "TEFL cert." (not necessarily a CELTA/TESOL) in Thailand with a minimum number of hours. Not sure about a degree though but I think you do need one. I also read that you can be exempt from having a teaching cert. if you have relevant experience so maybe it would be the same for the degree.

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Posted by SBE on 9/7/2011 at 02:27

In Thailand, unless things have changed recently, you need a university degree (any degree) a lot more than a TEFL certificate to teach English there legally. This is a very silly rule because a TEFL certificate is a lot more use than a degree in mathematics, but TIT (This Is Thailand)

You need a university degree (and a non immigrant B visa) to get a work permit.

Without a work permit you will be working illegally and theoretically face getting escorted to the detention center and deported which isn't a very pleasant experience I believe.

People do work illegally but it would be very hard to get a decent paying job, not that many legal teaching jobs have decent salaries either. Maybe private tuition would be an option if you could find enough students ...not easy if you don't know anyone though and you'd be facing competition because lots of "real" teachers do private lessons as well to make ends meet.

More detailed info here if you still want to try.

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Posted by Blackartemis on 3/8/2011 at 11:58

I know of multiple people in Thailand who do not have a University degree and are teaching legally. One was recently hired this year, this is in Chiang Mai. Now, I got out of it before all the cultural test etc hit, so I am unsure of what is required there. Besides , has a teaching subforum as well.
If you are a native speaker and white (yes, Thailand is very racist) without a teaching degree you can expect 20-30k Baht outside of BKK and the south (South meaning anyvdesirable beach area). Don't know if you would be hired without a degree in BKK or the south though.

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Posted by MADMAC on 3/8/2011 at 20:39

SBE is correct with this one exception - beggars can't be choosers - therefore if no one with a degree applies for a job, it will often go to someone without a degree. Getting someone to teach for 750 USD a month in a place like Kut Chum is not easy... So Artemis is also correct, a lot of people teaching do not have a degree.

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Posted by hendrixlives on 20/8/2011 at 15:56

Hi! I am going to re-post this reply I just made on another thread cause it's relevant here as well.

No disrecpect intended to those above who have likely been here longer, are thus more versed in all things Thai, but I must offer a largely contrary opinion. (the responders on this thread were a bit discouraging to the OP)

Given that each individual's take on this situation is - to a large degree - determined by their unique experience, decisions, and their prevailing perceptions and attitudes, my girlfriend and I have found it
extremely rewarding to work short-term TEFL jobs in Thailand. We are reasonably intelligent and educated, but are by no means optimally qualified for TEFL work, and have been offered jobs - in Bangkok and our present city in central Thailand - at 5 out of 5 schools we have walked in to. Only 1 received a CV from us first. The working conditions at all of these schools have been better than we were led to expect on net forums.

We had aspirations very similar to your own before coming to Thailand and have discovered that short-term TEFL jobs - are widely available. We are in Phitsanulok, Thailand and have both found work at a local government high-school filling in for a teacher who left mid term. In addition, we are working a few hours a week at three other private language schools, and really have been enjoying the our time here. All of our present jobs materialized with only moderate effort on our part.

We have been open and honest with ALL of our employers - and those students who have asked - about our intention to move on in a couple of months, and without exception, they are all appreciative of whatever time we can give. And, contrary to what I've read about short-term work being of less benefit to students, it seems like we are making some real progress with many of our kids, and that if we hadn't taken our jobs, they might be getting lower quality instruction or none at all.

With a letter from your place of employ and some credentials - depending on the job - a work permit is a relatively simple matter. NONE of our schools (even the big government school) have required one, all being quite willing to look the other way, rather the onus has been on us to get the paperwork so that we are "legal".

Again, this has been OUR experience. Maybe we're just hopeless optimists and are thus deluded by

our inherantly rosy view of the world. But by the same measure, possibly those who say it's rough,

tough, and all lemons, reside at the other end of perception's spectrum.

Don't believe what you read - my bit included. Come here and find out for yourself!

Questions and critisms are welcome.

If you care to, read my blog for more info - and a peek at what Thailand has been like for us.

Good luck!

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Posted by christay2009 on 20/8/2011 at 18:16

"but are by no means optimally qualified for TEFL work"

What exactly does this mean? Do you have a TEFL/CELTA/TESOL qualification? A University degree? Qualified teacher anyway?

Blog looks good, will give it a full read later. Font is a bit large though :)

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Posted by bedu on 26/8/2011 at 13:01

Yeah, you can teach without a degree in Thailand.

I have a friend with no degree has a legal work permit and works at a government school. This is just from being honest and the school needing a native speaker and getting a teacher's license exemption.

Another friend works at a language school and has to do visa runs every two months, costing him money for new visa, the visa run itself, the loss of money for taking days off and the stress of maybe getting caught.

In general, however, it is a requirement to have a minimum of a degree.

TEFL certificates do not count and are not an official requirement, no matter what TEFL course providers tell you!

Having a TEFL certificate does improve your chances as it shows a level of commitment and a basic standard of training.

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Posted by MADMAC on 26/8/2011 at 15:05

I also teach here, but I do it for free at a local temple, so I don't think my experience applies.

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