Want to Teach in Chiang Mai? 5 failsafe tips and real life experiences from our resident teachers.
So you’re ready to make the move. What do you need to know to land the job?
1. First and foremost, take the plunge!
ALL of the teachers I have met including the ones living in our buildings did not find a job until they were in Chiang Mai. Yes, the Resume/C.V. count for a lot, but most schools want to see some commitment before even considering to hire you. There are so many transient people looking to teach in Chiang Mai as a way of keeping there holiday going, that most places will not consider you unless you actually live here and walk through their door(often more than once).
2. Look the part.
This is not the west. All schools will want to see that you look the part. English teachers must not look Thai, they can pay a Thai teacher 1/4 what they’ll pay you for that! In fact, most if not all schools will require you to include a photo/headshot with your Resume/C.V.
This also means that you need to dress for the part. An interview is an interview is an interview. Just because most people spend their lives in Chiang Mai wearing shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops doesn’t mean you can get away with this in the interview or while teaching. Men – Shirt and Tie. Woman – Blouse, long skirt/pants and closed toe shoes. No exceptions! Actual classes are a bit more lax.
3. Hit the streets.
Get a stack of Resumes/C.V.s printed and hit your top 5 schools. Then hit your second 5 schools. Then hit your third 5 schools. Getting the point here? Make sure you get yourself out there enough to put the odds of getting a job in your favor. Once the calls start coming in, you can worry about which one to accept. Keep in mind that the first calls will probably be for “filler” classes. Somebody didn’t show up and they need you to take the class for the hour, day or term. Consider this as your test. You come through the first class/term and you’ll be offered the next class/term as well.
Make friends with local teachers. Sure, there are great resources like Dave’s ESL Cafe
, but nobody can give you the LATEST info on the schools like a teacher working there. A teacher needs to move on and a class is opening up? Your teacher friends are the first to know. They can also be the best ally/reference in you getting the interview. Another added benefit is that these people are probably in the same age group and are living very similar lives to you. They can end up being good friends while in Chiang Mai and long afterwards.
5. Ask me!
Seriously, we’ve had many teachers get their start while living in our buildings. Between them, we have a good feel for the pulse of Chiang Mai’s teaching market. Feel free to ask!
Many of you will notice that I have left out all the “paperwork/certification” issues and I’ve done this on purpose. The simple fact is that if a school wants you to teach, you can get the job and the Work Permit/Visa to go with it.
You’ll see from our guest posts done by our resident teachers, that none of the “requirements” actually mean anything more than a self weed-out of possible teachers. Those who want to teach, will teach.
This is the first of a series of posts detailing the real life experiences of our resident teachers… Enjoy!
Erm….. Who the hell are you?
My name’s Lewis Clarke, I live at CMStay @Sethee Court and have been living there for 3 years
Great…. Why are you here?
I’ve been asked by King to write a blog about how i got into teaching over here. You know, a bit of information for anyone who is thinking of moving over here and wants to teach English
Well come on then, i haven’t got all day!
Tough crowd…. OK, so i moved to Thailand 3 years ago with no job lined up, I just thought i would look around and see what was available and if i didn’t work, i’d move somewhere else. I came straight to Chiang Mai in mid-April and started looking for work a couple of weeks later. I did the usual, you know, hit up every school with my CV and see what was a good fit for me. Unfortunately for me as i had no experience and no degree (although i did have my TEFL*), nobody would give me a look in. I even had one school say “We’ll call you.” and i replied “But i haven’t given you my number yet.” and he smiled and said “we’ll call you….”
BURN!!!!! So what happened next?
I kept going out everyday in my shirt and tie cycling around and re-visiting all the schools i had been to before but to no avail. Then one day i went to a place called the Korean Culture Centre and the boss gave me and interview. 5 minutes in he randomly stood up and walked out, i assumed he was going to get something like a glass of water, 2 minutes later some guy about my age sat down and started to talk to me. It was only after i left i realized that this guy was continuing the interview! but i didn’t question it. It’s a different culture so i gave them a lot of leeway.
Well at least you got the job, right?
No, i never heard from them again. However about 2 weeks later i got a phone call from Mick (the guy my age who interviewed me) saying that he had got a new job working for a new school and they needed some teachers. Turns out that during the interview i happened to mention that i spoke Italian (I lived there 7 years ago) and he remembered me because his parents are Italian.
How did the phone call go?
Mick: Hi this is Mick, the guy who interviewed you at KCC a couple of weeks ago
Lewis: Oh, hi
Mick i have a trial class for you at CEC to teach a 5 year old boy called Ronnie
Lewis: Sounds good, I can do that!
Mick It starts tomorrow at 10-12
Lewis: Sure, I can do that!
Mick: ……..He cries a lot…….
Lewis: No problem, see you tomorrow!
Did he cry?
Actually no, not in the first lesson anyway. At one point he started shouting “Police! He hit me!” for no reason at all which scared the hell out of me! But after the first hour he hadn’t cried and i could see that the receptionists were looking in in disbelief as if to say “I can’t believe he hasn’t cried yet!” and the rest is history. That became a regular class for me and i got my work permit through them about a month or so later.
So overall, what would be your advice to me if I wanted to go there and teach English?
Don’t give up. Always smile and if they like you they will give you a chance. Don’t get me wrong I know people who have luckily walked into a well paid job without having any qualifications. So its very possible to just stumble into a job. But at the same time if that doesn’t happen don’t feel bad, just keep trying and when you get that one opportunity, take it. Like any job people will see if you are a hard worker and that opportunity will eventually come along.
* TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language.