Category Archives: Teach

Want to Teach in Chiang Mai? Part 5 (Julia Light)

Category : Teach

Our 5th and FINAL (Seriously, last one!) post on Teaching and living in Chiang Mai.   This one is by current resident, Julia Light.


 Hi everyone! My name is Julia Light, I am from the U.S. and I currently teach Third Grade English at a large private school here in Chiang Mai. I have been here for 8 months and I just signed on to stay another year at my school- teaching in Chiang Mai is truly that great.

You’re wondering, how easy is it to come here and land a teaching job?

     If you are willing to put in the effort and stick with it, it will happen for you. It’s hard to just jump in head first and come to Thailand without any base or prospect of a job, but I know people who have done it just as I did and we all secured solid teaching jobs within about a month of arriving. Different circumstances and ways of getting there, but it works out.

So how did I do it?

     Well, I decided that teaching English in Thailand was what I wanted to do after graduation from university so I did a lot of research, considered going through a placement program (I spent some time thinking I would go through a program, and trust me, I am so glad I didn’t.   You’ll pay a couple thousand dollars for someone to do what you can do for free with a little more stress with moving to a foreign country without anything lined up, but if you can overcome that then you will save yourself so much).

      So I booked my one-way ticket to Chiang Mai and luckily I met some great people who gave me connections that got me where I am now. I met Jen, one of the other teachers featured in these posts, and she told me to start out living at Sethee Court; and I am so fortunate to have found myself here.

     Right when I arrived, Stephen and King were so helpful and informative on life in Chiang Mai and giving me suggestions on how to go about finding a job. So I hit the hot ground running, literally sweating profusely, with a fresh stack of resumes and handed them out to every school I could find in the city.

     I got a job teaching weekends at a Language School, which is fairly easy to do if you look professional and are confident, and I tutored for a few weeks before I got my job to start making money initially. After a few weeks of doing that and exploring this vibrant city, I happened to meet  another, now great friend, who told me of an opening at a great school in the city. The next day I interviewed and that very day I was offered the job. The school needed to fill the position right away and I was in the right place at the right time, did well in the interview and got the job. It was definitely a whirlwind and I cannot tell you how many stories I have heard similar to this. So stop stressing, book your ticket and get out here, it will all work out.

     I do not have a TEFL, I do have a university degree which is the only legal requirement of a teacher in Thailand. It definitely helps a great deal to have your TEFL when in competition against other candidates and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the course but I was able to get a job without one- not to say this would work in a more-developed country, but I just went straight into it and I survived so you can too.


Do your research- decide what kind of a school you want to teach at. Whether that be

  • a) a government school: I would not recommend this route as I have heard many stories of disorganization, little pay and unhappy foreign teachers
  • b) language schools: tutoring-level schools where you are paid hourly but if you work hard enough (see post by Lewis), you can make a lot of money (by Thai standards)
  • c) a private school: this is where I am now and I have had an amazing experience. I have plenty of support form our foreign teacher community and I am well-taken care of as a teacher.

     Once you do that, you are ready to take a deep breath and go! Applying in person and to as many places as possible is the way to get it done. You will meet other ex-pats and teachers along the way and everyone is always aware of what schools are hiring and willing to help each other out because we all know how it is. Schools hire for the new school year around March (year goes from May-Sept with a break in October and then Nov-March) and also in Sept/Oct for replacements needed in between semesters.


     Teaching English here is absolutely achievable and has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The students make everyday worth it and the sense of community in Chiang Mai is incomparable. Come and see for yourself.

Want to Teach in Chiang Mai? Part 4 (Jenafer Volnek)

Category : Teach

Our 4th post on the real experiences of finding work Teaching in Chiang Mai – by Jenafer Volnek.



About me: 
Hi! My name is Jen and I am 26 years old currently living at CMStay @ Sethee Court in the upbeat and exciting city, Chiang Mai! I am an English teacher here at a well-known private school and I teach 10th grade high school students. 
Why I wanted to teach: 
Well, after college and working in mental health for 2.5 years, I wanted a change and a challenge to fulfill my curiosities about the world. I wanted to go to a place where I could feel comfortable yet out of my element, WARM and where teaching English was in demand. I left the conventional lifestyle in America and got more than what I ever expected in the best way possible. 
How I started: 
In all honesty, I worked my butt off to prepare to get over here and spent numerous sleepless nights researching jobs, a decent place to live, expenses, and the culture. I also got TEFL certified through a great, reputable program based out of Chicago. I bit the bullet (YOLO) and booked my one-way ticket to Thailand. I landed here and came to CMStay @ Sethee Court. I was greeted by Stephen and King the first night I got here and they helped ease my nerves about any qualms I had about being in a totally new country. 
How I got the job:
I had my CV/Resumes all printed and ready to go and I went to a couple of schools that posted online that they were hiring. I got the job with the help of King, the owner of CMStay @ Sethee Court, who knew a fellow teacher in Chiang Mai and that teacher had connections to the current school I teach at. I went into the school for an interview and was notified, a week later, that I landed the job. I was very fortunate. 

If you are worried about not finding a job like I was, don’t be. Women, do not forget to wear a long skirt that goes past your knees. I remember having pant suits ready and that was a mistake, so I had to buy a whole new wardrobe of long skirts. There is a sufficient amount of English speaking expats in Chiang Mai and you will, with effort, make connections to help you obtain a job. Remember to prepare extra money for exploring, rent, and food for when you are waiting for responses from the schools you applied at. I saved up money for the first couple of months to explore the city and surrounding areas. Basically, if you have a college degree and look professional you will be just fine- yes, a TEFL helps. 

Regarding a place:
if you are looking for a comfortable place to live that is quiet and safe then stay at CMStay @ Sethee Court. There is a reason why they have excellent reviews and the reasons are completely valid. I would recommend living or staying here (on your arrival into Chiang Mai) for numerous, logical reasons. Here are a few: now, most people do not like their landlords, but here, I love my landlords and it is one of the salient reasons as to why I can’t leave CMStay @ Sethee Court. The price for a room is very reasonable. In addition, there is a convenient and pleasant coffee shop, Lek Lek Cafe, with delicious food downstairs. Lastly, the area is very Thai and you can get the feel of living like a local which personally, I think, should be apart of a wholesome traveling experience! An additional perk, I have met some great friends who also live in the building. If you want a comfortable home base, an adventure, good food, and hospitable people then Chiang Mai is your kind of place. 
Hope this help
Happy and safe travels, 
For more on Jen, check out her Tumblr at:

Want to teach in Chiang Mai? Part 3 (Beth Kopay)

Category : Teach

Part 3 of our series on Teaching in Chiang Mai is from Beth Kopay.    Wear a funny hat and make a difference in a small mountain village!   

Pic 3


So, I heard that you are interested in teaching here in Thailand.  Well, congratulations.  It takes a certain type of person to live and teach in another country – one made of steel, love, flexibility, and a marathon pace endurance type style.  


Hello, I feel that I should introduce myself.  My name is Beth Ann Kopay.  I was a teacher in Thailand, with the good, the bad, and the ugly experiences.  Overall it was a very positive time, and I would like to share what I learned so that you can be aware.  So let me tell you a little bit more.  I graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s in elementary education.  Before coming to Thailand, I was a teacher in the Marshall Islands. (To get there from California, go straight into the Pacific Ocean until you hit Majuro – a few miles into the surf, and once you hit the capital island, hang a left and head north a few hundred miles or so.  And there will be Utrik, the island where I taught, so many coconut trees).  In Thailand, I taught at a government school located in the mountains of Chiang Rai.  The school’s name was Huainamkhunwittaya School.  It was a public government school with grades kindergarten through 9th grade.


I decided to come to Thailand through some interesting circumstances.  So like I just said before, I was teaching on a island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and around Christmas we had mid-service training on the capital island (which meant internet, electricity, running water, and cheese).  And one volunteer (who I thought was handsome, amazing, interesting, and just so overall cool – I even wrote him a song – he was that cool) found this special center in Chiang Rai that worked with special needs children (Chiang Rai Camillian Social Center, just in case you are curiously wondering).  I was headed to the internet cafe, and told him I would print him an application.  Little did he know, I printed off an application for me and sent it in.  (The dude went to teach English in Chile)  The center told me that they didn’t need an English teacher, but there was this school in the mountains that really wanted a native English teacher.  And *BAM* that was how I got my job.  I ended up staying at that school for a year and a half (when most of the native English speakers who would teach there would only stay for a month or two).  I learned many things, both good and bad, and now I would like to share with you – be informed, don’t lose yourself, and what its really all about.


The first piece of the teaching in Thailand information pie I would like to serve is about being informed.  In order to make an informed decision, it is best to have all the information.  When looking at myself, I did not have all the information, and I think it hurt me a little.  You should be informed on where and what you want to teach.  Do you want to teach at an international school (its a school where its an American curriculum)?  Or at a public government school?  Or at a private school, where the families of the school are charged with tuition?  Or at a private language academy – where you would mainly tutor after school?  There are many different positives and negatives about each.  At the private schools in the cities, you will have a higher salary – but keep in mind you will spend more.  If you work at a government school, your salary will not be high, but absolutely livable.  And with private language academies, your hours area usually going to be on the weekends and evenings.  So just be sure to keep all that in mind.

 Pic 8

Another thing to keep in mind is the cost of living.  Holy cow!!  When my parents came to visit, they kept comparing prices for meals – while amazing for them, annoying for me.  For example, you can get a good meal for about 30 baht.  And for those math money convertors out there, $1 = about 30 baht.  So yeah, the cost of living is mind boggling.  The dollar here can stretch is many different directions.  But there are some things that are more expensive – for example imported food.  If there is something from back home that you simply can’t live without, then be prepared to spend more money on it.  And I have found that if you decide to eat foreigner food (meaning any food that is not Thai), then it will be significantly more expensive.  So just keep that in mind in picking on a school and location.


And one more factor in being aware concerns with current events.  While you don’t need to learn and memorize every detail of the whole situation, you will need to know somethings.  For example, it may not be the safest to be in Bangkok right now because of the protests.  And it may not be the safest to be in the very south of Thailand – where there is fighting, and teachers are being beheaded and shot.  Just a thought.


The next piece of the information pie is about maintaining yourself and not losing yourself along the way.  That is what happened to me, and it was very difficult to get out of my rut that I created.  You need to look out for yourself, the school won’t.  Do things that will make you happy and alive – and that was something I forgot to do.  An important aspect of this point deals with the fact that you will be different.  You will be stared at, you will be talked about, and you will be the object of many affections, just because you are a foreigner.  Local Thai people will treat you different and ask you questions that you would be considered rude or offensive.  Some people will be downright racist towards you.  I hate to say get used to it, but that is honestly the only way I dealt with it.  I would like to compare it a museum exhibit, except you will be the exhibit.  And the purpose of the museum exhibit is to look, stare, and critique.  At some points it was too much for me, and I drew myself in even more.  Everyone deals with this differently, my escape consisted on watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episodes and listening to music.  But than again, it all depends on your school.  I was at a very very rural school and was usually the only foreigner for miles and kilometers.  In some cases, I was the only foreigner they have ever been exposed to.  And speaking of being a foreigner, at school, you will probably have no say.  You will be there, treasured, and prized, but stuck.  You can’t move up the ladder into a more leadership position, because you are not Thai.  There were many days where I would just sit in the office, bored, offering my help, but couldn’t do anything about it because I was not a Thai government teacher.  Just a thought.

 Pic 5

But I would like to point out the one positive that should be very in your face and huge and obvious – the kids!  That one aspect  – my students – made it very difficult to leave.  You will make a huge impact and those kids will probably never forget you.

 Pic 1

So good luck in making your decision about being a teacher here in Thailand.  Here is my email ( if you have any questions, and I would be happy to answer them.


You can follow along with  Beth Kopay at her personal blog here:


Want to Teach in Chiang Mai? – Part 2 (Kaycee Race)

Category : Teach

Our second guest post on teaching in Chiang Mai comes from a previous tenant and now good friend, Kaycee Race.    She’s moved on to Korea now, but we still “lurk” on Facebook to see what she’s up to.    Kaycee was nice enough to put her experiences on teaching in Chiang Mai into writing, so without further ado…..


“About Me:

Howdy! My name is Kaycee Race, I’m 33 and I was living at CMStay at Sethee Court while I was teaching in Chiang Mai.

Why I was teaching:

After going for my postgraduate degree and living in England for four years, I moved back home to Colorado in 2010 to find a horrible economy and stuck doing a mind-dumbing temp job because nothing else was available.  Putting myself through a year of that torture, I knew it was time to pack my bags again to follow through with something I had always wanted to do: Teach English to wee foreign kiddos as a means to make money and see the world.

 How I started:

I did loads of research on various TEFL courses and had it pinpointed to two different ones Thailand: one in Phuket and SEE TEFL in Chiang Mai.  I decided with SEE because the course instructor, John Quinn, was very professional in answering any and all questions I had in a timely manner.  I had a great feeling about the program.  I went through the TEFL program in February 2012, just at the end of the Thai school year.

 How I got the job:

After the course ended, it was time to find a job.  I really wanted to live on the beach…I had envisioned myself living in a tiki hut, teaching in the morning and spending lazy afternoons sitting on a beach with a Mai Tai in my hand.  So, I set off for Krabi to look for work.  I dressed up (which for me is a feat!  I’m a“live in t-shirts and jeans” type a gal), and walked around to the schools in the area, left my CV and waited with baited breath for a phone call.  A girl on my TEFL course lived on KohNgai with her diver-instructor boyfriend, so I hung out with them for a few weeks waiting for the calls that never came.  In panic mode (because the South is MUCH more expensive than the North), I headed back to Chiang Mai to look for work.

 Not even 24 hours later (and with plans on heading to all of the schools in Chiang Mai the next day), I stopped by SEE TEFL to say hi.  Ying, John’s wife who runs the EFL side of SEE (essentially acting as an agent by supplying SEE graduate TEFLers to trusted schools in need of English teachers), said she had an opening at a primary school…if I wanted it, it was mine.  Easy peazy, lemon squeezy.

 In hindsight, I wish I would have gone out as planned and looked for a job on my own.  Going through an agency such as EFL, part of your compensation goes to them.  Teaching at a public or private school in Chiang Mai, you should expect to earn about 30,000 baht a month.  Using an agency, I was only making 25,000 baht.  However, going through an agency, you do have more of a support system.  They assist with visas and any problems you might be having with the school.  A good agency is in your corner.


If you want to teach English as a foreign language, I would highly suggest getting a TEFL certificate.  Take a course that gives you teaching practice as well.  I feel that was the most valuable aspect of my TEFL program.

 When looking for a job, DO YOUR RESEARCH on the schools in the area.  Talk to other foreign teachers in the area, they will know the good schools and the bad schools (I was teaching at a school that I didn’t particularly like, and it was one of the lower paying schools at that, so I wish I wouldn’t have settled for the first job that came my way…by the way, after signing my contract, I got a call from one of the schools in Krabi, so again in hindsight, I would have backed out of my contract and headed south…but then I never would have met Stephen and King and lived at CMStay, which was a highlight of living in Chiang Mai – and no, they didn’t tell me to say that! I promise!).

 Finally, if you want to teach at a public or private school, the schools that don’t use agencies generally start their application/interview process around January or February for the coming school year in May (although there are schools that hire all year long).  GO to the school to drop off your CV, ask to speak with the English director, get their number and call the next day or so.  Chances are you won’t need it.  If they like the look of you, you’ll walk out with a contract in hand.”


To read more about Kaycee’s life travelling/teaching, check out: .   Also, a little known fact about Kaycee is that she is an AMAZING photographer.   Take a look at some of her work at:


READ Want to Teach in Chiang Mai  #3

Want to Teach in Chiang Mai? 5 failsafe tips and real life experiences from our resident teachers.

Category : Teach

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. 

4. Network!

   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! 
Lewis's Class
Lewis’s Class
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. 
To read more about the Lewis’s escapades in teaching and just living life in Chiang Mai, check out his blog at:

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