You might think that simultaneously studying Thai Massage and Teaching English in Thailand is perhaps a weird combo, but in this article I’ll explain why it isn’t at all.
You see, when you’re hooked on learning Thai Massage and want to study in Thailand for a significant longer period, you’ll always have this darn visa thing. Every two months or so you’ll need to get out of Thailand doing a visa run, visiting a Thai consulate in a neighboring country to obtain the necessary stamps in your passport.
Not only does it cost you money for the visas, overnight stays and transport, it’s also annoying and time consuming, and after a few times going forth and back you might get ugly questions from the Thai border police and customs and most probably end up paying bribes to reenter Thailand.
Now, depending on the Thai Massage schools you choose, you might be able to obtain a non-immigrant Education Visa (ED Visa) or alternatively, as an example, you may be eligible to do so by taking a year of Thai Language studies at a language school that supports an ED Student Visa request.
But then, what is better than earning and sustaining your living in Thailand, pay your Thai Massage courses with the money you make locally, and get a real taste of living life in Thailand without doing those nasty visa runs?
Well, it sounds good, doesn’t it? And… it’s possible!
Nevertheless, there are some conditions to be fulfilled and, psychologically, it’s not as easy as it sounds to (be able to) teach English in Thailand.
First of all, to obtain a working permit and non-immigrant Visa B you will need a college degree (Bachelor or Master) of which it doesn’t matter in what studies. If you are a native English speaker (like from the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, and so on) you might get away with just a TESOL or TEFL English teaching diploma and without a college degree, but that has become increasingly rare nowadays. Compared to ten years ago Thai regulation has changed quite a lot becoming tougher on prerequisites.
If you’re not a native English speaker, you’ll definitely need a college degree and a TEFL or TESOL teaching English diploma (which, by the way, can be obtained in about two months if you study hard, online or in-class), and/or proven teaching experience. In this case, you will also need to officially translate your college diplomas or certificates (assuming they are not in English).
Mind also that you will need a clean criminal record sheet from your home country, at some point you’ll need to pass a (normally simple and straightforward) medical check, and you will need to leave the country at least one time to obtain your Visa B at a Thai Consulate abroad (Malaysia, Cambodia, or Laos are the most obvious routes).
You might be able to obtain a teaching job in Thailand from out your home country and do the necessary paperwork there, but it’s rare, because most of the English teaching jobs are obtained locally on the spot. In Thailand, you’ll almost always need to start “NOW” or in a few weeks max, and looking ahead timely for the teachers they’ll need the next term is not something present in the “Thai thinking system.”
Having said all that, let’s take a look at the kind of English teaching jobs you can obtain. The market for teaching English is huge in Thailand (like in many other Asian countries) especially with the ongoing integration of Thailand in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
You’ll find teaching positions virtually everywhere in Thailand, like in Chiang Mai, Isan, on the islands, central Thailand, in the south, but without doubt mostly in the greater Bangkok area. Many vacancies are to be found at public schools (primary and high school), Private Schools, and International Schools, Colleges or Universities, or private institutes.
Most teaching jobs are full-time (about 30-40 hours presence, of which about max 20 contact-hours), some can be part-time at International Schools or private institutes. Mind that it will be harder to get a working permit and visa with a part-time job.
It means also that taking your Thai Massage courses will be limited to your weekends off and to the holidays. Luckily there are quite some school vacation periods in Thailand, especially in March, April, October, and at the end of December and the start of January, and a bunch of public holidays here and there which will give you ample opportunity to make the most of it.
Prepare yourself mentally to be a teacher for Thai people, because if you originate from a Western country, it will be quite different from that what you are used to at home. The concept of “losing face” is very, very important in Thailand, which means that you’ll need to pass every student (even if they really flunked), can not ask questions in the class room the students might not be able to answer, you as a teacher can not lose temper (that’s not done and you’ll lose all credit), you need to be well groomed (and not smell), and you’ll need to be “fun,” that is… a clown.
Remember, and this also is a very important concept in Asia, that when a student fails it is ALWAYS the teacher’s fault, because it means that the teacher didn’t help or do enough for the student to pass or obtain the required knowledge (and that’s why you’ll need to grade-pass all students anyhow).
You’ll be surprised at how much emphasis the Thai put on learning English, and how few Thai students really learn a bit of reasonable English (or care to learn it), whatever you do or try, for that matter. Studying English in Thailand is mostly “for appearances,” and you, the English teacher, is there only “for appearances” likewise! Get used to that! Really! It sounds perhaps horrible, but if you want to succeed teaching English in Thailand, please do not take your job too seriously, else you’ll end up in the loony bin very quickly.
Another thing I’d like to add is about my experience as an English teacher and being a Thai Masseur and instructor. You see, the director of the first school I taught English urged me NOT to say that I practiced Thai Massage. In Thailand, it’s generally not seen as a job or activity “of standing.” It’s not fancy enough, and seen as a job for people in Thailand who can’t do something “higher or better!” Yep.
Now of course, surely there is (growing) appreciation of traditional medicine at the Thai governmental level and certainly out of commercial value (tourist and student influx, herbal products sales, and so on), but there’s still a long way to go in Thailand before “Thai masseur” will be seen as a fully respectable and valuable job occupation.
Well… there’s a lot more to be said when it comes to teaching English in Thailand, but I suppose you most probably get the big picture with this article. If you want to finance your Thai Massage studies locally and want to have an experience you’ll never ever forget, go teach English in Thailand.
It will give you incredible, astonishing and valuable insights in the mechanics and makings of Thai society, because it’s for an important part at our schools where we are educated, and get our values and outlook in life. And that counts equally for Thailand as it counts for the rest of the world.