Asia, Destinations, Expat, Thailand, Types of Travel, WITW Stories

Drawing The Short Straw: Teaching English in Asia

I’m giving you a fair warning in advance: This post will not be an inspirational manifesto to all of the greatness of travel. I’m going to tell the truth about our past situation, and it’ll most likely be a bitch fest. But it’ll be a very honest bitch fest, and hopefully a helpful one to those looking to teach English abroad.

I’ve been going back and forth about writing this, and then even more back and forth about actually publishing it. Over the last three months, I’ve received so many emails and messages asking about Teaching English Abroad and about my experience, what it was really like, whether I would recommend it or not, etc. While my number one goal is to inspire others to travel and see the world, I also don’t want to push others into a bad situation. I started this blog over two years ago to record my adventures, inspire others to travel and recount my perspective about traveling the world and living abroad. That means being completely honest about the good… and the bad.

I’ve had many friends teach English abroad and absolutely love it. They rave about the experience any chance they can, and some even went back to teach again. This seems to be the case about 80% of the time, and I’m not giving up on teaching English abroad just yet. I just wish I had a bit more guidance on what to do if we drew the short straw of English agencies in South East Asia, instead of the usual “Omg, you’re just going to love it no matter what.” Because, guess what, we didn’t love it. We quit.

So here I am, 276 words later, finally starting my story of the last two months of my life teaching English in Thailand.


Saying goodbye to Sydney for Thailand

It all started back in January when Sam and I decided to take a job offer with an agency in Thailand to teach English starting in May. During the interviews, we were woo’d and seduced with the lure of three day weekends, 22 teaching hours a week, free accommodation, health insurance, 25 paid personal leave days and 30 paid sick days. I mean who wouldn’t want to join in on all of the fun with all of those benefits! We were told it was a 30,000 baht per month salary, which is less than we hoped for but were assured it was the going rate around the town. AND the agency was the only one we interviewed with that said it was okay we had to leave for Sam’s brothers wedding in Colombia for three weeks in the middle of the term. All was fine and dandy. Less than two weeks later, we had our flights booked.

After we accepted the positions, we had a Skype call with the recruiter, who then decided to tell us that there was a mandatory training for two weeks before term started. We were also told that since I completed my TEFL online, I had to participate in their own TEFL Foundations certification. Oh ya, and that’s unpaid. After the TEFL training, we start to teach full time, but there’s this little loophole called “probation”, where we teach for five days 6-8 hours a day. Oh ya, and that’s unpaid too. So here we were, left with little to no choice of me being unpaid for an entire month, but also being expected to pay rent and other miscellaneous expenses we weren’t told about before arriving.

Never mind all of that. We were excited and ready to teach our little Thai students, and we disregarded some of the warning signs that were showed to us well in advance to arriving in Thailand.


In Phuket before school started.

Before settling in Surat, we traveled to Phuket to train at Tiger Muay Thai, and from there we were en route to Penang, Malaysia to pick up our 90 Day Visas. I had triple checked that all of the documents we needed to obtain our visas was printed out and in complete order. I obsessed over having second copies of everything. Once I arrived in Phuket, I felt so relaxed about the whole process. Until we received an email in completely broken English saying that we needed to pick up the original documents from the school before heading to Penang. Umm I’m sorry? We were leaving for Penang the next morning, and had told the school we were in Phuket a million times before hand. Was this not the 9th year the agency was operating and sending teachers on visa runs?

We came to a conclusion that the agency must send a courier to our hostel in Penang, where ours, along with the other teachers’ documents, would be delivered. So now, we were in charge of being at our hostel to pick up our documents and then also making sure the other teachers received theirs, as well. How was this our problem? Warning signs started piling in after that, but we were hopeful at the moment with our 90 Day Visas in our hands and big grins on our faces.


On the way from Penang to Surat Thani

Stepping off the plane and onto Surat’s soil, I was sure this was going to be the greatest year yet. I was bright-eyed and eager and ready to make a difference. We’re both really hard-working people, and we wanted to help the school in any way we could. Sam offered to help with extra-curriculars, and I offered to help the school with their social media efforts. Neither of which were taken up on.

We were picked up from the bus station, and dropped off at our humble abode. At first, I was taken back by its Thai charm and bright green paint, and then I took a real good look around at the dingy walls, broken cupboards and two inches of dust coating every surface of our room. We immediately went to the closest shop and bought about 1000 baht ($30 USD) worth of cleaning supplies. There went our entire afternoon, we were set off to clean the rest of the day. Six hours later, we were completely covered head to toe in dirt, dust and sweat. We haven’t even made a dent in the amount of work we needed to get done, and hadn’t even looked at the bathroom that was shared amongst four people.

On top of all the dirt and grime, there was a trail of termites in the wall right next to our bed. The “air conditioning” didn’t even properly work, and when we turned it on, black specks were spurted across the room, making us reluctant to breathe the air because of mold. But the real determining factor of the absolute disgusting state the room was left in was the fact that there was condoms, candle wax and other unmentionables strewn across the whole room. I just felt that we would never ever ever feel clean in that room. The bed bent inwards in the middle. The cupboards were all hanging off its hinges, and the spare bedroom literally looked like it was straight out of a horror film scene.

This was the accommodation they were offering us. We quite simply said that if something couldn’t be changed, we can’t live like this. We didn’t care that “It’s Thailand, get over it” is the usual response you get about everything. It may be Thailand, but we weren’t going to live in a shithole for a year. Immediately, they moved us into a nicer, newer 1 bedroom apartment, that would later prove to be yet another problem the agency got us into. But at the moment, we were happy to feel clean and not completely covered in termites and mold.


Happier days on weekend trips away!

From there, we continued to go to training (unpaid) and continued to hand in our lesson plans for the first two weeks (also extra work that was unpaid), and continued to basically work for free until everyone started catching on how unfair the whole process was. But as soon as it really started to get unbearable, we finally got paid. A whole whopping 13,000 baht (About $500 USD). And that was supposed to last us until the following month’s pay, along with all of the extra costs incurred.

We were then told that Sam’s brothers wedding we were attending in August (the very same one they said we could leave for at the beginning of the recruitment process) was going to be a problem. They told us we had to find cover for those three weeks for both of us, which we thought wouldn’t be a problem. Until we arrived, and we figured out that they don’t pay the teachers who cover for you… Ummm, so who is going to cover for us for three weeks unpaid? Their response, “Oh well it’s only fair if you pay those teachers out of your own pocket.” Ummmm, what? I’m sorry, who’s the employer here? Well, let’s just say we got that sorted reaaaal fast, because there was no way in hell we would be unpaid for a month for a wedding we had to attend and then on top of it having to pay the teacher covering for us…

While all of this was happening, Sam started to get overwhelmed with how much he hated the process of education here. As an educator, he was appalled with the “nobody fails here” and “just write the answers in the book” mentality. He just couldn’t wrap his head around listening to his own voice repeat the same directions 80 times in one hour. I literally had a 12 year old almost make me cry because he was being so mean. Weren’t the Thai students supposed to respect teachers? That’s all I’ve been hearing from my friends about their experience teaching abroad, and most of my kids couldn’t give a shit about learning English or even about me. So on May 26 we decided that the agency wasn’t offering us much more to outweigh the shitty feeling we felt at school.


A much needed long weekend away in Krabi

Soon after, we received the electric bill from our apartment, and it was an extortionate amount of 2,300 baht ($77 USD) for a month’s worth of electricity and water. We had been so frugal with our A/C, barely turning it on, we unplugged every power point before we left for the day, and rarely had any lights on. We couldn’t believe what we read, especially because every other teacher had said they pump the A/C through their whole HOUSE and it never goes above 1300 baht, but we had a tiny one room studio apartment and it amounted to that… Little did we know, that the agency signed a contract with the our landlady agreeing to the utilities rate. The manager said not to worry and it would get sorted out, and in typical form, we got a call a few days later saying it’s not the agency’s problem anymore and we had to pay within the hour or our electricity would be shut off. Another prime example of the school not taking responsibility for anything it says it will do.

From there it all went downhill really, the manager asked us to stay for two weeks extra to help the school find a replacement for the two of us, and even though we quit during probation period and didn’t have to abide by the rules, we still agreed to stay. Then right after, he came back and begged us to stay for another week. So we drew up our demands and what we wanted if we stayed for three weeks to help the school, and the school agreed and signed. Apart of these demands were that we were to be paid for the “hours that we have worked” as opposed to their bullshit, loophole scheme of 1,000 baht per day X 30 days = 30,000 baht salary. So even though we would have worked two full working weeks in June, we would only be paid up to June 12th, and therefore be paid 12,000 baht instead of the owed 15,000 baht for a half a month’s of work. Knowing the agency would find a way to screw us over, we specifically made sure to write the “hours” as opposed to the “days” in the new contract, which the school signed. It also stated in our new contract that the school couldn’t take any of the housing deposit on our apartment out of our last paycheck.

Well both of these stipulations in the contract were voided. The agency took 3,000 baht out of our pay for our scumbag of a landlady to decide if our apartment was in “appropriate condition.” Their reasoning behind it was because they had lost too much money on the apartment and we just “had to understand.” Um no, I don’t understand. That’s your problem. My problem is getting paid correctly, which we weren’t, because the school also decided to overlook the second stipulation and still pay us by the day instead of the hour. Needless to say, there was a huge fuss kicked up about it as we had finally had the last straw with this agency. With two days left of teaching, we told the manager we would no longer be working at the school and not coming into work the next day or the following. We demanded to be paid what we were owed, and after fighting tooth and nail, we were finally paid. The managers were in shock about how we managed to “figure out the hourly wage”, as if it was a secret to all of the employees. So here it is – 30,000 baht divided by 88 hours in a month = 340 baht. WHOA MAGIC. Oh and also, the hourly wage is 340 baht an hour, but for some reason the agency got away with paying 300 baht an hour for overtime. They also acted like no one else knew this. Except every teacher knows it, we’re not idiots.

On top of that, we became good friends with other teachers in the area. Turns out we were being paid the least out of all of the major schools… At that point, we weren’t even shocked. It was just hysterical.


The storms brewing…

To be honest, it should have all been a very simple and easy process. We put in our notice during the probation period without a fuss. We didn’t even tell the other teachers about quitting out of respect for the school and the new teachers starting out. We didn’t want to make a scene right away. We agreed to stay on three extra weeks to help the agency find a solid replacement. And then all we were asking was to be paid the appropriate amount, for the appropriate amount of hours we worked. Not a penny more, but because of their inability to treat employees like more than a price tag, they couldn’t wrap their head around it.

I mean, I guess it speaks loads about the agency when two more teachers quit right after us, and a handful more are planning to quit soon. I’m glad we got out when we did. I’m glad we eventually got paid correctly. I’m glad we made the amazing friends we did while at school. I love Surat Thani and its quirkiness. I love the memories and road trips and pier nights and our favourite restaurants. I loved learning Thai, and so so so much more. But I am so glad the professional side of this experience is over.

I really hope this opens a few of your eyes up to the fact that not every agency or school is going to be a good one. I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying the experience out because like I said 9 times out of 10 it’s an amazing one. But please please please ask all of the right questions before accepting a position, and even more importantly, please don’t be afraid to quit if it’s not what you expected. There’s a million and one jobs teaching English out there, and there’s no point being unhappy in one.

At the moment, I’m writing this blog post on the beach watching the sunset fade in Koh Tao. There are no regrets 🙂


Life is good in Koh Tao

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  • Reply Claire & Anthony (@Tolovetolive) June 29, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Hey! Very brave of you to tell the truth behind your TEFL experience. We are currently doing TEFL in China and most of the time it is an amazing experience but it’s not perfect – nothing is and it’s opened our eyes to the difference in education around the world (we were already teachers in the UK before using TEFL as a way to travel). We completely agree that everyone thinking of doing TEFL must really check the deal being put in place and yes you’re right, if it doesn’t feel right or you’re not happy then quit! Life is too short and one thing the world isn’t lacking is TEFL jobs!

    • Reply KP Schwan June 29, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      So so true! I’m glad you’re having a great time in China! We’re definitely not ruling out teaching English. We’re looking into Japan or Vietnam, but this was just too much of a headache dealing with this agency! So glad you understand 🙂

  • Reply Damien Naidu June 29, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    This story sounds exactly the same while what my friend and I are going through. We just received our rent bills both of which are extreme. We also had no assistance from the agency and had to do a border hop at our cost. If we had known this week’s events last week. We would have just let our visas expire and leave the country. Glad to know that we not the only ones with a shitty agency

    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      Wow Damien – Sounds familiar 😉 Don’t worry you’re not the only one! There were many moments we where we thought to ourselves “If only we would have known…” But I really hope things work out for you and your friend. Feel free to email or message me with any questions or to just commiserate!

  • Reply Richard June 29, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    I have had friends who have been in a similar situation. Sometimes people take advantage of kindness, as happened with you. I think it may be down to the regulation of the agencies. The laws in Thailand make it difficult to name and shame without finding yourself in trouble. Also you’re final paycheck is in their hands and if you kick up a fuss it might just stay in their hands.

    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      Exactly, Richard. Hard to make too much of a deal when they still owe you what you need to live on! And in Thailand, they can just hold onto to it because the can. I haven’t directly named which agency it is, I just wanted to give a general overview on what to look out for before accepting a position. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Reply Shaun June 29, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Hey this was a interesting read i am sorry thing didn’t turn out the way you had hoped for, i have been teaching now a little over 2 years in Thailand and at the same school. i have had my moments with the school, but i have sorted them out they do how ever now and them try and screw me out of money but i know my rights and i have a Thai friend who is a lawyer and she helps me when i need it. anyways i wanted know if you wouldn’t mine telling the agency name that you went through. As i have been approached from a agency offering me a job in Surat thani and i dont really want to have the problems that you face if i choose to move down there.
    I wish you well on the rest of travels and look forward to hearing form you.

    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Hi Shaun, I’m glad to hear you’ve stuck with it for 2 years. That was definitely the intention! If you want to email me at kelly (AT) whereintheworldkp (DOT) com. I can answer any questions you have. I don’t want to name and shame for the whole world wide web as I have friends still working at the school who love it 🙂

  • Reply D. Cripp June 30, 2015 at 12:52 am

    I too lived and taught in Surat Thani, let me tell you, the experience was not good. You should have gone to Issaan it’s much better and I lasted one year in a school.

    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      I haven’t heard of Isaan. Definitely worth looking into 🙂 We’re still in the south of Thailand for a while, so maybe we will check it out! Thanks!

  • Reply Rebecca June 30, 2015 at 1:18 am

    I was looking into Thailand and after reading this blog, I had flashbacks of my horror story in China and am back in reality. The irony of it all – I was teaching English and Ethics in the international Law School of a major University in Yantai. They violated so many “rules and laws”, I could not ethically stay in that abusive situation that prided themselves on being ethical. In a nut shell, they violated the contract in and out, demanded 1000 RMB as soon as I got there (which was not in the contract) while trying to make me stay in a seedy living situation (an apartment behind a kitchen they were tearing down) without internet (another contract violation). I refused to accept their abuse and they threatened me with legal charges if I did not continue to teach while staying in my living (construction zone with falling debris) situation. I guess they felt that as a single woman they could treat me anyway they wanted and I would not leave. They even sent a spy and found out that I was going to the airport. No one wants to be a prisoner in China. LOL!!! They pulled the bait and switch and so I took matters into my own hands. I told them they violated the contract, and they said they did not. In the contract, they were suppose to pay for the ticket back to the U.S. (home country) for gross violations of the contract. It turns out that they mistakenly paid me a month’s advance which was the price of a plane ticket back. I took the money, dusted off my feet, and travelled to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. It worked out for my benefit, but I learned hard and fast that I do not want to teach in Asia as a single woman or on such a long contract. I also learned that many schools, when they employ you, think they own you. I would rather travel and offer consulting throughout Asia as needed. I heard Japan and Vietnam were better places to teach. If I go to Thailand, it would be on a short term contract, but definitely a well researched one and also with a clear exit plan in mind. Thanks for your BLOG!!!!

    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      Hi Rebecca – I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I really couldn’t imagine going through this without having Sam by my side, so I know this will make you a stronger person (and a well-informed one at that!) I’ve heard Vietnam is great as well. At the moment, we’ll be traveling because we save a ton before we got here. If we do take a teaching job, it’ll be on our terms and most likely private tutoring work! Cheers to life experience 🙂

  • Reply Katie June 30, 2015 at 2:16 am

    What a complete nightmare! Enjoy your time on Koh Tao and I’m sure you guys will find a great teaching position 🙂

  • Reply Craig June 30, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    That’s some terrible maths. 22 hours per week does not equal 88 hours in a month. There are not 4 weeks in a month…well except for February. Anyway 22 hours a week is a lot. 16- 19 is about right. If you are teaching about 4 and a half hours a day (or 5 and a half a day with a 3 day weekend) there won’t be enough time to do adequate marking, lesson planning etc. Not to mention meetings, assemblies, training and other stuff that comes up.

  • Reply Annemarie July 1, 2015 at 2:28 am

    Hi KP! Kudos to you for opening up and speaking about it all. This is a proper nightmare, I am glad you were together and didn’t have to deal with this on your own. It is absolutely horrendous what they put you through. Maybe you should even mention the agency’s name?
    Good thing you remained adamant regarding your money and claims and didn’t let them screw you over yet again! I keep my fingers crossed that the rest of the year will be awesome for you two!


    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      Hey Annemarie! Thanks for your kind words. I won’t name and shame as we have good friends still working at the school, but I just wanted to outline what could possibly happen to others if they don’t keep their eyes open. Thanks so much, I’m hoping you’re having a great time with your travels and your blog is running smoothly 🙂

  • Reply Martina July 1, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Glad to have read your post here which exactly explains my feelings right now towards their attitude towards agreements/ contracts and terms. I am not in a school but in the tourism-related org, in which when in comes to payment times, they would drive you to loops to hopefully cook you up to agree with their concluded summary of the pay, when it’s supposedly a simple arithmetic. I laughed with your statement :

    “….The managers were in shock about how we managed to “figure out the hourly wage”, as if it was a secret to all of the employees. So here it is – 30,000 baht divided by 88 hours in a month = 340 baht. WHOA MAGIC. Oh and also, the hourly wage is 340 baht an hour, but for some reason the agency got away with paying 300 baht an hour for overtime. They also acted like no one else knew this. Except every teacher knows it, we’re not idiots….”

    Because I exactly had the same experience that they seem to be very surprised how I was able to compute what I should receive. In almost a year of working with these people, here are my observations : 1. they are bad in timings. Timings, i.e., if you agree to meet up for a meeting at 2:00 PM, they will turn up 4:00 or worse 6:00 PM and just call you when you’re already back home and ask you “where are you?”. 2. Another is they are bad in agreements. Even if it was really clear (or at least clear to us…like your experience with your docus which was sent instead to your Penang hostel) that both parties agreed that you both will have to finish a task on the 15th, for example so it will be published (on our case) on the 16th, you are done with yours from working at it overtime to reach the deadline. But you’d be surprised with no notice at all, in the morning of the 16th they would just tell you that sorry, we will extend the deadline because they are not finished with theirs and life goes on as if nothing happens. 3. They don’t give notices, no strategic plans, and beware of a group meeting held all in Thai and noone would care to interpret to you what’s even the agenda or what you could contribute to an issue, etc.

    I have been to several countries in Southeast Asia but never have met people who are worst to work with like them here. Singaporean people are the best in professionalism and the attitudes towards contracts, surprisingly comes second is the Philippines especially the IT-industry in outsourcing (with western management anyway) but eventhough our page-clients for web maintenance who are filipinos are very professional. Then Malaysia too. Malaysians are much better in English as well as the Filipinos so language barriers is less probable. But for teaching English to non-natives, I have heard about Vietnam to be better, also South Korea but I have no experience on that so I couldn’t share but hopefully you are much better employers right now, if not in better-paying countries like Japan or South Korea.

    Like you guys, I am ending my term the soonest because I felt like working in a pighole here for worth a dime.

    Kudos to your blog! 😉

    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you for commenting! I think there are a lot of differences, which should be obvious as Thailand is still a developing country. There are many things we should and did overlook because some of it is really not there fault. But the fact that the majority of the management were westerners, is really what put us over the edge! I have also heard that Vietnam is great. We’ll be looking into Vietnam after Sam’s brothers wedding 🙂

  • Reply Martina July 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    *with much better employers

  • Reply Mark Newman July 1, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you for posting this absolutely essential reading and of not being afraid to admit what a terrible experience it was for you both. It’s currently linked to the front page of and I hope you’ll give the owners of that site permission to re-post this entire article on their website so it can be a permanent reminder of how Thailand operates in the education business.

    If anyone has read this fully and still opts to go through an agency to find a job teaching English in Thailand then you’re a bloody idiot and you deserve to get everything you get!

    I’ve been shouting about these shit-hole agencies from the roof tops for years and years now, but every day another plane load of new idiots seem to want to jump on the path of self destruction and slave labor!

    Enticed by shitty accommodation that you wouldn’t let a dog sleep in and work hours that would have employers jailed in any Western country, people still seem to get suckered in by these snake oil salesmen and then fleeced of all their wages and all their dignity.

    These used car salesmen work in cahoots with local landlords, school administrators and other local businesses to fleece you out of everything you have. Contracts are worthless and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    The whole Thai education industry relies on your good nature and gullibility to engage in their insane demands.

    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      I appreciate your passion! I agree there is a lot wrong with the TEFL industry, but I also believe that there are amazing companies out there. I saw for myself how happy some of the other teachers were in my town! I’m not a doubter, just wanting to show a bit of caution to others 🙂 Thanks for your words!

  • Reply Reddog July 1, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    While you definitely got treated like crap and scammed numerous times, I think it’s important to also look at what is about yourselves that allowed you to get into this situation. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that you have no formal qualifications or training as a teacher (online TEFL definitely doesn’t count), no experience, and only wanted to work for one semester anyways. You also wanted to take 20% of the semester off (3 weeks out of 16). Obviously, only a bottom of barrel agency would every hire someone like that.

    Imagine if you owned a business where all the employees must have multiple years of training and certification and someone with no qualifications and no experience called you up and asked for a job, while at the same time they said they had to take 20% of the time off, and you still hired them! Don’t you think you would have to be extremely desperate to hire someone because absolutely no one wants that job!

    I guess what I’m trying to say is if you were properly qualified with experience and wanted to be a teacher as a career and not just for fun, you could have gotten a job at a much better school. Bottom of the barrel teachers are only hired by bottom of the barrel agencies. Supply = demand.

    Sorry if this touches a nerve, but it’s the reality of what happened.

    • Reply KP Schwan July 1, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      No nerve touched! Glad to hear your opinions about the situation. My partner is a qualified teacher from Australia with a TEFL certification, as well. Unfortunately, due to me lack of qualifications he had to find an agency who would take me as well. I think you’re right, that we took the leap at anyone that would take us. Truth is, being from two different countries, we couldn’t necessarily stay in either one of our own and make money so we were just happy to be in the same country together! I definitely agree there were a lot of warning signs. Thanks for your input 🙂

      • Reply Reddog July 1, 2015 at 7:06 pm

        Thanks for your reply. Now that you’ve had a taste of what teaching is like, you’re better able to make a more long term decision about teaching as a career. I’ve seen quite a few people go back to their home country and get certified, then come back to Thailand and double or triple their salary. Since it’s already difficult for you to stay in the same country with your partner, in the long run it might with worth the sacrifice of spending some time apart while you get qualified. It’s not uncommon for a qualified husband and wife team to get hired at some of the top international schools in Asia. Then you would be set for life with some of the highest teaching salaries in the world, along with the flexibility of finding a really good job anywhere. Something to think about…

  • Reply portnoy July 1, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Glad you survived the experience. Unfortunately your experience is the norm now in schools in Thailand which use agencies. There can hardly be any surprises that the Thai education system is one of the worst in S E Asia and it really is failing the students. And be careful in Koh Tao, Thailand’s murder capital. It’s not really amazing Thailand once you have poked around for a while and got a sense of what is really going on. Take care.

  • Reply Tim N July 2, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Have been in Th for 12 years. It’s not just the recruitment agencies that play these games. It’s really SOP here, even at the universities. I have 2 grad degrees and a better work ethic than many of the backpackers and drunks I’ve been privileged to call colleagues here, but I have my own horror stories, including getting three stitches in the back of my head after being attack by a university English program coordinator. Oh, and they didn’t pay ME after that even though the attack was so brutal and unrelenting I was unable to turn and face my attacker. Then there were the lesser stories where an older lady prof at one university was planning to take a textbook I’d written at put her name on it so SHE could get a pay raise and promotion. I would’ve gotten nothing.

    • Reply KP Schwan July 2, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Wow that’s appalling! Glad you’re okay!

  • Reply JLR July 5, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Slightly shocked you did not see the red flags from the start (using an agency, low pay, forced school TEFL course…etc).

    To be fair though I had a bait and switch experience in Japan from an accredited International School. The contract in English was nothing like the “official” Japanese version. Now I get all contracts translated by a professional before signing. If the school gets nervous about it or refuses me to do so I walk away.

    • Reply KP Schwan July 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      That’s probably a good idea! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Reply Simon July 6, 2015 at 4:24 am

    What was the name of the school?

  • Reply Zita July 15, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience, as horrible as it was, as it helps to know what questions to ask and things to look out for! I have been looking into teaching in Thailand so I hope you don’t mind me emailing you with some more questions?

    • Reply KP Schwan July 15, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Please do! I’d be happy to help with any questions 🙂

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