Even though it was five and a half years ago when I began teaching in Thailand, not much has changed with the overall process of searching for a job, getting hired, and going through the necessary paperwork of becoming legally employed. But one thing that can make first-time teacher’s lives a lot less painless is using a teaching agency in Thailand. In doing so, you can alleviate many of your worries. But is it right for everyone?
- 1 First-time English teacher’s biggest worries
- 2 Why I recommend using a teaching agency in Thailand
- 3 Sine Education, an education service provider in Bangkok
- 4 Bottom line: Using a teaching agency in Thailand has its perks
First-time English teacher’s biggest worries
Here are some of the questions I had before teaching English in Thailand for the first time. If you’re in that position, do any of these look familiar?
- How do I find a job – on foot? online postings? through a hiring agency?
- What are the existing curricula and lesson plans like, if any?
- How much will I make and how and when will I be paid?
- Will I get health insurance, time off, or other benefits?
- What are the minimum qualifications to teach? OR Will the school hire me with my credentials?
Related read: Teaching requirements in Thailand
One route that provides answers to those questions is getting your first teaching gig through a hiring agency.
Why I recommend using a teaching agency in Thailand
People seem to have very strong opinions about using or not using a placement company, recruiter, or teaching agency in Thailand to secure a job.
I’ve always been adamant about telling first-time English teachers that yes, you should. However, there are expats out there that will wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. They’ll say, “Why waste your time (and potential earnings that are skimmed off the top of your salary) when it’s so eeaassy to find a teaching job in Thailand?”
For one, it isn’t easy for everyone to immediately get a job. Prospective teachers who most often have difficulty finding a position at a Thai school are those who don’t have teaching experience or don’t have a TEFL.
Secondly, not everyone has the patience or time to deal with Thai school bureaucracy. You might email or call a school and not hear back from them in weeks. Or at all. You may visit a school in person and be given a polite answer, even when they have no intention of hiring you.
Third, it’s difficult to research and apply to schools because a large number of them only advertise in the Thai language online. Or worse, they don’t post job listings online at all. This is an eye-opener to many applicants who expect to browse online job posts and subsequently apply to them in the comfort of their own home. Rather, there’s a good chance you have to walk around in the heat and do both tasks in person.
The way I see it, some people can really use the help of a placement company or teaching agency in Thailand, while others really can do it on their own.
If you are a first-time teacher (which is rather common in Thailand), battling the logistics of researching and applying to schools, legally obtaining a Non Immigrant Business Visa, Work Permit, and subsequent Visa Extension, in addition to adjusting to a new workplace environment and etiquette, is overwhelming. There is also culture shock, which is nearly unavoidable when you first move abroad. So, having a shoulder to lean on and a professional to navigate these muddied waters of teaching in Thailand can make a difference.
Related read: Choosing the best Hiring Agencies in Thailand
Sine Education, an education service provider in Bangkok
When I learned about Sine Education, the first thing that came to mind was, “Where were you when I needed you five and a half years ago?!”
Well, they were around. Just not in Chiang Mai where I lived.
Sine Education has been providing English conversation programs to government secondary schools (aka high schools) in Greater Bangkok as well as Thailand’s Central and Northeast regions since 2010. What started as a 3-school, 13-teacher operation has expanded to more than 40 schools in 2019.
As a result, they’re always hiring teachers to fill the vacancies at all the schools that they’ve partnered with. That’s great news for prospective teachers!
Not only do they provide Thai schools with a thoroughly developed English curriculum, they also hire native English-speaking teachers and provide them with classroom and housing support.
In the map below, the red dots will give you an idea of Sine Education’s school network across Thailand. Due to the map’s size constraints, not all schools are represented by a red dot, particularly those in the inner area of Bangkok.
What Sine Education provides
Here are a few of the most notable details and my honest take on them beneath each one in italics:
1. Paid training is offered through their Sine program
The paid training is a great bonus before you land your first teaching job, allowing you to begin earning money immediately.
2. You don’t need a TEFL to apply
A TEFL is not a requirement to teach in Thailand. I like that Sine Education doesn’t lead you to believe that a TEFL is a mandatory certification to have like some less reputable companies do.
Related read: Do I really need a TEFL to teach in Thailand?
3. Teach 24 lessons per weeks (50- to 60-minutes each)
This exceeds my recommended upper threshold of 16 to 20 teaching hours a week. However, Sine provides you with ALL teaching lessons and materials, so there is far less work to be done preparing lessons outside of your teaching hours, so it balances out.
4. Provide fun and engaging lesson plans that you don’t have to make
I used to be responsible for making my lesson plans AND developing the English curriculum for two semesters during my first year as a teacher. It was soul-sucking. I would jump at the opportunity to have Sine Education’s lesson plans! The only downside is that some teachers may find the lesson plans frustrating or boring if it doesn’t meet their style of teaching.
5. Supporting multimedia equipment in special Sine classrooms
Awesome! This is drool-worthy compared to my bare-bone supplies of a blackboard, eraser, and chalk (on most days).
6. Ten-month contracts. The current cycle ends 1 March 2019, the next will be from 6 May 2019 to 1 March 2020
The good: This gives you two months to travel domestically or internationally. The bad: You don’t get paid during those two months. However, if you want to make money, many teachers pick up private teaching gigs with students from their school.
|TIP: Although Thai schools hire year-round, the best time to apply is January to March for the opening academic year which starts in May. Sine Education is always looking to employ new teachers, and applications received outside of these months will also be considered, for either an immediate start (if there are suitable positions available) or for an October start.|
7. Starting salary of 33,000 baht per month (plus 2,000 baht per month allowance if located in Greater Bangkok).
The pay is ok, but not bad. 35,000 THB in Greater Bangkok is 7,000 THB (220 USD) or 25% more than I was making in Chiang Mai. However, Sine Education offers small salary increments after teachers have completed one as well as two years with them. There are also quite a few benefits such as health insurance, paid leave/sick leave, end-of-contract bonus, and extra money when covering classes in addition to your paycheck. I’ve elaborated more on those perks later on in the post.
8. Teachers from native English-speaking (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, possibly South Africa, UK, USA,) preferably under the age of 58 years
I wish all Thai schools hired teachers who are fluent English-speakers regardless of country of origin. However, Sine Education is simply accommodating schools that insist on teachers with native English accents.
9. Pays for a work permit
Good. Never teach at a school who can’t or won’t sponsor your work permit.
Here is a list of Sine Education’s benefits:
- Two paid sick days or personal days per term (if not taken, the teacher receives an extra 1,000 baht per day)
- New teacher referral fee
- 300 baht for each lesson taught over 24 lessons per week
- Paid Thai holidays and a minimum of two weeks leave (for those on a 10-month contract)
- End-of-contract bonus up to 20,000 baht
- Aetna Health Insurance
- A Sine Coordinator at each school with a minimum of two Sine teachers per school
- No lesson planning and dedicated Sine classrooms with multimedia equipment provided (as mentioned above)
These are solid benefits. During my experience teaching in Thailand, the only benefit I got out of that entire list was paid Thai holidays!
Assistance for new teachers
These are the types of assistance they provide new teachers with:
- Airport pickup for new arrivals
- Paid training (as mentioned above)
- Help to find accommodation near your school
- Transportation to your assigned school the first time
- A support network that answers your questions and makes sure your needs are met
This safety net provides assurance and peace of mind to teachers. This is especially valuable if you’ve just moved abroad by yourself.
Bottom line: Using a teaching agency in Thailand has its perks
Is Sine Education a good option for first-time teachers? From my experience teaching, yes, for those who prefer the easy route and are looking for help throughout the confusing process. This company will help find the right school, handle all the legal paperwork, and even find housing. A hiring agency can make all the difference in making it easy to ensure a job and settle into your new life abroad.
Again, if you are the type of person who prefers to do everything on their own, this may not be the right fit for you. Or, if you are an experienced teacher, your credentials might qualify you to teach at an international school, which is relatively easy to research and apply to online.
I understand the stresses a new teacher experiences when moving abroad. It’s such a relief to have someone there to help you. The bottom line: although I did not use Sine Education when I taught English in Thailand, I wish I had!
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Sine Education. I shared an honest recap of my challenges as an ESL teacher and what Sine Education has to offer so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to consider their services during your quest of becoming a first-time teacher in Thailand.