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Phuket: Ready, get set, go: A beginner’s guide for new teachers

PHUKET: Welcome to the second edition of Ask the Ajarn. This month we tackle work permits, negotiating salaries, the dreaded ‘Professional Knowledge Tests’ and more.

By Eric Haeg

Tuesday 30 October 2012, 10:07AM

Mike L: If I want to teach part-time, do I need a normal work permit?

All foreigners need a work permit to work legally and that goes for teachers too. Typically, the work permit is tied to a non-immigrant B visa but other options do exist.

For example, if a work permit is tied to an education visa, foreigners can legally work up to 20 hours per week. These teachers also need to be enrolled in a real education program of their own, such as learning Thai language or attending university.

Carl: Once I have a job, would the employer help me find, or offer housing?

Phuket-based schools almost never offer housing as part of remuneration; however, employers will often help new teachers find housing.

Many local teachers, Thai or otherwise, will go out of their way to help new teachers find housing.

They will often have a friend who’s renting a house or know of one available. Most of the best options aren’t advertised; unless you have a local connection or can read บ้านให้เช่า (house for rent), finding these hidden gems will prove a challenge.

Until long-term housing is available, try staying at any one of Phuket’s many serviced apartments. Tenants can rent month-to-month until they’re ready to move out.

Jess E: Is it possible to negotiate salaries?

Unless a job advert is for a private school listing a range of salaries, and the applicant has an abundance of qualifications coupled with years of experience, negotiating a salary will not typically be worth the risk.

Most employers tend to pay a set salary based upon qualifications and longevity of employment.

On a separate but related note, never sign a contract listing a salary for less than what was advertised or previously agreed upon during discussions. If an employer tries this tactic, be calm but be firm and don’t accept anything lower than the original pay rate.

Elena: What is the best type of class to start with if I don't have much teaching experience?

If you’re absolutely driven and you know exactly what you’d like to teach, by all means, find a position doing it. Your enthusiasm will show in your work, making for better lessons and happier students.

Although most new teachers aren’t this focused, they should approach all opportunities with an open mind. Many teachers are surprised by what type of teaching, students and classroom settings they enjoy.

Language centres are a great place to explore a variety of learning environments. New teachers can experience a variety of ages, language levels and class sizes – many times in the same day.

Speaking of class size, new teachers should be wary of large classes. Without much experience, even the most confident teachers can be reduced to tears trying to control a class of 20-30 toddlers or 45-55 adolescents.

Jeff T: Where can I take the TCT tests that I keep hearing about? Are they necessary?

That’s a great question. Officially called the Professional Knowledge Tests (PKTs), they are administered by the Teacher’s Association of Thailand (TCT) or Khurusapha. Without a degree in education or a license to teach from abroad, they are necessary for obtaining a teaching license.

A two-year provisional teaching license will suffice for many transient teachers, but under-qualified teachers planning to stay and teach in mainstream education long-term, will eventually have to take these tests.

In addition to exemption details, test dates and locations are normally published on Khuruspha’s website:

The tests are held twice a year and to date, the closest testing location has been in Had Yai.

Anyone who has questions about the PKTs, or any other matters related to teaching, are strongly encouraged to write into Ask the Ajarn and we’ll publish the answers next month. Email:



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