Saturday, December 1, 2012

Now, I'm Going to Thailand

My first real decision about how to proceed in this plan of mine to go and teach English overseas is to choose a school from which to earn a professional certificate to “teach English to Speakers of Other Languanges”.. AKA a TESOL certification.  Now, there are LOTS of sources out there from which to earn a TESOL certification.  I’ve found internet-only courses for as little as $180 that will grant anyone one of these necessary credentials.  Locally, the University of Washington offers a certification which when done on nights and weekends, would take me 18 months and cost over $3000. The former example is pretty much useless in the country where I want to go.  The latter is a bit overkill and more than I can afford anyways. 

Wait... Why can't I just Photoshop this image and put my name in it?
 It’s generally agreed  internationally that the ‘gold standard’ of certifications are the Cambridge University issued “CELTA” and the equally well regarded version of the same thing issued by London’s Trinity College.  Both of these British institutions offer these certifications worldwide, including a couple places here in Seattle, but they require 6 weeks to 3 months of full time education, i.e., you can’t have a job like mine and be able to be a fulltime student at the same time?  Not to mention that their tuition requirements are $1300 to $1700! 

Heh.. they didn't even spell "Center" correctly.

What to do? 

Looking closely at various teaching jobs in the country I want to eventually end up in, Indonesia, I see that the better paying jobs want you to have some kind of TESOL certification which incorporates at least 120 hours of in-class learning as well as a significant amount of in-person, real life experience teaching in schools.
120 hours at 40 hours a week is 3 weeks.  120 hours at say, 5 hours a week is 4 months…  I was hoping to find a course like the latter where I could spend a semester or so part-time and still be able to work.  

No such courses exist around here.  It’s either full immersion into the learning to teach or a useless internet certification that might get me a job in Korea or China (two countries notoriously desperate for English teachers) but not where I want to go…

I’ve found something better.  The 3-week 40 hour a week thing followed immediately by a teaching job in SouthEast Asia. I’ll get my TESOL certification with all the prerequisites for hours and in-class experience,  and immediately start earning experience that I can turn into a better job later. I won’t have to worry about how to mix working fulltime with going to school, nor struggle to figure out how to pay a month of USA expenses without income while I learn here.  

Best of all, I get to go learn my new trade in a little place called Phuket, Thailand. 

If you’ve not heard of Phuket (prounced FOO-ket, not fuck-IT, although the punning possibilities therein are endless), it’s one of paradises of Southeast Asia.  It’s the Bali of Thailand.  Beautiful beaches.  Laid back culture.  Very friendly people.  After completing my education on a BEACH SIDE resort in Phuket, I will be stationed at a yet-to-be-determined school in Thailand.  I could be teaching adults English, but more likely, children.  The pay is US $1000 per month during that latter period, and whereas I make that now every week, accommodations are paid there and the cost of living is significantly less.  You have to complete a one semester contract as part of this deal, which costs $980 up front, plus I gotta buy my own plane ticket (US $800). 
I’ve always wanted to see Thailand. Not only does this educational opportunity totally fit my needs as a modern working American living paycheck-to-paycheck, I should be able to leave there (if I want to) and move on to Indonesia after a year without having to have dipped into my financial reserves, and Thailand to Indonesia, heck, if I were going to Northern Sumatra, I could swim there!
The program in Phuket begins April 15th.  This shortens up my timeline significantly. Lots to do!  Lots to get rid of.

Oh, I might as well put this out there now, now that there is a definitive plan with this...  Would anyone like to adopt a wonderful, loving, independent, fluffy and mild mild mannered 6 year-old female kitty cat? 


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  3. So exciting! Call me as soon as you rad this. Mom

  4. It is pronounced Poo-ket not Foo-ket. If you are doing the TEFL International certificate you will probably be in for a rude awakening. There are lots of bad comments about them on the internet and they are not well recognized here in Indoesia. Also, if you want to work in Indonesia, you need to have a BA in English, Education, or TEFL. the first 2 degrees also require a CELTA/TRINITY. Good luck with your new direction, but it is a very difficult racket. Contact me if you need help or keep posting on

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      There are SOME bad comments about them on the internet, and some good ones too. My general feeling is that they're not the BEST option, but they fit my needs and they are the best option for me at this particular time. I'm aware of the degree requirements in Indonesia as well, but as far as I know, the current over-restrictive law does NOT specifically mention CELTA or Trinity in any way. Every place I've looked at requires a TOFEL cert that incorporates 120 hours of in-class education and some classroom time as well. The ATI program includes both of those.

    2. Actually, now that I've done some more research (Dave's ESL cafe), I can't find any bad info on them...

  5. Are you doing the program with ATI or TEFL International? I read the law a long time ago and probably need to look it up again. I read the Indonesian language version. I believe that it mentioned CELTA/TRINITY or equilivant. Whether this means class/teaching total hours or one with the same international recognition/prestige, i dont remember. Another factor to consider is that DOSes (director of studies) peruse the resumes the receive and decide on a small number of canidates to contact for interviews or ask follow-up questions. Most DOS's at the better schools delete any applications from TEFL certs that dont come from CELTA or TRINITY. I know i did when i was a DOS and most of my friends that are HOD or DOS still do that. So although this course might meet you immediate needs and possibly the Indonesian government minimum requirements, it may restrict your furture opportunities. If you dont have the English/Education degree, you might be restricted to bottom feeder schools like English First. The other option is that if your degree is in History/Math/Economics or the like, you might be able to get a job at a nationalplus or international school teaching that particular subject. You would still need the TEFL cert. They would probably want a few years of teaching experience and require a teaching demonstration to get hired. btw, i dont think the laws are overly restrictive..... in america you have to be licensed in your subject to be a teacher. why shouldnt Indonesia expect people to be properly qualified and educated to perform the duties of a teacher? a 120hr TEFL cert is a drop in the bucket.

    Dave's ESL Cafe was the leading ESL teaching websites for many years. However, in the past 3 years the moderators have become overly restrictive on posting, especially MR. K. He has banned nearly all the long-term posters and most people are afraid to post anything negative. It would probably be a better idea to do a google search or look on other esl boards. another idea might be to send a cover letter to various schools/organizations in the countries that you hope to work for in the future and ask them if they have any preferences in regards to a particular TEFL cert. If needed, it is best to pay a few extra dollars and get the Cert that will open the most doors, especially to the higher paying jobs. living like a backpacker on the EF salary gets old real fast. Indonesia has gotten really expensive lately and inflation is continuing to push prices upwards.

    i think it is great that you are taking the plunge and re-creating your life. Thailand is a great place to start and i really like living in Indonesia. I wish you the best of luck

  6. Well... I've now officially applied for the program. Waiting to hear back.

  7. best wishes. if you want to give me your email i will be happy to answer any questions you have. being as it is your board, i prefer not to post my email address. I am sure you will be accepted, everyone is that is willing to pay the fees.


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