Living and Teaching English in Thailand - Habits, Customs & Curiosities
Thailand is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, boasting an alluring culture, delicious cuisine and beautiful natural scenery, from mountains to stunning beaches and islands.
On top of that, the demand for qualified English language teachers is very high making it a great location to work in the EFL field.
The following guides should help you decide whether Thailand is a suitable teaching location for you.
They cover cultural tips, travel information, the best places to visit, an introduction to the Thai language, and a comprehensive guide to the local cuisine.
Whether you are planning a short visit to complete our in-class TEFL course or are thinking about staying on to teach once qualified, there are several cultural tips that could make your stay in Thailand a little smoother.
You should also know which gestures to avoid, such as pointing with your finger, touching someone’s head or showing the soles of your feet. What should you wear when visiting a temple?
Knowing the appropriate words and gestures for greeting local people is obviously very important.
What year is it according to the Thai calendar? Which day of the week is represented by the color yellow? Check out this infographic for some top cultural tips.
Every year thousands of people head to Thailand to work as English language teachers in schools and language centers all over the country.
The Thai people are famous for their friendly attitude towards foreigners but it will certainly help if you are familiar with a few simple Thai phrases, such as hello (sah-wat-deee) and thank you (kop-koohn).
Cultural tips are also useful, such as when to remove your shoes and when to haggle for the best price when shopping.
This infographic is a great place to start for first time visitors who are looking for a few basic travel tips for the ‘Land of Smiles’.
Thailand can easily be visited at any time of the year, but which months have the best weather and which are hot and wet?
People flock to Thailand for many different reasons, but whatever your reason for visiting you are likely to be aware of the country’s famous beaches, delicious local cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and friendly people.
Animal lovers are in for a treat as Thailand is home to a tenth of all the species in the world, including more bird species than the whole of Europe.
Finally, don’t forget to put on your best underwear before heading out as it is actually illegal to leave the house without them.
However, you are unlikely to be familiar with some of these more unusual facts.
If you are into social media you may be disappointed as the full name of Bangkok is too long to tweet as it comes in at an incredible 166 characters.
If you plan to visit Thailand it is not necessary to know a great deal of the local language as English is widely spoken in most of the popular tourist areas.
To get started take a look at this list of 12 essential words and phrases that will help you to get by in many everyday situations, such as asking directions to the bus station, shopping at the market, or ordering a meal in a local restaurant.
However, for those planning to stay on and work as an English language teacher, having a grasp of the local language can really help you to feel part of the local community.
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and also one of its most popular destinations with tourists and those looking to teach English abroad.
As well as a healthy job market, there are many other reasons why foreign teachers flock to Phuket.
If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land you can explore the island’s many fascinating temples, indulge in the delicious local cuisine, or visit the famous Big Buddha that looks down on Phuket from one of the highest points on the island.
As a large proportion of the local population requires some knowledge of English in their everyday lives, there are always plenty of teaching jobs on offer in schools and language centers across the island.
The island is home to a number of stunning white sandy beaches, as well as a range of exciting watersport options, including scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing and kayaking.
The island of Koh Samui off the east coast of Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
The number one attraction for many is the unrivalled beauty of the island’s beaches.
You will also find plenty to enjoy away from the beach, including ornate temples, lush jungle, hidden caves, and the fascinating rock formations known as Hin Ta (Grandpa Rock) and Hin Yai (Grandma Rock) which are said to resemble male and female genitalia.
Although you will find a significant number of English language teaching jobs on the island, for most teachers it is a dream location for enjoying some well earned time away from the classroom during the holidays or at the weekend.
Whether you prefer peace and tranquility among the swaying palm trees, or watersports, lively bars and extensive shopping, there is a beach to suit you in Koh Samui.
If you choose Thailand as your destination for completing our in-class TEFL training course or if you want to head there to work as an EFL teacher, you will probably want to know what kind of weather to expect once you get there.
Take a look at this presentation of the month to month climate in the most popular parts of the country for more details.
Although there is no bad time to arrive, the weather does vary considerably from month to month and the year-round climate in Chiang Mai in the north is noticeably different from the holiday islands such as Phuket and Koh Samui in the south.
Thai cuisine is well known and loved by millions of people throughout the world due to the intense flavor of its dishes which are created by combining up to five of the fundamental taste senses, such as sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy.
During your stay make sure you try as many different dishes as you can to ensure you don’t miss out on something special.
There are several popular dishes that you will find all over the country and many local specialties that can only be found in certain regions.
This infographic shows the most popular dishes in Thai cuisine divided into four distinct regions of the country.
Food, and the culture surrounding it, forms a very important part of daily life in Thailand.
To avoid embarrassment for you and your fellow diners there are a few small do’s and don’ts to remember.
The order is typically made by the host or the most senior figure at the table.
If you choose to live and work there you are certain to find yourself around the dinner table with a local family or friends at some point.
Unlike in many Western cultures, it is traditional to order several dishes for everyone to share rather than a single dish to eat on your own.
Don’t forget that it is polite to finish everything you have on your plate and that rice and noodles should not be eaten together in the same mouthful.
The famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) Full Moon Party located on the island of Koh Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand has a worldwide reputation as one of the biggest beach parties in the world.
While it is not to everyone’s taste, many visitors to Thailand make the pilgrimage to the island at least once to experience the crazy mix of music, dancing, fire shows, and bucket drinks that the Full Moon Party is known for.
Since the first low-key event in 1985, the monthly party has grown from a few dozen revelers to 30,000 or more per event.
As Thailand has hundreds of islands to explore, from well established international resorts to pristine and uninhabited nature reserves, it is a fantastic place for island hopping.
For wildlife and stunning natural beauty, head to the Phi Phi Islands where you will also find a vibrant nightlife that is famed for its fire shows.
If you are into scuba-diving and snorkeling then the beautiful blue waters of Koh Tao might be ideal, while party animals may prefer the bright lights of Phuket.
If you prefer a bit of peace and tranquility away from the crowds perhaps you should consider Koh Yao Noi, where deserted beaches and a relaxing massage are the order of the day.
One of the many highlights for international visitors to Thailand is the opportunity to indulge in the fabulous local cuisine on a daily basis.
This wide availability and low cost means you can sample a range of cuisine during your stay in an attempt to find your perfect dish.
No matter where you are in the country you will never be far away from a variety of stalls selling traditional food at very affordable prices.
This guide to street food offers a few suggestions of traditional favorites that you might come across on your travels; however, you will undoubtedly find many others so don’t be afraid to dive in.
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