6 tips before you leave home to teach in Phuket

 

We all learn from our mistakes but no one wants to learn from them once they’re half-way around the world and a hefty shipping fee away a piece of paper you left back home.

 

If you’re thinking about teaching English in Phuket, here are six great tips before take the plunge:

 

You need to be here

 

Put yourself if an employer’s shoes: I can hire someone who looks good on paper but whose skills remain to be seen, or I can hire someone who’s qualified and is ready to prove their skills in a demonstration lesson right now.

 

As much as no one wants to take the risk of moving to Thailand without a job, employers don’t want to risk committing to a teacher they’ve never met.

 

Get a local phone number

 

Communicating via email isn’t going to suffice.  Many schools don’t have Westerners handling applications and the vast majority of Thais are either too embarrassed about their English-language writing skills, or they just don’t have time to write emails.  Employers want to pick up the phone; schedule an interview and get that done as quickly as possible.

 

Expect the unexpected

 

From unintelligible directions to incomprehensible English, be prepared for anything.  If your interviewer is Thai, don’t expect tough questions but do expect last-minute requests for demonstration lessons, and to be told you’re starting the next day.  Administrative forethought is nonexistent here and when schools need teachers, they need them now.

 

Bring your documents

 

This tip is all over the internet, yet applicants arrive every day without required documentation.  If you have a degree, bring the original and sealed transcripts—there are no substitutions.  Finally, obtain copies of your criminal background check; schools here will almost always ask for one.

 

Become a legal motorbike driver

 

Following on from our first tip, you’ll need to travel around Phuket in order to visit schools.  Unless you can afford daily taxis, you’re ready to walk in Phuket’s heat and rain, or you can put down at least US$ 1,500 on a car, you need to rent or buy a motorbike.  You’ll also need travel insurance and unless your international driver’s license has a motorbike endorsement—most insurance providers won’t cover accidents.  And remember: once you get your visa and work permit, you’ll need to get a Thai driver’s license.

 

Hold off on long-term accommodation

 

One thing we tell trainees who want to teach English in Phuket is that they shouldn’t commit to accommodation until they have a job and know where they’re working.  This saves time and money, and it lessens your chances of a road accident.  Also, the best places aren’t advertised.  Teachers will usually know someone who’s renting a nice house at an affordable price.  Rent an apartment for a month or two and then commit to a one-year lease.

 

Oh, and one final tip: it’s pronounced, ‘Poo-ket’, not ‘Foo-ket’.  Don’t phorget it!