After a few years of teaching in Thailand, a lot of teachers start thinking about freelance English teaching instead. For most teachers, freelance teaching means giving private lessons to Thai students who want to learn English either one-on-one or with a friend or two. Setting up as a freelance English teacher can however be difficult in Thailand but it’s not impossible. If you really want to be a freelance teacher, here are some tips as to how.
Teaching Freelance in Thailand, the Legal Aspects – There are many freelance English teachers in Thailand. Working from either their homes or small offices, they teach Thai private students usually five to sometimes seven days a week. You need to be aware however, if you’re teaching from home you cannot get a work permit so are technically working illegally in Thailand.
With thousands of English teachers doing it though, it’s unlikely you’ll get caught or even prosecuted if you are, but just be aware that it is most definitely illegal.
Having said that, if you’re married to a Thai wife or husband and have a marriage visa it’s much easier for you to teach at home, as you already have a valid visa to stay in Thailand. If you’re not and are freelancing, then you’re going to have the hassle of trying to figure out if there is a visa you can get to stay legally in Thailand. Nowadays, that is not easy.
And, while this might seem acceptable in the beginning, when you’ve been doing it for a couple of years, it will get tiring quickly.
How to Set Up as a Freelance Teacher – If you do decide you want to be a freelance English teacher working out of your house or apartment, the first thing you need to do is set up an area where you’ll be teaching from. It’s best to have a separate room as your ‘classroom’ as no Thai student, particularly women, wants to come to your studio apartment and have you teach while sitting on your bed. Make it look professional and you’ll be much more successful.
Your second option is to be a freelance teacher that goes to the students instead of the students coming to them. This, of course, is much more time consuming and you have to factor travel time into the price you charge per hour. For some freelance teachers though, they prefer it this way as they don’t want student invading their private space.
What to Charge Per Hour – Most Thais that can afford private English classes are middle or upper class, so you don’t need to worry so much about charging per hour.
Most teachers I know that freelance, usually charge 800-1,000 baht per hour if they are traveling further from home and 500-800 an hour if the class is close by.
For two or more students, they will charge a minimum of 900 baht an hour, so this works out much cheaper for a student who comes with a couple of friends.
Whatever you decide to charge, come up with a fee chart and stick to it. Don’t let students haggle you down as, if you do, you’ll usually find you soon have other problems with them too. If they don’t want to pay at least 500 baht per hour, then they’re not usually students worth having anyway.
How to Get Students – Once you’ve decided how you want to teach English freelance, you now need to get students. Word of mouth is good, so make sure you tell everyone you know (especially Thai friends) that you’re going to be teaching private English lessons on a freelance basis. It’s amazing how many students you can get from simply word of mouth in Thailand.
Secondly, if you’re going to be teaching freelance from home, put up a small notice on your apartment door or outside your house. Also get a Thai friend to translate it into Thai, so Thais understand all the information.
Finally, if there are businesses in your area, it can also be a good idea to approach a few. Many small businesses in Thailand want their employees to learn English and will often sign up for a 10 week class for two hours a week to test it out. If you’re any good, most companies will renew the contract for at least another 10 week period and will often recommend you to other friends who work at or own local companies too.
Being a freelance teacher in Thailand can be rewarding as Thais are fun to teach. It can also however be very stressful as you end up working one or two hours on, one or two hours off, one or two hours on etc., which can make your work day very long. Make sure you take at least one day off, as I’ve met too many freelance teachers who work every day because they want the money, then burn out in just a few months.
Finally, if you’re friendly and relaxed, make your lessons fun and genuinely try to get to know your students, you’ll probably find quite fast that you’re turning students down as you simply don’t have time to teach them all. And that’s when you know you’re a successful freelance teacher in Thailand.