How Many Hours a Week Do English Teachers in Thailand Normally Teach?
As a former English teacher in Thailand, one of the questions I gets asked often by would-be teachers considering teaching here is how many hours do English teachers in Thailand usually work? Of course, like anywhere in the world, that depends on the type of school you teach at, as well as if the job is with a reputable school or not. In most cases, however, there are a set number of hours per week you can expect to work.
Government and private schools – Most government and private schools expect their teachers to work a similar number of hours each week. That means you will be expected to be in school, whether you are teaching or not, from around 7:30 am to 4:00 pm or 4:30 pm, with at least an hour off for lunch. Therefore, your total hours worked will be in the vicinity of 37 1/2 to 40 hours, as you will only work Monday to Friday with Saturdays and Sundays off.
Contact hours, meaning the hours you will actually be teaching in a classroom, are much less. Most reputable schools will not expect you to teach more than 20-22 hours a week, giving you plenty of time to do preparation for your classes, make photocopies, grade homework and the myriad of other things government and private school teachers have to do.
Some schools, however, will require you to be in a classroom teaching from 28 to 35 hours a week. Not surprisingly, these schools tend to be the less reputable schools and also pay less than the norm. They are also schools I suggest you avoid like the proverbial plague.
Remember, as you are teaching children, you will occasionally be expected to work on a Saturday for Parents Day. At my last school, out of an 18-week semester, we were only required to be at school on one Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 12pm, so parents could come in for a quick presentation and then ask questions about their child’s progress.
Language schools – If you decide to work full-time at a language school, you should be prepared to work some time during the week as well as on both Saturdays and Sundays, as this is the busiest time of week for the school. You will, however, get two days off in the middle of the week to compensate.
Most language school contracts will require you to teach 25 hours a week, but as much of the teaching materials are already prepared for you and you won’t have to complete the huge amounts of paperwork required at a children’s school, you shouldn’t feel too stressed doing that.
The nice thing about language schools as well is they will often need you to teach more than 25 hours when a fellow teacher calls in sick, or simply doesn’t arrive. As these hours are usually paid at a higher rate, you can end up with a much higher salary than your initial contract specifies.
Classes can start as early as 8am and go on as late as 8:30 pm. Just make sure you don’t agree to teaching only three or four hours each day and then find out those hours are a couple in the early morning and the rest in the evening. Otherwise, you could end up being at the school for 12 hours, yet only being paid for four.
Corporate teaching – Most corporate teaching in Thailand is not full-time, so you will find you pick up hours where you can. I have had one full-time corporate teaching position, with regular hours of 9am to 4:30pm but, overall, you are more likely to be teaching just a couple of hours a day.
These hours tend to be early morning when corporate staff is just arriving for work (I’ve taught as early as 7:30am to 9:30am, which isn’t conducive to your students learning much, but it was the only time the company could find when employees weren’t busy with clients), or in the evenings after normal working hours.
Most corporate teaching work in Thailand (and it’s primarily in Bangkok) is usually after 5:30pm and finishes as late as 9:30pm. Most classes will be two hour classes, and usually meet twice a week.