Pros and Cons of Teaching Corporate English in Thailand

Teaching corporate English in Thailand has both pros and cons. Make sure you understand both before accepting any job.
Photo copyright – Victor1558 – Creative Commons License

Teaching Corporate English in Thailand can be incredibly rewarding, but with the Positives Also Come Drawbacks

Teaching corporate English in Thailand is the fastest growing segment of the English teaching field in the country. Jobs however are difficult to get, and some of them are rife with problems. If you want to teach corporate English in Thailand, consider these facts before taking the plunge.

1. Most Corporate English Teaching Jobs Are Part-Time. It’s rare to find a full-time in-house position teaching corporate English in Thailand. Bangkok has a few more opportunities but not many, and most of these are found by word of mouth. So, if you plan on trying to teach at a corporation in Thailand, make sure you realize you will probably have to string together several part-time jobs. At least until you have been doing it for a while.

The upside to this is you have more freedom to decide where and what you will teach. The downsides are the horrendous transportation time in Bangkok traffic getting from job to job, and the lack of stability, good benefits and paid holidays. (Thailand has a large number of public holidays every year and, if you’re not paid for them, you’re losing on average 1-2 days pay every month.)

2. Most Corporate English Jobs Are Not Advertised. If you want an in-house corporate English teaching job, you will most likely have to pound the pavements. They are rarely advertised on any of the job websites or in the newspapers. It’s also difficult to get into a human resources department in Thailand to speak to anyone, especially as many of their employees don’t speak English, so finding a job can often prove a difficult task.

Once you do get a job teaching corporate English in Thailand, they can be incredibly fun to do, pay well, are often in great locations and buildings and are in professional environments. It just may take you a while to get one.

3. Working With Employment Agencies. Most of the companies in Thailand hire corporate English teachers through an agency. This means the company isn’t your boss, the agency is.

I used to work for a large international company teaching English full-time, but through an agency. The agency lied to me about what I would be given from the minute I started working with them. Consequently, even though I loved my job I eventually ended up leaving it.

Working with some Thai agencies is a nightmare as they have few employee relations skills, and seem to think they can just wheel you in and wheel you out, while they lie to you at the same time.

There are some good Thai agencies, but you will usually find out about these by asking other western teachers about their experiences working through them.

If you can get a job directly with a company, however, you will often have a much better experience. If you can’t, you could be stuck working for an agency that will politely lie to you while taking up to 30% of the money you could make working for the company directly.

Some of the students I used to teach in a multi-national corporation in Bangkok

4. Corporate Politics. Many companies in Thailand have little clue about what it requires to get their employees English to improve. They think one hour a week with a Western teacher will magically get their employees speaking fluent English within 2-3 months.

When disappointment sets in and they realize the enormous cost it can take to keep an English teacher employed for a year or two so they can have an effect on employees’ English skills, the contract will quickly come to an end and you’ll be out of a job.

If you can get a job teaching corporate English in Thailand with a company that understands becoming fluent in a language takes time, however, you could end up being in a stable job for quite a few years.

5. Lots of Promises, Little Follow Through. In almost all my corporate English jobs, I’ve had many promises from the companies as to what I would be able to teach, how I would be allowed to create my own courses etc. Very little came of it, ( although my last job was wonderful with allowing me freedom to teach and following through on their promises).

Also, with often little common sense, top Thai management will make decisions about how they want English taught with little idea about what really needs to be done. You, as the teacher, are then stuck implementing their badly thought out plans.

All in all, teaching corporate English in Thailand can be a great experience if you get in with the right company, are not working through an agency, and are allowed to create English language courses that are tailored to your students.

If however you are going to have a heavy hand directing you, have to deal with a disreputable employment agency, and are subjected to sudden changes at the whim of an executive who knows little about teaching, corporate English can be a nightmare.

Other things to think about are 1) low number of vacations compared to teaching English jobs with schools (often 2 weeks a year as opposed to a typical high school job with 6 weeks holiday a year). 2) many companies surprisingly also don’t offer health insurance 3) some companies will not pay for work permits. 4) sick days are less than in schools, and 5) dress code is stricter so you often have added expense to be able to adhere to it.

Teaching corporate English in Thailand can be rewarding, if you get in with the right company, but the negatives do sometimes outweigh the positives if you don’t. Just make sure you weigh up the pros and cons before you sign a contract and at least you’ll know what you’re letting yourself in for.