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Thread: Mr. Smiley's Adventures in the Thai Education System

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    ประเทศไทยเพื่อน Uber Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Mr. Smiley's Avatar
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    Mr. Smiley's Adventures in the Thai Education System

    Figure I might as well start a new thread than get all philosophical on the Phuket nightlife pricing thread about the Thai Education system. As a quick recap:

    I took a job with one of the prestigious Assumption Schools which is a private school. First school was set up by French Missionaries back in 1885 and as far as I know they have 22 schools all over Thailand. The one in Korat just celebrated it's 48 year anniversary. One of the highlights there is it's immersion English program though it's regular program offers supplementary English in the core subjects as well. They also have to study Chinese.

    Quote Originally Posted by MarcTwoSix View Post
    Good for you.....I know it well, my wife lives near one in Samutprakan.

    Although it is also not without it's critics. Did you see the recent letter an alumni wrote on how bad the teaching was?
    I don't see a huge difference in the schools.

    It is the teachers and if they are willing to put in the work. And I am sure you will be one that does.

    I know Thai grads that went to public schools, private schools and international schools. Not too much of a difference in their intellect that stands out. I do think getting fluent in English early does a world of good.
    No, I didn't see the letter about how bad the teaching is but it wouldn't surprise me if it isn't too far off the mark for a variety of reasons based on my current experiences.

    As for the difference in the schools (government run-free public education schools, Thai private schools, certified international schools based on UK or American curriculum) there can be a bit of difference from how they are managed to how it affects the quality of education.

    The ideal school would be the certified international school. Likely based on the curriculum set by the US or British government (as opposed to curriculum set by the Thai government). Certified teachers from Native English Speaking (NES) countries that hold a Education degree and a teaching license from their home country as well as a min 2 years teaching experience. All classes in English with possible secondary classes in French, Spanish or Thai. Min class sizes unlikely to exceed more than 20 students as well as top of the line teaching materials, classrooms integrated with latest technology, etc... professional development for teachers as well as teacher's aides within the classroom. All in all you'd have to be very rich in order to afford to send your kids there.

    Thai private school (various). Depending on the school, will likely have an English immersion program as well as a regular Thai program with supplementary English classes in all core subjects (so a Thai based class with a Thai teacher then a class in the same subject with a NES teacher.) Curriculum is based on Thai government, though for the English immersion program follows a British or American curriculum. NES teachers here may or may not be certified teachers back in their home country. The majority NES teachers are degree holders in other areas (English, Arts, Science, etc) rather than Education or hold teaching licences. Also Foreign teachers may or may not be NES (either Filipino, Indian, Italian or African).

    Classes in the EI program are no more than 15-20 students and they get the best teaching materials, technology and a Thai teacher's aide. All classes are with a NES teacher and have a Thai supervisor/advisor (Homeroom teacher).

    Classes in the regular program class size can range from 35 - 50 students. Gifted classes around 20-25 students. Teaching time is split (at least at Assumption) between a Thai Teacher and a NES teacher (Example: a grade class will have 4 periods of a subject (a week) 2 with a Thai teacher and 2 with a NES teacher.

    As for the government public schools, I can only speculate that it would be similar to the regular program at a Thai private school. Only difference would be that you would be paying to separate your children from the poor families that are sending their kids to free public school. Naturally, the class sizes there would hit the max at 50 students. Also quality of facilities, learning materials and technology would be limited to the funds it gets from the government.

    As always lots to delve into so if any BMs have any questions I don't mind offering my 2 cents based on everything I've seen so far.
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    Good work.

    I didn't know there was free public schools, Jeab was from Korat, we went there, but her kids school cost money so maybe it was a private one and i miss understood.

    The kids were learning a little English.

    look forward to your updates, Have you taught before? Have you been to Korat before??
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    ประเทศไทยเพื่อน Founding Member Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน PeteGill's Avatar
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    Is this a new move or were you teaching in Phuket too?

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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Stillearly's Avatar
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    What qualifications have you got Bobby , did you get a CELTA whilst in Thailand or where you already qualified to teach at home ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by justcruzing1 View Post
    Good work.

    I didn't know there was free public schools, Jeab was from Korat, we went there, but her kids school cost money so maybe it was a private one and i miss understood.

    The kids were learning a little English.

    look forward to your updates, Have you taught before? Have you been to Korat before??
    It's possible that tuition fees are the only thing free at the public schools. Uniforms & gym strip (school colour's dress code), text books and other school fees would all have to be bought and paid for though.

    I have taught before... 3 years Japan as an ALT (assistant language teacher), and another 2-3 years back in Canada as a teacher on call... so basically K-12... specialized in Primary education though I do have the requirements to teach Social Studies and History at the Junior High and High School level. Also have my coaching certificates in soccer at the U6-U18 level so lots of experience working with and teaching children. So not just another pretty (white) face that can speak English, 5555

    First time in Korat... wasn't intending to be a teacher again... more or less gave up on the profession about 8 years ago (due to labor strife in Canada, teacher strikes, forced back to work legislation, and what not).
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteGill View Post
    Is this a new move or were you teaching in Phuket too?
    New move... I did a few favours teaching conversational English (to Russians) at the language school that I was learning Thai at for a few months leading up to the move though.
    Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stillearly View Post
    What qualifications have you got Bobby , did you get a CELTA whilst in Thailand or where you already qualified to teach at home ?
    No Celta... although I do have that qualifications to teach... though paperwork work wise not enough time to get all the proper documents together (without flying back to Canada) before my visa would run out to take a position at an international school. Thankfully, Thai schools aren't too picky when they need a body to fill a position, 5555
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    Uber Star Soi wanderer Thai Dreamer ผู้เพ้อฝัน Stillearly's Avatar
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    Best of luck , hope it works out for you

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stillearly View Post
    Best of luck , hope it works out for you
    Cheers, it's certainly been interesting so far. On the plus side... it's only 4 hours (by bus) to Bangkok... so in theory could still meet up BMs when school holidays come around or if I fancy a weekend trip... perks of being a teacher... guaranteed time off at the end of the semester, all public holidays and weekends (barring special events), 5555.
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    Thanks,
    Best of luck with it.

    Korat will be a big difference from Patong 5555
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    Organic AI Quarky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Smiley View Post
    Cheers, it's certainly been interesting so far. On the plus side... it's only 4 hours (by bus) to Bangkok... so in theory could still meet up BMs when school holidays come around or if I fancy a weekend trip... perks of being a teacher... guaranteed time off at the end of the semester, all public holidays and weekends (barring special events), 5555.
    When you say interesting... are you enjoying life more now than you were back in Phuket? Does it feel like the right move?
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    Did you already have a work visa Bobby? Or were they able to get you one on the fly?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Distantpeak View Post
    When you say interesting... are you enjoying life more now than you were back in Phuket? Does it feel like the right move?
    I think it was the right move. Patong was starting to get predictable so it was starting to get to the point of just going through the motions day after day. Now I have a pretty good work to life balance, and now that I'm settled in a bit more it's actually quite easy to teach again.

    In terms of interesting, I was more or less dropped into teaching on my first day without any prep, then expected to create a mid-term exam the following week for the two grade levels I'm responsible for (Secondary 2 & 3 equivalent of Grade 8 & 9). Not to mention learn all the school rules on the fly much less deal with class management of just under 50 students a class (most I've had to handle previously is 40 students). Those extra 10 students make a difference believe it or not. Also copying assigned work is endemic so in terms of assessment it can be tricky to judge how proficient a student is in class without a formal test (like a mid-term).

    I suppose if I was some doe-eyed kid straight out of university without any teaching experience, I'd probably be freaking out after the first two weeks, but it's been a breeze... probably caught the NES teachers and Thai teachers off guard by how easy it's been to transition into teaching considering half the semester had already passed. Just finished marking my mid-terms and only about 20 students didn't pass my exam out of 410 students. So a 5% failure rate falls within acceptable parameters. Although, I've been told that I'm not allowed to fail students (on my exams) or fail them in general so I have to create some form of make up assignment to give them a passing mark.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cippy View Post
    Did you already have a work visa Bobby? Or were they able to get you one on the fly?
    Yep... started working at the school about 7 weeks before my Ed visa was to expire so they had lots of time to get the proper paperwork shuffled. Only concern I had was that I was using unofficial transcripts from my university but it didn't end up being an issue at the Thai embassy in Savannahket, Laos. Currently just waiting to get more paperwork shuffled so that my Non-Imm B can get extended to 1 yr and get my work permit issued.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Smiley View Post
    I think it was the right move. Patong was starting to get predictable so it was starting to get to the point of just going through the motions day after day. Now I have a pretty good work to life balance, and now that I'm settled in a bit more it's actually quite easy to teach again.

    In terms of interesting, I was more or less dropped into teaching on my first day without any prep, then expected to create a mid-term exam the following week for the two grade levels I'm responsible for (Secondary 2 & 3 equivalent of Grade 8 & 9). Not to mention learn all the school rules on the fly much less deal with class management of just under 50 students a class (most I've had to handle previously is 40 students). Those extra 10 students make a difference believe it or not. Also copying assigned work is endemic so in terms of assessment it can be tricky to judge how proficient a student is in class without a formal test (like a mid-term).

    I suppose if I was some doe-eyed kid straight out of university without any teaching experience, I'd probably be freaking out after the first two weeks, but it's been a breeze... probably caught the NES teachers and Thai teachers off guard by how easy it's been to transition into teaching considering half the semester had already passed. Just finished marking my mid-terms and only about 20 students didn't pass my exam out of 410 students. So a 5% failure rate falls within acceptable parameters. Although, I've been told that I'm not allowed to fail students (on my exams) or fail them in general so I have to create some form of make up assignment to give them a passing mark.
    Good on you and you could turn this into a proper career.

    I actually have a good business idea a few years down the road that involves English schools in Vancouver for Thais.
    You could be a perfect person to possibly partner up with. I am in Thailand in April if you get down to BKK on a weekend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcTwoSix View Post
    Good on you and you could turn this into a proper career.

    I actually have a good business idea a few years down the road that involves English schools in Vancouver for Thais.
    You could be a perfect person to possibly partner up with. I am in Thailand in April if you get down to BKK on a weekend.
    Sure. That would be worth a meet up as I'm pretty sure it falls in with the end of the Thai school year so I'll be free unless I get drafted into teaching summer school.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Smiley View Post
    Although, I've been told that I'm not allowed to fail students (on my exams) or fail them in general so I have to create some form of make up assignment to give them a passing mark.
    I wonder how long you will play the game for them... 55
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    Can't recall who I was talking to (could have been Bobby!) or if I read it somewhere, but that "can't fail students" is why Thailand would have such a bad rep for its citizens education qualifications outside of the country. Sure it saves face locally, but basically diminishes any chance of being accepted into a school elsewhere, especially if you did extremely well, but since everyone passed the whole of Thailand must be geniuses and clearly let into Harvard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Distantpeak View Post
    I wonder how long you will play the game for them... 55
    It's a bit of a political thing... because on one hand you have parents paying big money to put their kid in private school so you could be in some hot water for failing their kid. Ends up getting turned into a "if my kid failed its the teacher's fault" argument... so to avoid that (face losing) situation it turns into a giving a student a passing score even though they failed... some students could get away with doing no work what so ever and still graduate.

    I recently just finished some reading, comprehension, speaking and listening assessments and its shocking to find one or two students that can't read English much less comprehend it... naturally it's the students that absolutely bombed my mid-term. Also the same students that muck around during class time as well, coincidently they take their friends off task as well (which impacts their grades). I recommended remedial reading or outside tutoring... but I get the feeling that it's not going to happen. If I was to do it, I'd have to read with them during lunch time assuming that the students in question are motivated enough to do it.... not sure how committed I am to follow that course of action though. Best case scenario would be to try to set lesson time aside to bring them up to grade level unfortunately at the expense of the other 48 students in the class.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeedHoliday View Post
    Can't recall who I was talking to (could have been Bobby!) or if I read it somewhere, but that "can't fail students" is why Thailand would have such a bad rep for its citizens education qualifications outside of the country. Sure it saves face locally, but basically diminishes any chance of being accepted into a school elsewhere, especially if you did extremely well, but since everyone passed the whole of Thailand must be geniuses and clearly let into Harvard.
    Especially when you can buy your way into a position (job) or pay a little more to get a child in even though they may have failed their entrance exam. At my school, in the regular program the students all come from families of policeman, government officials, merchants, engineers, doctors and teachers. The immersion program has more of the same plus children of mixed birth (Thai/Farang). Not going to see any farmer's kids in this school or single parent families.

    I can imagine it would be worst in the government schools in terms of the failure rate.
    Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

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