My Time Teaching English In Chiang Mai, Thailand

I was trying to think of the best way to run through my time in Thailand on my blog, I was in and around Chiang Mai for the best part of 18 months and it truly was one of the best times of my life; I think I’m going to talk about the lifestyle I led, the way the teaching worked, and generally discuss the ups and downs as my life as an English Teacher in Thailand, and then deal with all the extra trips, funny stories and crazy shenanigans later…

Teaching English in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Afterwards, I talk about Chiang Mai as a backpacking destination because that’s a blog in itself :S and what an amazing place it has proven to be to live, I miss it every single day!

Ok, so I finished my CELTA qualification and had became very good friends with the only other ‘young’ person on the course, Max. I actually had a provisional contract with English First (good organisation btw) for a job in China but I reneged on the contract to try to carve out a living in Chiang Mai after falling in love with the place so Max and I decided to try to get a job together in a decent school, find an apartment and live the dream..

First up, sorting out accommodation. We managed to find a serviced apartment in the north of the city for around 4000 Baht per month called Wipanan Mansion… and I guess this was the first indication of where a life in Thailand shines brighter than most other countries in the world – within a month we were good friends with all the staff, the owners, the cleaners to the extent that they wouldn’t let us leave the building on an empty stomach, insisting we eat before we go out teaching or partying. They would insist on our shirts being ironed and offer to take us out on all manner of cultural adventures such as the Visakha Bucha Festival where we trek to Doi Suthep in the middle of the night or Loy Krathong, an amazing festival where we let off fireworks and vessels down the ping river. Never would there be an event on without an invite from the the staff there, the Thai people are very very special.

Anyway, now with our $130 AUD monthly rental sorted out at our pretty nice accommodation, we needed to find a job pretty quickly bearing in mind neither Max or I had any significant disposable income.

After a few applications, proudly bearing the news that we were recent CELTA graduates and the interviews were flooding in and before long we found ourselves the grateful employees of AUA Chiang Mai, one of the most famous language institutions in the country with branches in every city. The facilities, by Thai standards, were great:

– Class sizes ranging from 5-20

– Air-conditioners!! (even in Universities this is not a given so I was delighted)

– Student ages ranging from 15-30, average around 18

– A structured syllabus with text books and workbooks (again not a given at all)

– THIS IS THE REAL HIGHLIGHT: Working hours of 5.00pm – 8.15pm every day (3 hours a day, now thats how the world of work should be, enough of these 12 hour days in the corporate cage)

– The other teachers there were all relatively young so it gave us an automatic social group, should we need to dip into the expat life now and again

– The pay was around 25,000 Baht a month – personally I found that more than enough to live an upper-middle class life

Thai students are literally a pleasure to teach, it’s all smiles, light-hearted behaviour and respect. The one thing I noticed most about Thai students (and thai ppl in general) in comparison with the UK, and laterally Australia, is the lack of ego. The western ego is the bane of society – having to get that bigger car to outdo your neighbour, not having fun because you are too worried about looking cool, keep yourself restrained so as to not risk humiliation. In the Thai classroom I found quite the opposite and teaching there was awesome because of this, also the students actually seem grateful for you teaching the – a notion that is very foreign to anyone who has taught in a British comprehensive school I’m sure!

Poster from my students

Another poster from my students

From beginning with no experience, the first day of class was nerve-wracking! And although my class didn’t start until 5pm, I was at school at midday. In Thailand, you have no teacher assistant, no bilingual staff in the room, once you are in the classroom it’s all on you and I was feeling the pressure. 5 hours of lesson planning and a fair bit of stressing and class was upon me, it went well and it was progressively easier from then on it. Lesson planning became second nature until towards the end of my time there I was turning up to class at 4.45pm, cruising through the lessons, everyone was learning and aughing and we all had a great time :)

The terms generally lasted 6 weeks and each lesson was around an hour long. So every evening we had 3 sets of one hour lessons, and we taught those kids every day for the 6 weeks so naturally you make a real connection. Their English levels varied a lot from absolute beginner to university students studying English and I was really thankful for my CELTA training or I would have been screwed :S

I worked at AUA for over a year, made lifelong friends and genuine connections with my students – some of whom I’m still in contact with. Every day was fun at AUA and I would definitely recommend working there if you are a first time teacher – low levels of stress, lots of autonomy, cool kids and awesome coworkers. Good times and ones I like back at fondly

I left for a coffee and my kids shut the door and drew this on the board :)

157 thoughts on “My Time Teaching English In Chiang Mai, Thailand

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  4. Byron

    After checking out a handful of the blog articles on your web site, I seriously appreciate your way of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website too and tell me your opinion.

  5. Sarah

    Looks like a great school, especially supply you will all your teaching material. Would you recommend your CELTA course to others teaching in Thailand without experience? Are you still teaching now?

    1. kathy

      Pls contact me if you are interested to start working as a teacher in Thailand. i am looking for many teacher to fill in both language school and private school .any further in for can email me directly

      1. Gina White, MA, LPC

        Hello, I am a young 45 year old with lots of experience/education and a love for working with children. Please let me know if you are still looking. I currently live in the Unites States, but would move for work.

        Thanks (:

      2. Merritt

        I am experienced teacher (32 years), with a Master’s degree in music education. However, I have taught English in International schools, and for a short time at Global One Language Center in Malaysia. My teaching certification includes an endorsement in Structured English Immersion. I lived and taught in China, Malaysia and Vietnam, and 4 other countries. I am most interested in teaching English in Thailand.

      3. Merle Ball

        Tonight I decided it was time to move on from the USA where I have even living for 12 years. I have just spoken to friend who can not stop raving about life in Thailand. I have a BA honours degree…majors in communication and sociology. Also did a TEFL course some time ago…I love kids and they love me.
        I can send you an interesting letter to demonstrate this last pion once I have your email address.

        Kind regards, Merle Ball

      4. Franco LEVA

        Hello, I’d like to work as an English teacher anywhere in Thailand. I am Italian but I have a Bachelor’s degree in English plus TEFL certificate. I am a 43 y.o. translator but I taught English for 2 years at a private school in Italy. I also speak French Spanish and Portuguese fluently plus Thai and Chinese (intermediate knowledge only ). I have been to Thailand five times and I like the country and its culture very much.

        Thank you for your attention
        yours sincerely

        Franco LEVA, Turin, Italy.

      5. Mary Rose D. Abellar

        Hi! Kathy have a good day, by the way this is mary rosecame from negros, philippine Im graduated for bachelor of elementary educatioon.english majoring but general. sy.1999-2000.but to be honest i’m not passing the board but I’m willing to work in thailand for teaching english elementary.Ma’am Kathy pls. help me what I’m doing if I want to teach in english thailand elementary school.acctually I have my personal passport.Ma’am can you gave me an advice.? so that I know what kind of step can enter in thailand place.thank you so much.

      6. Jennifer Fahy

        Hi Kathy!

        My name is Jeni and I’m currently earning my TEFL certificate in New York, United States. I am from New York but have been living in Australia for the past 2 years. In April I will be moving to Thailand and I hope to find a teaching career in Chiang Mai. I plan to stay at least one year in Chiang Mai, as I have friends who taught in primary schools in the city and enjoyed their time. I graduated from a University in the U.S. with a BA in Communications and a focus in English, I have one year of experience as an assistant teacher at a primary school in Sydney, Australia, 4 years of experience tutoring both children and adults, and this year I have been working for an education company called General Assembly in Melbourne, Australia. Please feel free to connect with me on Facebook or send me a message back here.

        I look forward to hearing from you!

      7. libby

        Hi Kathy, Is is possible for Italian natives to teach english as a foreign language iff they have CELTA or TEFL qualifications?

        Thank you

        Libby and Marco

      8. libby

        Hi Kathy, Is is possible for Italian natives to teach english as a foreign language if they have CELTA or TEFL qualifications?

        Thank you

        Libby and Marco

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  38. phil

    hi great blog. one question i have jsut finished working in china and now have an offer in Bangkok, in your experience did you need a criminal check for your work visa?


  39. Bee

    Great blog! I received my TEFL in CM and loved it. We got to do our practice teaching at the local major wat-it was so surreal teaching young monks! I live and teach in Bangkok now, which I love, but this definitely makes me miss my time there. Thanks for a great post!

  40. Cindee T.

    Hi Johnny,

    Thanks so much for your post, it gives great insight on living in Chiang Mai which is where I want to teach. I am looking into getting my TEFL or CELTA sometime in April and I want to take the course overseas in Chiang Mai or Phuket. If you have the time, can you please help me with my two following concerns?

    1) TEFL or CELTA – I noticed that you got certified with the CELTA,but I’ve heard mixed reviews and have also read many forums that stipulate the TEFL is better if you want to teach grade school which is what I initially want. Which do you recommend and why? Another concern is I’ve heard you need a BA in order to get a decent paying teaching job, I have an Associates in Business Management and am working on a BA but would like to leave it all and fulfill my dream of teaching abroad.

    2) Chiang Mai or Phuket – I have completely fallen in love with all of the research I’ve done on Chiang Mai but recently found out that to go to the beaches is anywhere from 12-24 hours on bus or train. I’ve also heard that Phuket is not the best place to reside although it has gorgeous beaches. If you could do it all over again would you choose a beach location rather than Chiang Mai or would you prefer to stay in Chiang Mai and travel to the beaches?

    Thank you so much for your time.

    Cindee T

    1. Bee

      Hi Cindee,

      I currently teach in Bangkok, Thailand, and I can tell you that many of my coworkers do not have BA’s. While I believe it’s ‘technically’ required, our agency does not enforce this policy, and they continue to make the average salary of 32,000-35,000 baht a month (around 1200$ USD).

      I got my TEFL at CMU in Chiang Mai and it was a great program. However, I will warn you that Chiang Mai is an extremely competitive place to teach, since many foreigners want to live there. Therefore, the salary is driven down by the over-abundance of highly qualified or experienced ESL teachers. I would recommend getting a bit off the beaten path for better opportunities (or Bangkok!) If you want to know more about teaching English in Thailand in Bangkok, I have some blog posts specifically about the classroom and expectations, etc.

      Chok dee with your future plans!

    2. Bee

      Hi Cindee,

      Getting a position in CM is very competitive, especially without a BA or TEFL. The pool of experienced foreigner teachers is just huge there, since it’s such a great place to live.

      I currently live in Bangkok where the average salary is much higher than in CM and work with foreigners who have no BA and no TEFL. It’s much easier to skirt the teaching regulations in Bangkok (i.e. must have a BA). Plus, getting to any beaches from Bangkok is super easy (40 minute flight to Krabi or Phuket which will get you to just about any island, or take the sleeper trains overnight and wake up in the South!).

      Check out my blog if you have any specific questions about teaching English in Bangkok, I highly recommend it though I lived and taught in CM for over a month. I definitely prefer the endless teaching opportunities of Bangkok.

    3. kathy

      Pls contact me if you are interested to start working as a teacher in Thailand. i am looking for many teacher to fill in both language school and private school .any further in for can email me directly

      1. Franco LEVA

        Hello, I’d like to work as an English teacher anywhere in Thailand. I am Italian but I have a Bachelor’s degree in English plus TEFL certificate. I am a 43 y.o. translator but I taught English for 2 years at a private school in Italy. I also speak French Spanish and Portuguese fluently plus Thai and Chinese (intermediate knowledge only ). I have been to Thailand five times and I like the country and its culture very much.

        Thank you for your attention
        yours sincerely

        Franco LEVA, Turin, Italy.

  41. Elaine

    Howdy from Texas!
    I am looking for a TESOL certification to be able to teach in Chiang Mai (or other parts of Thailand, but heard Chiang Mai is the best). I went to a University in Texas for a few years, but did not obtain a degree. Would this pose a challenge in finding a situation like your own? By the way, was the $130USD for both of you, or each of you have to pay that? Anyway, I am Cambodian (born in America), myths have said that caucasians have a better chance at getting a great teaching opportunity that pays well – would I have challenges getting a good job just because I look like everyone else in the classes I would be teaching? – Silly questions I know, but better prepared than not! Thanks for posting such a positive outlook on your journeys and accomplishments, this really helps paint a big picture for me! Love to connect with you by email as well!

  42. Jenna

    Hey – I’ve just got a place for a semester teaching English in Chiang Mai so this was really great to read!

    I know this sounds a bit ridiculous but I’m just wondering how easy it is to make friends abroad. I’ve never lived by myself before so I think that’s why I’m being a scaredy cat, and I’m heading out on my own. Can you give me any advice on finding other ESL teachers in the city? Did you live a fairly active social life?


    1. Adam

      Hi Jenna,
      There are Facebook groups available to meet other TEFL teachers and Chiang Mai has a bustling foreign community. There are lots of bloggers, teachers and nomads kicking it there :)

  43. Adam

    Hey Johnny,
    My girlfriend and I are thinking of doing our TEFL in Chiang Mai with SeeTEFL (4 weeks – Thai Ministry Certificate – $1200) in Nov this year. The only ‘problem’ is that she does not have a degree. I have an ordinary degree in business so I think I should be fine, but as a man who has lived and worked there, do you think it is possible for her to find work in Chiang Mai with just a TEFL?…

    Cheers lad

  44. Danny

    Hey Johnny, amazing blog!

    I’ve been seriously considering giving up my career and going travelling but the thought of leaving everything behind and not being able to get work while travelling terrifies me.

    After reading through your site, I am planning to head over to CM and do my CELTA. Problem being i don’t have a degree or a diploma. I left school midway through my A-levels to do an apprenticeship and now work for an oil company.

    Do you see this being a major issue or would i still be able to head over there and do my course and find some work to keep me afloat for a year before heading away to my next destination?

    Some advice would be awesome!


    1. Johnny Post author

      you can defo do the course buddy, getting work may be tough but not impossible. Thailand’s legal requirement state you need a degree but many people work illegally, but of course supply/demand is working against you. My advice? Come over and give it a bash :)

  45. Bradi


    Great blog! It’s super encouraging and helpful. My friend and I are American and thinking about moving to Thailand. We both have Bachelor degrees. I’ve been teaching in the states the past year and have a TEFL certification. She does social work. What’s the best way to go about getting jobs? Some blogs say just move and a job will come. Others say to try to get one before we leave. We both have things keeping us from leaving until June. Ive heard the Thai school year starts in March. Will this be a probem? What do we do? What are the chances that we could get a job in the same area?
    Any advice you be awesome! Thank you :)

    1. Johnny Post author

      Just come buddy! That’s always the best way in Thailand :) Jobs in the same area? absolute luck of the draw, but both of u could get jobs in BKK for example, not sure if it’d be in the same area or not tho. School year in March? Not so much of an issue, because you can work at language schools too and they run throughout the year

  46. natasha

    hi johnny…GREAT information and very useful. Im a South African female presently considering teaching in Thailand. I have a higher diploma in education and have been teaching for 11 YEARS. What are my chances of getting a job? Also considering doing a tefl course while in Thailand…. ONLY problem is that i need a job. Do yo know of any contacts in schools that you could let me know of. I would like to leave in April. Your assistance in thise regard would be greatly appreciated.

    cheers from South Africa!


    Hi dear johnny,
    This is very nice blog , i ever seen.i need some information about chiang mai, i am near to 60 year old,but still feel young to visit & explore the nature ,custums ,living style of thai peoples,i am senior instructor of electronics in Pakistan.Couple of time i visited when i was young on 1987. Can i live in thai land my rest of life as electronics teacher at chiang mai ? will the people of thailand accept me ?
    would you help please me ? thanks …..
    Tauqir Ahmad.

    1. Johnny Post author

      it would be super difficult to get work like that to be honest mate, but of course the thai ppl will accept u, they’re awesome!

  48. Ciaran

    Hey Mate, long story short, I had some cash ripped off from me while volunteer teaching in Nepal (currently still in Nepal as we speak) I was supposed to use this money to go down through India and eventually end up in Thailand, doing a TEFL course. To be frank, I now have $1500 USD to live off of. So I need to speed up the teaching process asap to be able to survive.

    Tickets from Kathmandu to Thailand are pretty cheap $230

    I am currently a University Student from the states, who has been going to school online while traveling, and volunteering, so I don’t have a BA degree just yet.

    I definitely don’t want or plan to go home just yet.
    If I can get a job and get some cash in the bank account, I could then sign up for a TEFL class like I originally planned and then apply for a better job eventually down the road.

    SO my questions are

    How far can I stretch $1500 (no partying), just living expenses in CM?

    Can you recommend a cheap place to stay/live?

    I hear there are still opportunities to get a job without a degree, but can you point me in the right direction mate? At least give me some hints as to where to look when I get there? Some school names would be extremely helpful!!

    Is it possible to just tutor rather than teach at a language school?

    I just want to know if all this can be done realistically.
    I am a crazy adventure bum so I don’t mind cutting it close with the cash. I have hitched and camped all over the place, so I know how to be frugal with money, i.e. not partying and wasting it all on booze. However I still want to be somewhat practical on whether I am able to do this or not!

    You can email me if you don’t want to name drop on your comments!

    I really appreciate this post bro. And many thanks ahead a time for the help!!!



    1. Johnny Post author

      Hey buddy,

      Send me a pvt mail and i’ll be more specific :)

      For rough answers, $1500 could last you 3 months in CM if you’re really careful, but it’s hard to get work there without a degree (it’s super popular)


  49. Jackson

    This is a gold mine. Thanks for sharing mate. I checked out AUA’s website and saw they had the SIT course. I was hoping you could let me know what it’s like? And would it be worth doing it there over doing one in Australia? Also quickly, I have a bachelors degree

  50. Jacob

    Hi Johnny,

    Great article! I have a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management, Master of Business Administration in International Business and a Doctor of Business in Management. I have been in the IT field for 15 years and a business owner for 10 years. I have traveled extensively all around the world and always had that nagging thought to teach English overseas. My problem is about 24 year ago when I was young I got in trouble with the law and got a felony on my record. Is it still possible for me to teach overseas?

    1. Johnny Post author

      hmmm it depends on the country to be honest mate, korea and japan – almost definitely not, they’ll ask for a CRB (Criminal record check), thailand will be 50/50, if you really wanna do it, it’s certainly possible, you might just have to keep applying for jobs until someone doesn’t want ur CRB, it’ll happen eventually

      1. Jacob

        Thank you or the update Johnny, I guess my best bet would be somewhere like Cambodia and some parts of Thailand. Is there anywhere else you can think of? It’s a shame even with a Doctorate Degree in business a person past still follows him 24 years later.

        1. Johnny Post author

          absolutely agree mate, it’s a joke :S China is always a great shout, and with ever increasing salaries too. Cambodia would be great too, as would Indonesia :)

    2. John Redmond

      regarding your posting
      April 17, 2012 at 7:46 am;
      “. . . My problem is about 24 year ago when I was young I got in trouble with the law and got a felony on my record…”

      Check with your local/national police to see if you are able to apply for a pardon.

      Such a possibility exists in Canada. If you have been a fine upstanding citizen {:~) during the ensuing years it may be possible to have the record cleaned up now. It is worth looking into the possibility. There are many countries that you would not be allowed to enter with the record you indicate.

      I don’t know what country you live in but here is a link and info about how Canada does a pardon. Once a pardon is granted I believe the record will not appear when a criminal record check is made such as is required for TEFL work/travel.

      “The first thing you will want to know about a Canadian pardon which is also known as a record suspension is that once your pardon is granted you should never be required to reveal, to anyone, that you ever had a criminal record. A pardon, granted by the federal government of Canada seals your entire criminal record. All charges and all convictions will be removed and kept separate from active criminal files stored in the RCMP database (CPIC). No one can ever access this file without prior written permission from the Minister of Public Safety Canada.”

      “Typical Results

      The benefits of obtaining a pardon cannot be denied. For most people the peace of mind which comes with knowing a personal criminal record has been removed is enough reward. However, the benefits extend into other areas of life as well. The most notable of these are the removal of restrictions on employment and the ability to freely travel to the United States.

      With the granting of a Canadian pardon from the National Parole Board of Canada you will never again have to disclose that you were ever convicted of a crime.”


  51. Pete

    Hi Johnny,

    Great blog!

    Just wondering if you think a 120 hour online TEFL course is enough to give me a good chance of getting a job in Chiang Mai?


    1. Johnny Post author

      maybe but better with teaching practice to be honest. Chiang Mai is hugely popular so getting work there can be tough, a practical TEFL would enhance your chances a lot!

      1. Les Sells

        Hi Johnny. Am about to head to Thailand for a while, and have been checking out blogs and reviews. Gotta say mate, yours is like a breath of fresh air. Some, even most, seem to focus so much on ‘possible negatives’ and ‘what to look out for’ that ya wonder what they’re doing there at all!! I live in sleepy little Perth, W.A., and if ya only want to focus on negatives, ya dont have to go far past the front door. Your comments were refreshing and focused on the reason to be anywhere-the people. Thanks.

  52. Pum

    Hi Johnny,
    My name’s Pum, I live in Chiangmai.
    I am wondering do you teach the individually writing english or not?
    what if you do how much does it cost for hour ?

    1. Johnny Post author

      i’m long out of the teaching game i’m afraid mate! i’m an online dude these days 😛 drop me an email tho and i’ll see if i can hook u up with some old friends :)

    1. Johnny Post author

      certainly possible Faiz but not as easy as a native speaker, what country are you from? And is it Chiang Mai specifically you wanna teach?

  53. Rory


    Great article! My friend and I are currently in Chiang Mai looking for English teaching work, we both have a CELTA and both have degrees from University, but so far we haven’t even been able to find a part time position anywhere and we’ve been looking for weeks! How long did you search for a job before you were granted an interview?


      1. Rory

        Cheers for the reply,

        Literally everywhere! At the end of our third week now, been to AUA, NES, EFE, Walen, CEC, around a dozen language centers overall. All we can get are receptionists taking our applications and saying they’ll call us if something comes up… Impossible to even see a manager… Not one phone call, and it’s been three weeks! We’re in the process of giving up and heading to Chiang Rai to try there. Any advice?

        Thanks again,

          1. Rory

            Hey Johnny,

            Tried them all, they took our applications and shooed us out the door.
            Thanks for the advice, maybe we’ll have better luck in Chiang Rai. Really thought the CELTA would give us an advantage but apparently not.

            Thanks again,

  54. Mark

    Hi there,
    Great information.
    I think my wife and I are going to head out to Chiang Mai…. She was diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer at the back end of February, and had since been carrying out an alternative cancer treatment and therapy, having discounted chemo and radiotherapy. She now wants to travel to Chiang Mai to partake in a massage course, and whilst she is doing this for 3 months, I was considering teaching English. My main problem is no degree. I have good A’level results and had offers for Physiotherapy way back when I was applying. Sadly my Dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, so I decided to postpone… I’m now 36. I am an now an independent financial advisor, and a writer and photographer for fishing magazines. But… No degree. Is it realistic for me to look for a teaching placement if I can get a TEFL in place? I would appreciate any advise whatsoever.

    Many, many thanks.


    1. Johnny Post author

      hey Mark, i think this is a great plan by the way. Ok, no degree will be a bit of a problem (no work permit, that’s for sure) but you can probably get a job with one of the smaller language schools – have u tries that yet? 36 is easily young enough to be desirable to an english school so there is certainly scope for work. How have u got on so far?

      1. Mark Boyd

        They won’t give me a work permit without a degree? Damn….
        It all depends on how long my wife’s thai massage course is. If we were going to be in Chang Mai for a month or more I’d apply, but if not I may be better just doing a course whilst I’m out there. Yoga or something. We are intending to travel to Vietnan and Cambodia too…. Everything feels very ‘up in the air’ at the moment.

        1. Johnny Post author

          hey mate, a TEFL will increase your chances 10 fold, that’s for sure. With no degree, try to do a 160 hour course (4 weeks intensive), don’t waste your time with any online TEFL malarkey. When are you going over?

          1. Jahmil

            Hey Jonny thanks for a great write up.
            My first question is when you say we need a Bachelor’s degree does that mean that the degree has to be in Teaching or Education? I have a Bachelor of Arts from a liberal arts college will this suffice? My second question is do I have to have a CELTA specifically? As I understand it, a CELTA brand TELF certificate is a lot of money and it’s for people who are sure that they want to invest in a TEFL as a career. I don’t have that kind of money. I was thinking that I would go down to Thailand and do a 120-140 hour TEFL practical course such as the Special Thai Program at the American Tesol Institute (have you heard of it?) Or another reputable TEFL course. Some of these programs agree to place you but at a large fee so I was going to try my hand at finding my own position in Chiang Mai or Phukket. Also I have experience working as a teachers assistant for middle and high school students for a year. What do you think? Is it worth it to invest in a CELTA specifically or will any TEFL 120 hr course due?

  55. rob

    hi mate. loving your site. i was wondering how much of a necessity a degree is to gaining employment? do you know of many/any people who work as teachers who dont have one? i have an A in english language at a-level but left home and started travelling as soon as i finished school. a friend of mine is in mexico working as an english teacher at the moment. he has his tefl and a degree so its all good for him. funnily enough he got a D in english at mandatory exams (gcse’s) but as he has a sport science degree he is fine! haha. any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Johnny Post author

      hey Rob, ok a degree is a massive benefit, there’s no doubt about that. However, it’s still very possible to do it without one. One of my best mates, and current roommate in Bangkok, taught english for a year or two here and he doesn’t have a degree so all is not lost!

      Check out my new company, it will arrange English teaching qualifications that you study for in Thailand – we can guarantee interview too, that might help :)

  56. Rob

    Hiya mate, nice blog!

    My names Rob, I’m 24- recently got my CELTA, and I have 6 weeks experience teaching in a summer school for foreign kids in England. I’m considering Chiang Mai as a possible teaching destination as one of my CELTA tutors worked there and said it was great. AUA sounds a good option.

    A few questions-
    Does the school often take teachers with my level of experience?
    How big is the school/how many other foreign teachers work there?
    What’s the best way to get in contact with the school?
    What would you do on a typical night/day-off in Chiang Mai?
    Are there many other foreigners around to make friends with or do you need to learn Thai to make friends?

    Cheers, any answers would be very much appreciated, Rob

    1. Johnny Post author

      hey mate, cheers for checking my site =) let me answer your questions…

      Does the school often take teachers with my level of experience? yes, all the time! I had literally ZERO experience.

      How big is the school/how many other foreign teachers work there? There are probably around 15-20 foreign teachers, and maybe 5 Thai admin staff.

      What’s the best way to get in contact with the school? through their website ( or go to AUA when you arrive

      What would you do on a typical night/day-off in Chiang Mai? It’s amazing in Chiang Mai mate, there’s so much to do. I took up rock-climbing, that was cool. And the party scene is awesome there too 😛

      Are there many other foreigners around to make friends with or do you need to learn Thai to make friends? There’s a massive expat population in chiang mai (maybe as much as 5,000+) so you can choose between thai and foreigners all you want!

      Honestly rob, CM is my favourite place in the whole world, i sincerely believe if you wanna teach english overseas, then CM may be the best place imaginable to start. Let me know how you get on.

        1. Rob

          Couple of other things, do you know if it’s possible to get a contract for 6-8 months instead of 12? How in demand are native english teachers out there? Cheers, Rob

  57. faria butt

    hey!! i have done my masters in english literature….i m almost 30 years of age…what are my chances,foe a job as an english teacher in thailand..i m based in pakistan…i have one year experience of teaching as well…regards

  58. Belinda Schafer

    Good day,Johnny. Im 48 years young,a lady from South Africa ,with a 3 years Senior Primary Teachers Diploma. Would i find a job
    in Thailand teaching English? I’d love to work there for a few years. Your comments would greatly be appreciated.

    1. Johnny Post author

      hey Belinda,

      your age is NO problem at all so don’t give that a second though :) is your diploma a degree or is it slightly different?

      1. Belinda Schafer

        Thanx for reply,Johnny. I did my teaching Diploma at a Teachers Training College, Wellington(South Africa). I went to University after that for a BA degree,met my husband and dropped out,became air-hostess for South African Airways after that instead…….etc. etc. Here in S.A we call it a Diploma when you go to College and a Degree at University. Any suggestion or thought ? somebody from Thailand just contacted me and said i would find work there with my 3 Year Teachers Diploma (no Degree). What is the wage like there and can one save some money when working there?Also i believe you must take the TESOL Course to find a job there. Thanx. Belinda

      2. Belinda Schafer

        Johnny, i would really appreciate it if you could forward information about teaching-jobs in Thailand. Especially what the salary/wage would be and what accommodation costs are. I have to make my plans here a.s.a.p.
        I believe you only find jobs there if you have TEFL . Thanx. Appreciate your info tremendously(and this website). Greetings+blessings from South Africa.

        1. Johnny Post author

          for a degree and TEFL teacher, salaries range from 20k-80k per month. The average in Chiang Mai, Phuket etc would be around 30k and BKK around 40k i guess. With no degree it maybe be a little less but if you search hard enough you can certainly find a (relatively) good wage :) A TEFL will increase ur chances 1000% so get that for sure, u can study it in Thailand which is a great intro to the country too :)

  59. Melanie

    Johnny thanks so much! you’re so imformative and helpful.

    I was wondering where you took your CELTA? I’ve been looking at some places in Canada where they offer it but prices were as high as $2500, do you recommend getting your CELTA overseas?

    I’m definitely going to Thailand to teach english once I finish my undergrad degree, but I’m looking for a place near the ocean. Do you have any places you recommend?

  60. Ariya

    Hi Johnny
    i am from Australia and was in chiangmai for almost a year and i would like to teach english in chiangmai now.
    The reason why i want to teach english now is because i have family up in the north and i really love to do something different now,i know a few school i can apply for,such as ABS,CEC,my family wants me to apply with them but am not sure and plus i dont have my TEFL so if you can help me in anyway i will be grateful:)
    So if you want to more about me just let me know if there is any available position.
    Thank you

    1. Johnny Post author

      hey ariya, i might be able to help you actually – send my a pvt email at johnny ‘at’, i’m just applying the finishing touches to a company which will organise a TEFL of your choice in Thailand – good timing!

  61. Robert

    Hi Johnny, it’s Robert again. I am planning on arriving in Chiang Mai about July 1, 2011. Can you recommend a few, nice “short-term” places to stay until I find a permanent place to live? Thanks for all your help!

  62. Robert

    Dear Johnny:

    I enjoyed reading about your experiences teaching in Chiang Mai. I will be traveling there in July 2011 – in the hopes of securing a teaching position. I hold both a Bachelors in English and a Masters in English, and I have 14 years of experience teaching English as a Foreign Language at both the university and high school levels. My concern is that I’m over age 60 – I’m in good health and I’m energetic – but will I face age discrimination is seeking a teaching job????

    1. Johnny Post author

      hi robert,

      you’re certainly qualified enoug, that should go without saying. Personally, from my experience, i don’t think you’ll have a problem. Certainly not in a language school, they’ll take you in a heartbeat. With your credentials though i’d be looking at an international school or a university professor position and again, i dont think you’ll struggle for offers. Book your ticket, you’re in a much better position than 99% of other ESL professionals! Good luck and keep me posted :)

      1. Robert

        I should also mention that I am a licenced and certified, middle school and high school master teacher of English in two states here in the USA, however, I don’t have a CELTA or TEFL certificate. I would prefer teaching at a university – would you have any contacts at universities in Chiang Mai? Chiang Mai University or others? Any help that you could offer me would be greatly appreciated.

        1. Johnny Post author

          I’m actually in Chiang Mai at the moment for song kran (Thai new Year) staying with a few old friends who do some teaching in Chiang Mai Uni (CMU). Also, i think there are 5 or 6 unis in the area so it shouldn’t be a problem to find work, especially if you have the financial wherewithall to sit tight while you wait for an opening or if you’re willing to work for a language school until a ‘better’ opportunity presents itself. I’ll speak to them and see what they think :)

          1. Robert

            Dear Johnny:

            I’m planning on arriving in Chiang Mai the first or second week of July 2011. When do the universities begin their semesters and when would the hiring process begin?????

          2. Johnny Post author

            April is generally considered the best time to come for a job mate but if you’re willing to work anywhere for a few months then before long you’ll have the gig that you want :)

          3. Robert

            Thanks for all of your help Johnny – and advice on places to live – best areas of the city – reasonably priced furnished condos or apartments?

            Any advice you can offer me will be greatly appreciated!


          4. Johnny Post author

            there is no shortage of places to live Robert, decent studios start around 4,000 Baht + bills per month ($130 USD) and rise to 30,000 Baht + ($1k USD+) for larger 2 and 3 bedroom condos. Accommodation is EVERYWHERE and CM is so small, it doesnt really matter where you live :) if it’s a condo you’re after, just drive around and when you see a nice building, park up and ask in the lobby about rooms. You’ll have a place in no time

    2. Tony

      Hi, I am in Chiang Mai now and I am looking for a good but inexpensive school for an 8 year old Thai girl to learn English. I do not have alot of money so I am very limited. I will be bringing her and her mother to USA in about 6 or 7 months. The daughter, Earth, needs to be able to speak English so she can attend school when she arrives in the US.

      Thanks Tony

      1. Johnny Post author

        hey tony – British Council is the best, but certainly not the cheapest! CEC and EEC both offer reasonable rates for kids but if you’re really trying to save money the best way would be to buy the books and teach her yourself :)

  63. Elizabeth

    Hey found your blog while trying to figure out my plan of attack to teach in Thailand. Right now I teach English in Korea but will be traveling across SE and then landing in Thailand ready to find a job, after I finish my contract here in August. I have my TEFL that I got online before coming to Korea, how different is it from a CELTA? I am looking into working in Chiang Mai as well but would really like to be by the beach too, I just can’t decide! Thanks for the info, very useful when trying to figure out if I want to try a bilingual school or international! Good Luck to you!

  64. manda

    Hi there!
    I like the sound of your story in chiang mai! cant wait to go to thailand and teach next year!

    I have a b.ed degree already, do you know from your experience in thailand if u have to do a tefl/celta certificate in order to teach there? Or do you know if the actual degree in education is considered enough?

    Would appreciate the feedback!
    Cheers pal!

    1. Johnny Post author

      A BEd is better than a TEFL but generally to teach english u need a TEFL. However, you’re qualified to teach in an International School through your BEd which will earn 3X the cash of language school teaching BUT it’s a ‘real’ 40 hour a week job, language schools are a lot more laid back – tough choice!

  65. Johnny Post author

    Hey Lauren :)

    Thanks for checking out my site, i love it when people have a look around and see the opportunities around the world that we’re lucky enough to have… all we gotta do is take action, grab them and live the dream.

    You’re still in school and uv had been on an exchange to Thailand already!? wow, sounds like you’re gonna have a fun life too. Good work! If you ever need any help or advice, just send me an email or drop me a msg here and i’d be happy to help where i can. Good luck!


  66. Lauren

    wow! awesome! i’m from the illinois, USA, and was an exchange student with rotary international to udonthani, thailand. it was the most unforgettable experience of my life. ever since, all i’ve been thinking about is teaching abroad! i’ve looked around your site a bit and i think what you’ve been doing is awesome! i always wondered how i would be able to finance things, but from what you’ve written i am now confident that it’s totally possible… i’m studying at university right now, but i’m really hoping to do stuff like this within a couple of years :) hopefully i’ll get a TEFL certificate while i’m here! thanks for the great posts, i’m so glad that there are other people out there like me who want to do crazy things for a living! thanks!


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