Volunteer to teach English as a foreign language to students in a range of schools and locations in the North of Thailand, one of the more untouristed and traditional areas of the country. We can place English teaching volunteers to help students of all ages, based on your background & interests, from small primary schools, to large high schools in major towns, to schools for Buddhist monks or poorer hill tribe communities. This project is also a cultural experience, as you will be living with a family near to your school in a homestay and have the opportunity to experience traditional Thai lifestyles & customs and become a part of the local community, as well as offering assistance in some of the poorest schools in the country.
You can volunteer to teach English in Thailand for 2 weeks or longer and we have places available all year round.
Individuals, groups and couples all welcome.
Cost for food, accommodation at a rural homestay, programme materials and training start from £425.
As an English teaching volunteer in Thailand you will:
We work almost exclusively in the North of Thailand, in Mae Sot, Nan Province and Isaan (South of Laos and North of Cambodia). The mountains of the North and the islands of the South of Thailand are fine for vacations, but the North East is the poorest region of Thailand, and arguably the most traditional, where people are very welcoming and friendly. Our volunteers often find it is very rewarding to go somewhere that hasn’t been over-touristed and lost its appreciation of foreign visitors.
When you meet our Programme liaison in Bangkok, we’ll show you basic language and culture skills. Most of our schools are secondary level, age 12-18, with 500-2500 students in them, and you will probably see all the students in a month. We can give you advice on where to get ideas for teaching games. After a few classes, generally our volunteers understand what they need to do. The level of English in rural Thailand is so low that you won’t be teaching anything too tough, and creating plans to fit your kids and enjoy themselves is part of the whole experience. There will be teachers around to help you if you ask them to. You will have internet access at your school. There are also phones for making/receiving calls. On the weekends you can take the time to experience your new surroundings & Thai lifestyle, for example relaxing at home with your host family, arrange to meet other volunteers in the Region, study Thai culture or Thai food, sit with Buddhist monks, visit nearby areas, temples and landmarks or travel with your hosts.
We do not work near sensitive border regions, nor do we work in areas where malaria is a risk. Doctors and hospitals are nearby and up to Western standards. Overall, Thailand is a very safe place to be, and all volunteers will be able to get in touch with our coordinator if they have any issues.
Most teaching volunteers join us for 1-2 months, but 2 weeks is the minimum. It is also possible to join the project for longer than 2 months, by obtaining a visa using a letter from your host school which we will provide for you, for this the maximum is usually 6 months. We have places available to teach English in Thailand during the following months:
1st to 31st December
1st to 31st January 2016
1st to 29th February 2016
1st to 31st May 2016
1st to 30th June 2016
1st to 31st July 2016
1st to 31st August 2016
1st to 30th September 2016
Please note we are flexible with dates, you don't need to start on 1st of the month. These dates are there just as a guideline. You can join anytime throughout the year, except for during the school holidays (October and March-April). Couples, friends and families are also welcome to join the project together.
The cost for 1 month (or less than 1 month if you join for just 2-3 weeks) is 425 GB pounds, 2 months cost is 560 GB pounds, 3 months is 695 GB pounds.
What is not included are your flights to Thailand, your visa (if required), your own transport to your homestay from Bangkok and your own personal expenditure. In addition, it is mandatory for you to take out a medical/accident insurance coverage, which is also at your own cost.
While working as an English teaching volunteer in Thailand, a main feature of the programme is the local homestays. You will live with a Thai host family in the community where your school is based. Indeed, one reason this programme has been so successful is because Thai people take such good care of their guests and volunteers are warmly welcomed into the community by their family, teachers & the students they are helping.
Though you will typically be teaching very poor students in the more remote provinces of Thailand, the homestays are quite extensive (see a typical homestay house to the left) to ensure our volunteers feel comfortable during their stay. You will stay in a Western style house, with a proper bed, bathroom (often with Western toilet), and three fine Thai meals a day provided by your school and host family (see to the right). Most of the homestays are in small towns in rural areas. You will have access to wi-fi, email, a telephone, and shops. Our host families are typically middle to upper-class Thais with the means to support a foreign guest, who welcome foreign volunteers to stay with them to help their community and develop the English level of local students. School students are generally farmers’ children who may see English as a way to gain entrance to a college or improve job prospects in the future.
- Have a College/University degree
- Are at least twenty years (20) old
- Have some teaching or volunteer experience
- Don’t drink or smoke every day
- Likeable personality and tidy appearance
- Outgoing, creative, and independent
- Flexible and willing to adapt to another culture
The motto of this programme is: “Expect the unexpected”. If you are not flexible, patient, or adaptable, you will not enjoy life in rural Thailand.
Volunteers should arrange to fly into Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. We will meet you in Bangkok for your first orientation, giving you some instructions and some information on the programme before you travel to your school the day after the meeting. Once you arrive at your homestay, you will be met at the bus station/airport, where you will have a Thai co-ordinator to be your liaison whilst you volunteer at the school.
Once you are confirmed on the project, we will offer advice on getting your visa. There are usually several options, depending on how long you’re travelling in Thailand and how long you’re volunteering with us.
Below is a video showcasing a typical day in the life of a teaching volunteer in Thailand:
Below is an interactive map showing key locations for the project:
For most travellers, and many Thais, the northeast is Thailand’s forgotten backyard. Isaan (or ìsǎan), the collective name for the 19 provinces that make up the northeast, offers a glimpse of the Thailand of old: rice fields run to the horizon, water buffaloes wade in muddy ponds, silk weaving remains a cottage industry, peddle-rickshaw drivers pull passengers down city streets, and, even for those people who’ve had to seek work in the city, hearts and minds are still tied to the village. This colossal corner of the country continues to live life on its own terms: slowly, steadily, and with a profound respect for heritage and history.
Find out more at LonelyPlanet: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/northeastern-thailand#ixzz2Le6BmJ62
Pamela from the UK describes her time volunteering in Mae Sot:
I had a wonderful adventure and the send-off I had from the school at the end was almost overwhelming; they were so pleased to have someone come to their school, work with them, be with them.
I would most certainly recommend the experience, I did things and saw things that I could never have done as a tourist (being blessed by a Burmese Buddhist monk; taking part in the school’s procession to the local temple to present gifts for Asanha Bucha; getting the whole school to take part in ‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands’). But it is not something to be done lightly; you need to be prepared to be foolish, be outside your comfort zone, be lonely even. But, in exchange, you get a genuine insight into the Thai way of life, warts and all.
Roslyn Castle from NSW, Australia:
Just writing to say thank you so much for placing me with the family Buphata. Kamon and Somkid have been just wonderful and have taken me so many places so generously. The school children have been wonderful as well and I am thoroughly enjoying my time at Ban Pho school. My singing and dancing careers are taking off as well I have been playing volleyball with teachers from some of the other schools. Once again thank you for your efforts in placing me here it is very much appreciated and I have had an amazing time.
Korp Khun Ka.
Yvonne Hendrych, a textile professional from Brussels, gives her feedback:
The project was amazing
Everything worked out so smoothly and everyone was so extremely kind and nice to me that I had the most wonderful time there.
Everyone was incredibly nice and helpful and I felt at home right away. Also my host family was amazing. I really found a second family in Thailand and we got along so well even without speaking the same language. My host mother made a great effort to learn some English and I did my best to learn a couple of Thai words. Teaching was great fun but also quite challenging because I was teaching many different classes and all different levels of English. So I always had to first check and then quickly adapt to the level of English they had.
But luckily all the previous teachers kept a teacher’s diary and wrote down their experiences with the students so I could check in advance what kind of games or exercises they had been doing. Anyway the emphasis is on conversation. And this is best done through little games or quizzes. Students love the competition and teaming up against each other. It sometimes takes a bit to involve them because often they are very shy. But once they warmed up it was so much fun. I must say I enjoyed all classes and never had a boring moment.
On Sundays I went to temple school to teach the little ones (5-8 years) together with other teachers from Prangku who teach on a voluntary basis on Sundays. All the teachers at Prangku are so committed and engaged and dedicate also so much of their free time to the school and the students. It is really remarkable. Big compliment. And the students were just wonderful. They were so nice and polite and really eager to learn English. I can only recommend this experience to everyone who enjoys being with children and to everyone who is interested in getting to know a new culture.
Thank you Working Abroad. This is really a remarkable initiative which offers unforgettable experiences for both sides.
Volunteer Julie Eaglen describes her time with the programme
"...most of the students were completely lovely, whether or not they were any good at English: as I walked along the corridors, there were constant greetings of 'Hello, teacher!', followed by heads bobbing in a 'wai'. It's true what they say - Isaan is very much a pocket of Thailand left over from twenty years ago, with small farmers living the traditional way of life. I found it enchanting."
If you are interested in volunteering in Thailand as an English teacher, you will need to fill out the online application form (you can also print it out and send it to us by post) – to secure a placement on the project, please complete and submit the form including two references and your application payment of £170. In addition, we require you to email us a recent photo to show to your host (firstname.lastname@example.org). If for some reason we are unable to offer you a place, your application payment will not be taken. However for those who are accepted, the full amount needs to be paid two months before departure. Once you have been accepted on the programme, you will receive a pre-departure package with all detailed information on your project, suggested items to bring, teaching tips, information on travel, Thai customs and more.