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China versus Thailand
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MESL



Joined: 23 Aug 2003
Posts: 210

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:52 am    Post subject: China versus Thailand Reply with quote

THE VISA

THAILAND: The visa process in Thailand is much easier and the cost is zero. With an American passport, you can enter Thailand free. You can change your tourist visa to a work visa without leaving the country. There are reports from reputable sources that you cannot change an arrival visa to a work visa, that you have to go to a Thai consulate and get a travelers visa, which is a bit expensive. I did not find this to be the case. I transferred an arrival visa to a work visa in 20 minutes with no complications. Your work visa is good for 3 months and getting a work permit takes only 2 months, so you have plenty of time, meanwhile you’re working in Thailand legally. The key is to find a school with administrators familiar with the process. (But even that’s no guarantee. Our school has a sharp FAO, but someone further up in the Ministry of Education didn’t dot some i’s or cross some tee’s, so 2 out of 4 foreign teachers who made the trip to Bangkok had to return the following week because Immigration caught the undotted eyes and uncrossed tees - and our otherwise sharp FAO didn’t.) OK, so then you have 3 months to get a teaching certificate, which involves taking a course and an exam. If you don’t get the teaching certificate within 3 months, your school has to apply for an exemption. You keep applying for an exemption til you get the certificate. Also every 90 days is a trip to local Immigration to show your face and announce that you’re still working in Thailand. And of course, you have to register your residence with the police. Somewhere in this process is health check. But the school pays for everything. BTW: I was told that you have to have a work visa to get a bank account, but I didn’t and did.

CHINA: Compare this to China. Plan A: Get the paperwork from your school, travel to the nearest consulate, which except for people in large urban areas isn’t near all, travel back to your hometown, wait for the visa, then travel to the consulate again, then travel home again. (Last I checked, Chinese consulates don’t process work visas by mail.) Plan B: Get a tourist visa in Hong Kong, visit the school, hope the FAO can get the paperwork within 30 days or get an extension to your tourist visa, go back to Hong Kong to get the work visa, then go back to your school. Before you go to Hong Kong, you have to get a health check. After you return from Hong Kong, you have to get a foreign expert certificate, then take the health certificate, foreign expert certificate, and work visa to the PSB to get a resident permit. Some of this the school pays for, a lot of it they don’t. Generally, they won’t pay for any expenses incurred outside the city where the school is located. And before any of this starts, you have to get a recommendation letter from your previous school and they have to cancel your foreign expert certificate. Oh and the school name on the recommendation letter has to be the same as the school name on the foreign expert certificate and the health certificate.


THE STUDENTS

The students are much more disciplined and much more receptive than Chinese students. In Thailand, the students’ attitude is “OK, we’re just going to have this lesson and learn some English and everything will be fine.” In China, it was more like, “But will this help me pass the exam?” “But I disagree with your teaching method.” “But I don’t like your personality.” At my last school in China, I wrote less than 10 common vegetables on the board and told them to write the vocabulary in their notebook. I got memo from the principal that this was too much vocabulary for one lesson. Here in Thailand, I taught a somewhat sophisticated lesson on using the post office. Vocabulary included air, sea, postage, rate, delivery time, scale, weigh, weight, pack, ship, insure, certify, register, confirm, track, and return address. The students absorbed it all without a hint of difficulty or protest.

The Thai and Chinese students were the same age. The Thai students view English skills as something they need and something they can master. Part of this is that the ASEAN Economic Community, with is just around the corner, will use English as its official language. Contrast this with Chinese students being told they need English because of China’s entrance into the WTO. There was a lot of Crazy English books, a lot of packed English Corners, and a lot of students requesting practice time with their foreign teacher, not to mention hoards of university English majors. But the passive aggressive resistance remains.


THE COUNTRY:

Facebook, Youtube, etc, nuff said.
7-11 on every block.
Cold drinks everywhere.
No cold weather.
Beaches, etc.
Awesome food.
Friendly locals.
Clean bathrooms and clean classrooms.
Good transportation system.
Reliable postal system.

Nobody cutting in line as SOP.
Nobody hoiking and spitting as SOP.
Nobody smacking their food SOP.
Nobody talking in a loud voice as SOP.
Nobody bumping into each other and grabbing each other as SOP.
Nobody setting off fireworks every 5 minutes as SOP.
Nobody allowing their children to relieve themselves in public as SOP.
Nobody saying, “Watch your bag” as SOP.

The contrast in public behavior is striking. There’s a food court outside our school. I explored that food court from one end to the other without anyone touching me. And this was in a place packed with energetic elementary students. In China, I would have been bruised from head to toe and my shoes would have been thoroughly scuffed. And of course at least half a dozen people would have cut in front of me while I tried to get my food.


DOWNSIDE:
Dress code.
Office hours.
No airfare.
Heat and humidity.
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Javelin of Radiance



Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 1187
Location: The West

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How long did you work in Thailand vs China?
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LarssonCrew



Joined: 06 Jun 2009
Posts: 586

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent excellent post, quite a striking contrast.

Although it's all good.

Some people will come on and defend China to the hilt, but the public behaviour thing is true.
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rogerwilco



Joined: 10 Jun 2010
Posts: 1183

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have done a little research on working in Thailand, and what discourages me from working there is:

Needing to wear a tie in 35 to 40 degree weather.
Very few opportunities in universities or colleges. Most of the jobs are with primary and high school age kids.
Typically a US$1,000 a month salary, no other benefits such as free apartment or airfare. Probably fewer paid holidays.
More classes and typically having to stay at the school all day.

My guess is that the OP is still in the honeymoon stage.
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roadwalker



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 1513
Location: Ch

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good idea for a thread, although I think people have different reasons for wanting to live in the two countries. Certainly there's some overlap though. I think of Thailand as a fallback holiday plan: I like it there, I know more or less how to get around and there are plenty of things that they have that China doesn't really have. Thai food for one.

The visa process seemed more convoluted in the so-called "easier" Thai system to me. Perhaps because I'm used to the Chinese system. I don't have to report to anyone every 90 days, for instance. Nor do I need to take an exam. Also, yes, it's true that you can't apply for a Chinese visa by mail or even express mail services. However, you can use a visa courier to apply to the consulate for you. There are lots of those services in the US, at least. And also in the US the Chinese consulate offers same-day (for a price) visa service, so no need to make two trips.

I read the Thai forum fairly often, and I think some of the regular posters would have a beef with your student descriptions. Obviously they must like the Thai students to be a long time contributor, but your description does seem a bit rose-tinted. Teaching at various Chinese universities, I've had relatively few problem students. Generally speaking, they were students, disproportionately boys, who were in an English class not of their choosing and took it out on the class and the teacher. Most of my experience in China with students has been good to very good.

As for the after-school schools, I have to side with the Chinese students. I couldn't teach these kinds of lessons because I think kids ought to be out playing ball or winding down, not working in the English factories. But point taken, this insistence on quantifying the English language learning and running cost-benefit analyses during and after class would drive me nuts.

You make good points on the daily life for the most part. That's why I like to have places like Thailand for holidays and decompression.
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choudoufu



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 3325
Location: Mao-berry, PRC

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

points for thailand being more westernized. visas are much easier to
come by. rules and regulations and laws are much more straightforward.
of course, in thailand rules can be broken....for a fee. the corruption, and
demands for 'tea money,' is/are a little more blatant.

much more western stuff available, more westerners to socialize with.
chiang mai for example has around 20K westerners.....long-term
residents, not tourists.

and thailand has a wonderful retirement visa. over age 55 with either
a modest chunk of cash or a small monthly pension gets you a long
term visa.
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NoBillyNO



Joined: 11 Jun 2012
Posts: 1762

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

just watch the Thai's when they quit smiling....

Last edited by NoBillyNO on Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Professional TEFLer



Joined: 09 May 2013
Posts: 77

PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Thailand sounds pretty cool! But I think I will still focus on China. You almost sold me on Thailand with the point about the students being more willing to learn and can actually SEE and UNDERSTAND the VALUE in being able to SPEAK English and not just know the rules. Rolling Eyes

It's hard to find students who WANT to learn English.
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kev7161



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
Posts: 5795
Location: Suzhou, China

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have often thought about teaching in Thailand. I have gone there on several holidays over the years and generally enjoy my time there.

However, as someone stated above, most typical jobs offer around the equivalent of $1000.00 USD per month. Without trying to brag (okay, maybe a little) I make almost 3X that amount here. Granted, it took me several years to build up to my current salary, but there's nothing in Thailand that would pull me away (at this moment in time) with such a huge drop in salary.

During the past 8 years, the length of time I've worked for my current school, I have never had any sort of visa/residence permit issue. I'm not even involved. I hand over my passport once a year, the school gets it done, and I'm good to go for the next 12-13 months.

I've stated often how much I dislike the country of China as a whole and what the OP states about Thailand does sound dreamy, but the reality is I have to stay (for now) where the money is . . . at least for only one more year . . . I hope!
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Toast



Joined: 08 Jun 2013
Posts: 428

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NoBillyNO wrote:
just watch the Thai's when they quit smiling....


I've seen a couple of legendary Thai mob on solo farang attacks. Usually booze, money or bargirl related. The expression "Queensberry Rules" doesn't seem to translate to South East Asian languages very well it seems.

But then as they say you haven't really lived until you've been sucker smacked by a broken chair leg and then curb stomped by a swarm of shaved head, tattoo adorned motorcycle taxi drivers.

On topic -

pro for China : No Songkran.
pro for Thailand : Great dentists.
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Arsenal79



Joined: 24 Jun 2012
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:35 pm    Post subject: Re: China versus Thailand Reply with quote

MESL wrote:
Nobody cutting in line as SOP.
Nobody hoiking and spitting as SOP.
Nobody smacking their food SOP.
Nobody talking in a loud voice as SOP.
Nobody bumping into each other and grabbing each other as SOP.
Nobody setting off fireworks every 5 minutes as SOP.
Nobody allowing their children to relieve themselves in public as SOP.
Nobody saying, “Watch your bag” as SOP.


Sorry, but what does "SOP" stand for?
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rogerwilco



Joined: 10 Jun 2010
Posts: 1183

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:03 pm    Post subject: Re: China versus Thailand Reply with quote

Arsenal79 wrote:
]

Sorry, but what does "SOP" stand for?


Standard operating procedure
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it'snotmyfault



Joined: 14 May 2012
Posts: 527

PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The pay in most countries around the world where you can teach ESL reflects what the local conditions are like.

Nice place to live = subsistence wages.
OK place to live with a few problems = livable wage
Ultra conservative hell = chance to save money
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kungfuman



Joined: 31 May 2012
Posts: 1458
Location: In My Own Private Idaho

PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As much as I (seem) to like China when I went to Hochimin City,Vietnam - even during TET- they were so civilized.

And clean.
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sojourner



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 733
Location: nice, friendly, easy-going (ALL) Peoples' Republic of China

PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have just noticed this thread ( re the Thai education system): http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=102411
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