Thousands of people move to Thailand every year to teach English. Thousands more are thinking about it. As a long-term Bangkok resident and a former English teacher in Thailand, I can honestly say “Do it”, as it’s the best experience I’ve ever had.
However, I do wish I’d known more about which teaching resources to bring with me from the US when I initially moved to Thailand to teach English. If I had, my first couple of months would have been a little easier.
That also means, however, that I can help you, as I now know the types of teaching resources every new teacher to Thailand should have with them when they first arrive.
Teaching Resources to Bring With You When Moving to Thailand to Teach English
Your original university degree certificate and transcripts – Not technically teaching resources, but I’m telling you this as they are the number one things many new teachers to Thailand forget to bring with them and, without them, in many cases you will not be able to start a teaching job at all.
You must remember to bring your original university degree certificate with you and your original college transcripts, as photocopies will not suffice. Not only will most schools ask you to produce them at your interview, the Thai Ministry of Education requires them as part of the process for your work permit and teacher’s license. In many cases, no original university degree certificate in particular means no work permit and no teacher’s license and often no job. Bring both things with you..
Basic English textbooks – Although you can buy thousands of textbooks, teacher’s guides and other teaching resources in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, I wish I had brought more with me from the US. That’s because American or British textbooks are more expensive to buy in Thailand as they’re imported.
I’d suggest bringing one copy of your favorite English textbooks for beginner, high beginner, intermediate and advanced levels as most teachers in Thailand end up teaching all levels at one time or another. Plus, if you plan on teaching corporate English, bring a textbook suitable for corporate English learners as well.
After all, while many Thai schools will tell you they provide textbooks, often it can take weeks to actually get them or, when you do, they’re nothing you would ever want to use.
Grammar books – When I was planning on moving to Thailand to teach English, a teacher I met online who taught at a school in Bangkok recommended I bring a grammar book with me, and suggested either A Practical English Grammar by A.J. Thomson and A.V. Martinet, or Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. I brought both of them and they have been invaluable to me for years.
Thais are obsessed with grammar to the point that their grammar is often better than many native English speakers, although their speaking skills are poor. That means, in many classes you will have student after student asking you difficult grammar questions you may not know the answer to or that may be difficult to explain.
With one of the above grammar books, however, you can not only familiarize yourself with the rules before teaching an English grammar class, you can also photocopy a couple of pages as handouts for your students. If I had to recommend one, however, I would say go with Practical English Usage, as it’s a much thicker, more comprehensive book and is very easy to understand.
English Games – No, games are not just for children. All Thai English students love to play them, even the upper-level management in Thai corporations. Plus, studies show students that learn English by playing games often learn faster and retain the information longer. That’s why having a couple of English-related games in your arsenal can make teaching English in Thailand so much easier for you and your students and, of course, more fun.
You can pick up education-related games at any teacher supply store in your hometown before you leave for Thailand. I’d suggest a couple of games that teach vocabulary and one that teaches grammar.
I also recommend picking up a fabulous ESL board game called ‘Word Up‘ when you arrive in Thailand. You can buy it at many department stores and toy stores in Bangkok, and it’s an excellent game for teaching vocabulary for all levels from beginner to advanced. It also sells for around 150 baht ($4.95) so it won’t break the bank.
As for how to use it, two to six players can play it if you’re teaching smaller groups or, in a classroom with a larger number of students, just put them into teams and pit one team against another. Every Thai student I have ever had has loved this game so much, frankly, it is the number one teaching supply I believe every English teacher in Thailand should own.