Government vs. Private Language Schools in Thailand

8 July 2013

Things to consider when choosing the right job for you…

Serena Thailand 2 So you have your  TEFL, you by now probably have a good idea of where you want to go, and so the only thing left to do is to find a job…EASY! No really it is easy, just make sure you choose wisely…

Given that I am working in both a government school and a private school (part-time) I thought I would share my observations with you. I was in a position where I was offered a full time job at both and had to make a quick decision based on instinct alone.

Government Schools (GS)


  • Long Holidays – the biggest advantage of working at a government school is the paid (in most cases) holidays. The whole of October and 8 weeks from March – May. If you are hoping to travel whilst you are working here this is a great position to be in.
  • Shorter / sociable Hours – Although most are open from 7am – 7pm the English Programmes normally operate between the hours of 9am-4pm and an average working week consists of 15-25 hours, or if you’re really lucky like me 14 hours. Government schools only open Mon – Fri so this leaves your weekends free to do as you please.
  • Generally nicer kids – This might not apply in all cases but from personal experience I have found that the kids in regular school are enthusiastic, playful and have a lot of respect. They are keen to learn and 90% of the time a joy to teach. I have not had this same experience in the private school.


  • Chaotic – Do not expect any kind of order or fairness in the workplace. Thais have their own unique way of getting things done and they expect you to go along with their ideas. If for example your boss decides that you are going to act as co-ordinator between her and all of the other foreign teachers then not only must you do this (for no extra pay) but you should be happy to do it. It’s always a good idea to read up on the thai culture thing of “loosing face” then you will understand this a bit more.
  • Larger class sizes – I am lucky in that the largest class I teach is 35, but the rest are between 10-21. I am told though that some schools, especially high schools you can expect class sizes of 40-50 in some cases.
  • Limited or no resources – Be prepared to use all of your TEFL training, (this is why the classroom courses are worth their weight in gold) common sense and the internet help to.

Private Language Schools (PLS)


  • Well paid – Private schools pay a really good hourly rate for part-time teachers and working a few hours can really bump up your earnings. For a full-time teacher often the salary is higher than what’s offered in a government school.
  • Small class sizes – Generally you will be teaching anything from 1-2-1’s to class of around 13 (max).
  • Good facilities and resources – they are usually run by foreigners and therefore working environments are usually more like what you would expect at home, air con classrooms, books, internet and games are all readily available.


  • Longer hours – If you work full-time at a PLS then expect to be working anything from 25-30 hours per week. Some classes can be very intense, a 1-2-1 that lasts 3 hours is as tiring as a full day at regular school believe me!
  • Less holidays – The average is 4 weeks per year plus public holidays – not great!
  • Unsociable hours – The busiest times for a PLS is when government schools are closed so be prepared for evening, weekend and holiday work.

Serena Thailand 1 I didn’t move to Thailand to make mega bucks, I moved here to have a nice lifestyle and to free myself of the stresses I had back home, one of which was working full time.

I also have my 12-year-old son here too and wanted us to share the same time off so that we can travel together so for me a GS is perfect. It’s also nice to just work 6 hours per week at the PLS to bump up my earnings so that I can save a bit for a rainy day.

Whatever your motivation for being here is there are plenty of options available for everyone just make sure you explore all options and don’t accept the first thing that comes along!

I am 4 months in to my new life teaching in Thailand, I am a 31 year old single Mom who has upped sticks with my 12-year-old son to try something different, for a more personal and detailed review of our adventure please take a look at my blog.

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