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3 solutions to Thailand’s English teacher shortage

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3 solutions to Thailand’s English teacher shortage | Thaiger

by Eric Haeg

Thailand needs 10,000 English teachers. News of a teacher shortage is no surprise, but news that the Ministry of Education has recently urged embassies to find English teachers has raised eyebrows. The US Embassy confirmed it participated in the meeting, and it has also been reported that over 20 other embassies participated in the discussions.

According to Thailand’s Education Minister, “The aim of the discussion was to seek cooperation from embassies.” He went on to say, that foreign teachers must have some professional training to qualify for the job, adding that a language teaching certificate is preferred.

It’s refreshing to see the MoE taking proactive measures, but finding workable solutions on a large scale may be far off. With the start of the next academic school year coming up this May, here are three possible solutions that could be implemented by schools now.

1. Cut out the middleman

Many schools outsource teacher recruitment and employment to agencies. The agencies charge fees to the school, thereby driving down teacher salaries to offset costs. As a result, Vietnam and even China have lured many teachers away from teaching English in Thailand.

Schools cannot afford the luxury of agencies, nor the inconvenience of high turnover when teachers quit because they’ll be paid more at a new direct hire job.

2. Hire fluent non-native speakers

While most experts agree fluency is what’s important, most Thai students, parents of students, and teachers assume an English teacher’s most important qualification is their nationality. Hiring only native speakers is understandable if that’s what the market wants. The problem is that the demand is based on a false assumption.

Well-informed school administrators hire non-native speakers who can prove their fluency, some hire non-natives but only after they can’t find a native speaker. Others flat out refuse. As a result, countless qualified applicants are turned off or completely discouraged from finding work in Thailand after reading most of its job ads for native English speakers who only come from six countries as per the MoE’s definition.

Perhaps the embassies could bring in experts to help share information about the value qualified, fluent non-native teachers bring to the classroom. This information can then be shared within local communities to better understand what makes a good English teacher. Over time, the market may increase its acceptance of non-native English teachers.

3. Hire from abroad

Thai employers prefer hiring teachers within Thailand, yet most prospective teachers hope to secure employment before taking the massive commitment of moving to Thailand. Those who aren’t prepared to come over without a job end up looking for work in countries like South Korea, Japan and China, where they can do Skype interviews and sign contracts before leaving home.

While there are inherent risks associated with hiring from abroad, there are also benefits, like attracting more teachers.

In order to mitigate the risks, schools could at least consider overseas recruitment for applicants who have teaching experience, can provide years’ worth of teaching portfolios, as well as those who’ve already taught English abroad. Without at least trying, Thailand remains at risk of losing quality candidates who need job security before moving here.

These solutions may seem difficult, but actions worth doing usually are. Approaching embassies may help further down the road, but students need solutions now.

If current recruitment trends continue, Thailand can hardly expect to increase its English teacher workforce by 140% as planned.

One definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting different results. Well, perhaps it’s time to try something new.

3 solutions to Thailand’s English teacher shortage | News by Thaiger

Eric Haeg is the Course Director of TEFL Campus and has been training English teachers in Phuket since 2007. For more information on teaching English in Thailand, email info@teflcampus.com

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Road deaths

Songkran’s 7 dangerous days: 2,365 road accidents, 277 deaths

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Songkran’s 7 dangerous days: 2,365 road accidents, 277 deaths | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: This year saw 30% less deaths and accidents over Songkran week.

We’ve finally reached the end of the Songkran holiday “7 dangerous days”, where over 2,300 road accidents resulted in 2,357 injuries and 277 deaths. Every year Thai officials brace for the surge in holiday travel that brings a surge in accidents as well, but the silver lining of Covid-19 is the reduction in accidents. This year saw a drop of nearly 30% from pre-Covid totals over the 2019 Songkran holiday period. Here’s the final day’s summary and the totals for the week:

DAILY FIGURES

On the final day of the Thai government’s weeklong safety campaign, there were 253 road accidents with 255 injuries and 26 deaths. The provinces with the most deaths were Ubon Ratchathani with 3 deaths, and then Chanthaburi and Phetchabun, both with 2 fatalities in each.

TOTALS

The 277 deaths and 2,357 injuries as a result of 2,365 accidents is a significant reduction from non-Covid years where road accidents and deaths were 30% higher. In 2019, the Songkran “7 dangerous days” totalled 3,338 accidents, with 3,442 injuries and 386 deaths. 2021’s muted Songkran holiday period saw about a thousand fewer accidents and injuries and over 100 fewer fatalities.

Final figures following the trends we saw daily, with 79% of all accidents involving motorbikes with 7% involving pickup trucks, a distant second. Drunk driving was the number 1 cause of road accidents with nearly 37% of all accidents involving alcohol. 28% of accidents were caused by speeding, while sudden lane changes accounted for 18% of incidents. Late afternoons from 4 pm to 8 pm had 29% of road accidents, followed by 21% of incidents that happened earlier from noon to 4 pm.

Highways were the most dangerous, with nearly 40% of accidents happening there. Community or village roads accounted for 36% of accident locations. Teenagers made up the biggest demographic of fatalities, with 15 to 19 year olds making up 15% of deaths. 30 to 39 year olds made up just over 14% of road deaths.

The deadliest provinces over the 7 dangerous days were Pathum Thani with 10 deaths, followed by Bangkok and Chiang Mai, both of which had 9 fatalities. Nakhon Si Thammarat, with 106 incidents, recorded the most road accidents of any province, followed by Chiang Mai with 77 crashes and Songkla with 69.

During the course of the road safety campaign, police and traffic authorities pulled over 2.3 million motorbikes and 100,000 other vehicles, issuing almost 460,000 citations, notably for not wearing helmets, having a driver’s license, or fastening seatbelts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Officials not worried Thailand remains on US currency watch list

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Officials not worried Thailand remains on US currency watch list | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand is on the watch list for possible currency manipulation.

Thailand remains on the United States Treasury’s “Monitoring List” of countries whose currency trade practices need to be watched, though Thai officials say they are not worried. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen releases a foreign exchange report twice a year including labelling alleged currency manipulators and flagging suspect trading partner countries to be monitored.

The Bank of Thailand said remaining on the US currency watch list poses no threat to Thai businesses or the government’s ability to enact policies to promote financial stability. They stress that Thailand has never manipulated currency, using the exchange rate to get a competitive edge or an unfair trade advantage over other countries.

This most recent report tags 11 countries as warranting a closer watch: China, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. Mexico and Ireland were the 2 new inclusions, not on the previous report in December 2020. Also in the report, the US Treasury Department toed the line of accusing Switzerland, Taiwan, and Vietnam of manipulating currency.

They stated yesterday that the 3 countries had crossed the line of 2015 US trade laws, but didn’t officially brand them as currency manipulators. The thresholds of that 2015 rule include either global current account surplus or foreign currency intervention over 2% of GDP, and having a trade surplus with the US over US $20 billion trade.

The flagging of Taiwan, Vietnam and Switzerland falls short of applying the manipulator label due to a 1988 law requiring evidence of manipulation to stop balance of payment adjustments or to gain a trade advantage. The US is already engaged in talks with Vietnam and Switzerland and will enter into “enhanced engagement” with Taiwan as well. Not being upgraded to the manipulator title relieves pressure from Switzerland and Vietnam, who both received the label in the last report issued by the Trump administration.

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance and Live Mint

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals

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Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Artist rendering of a "hospitel" - a hotel converted to a hospital.

With the third wave of Covid-19 ripping through Thailand, hospitals are rapidly filling up and the Thai Hotels Association has proposed “hospitels” as a creative solution. The portmanteau of “hospital” and “hotel” is the THA’s brainchild for creating more space for the growing number of Covid-19 infections that require treatment or at least observation as Thailand hits record daily case numbers. The idea of turning hotels into temporary hospitals was promoted by association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi this week.

“The move aims to reduce crowdedness at hospitals and promote continuous care for Covid-19 patients after new cases increased rapidly since late March.”

23 hotels have already registered to be hospitals, with 2,000 patients currently receiving treatment in the 4,900 available beds. The Ministry of Public Health laid out guidelines for hotels interested in participating. Hotels must have a minimum of 30 rooms and pass the alternative state quarantine evaluation. The ASQ-approved properties must have evidence of acknowledgement by the surrounding community to confirm their validity and eligibility. The hotel must be able and willing to take care of hospitalised patients for 5 to 7 days, even with no signs of symptom progression. Conversely, patients checking in must agree to stay in the hotel and be relatively self-sufficient.

Strict medical requirements must be met as well. Each patient must be provided with their own digital thermometer and pulse oximeter, and a portable x-ray machine must be available. The hotels must be staffed like hospitals, with at least one doctor, a clinical psychologist, a pharmacist, a radiologist, and an infection control nurse. There must also be one nurse per every 20 patients staying at the property.

This proposed solution might provide a welcomed supplement to the rudimentary field hospitals the Thai army has been hastily building to accommodate the influx of newly infected patients. While the quick work is commendable, some have hypothesized that at-risk foreigners may be ignoring calls to come forward for Covid-19 testing in part because being diagnosed may land them in these less-than-posh field hospitals for days on end. A more comfortable “hospitel” would allow infected foreigners to be treated in more pleasant surroundings thus encouraging them to come forward for testing.

SOURCE: National News Bureau and Nation Thailand

 

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