Teaching English in Thanyaburi, Thailand: Alumni Q&A with Sione Lister

Teaching English in Thanyaburi, Thailand: Alumni Q&A with Sione Lister

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What is your citizenship?

United States

What city and state are you from?

Seattle, WA

How old are you?


What is your education level and background?

Bachelor's degree

Have you traveled abroad in the past?

Studied abroad

If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?

Mexico, Aruba, France, Dominican Republic

If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?


What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad

I have always wanted to travel, but after working in the field I had thought I wanted to go into post-graduation, I realized I wasn't happy and decided I wanted to teach English. I had worked in K-12 schools in undergrad, so teaching wasn't too far off base from what I felt capable of doing.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?

How I was going to teach a subject without a common language. Moving and living in another country without my family and friends.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?

For the most part they were supportive. Some of my family was concerned about where I would go, but when I settled on Thailand, they were all pretty happy. 

I felt like, while many of my friends were excited for me, they didn't understand my reason for wanting to go and not doing the normal 'get a 9-5 job and work until you can retire' path.

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Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?

I wanted to be as prepared as I could, which is what led me to want to get my TEFL certificate. After researching online about TEFL programs in my area, I realized I needed to take one online. That led me to more research which is how I found the International TEFL Academy. I was unsure, but after talking to one of the advisors before I registered, I felt much more comfortable and decided to sign up.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?

Online TEFL Course

How did you like the course?

The most valuable part was definitely the practicum - by being forced to get involved, I was able to make some connections but also make sure that it was something I could imagine myself doing for a year or more. Online courses are hard for me to make personal connections with, but I do remember specifically being happy during the chapter on Cultural Sensitivity. It was also really helpful making all of the lesson plans!

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?

Thinking through a simple activity in terms of a lesson plan is normal to me, which I don't think I would be able to do without the TEFL course. Also, it helped with classroom management and more than anything, me just being more patient and understanding.

Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?

I chose to teach English in Thailand in the city of Thanyaburi. There were a lot of components, some of them being: safety, culture, job availability, and location.

Earn your TEFL certification and teach English in ThailandHow long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?

I have been here for seven months and have five more to go. 

What school, company, or program are you working for?

I work at RMUTT: Rajamangala University of Technology in Thanyaburi

During which months does your school typically hire?

December-January and May-June.

Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?


What kind of Visa did you enter on?

Work visa. Non-tourist B

Please explain the visa process that you went through

A company helped us apply for our visas. We mailed our forms, passports, and all required documents to the outside company which helped us apply.

What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply

- Native English speaker
- Bachelor's degree

What is the best way to apply?


Tell us about your English teaching job!

My teaching position is very unique for Thailand. This last semester, I had three of my own classes (50 students/each), where I taught English for Communication 2. Our classes are three hour lectures held once a week. I was also a TA for two other classes, in which the leading teacher would let us know that week if they needed our help or not. When I wasn't teaching, we had English camps for campus faculty, staff and students for various university departments. We also were assigned something called Speaking Corner which is when we are available in an office for four hours for students to come in and practice English with us.

Salary: Not including our apartment which is paid for, we receive 25,000 baht/month (~$785 USD). The English camps I mentioned above also include bonuses of various amounts

Savings: How much I save depends on how much I travel that month. On average, I probably save 4,000 baht/month (~$125 USD). 

Students: Most of my students are 18-19 years old in their first year of university. 

Vacation: Not including government recognized holidays, we have had two 2-week breaks in between semesters, as well as 10 days off during midterms. We were also given 8 sick days and 10 personal days. I would like to say that my experience is not the norm for Thailand. I consider myself lucky to have such a relaxed job, but I wouldn't say that my case is typical.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?

Our school set up our housing for us. They are in apartments near the university where most students live. It is a very simple studio with a bed, desk, closet, fridge, TV, and bathroom. No, I do not have any roommates.


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Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...  

Culture: The Thai people are very kind. Since being over here, I have traveled to five other countries, and there is just something very gentle and welcoming about the Thai people. I can see why Thailand's nickname is the Land of Smiles. Compared to back home, Thai people are much more modest. This is more noticeable where I live than in the toursity areas, but I would say that it is normal for me to cover my shoulders to knees just to avoid any uncomfortable encounters. The main cultural aspect that makes it difficult to work here is that the Thai people are very anti-confrontational. This means that, for example, if you are dressed inappropriately they will tell your coworker to tell you. It also means that we do not know what we are doing most of the time, and it is considered impolite for us to ask.

Public transportation is almost always available but it can definitely be an adventure! If you are in Bangkok, the sky trains and subway are the easiest ways to get around. All taxis (vehicle and moto) usually involve some sort of negotiation. There are also charter buses, mini vans, and public metro buses to help you get around. It is normal for a trip somewhere to involve many types of public transportation. In my town there is not much nightlife but in other places there are usually lots of bars and in bigger cities like Bangkok, clubs, to go out to.

Social activities: In each town there are usually expat groups which host different social events. If you are in or near Bangkok, there are obviously a ton of different opportunities. In smaller towns like where I live, the social activities include taking the bus to the mall or to see a movie. During the weekend, I usually travel to somewhere with more to do.

Food: Thai food is delicious! If you are not living in the main tourist areas, you will need to learn the simple food words in Thai so you can order (chicken/pork/vegetarian/rice/not spicy/etc.) Thai food is naturally spicy, but it is easy to order food less spicy or to find other things that aren't spicy. It is so easy to eat fresh fruit and vegetables which is one of my favorite parts of living here! I get most of my food at the market since in smaller towns, there are not really restaurants like we know back home.

Expat community again depends on where you are placed. For me, the only expats are the other foreign teachers I was placed with. But I have friends in larger cities that are able to meet a lot of foreigners.

Dating scene: Unsure about the dating scene!

Travel: It is really easy and affordable to travel around Thailand and SE Asia. Within an hour flight from Bangkok you can be up North in Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai or down South to Krabi or Surat Thani. I have also traveled to Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore which have been very easy to get to.


What are your monthly expenses?

Rent: 4000 baht (~$125 USD)
Water: 240 baht (~$7.50 USD)
Electricity: 800-1200 baht (~$25-$37 USD)
Food: 150 baht/day (~$5 USD) 
Travel: 5000 baht/trip (~$150 USD) 
Phone: 799 baht/month for 9 GB (~$25 USD)

How would you describe your standard of living?

It isn't luxurious by any means, but it is safe, comfortable, and simple!

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?

$1,000 USD would be ideal, if you were paying for your own rent. That means traveling most weekends and eating out! You can definitely live on less if you were to travel less.
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What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?

I would definitely recommend teaching English in Thailand, mainly because of the Thai people! I have never once felt unsafe which I think is my favorite thing about living here.

I would just say to make sure you have enough money to book your ticket home in case it doesn't work out. Besides that, just to do it and come!

For more on Sione's adventures, check out her blog!


Posted In: Teach English in Asia, Teach English in Thailand, Thanyaburi

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