Thai Culture Sensitivity Course
Last year the Thai ministry of education, (small case letters intentional) had a meeting of the minds. Obviously, it was a very, very short meeting. With all of their combined wisdom, they decided that all foreigners teaching in Thailand should go through a Cultural Sensitivity course. I agree with this, only if important parts of Thai culture that would apply to the classroom are to be taught. From what I have read on other websites that are geared towards foreigners teaching in Thailand, it is very clear that none of the important items were covered.
Here is a list of things I think should be taught at the “cultural sensitivity” course.
- Appearance is more important than reality. This means that is it more important to appear that we are giving the students a good education, than to actually spend the money to have updated curriculum and teaching materials. This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- You are required to give all students a passing grade. Even the students that haven’t learned anything, have never done their homework and usually play with their cell phones during English class. If you fail these student, the parents will enrol them in a different school next year and we will lose the school fees and government subsidiary. This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- You are expected to teach using the same method as Thai teachers, meaning you are to write your lesson on the blackboard, have the students repeat after you and then copy into their notebook. If you use different methods and the students actually learn English this will cause the Thai English teachers to lose face. This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- Many of your students will have the most recent model of cell phones or MP3 players, most costing more than 10,000 baht. These same students will come to your class and not have a 10 baht pen or a 150 baht English – Thai dictionary. When you ask them why they don’t have these things they will tell you they “don’t’ have money”. This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- When the school hired you, the director of education made many promises to you so you would choose his school. Please do not expect him to keep those promises. This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- Please do not expect your students to actually learn what you are teaching them. Remember you only have to appear to be teaching them. This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- When the students don’t learn what you have taught them, because they talked during your class, played with their cell phones during your class or didn’t do the homework you assigned your class, it is your fault. You are a bad, unqualified teacher. We always blame the foreign teacher, not the students. If we blame the students, the parents will enroll them in a different school and we will lose the school fees (see # 2). This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- If you have something, you would like to copy and hand out to your students to help them learn English, you must pay for the copies with your own money. The school does not pay for teaching materials. The school pays your salary and that is enough. This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- Please don’t come to us with your ideas on how to more effectively teach English. We have been doing it the same way for over 20 years and we are not going to change. This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
- You are expected to teach all students from the classroom. It is possible that you will be teaching children English that don’t even know how to read or write their own language. It is more than likely some of the students in your class will have learning disabilities. This does not matter as you will allow them to attend your class and cause disturbances and make it difficult for the few that want to learn to be able to learn. If you send these students back to their classroom, the parents will enroll them in another school and we will lose the school fees the parents pay (see #2 & #7). This is Thai culture, please be sensitive.
In closing I would like to add that in one of the May editions of the Bangkok Post, the Prime Minister of Thailand stated that he was concerned about the decline of the number farmers in Thailand. He stated that there is an estimated 24 million farmers out of a population of about 64 million people. He is worried that if the decline in the number farmers (the increase in educated people) continued, food would become very expensive in Thailand.
I personally wrote him an email telling him not to worry. That the ministry of education and the Thai teachers are doing a great job making sure there will be enough farmers in Thailand's future.
Until next time,
Excellent! I really enjoyed it!