If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping your routine and teaching English to a group of smiley, attentive children a few feet away from white sand beaches with crashing waves, you’ve dreamed of Koh Samui.
Thailand’s third largest island, Koh Samui, is the perfect destination for TEFL-earning students who want a laidback atmosphere that offers both an international city and breathtaking natural adventures. Have a cocktail as you watch the sunset’s pink and orange hues reflect off the ocean, stuff yourself with tom yum, a fiery seafood soup, with a group of expats, or immerse yourself in the lushness of the tropical jungle and catch the rumble of nearby elephants.
On Koh Samui, TEFL students learn the fundamentals of teaching English as a foreign language with practical opportunities at their doorstep. With so many teaching opportunities both on Koh Samui and around Thailand, taking a course on site is a great way to enhance your marketability as a teacher and learn the magic of Thai culture.
The TEFL courses on Koh Samui accept both native and non-native English students, offering them various four-week course options to complement their learning preferences, as well as at least six hours of observed teaching practice. Some academies already include housing arrangements in the fee, while others will arrange housing for an additional fee.
TEFL/TESOL On Site
The majority of TEFL-granting institutions on Koh Samui offer 120-hour, four-week courses and teaching practicums on site. Often, students live and study together. The academy plans cultural activities, often included in the fee.
TEFL/TESOL Online & On Site
This TEFL course gives students the option to complete material normally covered in the first two weeks of the on-site training online at their own pace. Then, at their convenience, they arrive in Koh Samui to finish the last two weeks and practical training on site. This option is great for students who have commitments in their home countries.
TEFL & Volunteer
For students hoping to give back and get to further know the local community, the TEFL and volunteer option is a great opportunity. After completing the four-week TEFL course, some academies offer housing and volunteer placement in a remote site for an extra fee.
When to Take Your TEFL in Koh Samui
Because Koh Samui is a year-round tourist destination and TEFL academies offer courses each month of the year, there is never a bad time to take your TEFL. However, you may want to keep in mind the climate and hiring season.
While it’s true academies hire English teachers throughout the year, primary hiring times are May and November. Therefore, taking your TEFL before then might make finding a job easier. While the weather is usually suitable all year, remember the rainy season is July through November, October, and November being the rainiest months. If soaking up the sun sounds more exciting than dodging downpours, consider going in February or March, the driest months.
Popular Destinations for TEFL Courses on Koh Samui
The two most popular destinations for TEFL courses on Koh Samui are Chaweng Beach and Choeng Mon. While Chaweng Beach is both the largest and busiest beach destination on the island, Choeng Mon is a 15-minute car ride away and offers a quieter slice of the island.
Both locations are perfect for sun worshipers and adventure seekers alike, but the differences relate to the type of lifestyle you’re after. While Chaweng is full of expats and tourists, international eateries and a range of accommodation types, Choeng Mon is more isolated and home to upscale resorts. If you love wild nightlife and a packed social calendar, living in Chaweng Beach will be easier than taking taxis back and forth from Choeng Mon.
What to Look For in a TEFL Course in Koh Samui
The most important thing your TEFL course should have is accreditation, meaning it includes all of the most essential aspects of teaching English and it is internationally recognized. This will ensure you not only learn the fundamentals of teaching English, such as English linguistics, teaching methods, and classroom management, but that your certification will allow you to teach in any country in the world.
Because there are different TEFL options in Koh Samui, look closely at what the course offers and how this aligns with your goals and intentions. For example, think about the type of living experience you wish to have. Would you like to live with other students, or do you wish to be more independent? If the latter is the case, don’t choose a program with housing already included. Next, pay close attention to the type of practicum the academy arranges. Do they place students in primary or secondary schools, or maybe with adult learners, or all three? Think about what type of teaching experience you’d prefer.
An added benefit of taking on-site courses is some also teach cultural competency and specific information about teaching English in Asian countries, such as expectations for teachers and students. If you plan to teach in Thailand or another Asian country after your certification, choosing a course that includes this element will be beneficial.
Health & Safety
Thailand has long been a favorite destination for travelers because of its welcoming and safe atmosphere. However, note that because Koh Samui is a hotspot for westerners letting loose, pickpockets and robberies can occur if you’re not careful. Be sure to safeguard valuables and all times and be aware of your surroundings.
It may seem like everyone in Thailand is partying, but be smart. Illegal drugs are taboo in Thailand and regulations against them are strictly enforced. Because of the unpredictable weather patterns in the tropics, be sure to pay close attention to forecasts and ask locals before jumping into waters with potential strong currents or other safety dangers.
Stay away from tap water and opt for filtered or bottled water. However, while you should be cautious of vegetables, there’s no need to be paranoid. Most eateries wash them filtered water before serving.
Cases of malaria are rare in Koh Samui, but pick up an anti-malarial prescription before arriving to be on the safe side. If you travel to other areas of the country or within the region, you’ll want to have the medication on hand. While these diseases aren’t common, it’s always a great idea to get hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines before traveling abroad.
When to Apply For Jobs in Koh Samui
There are opportunities year-round for many English teaching jobs in Koh Samui, especially in private academies. However, should teachers wish to teach in a formal school with children, hiring is typically done in May or November.
Average Salary of Post-TEFL Jobs in Koh Samui
English teachers in Koh Samui can expect to make around $900 a month after earning a TEFL certification. This salary is slightly lower than in other parts of Thailand, which can be up to $1,150. Luckily, the cost of living in Thailand is low, so teachers who plan well can still save a few hundred dollars a month.
Tips for Finding a Job in Koh Samui
Many of the TEFL academies on the island play a big role in job placement once you’ve earned your certification. Their services include CV writing, interview preparation, and sometimes, if you’re an exceptional student, they might even recommend you to a school.
Be sure to demonstrate a sense of professionalism while studying your TEFL and while out in the community. A good way to do this is by studying a bit of Thai, either before arriving or while on site, and reviewing the basic pillars of Thai society, which center around nation, religion, and monarchy. This shows you are serious about your job and respectful of the host culture, rather than being another foreign backpacker who comes to the country to drink cheaply.
Dress nicely and respectfully, make it clear you are well-versed in cultural norms. Smile often, learn the wai, or bow, and be cautious of how you express criticism or negativity. Finally, don’t forget to always be humble, quiet and patient, qualities highly respected in the country.