Does Teaching English in Thailand Really Make a Difference?

Does Teaching English in Thailand Really Make a Difference?

by Michael Volpe, our partner for Greenheart Travel’s Teach English in Thailand Program

Learning a second language in countries like Thailand, where tourism is a major part of the economy, and where the country is developing quickly, is not a hobby like it is the United States. Most Thai people do not learn English for fun or to make their applications more attractive to universities. Learning English in these countries is a ticket to a better life.

If you can speak English at a competent level, you can move out of poverty and become firmly middle class, without needing the best education and opportunities. All you need to be able to do is speak English and you can get a job in one of many industries that support tourism or international business.

Countries like Thailand are very hierarchical and relationship based, and public schools in poor areas don’t teach so much as manage a large number of students. Both of these factors lead to a cycle of poverty. If you are born poor, you do not benefit from the right relationships and connections, you go to poor schools with low expectations, you do not get a good education, and you end up doing what your parents did: becoming push cart vendors, laborers, or domestic help.

One way to break out of that cycle is by learning English. English teachers in Thailand have an enormous opportunity to help break the cycle of poverty for millions of Thai children and give them a skill (one native speaking teachers often take for granted) that they can use to pick themselves up and provide better futures for their children. If you think about each teacher and the number of students he or she teachers, the impact is enormous.


One thing we also stress to teachers is that each is a national and cultural ambassador from their country, helping to build mutual understanding and appreciation and in the long run closer relationships between the teacher’s host country and home country. The teacher brings a bit of their culture into the classroom, breaks down stereotypes, and piques interest in the country and culture. We have seen this in Thailand over the past few years with the population being more open to people of different ethnic backgrounds, religions, and cultures as teachers.

While the teacher brings their culture into the classroom, they also soak up the Thai culture, which helps them understand and appreciate different cultural perspectives. Teachers take this deeper understanding of Thai culture back with them to their home countries and share it with their friends and family. These actions and experiences help to bridge cultures and build respect and better understanding.

Check out our Greenheart Travel alumni teachers’ photos below and get inspired to teach English in Thailand!

2 thoughts on "Does Teaching English in Thailand Really Make a Difference?"

  1. Eldon Attig says:

    Thanks for the great info! Looking forward to more updates on this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *