Sex, Drugs and ESL

Francis Hult francis.hult at
Thu Apr 9 13:08:46 UTC 2009

In These Times


Sex, Drugs and ESL

New laws policing foreign teachers in Thailand are mostly ignored.


Jessica Olien


Like many young English teachers abroad, I was enthusiastic about-but woefully under-qualified for- my new profession. I wanted to see some of the world before I transitioned to another "more respectable" job. So, after graduating from college, I flew to Thailand and took a bus to a fishing village a few hours east of Bangkok, where I spent three weeks binge-drinking and hanging out on the beach with 15-or-so classmates-and emerged with certification to teach English to speakers of foreign languages.


I was promptly offered a job at a language school in Bangkok, teaching after-school lessons to high school and college students. I once ran into the head teacher of my school on his way home with a prostitute he had picked up at a bar. Drunkenly, he swung his lit cigarette into her arm, burning her, then looked down at the smoldering remnants and said, "At least it's still lit." Needless to say, this man didn't go around giving background checks to his staff (who held daily forums in the teachers' room discussing the varying quality of women in Bangkok's many sex districts), nor bother finding out if their diplomas were valid. Many teachers in Thailand do not even hold college degrees, preferring to purchase diplomas online or on the Bangkok black market. 


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