American TESOL Institute: Special Thai Project
After finishing my first semester of teaching in Thailand, I think it’s about time to give a review to the program I received my TESOL Certificate through.
I did my certification course with the American TESOL Institute (ATI) in Phuket September of 2011. In my class, there were about 40 of us, and though I had quite a good experience, I know a few people who did not. ATI is an organization which gives you your certification and guarantees work placement. The application process is simple and painless, simply go to their website, send your information (including a photo) and wait to hear back. After I applied, I received an email approximately three days later asking when I was available for a phone interview. Once again, this was nothing complicated, merely a series of questions asking about my prior work experience, why I wanted to work in Thailand, etc. They informed me that I would receive an email within the next week letting me know if I was accepted into the program or not. I received an email the following day. This is about as “timely” as ATI gets… I’ll get into their response time later. So, after I was accepted, I paid $1,100 for my certification, which was made in two payments. For ATI, as well as all other TESOL Certification agencies, you will have to send them scanned copies of your passport, degree certificate, as well as a couple other pieces of paper you can get from your university. ATI does not give any assistance with your flight, but they do guarantee work placement at 30,000 baht a month and the school you work for will either provide accommodation or a stipend for your housing.
As I mentioned before, I had a quite good experience with ATI. The agency they worked with to provide me with placement was Innovative Solutions (which I believe is a sector within their own organization). They do work with other placement agencies as well, the main one being Media Kids. Media Kids provides placement in the Issan (northeastern) region of Thailand, while Innovative Solutions is in and around Bangkok. If you are looking at working in northern Thailand (such as Chiang Mai) or southern areas (Phuket, the islands, etc.) you might consider paying an additional $500 to receive your teaching certificate up front and look on http://www.ajarn.com to find a job yourself. Typically you will receive information either before you go to Thailand or within the first week of training. It’s much more convenient when you have a placement before you leave because you can get your Non-Immigrant B visa before you go, but in my situation, there was a lot of flooding in Thailand which delayed the process a bit. I had to get a 60 day tourist visa, and fortunately I got a double entry. As I said, there was flooding, so my original placement was changed due to massive delays in the start date. I was placed in Krathumbaen, Samut Sakhon, Thailand which is about an hour south of Bangkok on a good day. The people I worked with were extremely helpful and the school was very accommodating with my needs.
Thailand in general is very relaxed when it comes to time. It’s a running joke here that they go by “Thai time” because there really is no rush in getting things done. There were many times I sent emails to ATI that went unanswered or took repeated tries to get in contact with “Jess.” I wasn’t stressed or put out by this, but there were many people in my group that were. I’m not sure if they are always like this or if flooding had something to do with it. I’m typically pretty understanding with stuff like that and assume they were being bombarded with emails asking about when people were going to receive placement, when they would start work and various other things that were not really within their control.
MORE COMING SOON!!!