Why You Should Learn New Skills Here
Spending an extended amount of time in Thailand can be a dream come true for many people but, if you allow yourself to fall into the trap of doing little more physical exercise than walking to the bar everyday and the most cognitive exercise you have is beating a bar girl at Connect Four, then don’t be surprised if your sense of well-being is short lived.
Learning new skills for either entertainment or employment can provide you with a great sense of pride in your achievement and help to fend off depression, which many expats suffer from at some point. Having no direct purpose in life, even if you are retired, on an extended holiday or employed in a less-than-challenging role can quickly diminish your ego. If you start to suffer rejection in friendships and relationships then this can heighten those feelings, especially if you are thinking about returning to your home country and realize that you are 20 kg heavier, have few of the skills required for modern business and not much is waiting back home for you.
Returning to your home country after years of living as a long-term tourist in Thailand can prove to be difficult if you haven’t kept up with the latest IT techniques and office etiquette. Many employers won’t consider hiring the long-term unemployed and, if you have spent the last few years frequenting the bars of Pattaya, then this generalization may well include you.
How you can learn new skills in Thailand
There are far worse places to start your new development than with a TEFL certificate. There are few people who haven’t considered teaching as a way of earning money in Thailand at some point and a TEFL certificate gives you the skills to do this. Online TEFL courses start from just US$190, so you don’t need to worry about heavy financial commitments.
The online TEFL course from ITTT (www.teflonline.net) is a great option which will teach you the Engage, Study, Activate method of teaching and consists of 20 modules where you will learn to develop lesson plans, utilize teaching materials and critical elements of classroom control. An online tutor, who will mark your assignments, is available for an additional fee and, if you purchase the most comprehensive online course for US$349, you will receive a free short course on teaching Business English or Teaching English to Young Learners.
IT also offer &lsquoin class’ courses, combined ‘in class’ and online courses and a BA TESOL in conjunction with Tongsook College. This is a low-cost degree course which costs just 120,000 baht over three years and, providing that you achieve all the credits required, you will be awarded with a Bachelor’s degree. The entrance requirements are as follows: "Should be a native English speaker who holds a passport from one of the following countries: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ireland, The United States of America, Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand or Canada; Or should have a minimum TOEFL score of 550; Or should be currently employed as an English teacher in Thailand."
This course includes an education visa and you can find out more information on the BA TESOL by visiting www.thongsookinternational.com/ba-tesol.html and an independant review of the course by one of their students can be found here: www.traveling-fox.com/2013/03/04/first-day-at-thongsook-college/
If you are somewhat tech savvy or consider yourself to be a bit of an IT expert, you could consider a web design or online marketing course. Blogging is a great hobby for travellers or expats and arming yourself with some WordPress development skills and the ability to drive traffic to your site or blog could result in a profitable hobby or even a new career. Web Courses Bangkok (www.webcoursesbangkok.com) offer a range of courses including Web Design, Online Marketing, Google Adwords, Photography and Social Media Marketing. Their courses are taught in English by experienced native-speaking instructors and are suitable for beginners through to professionals. Web Courses Bangkok also offer an internship programme, where you join the company as a member of their team and receive training to professional level in return for a five days per week commitment to helping develop their new courses. You must be able to devote at least six months to your internship and have a passionate, creative nature.
Learning Thai language is probably one of the most popular new skills that expats and tourists learn in Thailand. Not everyone is able to learn Thai to a competent level but anyone who is living here should make an effort to learn the basics. You can check out our ‘Tongue Thai-ed’ feature for basic tips but if you are serious about learning Thai then you should consider signing up for a course.
Walen School of Languages offer affordable Thai lessons and an education visa if you sign up for enough lessons. The minimum amount of study required in order to qualify for an education visa is 180 lessons at a cost of 24,960 baht. Usually course attendance is three lessons (50 minutes each) per day, three times per week. Walen School of Thai has developed its own method of teaching which is quite intense but teaches the four language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing simultaneously. You can also learn online if it isn’t convenient for you to travel to school or even try other languages including Russian, Spanish and Chinese. You can find more information on Walen School of Languages by visiting their website (www.thaiwalen.com/en/Learn_Online).
Learning Thai cookery is a great way to learn a new skill and feel great about yourself whilst saving money on eating out! There are four flavours in Thai cookery—salty, sour, sweet and spicy and the comprehensive cookery course at Baipai will enable you to use these flavours to create delectable delights which will make your mouth water. This is a hands-on course where you will leave with the ability to wow your friends with dishes which wouldn’t be out of place at any dinner party. If or when you return to your home country, being able to cook Thai food can be a great social advantage and will often conjure up fond memories of the time you spent in the Land of Smiles. Check out www.baipai.com for more information.
Thai massage is another great skill to learn whilst you are in Thailand and one of the most famous (and most expensive) places to do this is Wat Po (www.watpomassage.com). The general Thai massage course costs 9,500 baht and is 30 hours in duration, completed over five days. You will learn massage techniques and procedures and receive a personalised certificate upon completion of the course. After graduating from the general course, you may continue to expand your skills by studying Advanced Thai Medical Massage which takes 10 days to complete at a cost of 14,000 baht. In Western countries, Thai massage can cost up to 1,500 baht per hour, so learning these skills could even become a way to earn some extra money back home. There are over 10 more massage courses on offer at Wat Po and you can even spend time at their centre gaining practical experience after graduation.