Hey Ben! glad you stumbled across my blog….that’s awesome your thinking about teaching in Thailand.. I definitely encourage that choice…however, I have mixed feelings on ATI that I’m more than happy to tell you about.
I’m not sure if ATI still has the “special Thai project” and if that’s the option you’re looking at, but I chose the special Thai project because I liked the idea of only commiting for 5 months and doing my actual ESL training in Thailand then having a secured job afterwards. I couldn’t fathom the idea back in the states of coming to Thailand without a secured job…but I quickly realized how EASY it is to get a teaching job here (if you have a bachelor’s). What ATI doesn’t really explain either is that they don’t actually place you…they work with several agencies who go through your resume and information, then pick you out of the ATI group and place you into a job. So when you’re done with your ATI training, you’ll be with an agency who essentially is supposed to help you with paperwork, your job, apartment stuff, etc. ATI actually never really follows up with you. The agency, in return, gets a chunk of your paycheck. I don’t think it’s much…but you could get a higher paying job if you just came to Thailand and found one on your own. My agency has been alright, but some can be nightmares and you are kind of left feeling trapped with your placement, because ATI will fine you 500 dollars and not give you your certificate if you don’t finish. I knew this before coming in, telling myself 4-5 months isn’t that long, even if I’m in a bad situation…but it has really felt like eternity and I’m so excited to finish my term, get my certificate, and find another job. A lot of people in my course got great placements though and are staying the full year…so it depends on luck really. Also, I don’t know if you have any expectations of what kind of teaching job you want in Thailand….but I think I really had my heart set on a humble experience teaching little kids at government schools in the middle of nowhere..and when I found out I was going to be in the city, teaching 12th graders at a prestigious private school…I couldn’t help but be dissappointed. So, my biggest piece of advice would be don’t set any expectations for your time in Thailand..and if you have certain things you want in a job…don’t go through ATI. In fact..someone just sent me a link to a teaching English in Thailand site…http://ajarn.com/ and it has great information on jobs. You could probably even find a job on there before you leave for Thailand.
On a more positive note, the three week course itself was worth the $950. It’s pretty intense….we were in class from 9-4 monday through friday and it’s very interactive…so it requires a lot of energy and participation. The instructors were great though…they had been in the field and were able to offer helpful insight. Although, they will teach you certain lesson plan models that none of us from the course have ever really used in our own classes…but they definitely get you prepared to be in front of a class of 40+ kids. Your accomodation is taken care of…and it’s a great way to instantly make friends in Thailand. You’ll be with your course classmates a lot and you’ll stay in touch through out your time in Thailand.
I guess if I could go back and do things differently….I would have still done the ATI course…but not the special Thai project where I can’t get my certificate until I’m finished. I think it’d be best to pay the extra 500 dollars and get your certificate as soon as you finish…and that thing will be your ticket to any job anywhere in the country. If you’re worried in the least about not finding a job, DON’T be…there are loads of government schools, language schools, private schools practically begging people to come teach. Schools were sending people through my apartment complex asking anyone with white skin if they wanted to teach. I have to run to class…but I wanted to give you some of my insight! If you have any more questions about anything regarding Thailand..feel free to e-mail me back. Let me know what you end up doing.