The Differences Between Thai and International Schools in Thailand

A core attribute of an international school is that they will enroll students from any country, not just the country in which the school is based. This is the notable difference between international schools and Thai schools. 

International Schools for International Students

An international school in Bangkok is different as it doesn’t restrict students by their nationality. This is especially important for schools which have numerous campuses across different countries.

Some schools have many campuses in different countries across different continents. It is important for these schools to be able to offer an education that is consistent throughout their schools. 

This is true to English language learners (ELLs).

Thai Government Schools – Just for Thai Students

Thai schools, or often called Thai government schools, are only for Thai students. If you are an expat student who is not of Thai heritage, you will not be allowed to enroll. There are occasions, such as foreign student exchange programs when non-Thai students can enroll in a Thai school, but this is rare. 

In a Thai school, most lessons are conducted in Thai, with only English and maybe Social Studies taught in English. As the Thai government pays for the fees of the students, and pays the teacher’s salaries, they only permit Thai nationals to be taught in them. 

This is problematic, as the Thai government doesn’t pay wages that compete with international schools. This results in qualified, experienced teachers often not applying to Thai government schools as they can receive a higher salary elsewhere.  

What are ELL Students?

ELL students are students:

  • for whom English is not at the required level
  • who are behind in their study of English

If a student is ELL, it doesn’t mean that they require special needs education. It could simply mean they need extra help to ‘catch up’. 

In many international schools, the ELL teachers are employed to provide this additional support. 

ELL teachers work in collaboration with the English Language Arts (ELA) teachers. They will often provide support to help the student better access the ELA curriculum, which may presently be too challenging.

There are various ways in which an ELL and ELA teacher collaborate. 

Often, ELL teachers will ‘push in’ to ELA lessons, providing 121 support for the students as part of the ELA lesson. At other times, ELA teachers will ‘pull out’ students, to provide especially differentiated content in a dedicated learning environment such as an ELL classroom.

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