Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Thai School Year Calendar

The Thai school year does not match up with standard European, Australian, or North American school calendars. In addition, there may be changes to this schedule in 2014 to coordinate better with other ASEAN nations (helping integrate with the ASEAN Economic Community).

FFA School 381

Traditional Thai School Year Calendar

In Thailand, the school year does not line up with those across much of the Western world. This can cause confusion for volunteers who are coming to the kingdom to teach English. Beyond this, schedule changes tentatively slated for the 2014-2015 academic school year have introduced further confusion across the board.

The school year in Thailand begins in mid-May when the monsoon rains set in. This is a good time for students to be in class, as the weather makes outside activities less desirable. Under this model, the first semester winds down in early October with end-of-semester exams, and students take a three-week break.

Students return for second semester at the end of October. There a few intermittent holidays along the way, including time off to celebrate Western New Year. Final exams are held in late February or early March before the school year ends. The weather is a major motivator for the traditional Thai school year. Temperatures peak in March and April, and many schools do not have air conditioning in the classroom – especially out in the provinces. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to stay focused in class when the average temperature tops out at 36°C (98°F).

FFA School 484

Thai School Year Proposed Changes – 2014

There have been reports of potential changes in the Thai school year since 2011. Officials at the Ministry of Education expressed interest in making adjustments so that the terms line up with the ASEAN Economic Community guidelines scheduled to go into effect in 2015.

However, the specifics of this transition have been changed, tabled and reintroduced in subsequent years. In early 2012, the Ministry of Education stated that changes would only affect universities in Thailand, although this could’ve created complications (i.e. an unusually long summer term) for university-bound high school graduates. Then, in May of 2013, the Ministry of Education announced that changes would be implemented at all Thai schools and universities, taking effect for the 2014 / 2015 academic year. Under the new model, the first semester of 2014 will begin in early June, with the semester break (presumably) falling in November.

New School Year and Volunteers in Thailand

It’s worth mentioning that none of these proposed changes are a sure thing, although it appears that the Ministry of Education is planning to move ahead with them. With that in mind, volunteers hoping to teach English in 2014 will want to double-check their schedules.

Another change worth noting will only come into play until after the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The previous academic year will most likely end in early March (2014), as usual. However, if the changes are adopted, the next semester won’t begin until the following June 2014. School will then be out of session for a full three months, and volunteer teaching placements will most likely not be possible at this time. This means that those planning to visit during the Western summer holidays may need to wait until late June or early July 2014, when classes are back in full swing.

Teach English in Thailand with Friends for Asia