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Thai Language Schools in Pattaya

Thai Language Schools in Pattaya

Sourcing a Thai language school in Pattaya…

On moving to Pattaya one of my first orders of business was to find a decent Thai language school that could fulfill my two main requirements: provide me with a 1 year education visa and be able to teach me to speak Thai competently.

While the Education Visa is a necessity the actual learning of the Thai language is a goal anyone seeking to to live, or stay long term, in Thailand should have.

As I have chosen to live in Pattaya the schools I will be reviewing are all Pattaya based but some do have offices in Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well. While there are a multitude of Thai language schools in Pattaya I have chosen the top 3 schools in the area based on ease of access, variety of schedules and payment plans and the fact that these three schools all offered a 1 year student visa.

Disclaimer: The following review of Thai language courses offered in Pattaya is based on my personal experience attending a free class at each school and talking with both representatives of the school and students, as well as looking over their teaching materials. These reviews constitute my opinions and my opinions only, your experience may differ.

Also keep in mind that everyone has a different learning curve and style and what may work well for one student doesn’t necessarily work well for another. Anyone interested in learning the Thai language while in Thailand should do their homework and look into the various schools/teachers available and if possible sit in on a free class to get a feel for the teachers teaching style and the methods used by the school. Only then can you make an informed decision as to what is best for you.

Also note that all the free classes I sat in on were beginner’s courses which had all just started at the beginning of the week and at most had only a few classes under their belt.

Review: Thai language schools in Pattaya…

PLC: Pattaya School of Languages and Computers

Location: 194/10-11 Moo 9 Pattaya Klang Road

Info: As the name suggests PLC offers a wide variety of classes from Language to computers and web design. The representatives I spoke to were well-informed about classes, schedules and cost.

Materials: The lessons in the text book seemed to flow together nicely and the reviews at the end of each lesson were very helpful. Since I am new to learning Thai I can’t give a comprehensive report on the text book used but in my opinion I could easily follow the lessons which were in English and Thai with phonetic spellings and tone marks which helped to get pronunciation correct.

Teacher: The teacher who taught the free class I attended was very knowledgeable and spoke both English and Thai fluently. She took her time going through the lessons to make sure everyone understood the lesson. She also corrected bad pronunciation.

Students: Students seemed eager to start class and seemed to have a good grasp of vocabulary and speaking small sentences.

Class: This was a group class that consisted of 8 people. PLC also offers individual classes and smaller classes for a different fee.

Schedule: Classes are offered Monday through Friday at varying times to fit any schedule.

Cost: Learning Thai in a group class will cost you 3000 baht for 20 hours, 9000 baht for 60 hours or 17,000 baht for 120 which includes a 1 year Education Visa. There is a 100 baht nonrefundable registration fee for all classes.

My Take: The class, teacher and method seem to be put together well but the class was rather boring, sticking strictly to the materials at hand. I think I could learn to speak Thai well here but I worry that I might lose interest over time.

Pro Language

Location: 116/33 Moo.9 Central Pattaya Road (Pattaya Klang)

Info: Pro Language is another outfit that has offices in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya. Their representatives were very knowledgeable about classes, schedule and pricing and even went the extra mile to make sure I learned a little Thai while signing up for the free class.

Materials: The course book is well laid out and lessons flow easily one into the next with reviews and vocabulary at the end of each lesson. The lessons are laid out in both Thai and English with phonetic spellings and tone marks to get the pronunciations correct. The beginner’s material actually has you dealing with not only words but sentence structure with later lessons dealing with reading and writing Thai.

Teacher: While the teacher followed the lesson plan he would often deviate from the lesson bringing students real lives into the examples and using real places in Pattaya to make his point. The class was much more interactive with the students being asked simple questions in Thai and giving the responses back in Thai using sentences and proper sentence structure. Emphasis was there when it came to pronunciation, tone and sentence structure.

Students: Seemed eager for class, showed great participation and had very good vocabulary and sentence skills.

Class: The class was small at just 4 people which made for a much more personal experience.

Schedule: Classes are offered 7 days a week at varying times to fit any schedule.
Cost: Group pricing starts at 9000 baht for 60 lessons up to 25,000 baht for 180 lessons and a 1 year Education Visa.

My Take: My teacher was very knowledgeable and both fluent in Thai and English. The materials are easy to follow so there should be no problem studying on your own. The class is very interactive and hands on which for me is very conducive for learning. The teacher made me feel like I was getting a one on one lesson and often used examples from the student’s lives to teach lessons which made the lesson much more personal and easy to remember.

Callan & Walen

Location: 194/74 Soi Paniad Chang Moo.9 Central Pattayaq Road (Pattaya Klang)

Info: Callan & Walen is a very well known School both in Pattaya and Bangkok. Their representatives were very knowledgeable about classes, schedule and pricing and the offices were very nice.

Materials: The course book seemed very well put together but unfortunately there was no phonetic spellings and much of the course book is in Thai. This is in fact part of the Walen method in which they get you to start reading Thai early on and not rely on phonetic spellings. While this may be good in theory I think a little help in the beginning is paramount when starting off with Thai. One worry is that I would be lost with the materials when studying on my own.

Teacher: The teacher seemed to follow an inflexible lesson plan that hinges on mostly repetition of words. While this method may work well for others I can’t see where this would help me to speak Thai in the long run. The teacher seemed almost mechanical and I didn’t hear her correct the pronunciation of any of the students during the class.

Students: Seemed mechanical but had a good vocabulary although sometimes pronunciation was off.

Class: The class size was nice at 6 people but you would think with that few people there would be more interaction going on between students and teacher, there wasn’t much if any.

Schedule: Classes are on offer 7 days a week with lessons to fit any schedule.

Cost: Group lessons start at 9900 baht for 60 lessons, 19,200 baht for 120 lessons and 24,960 baht for 180 lessons which includes a 1 year Education Visa.

My Take: While the class size is perfect I don’t feel their method of teaching will work for me. Repetition can be a good thing but without sentence structure and pronunciation into the mix I feel I would be wasting my time. A strong vocabulary is important but if I can’t put that vocabulary into proper form then I don’t think I’ll be speaking Thai.

My choice of a Thai language school in Pattaya…

After sitting in on free classes offered by these schools I decided to go with Pro Language as their methods, materials and teachers really suited my style of learning and I feel I will get the most out of their classes.

This doesn’t mean the other schools aren’t worthwhile. If you are thinking about learning the Thai language in Pattaya I encourage you to sit in on the free classes offered by these schools. You may find that one of the other methods suits your learning style better. You may also have different teachers than I had for each class and they may make the learning experience much different than what I observed.

Whatever you choose, making the choice to learn the Thai language is a daunting one but one that I think will make your experience in Thailand all the richer.

Talen (AKA Tim Bull)

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Overview: Learn Thai Podcast

Overview of Learn Thai Podcast

Learn Thai Podcast…

Learn-Thai-Podcast.com started when Jay worked in Thailand 4 years ago. He came here to work for a design company and we just did some lessons for fun. We stopped at some point but received a lot of positive feedback so about 2.5 years ago we decided to do this seriously and make a real online Thai course. This is when we started the original Premium Course.

I love languages, studied English and have been or I’m still learning English, German and Japanese so I knew a bit about language teaching methodology and linguistics. Right from the start I was responsible for the lessons and all the content and I always received feedback from Jay and other foreigners on how well one lesson structure worked. In the beginning we did about seven to ten different lesson formats before we decided to go for the one we have now (with 3 repetitions and word by word translations). Everyone agreed this worked best.

Since then and now over 700 lessons later it has been a great experience. While I enjoyed teaching the basic Thai grammar, Thai word usage is a whole different and for me very fascinating field. A lot of the things we teach in intermediate lessons about word usage can’t be found in any Thai textbooks because there are simply no written rules for that. Speaking habits come and go and change over the years and exploring this area is not only really helpful for people who want to speak more like native Thai speakers but also a bit like venturing into places no one else has been before. I absolutely like that even though it causes me lots of headache while working on lessons. Some concepts are so unique to the Thai language that it is hard to express them in English but I do my very best and so far we always came up with the right descriptions to explain them to our course members. We also always test our lessons with some people who don’t know Thai and see if they understand what we explain. No matter how difficult the subject if someone who is new to Thai can’t understand most of it right away we have to break it down even further (to more easily digestible bits).

We have done 3 courses over the last years. A beginner course in which people learn all the basics of the Thai language, grammar, pronunciation, 3000 of the most common Thai words and some speaking habits. An intermediate course in which we focus on sharpening peoples listening skills, explain more advanced grammar and a lot of word usage. A reading & writing course in which we walk people step by step through the process of learning to read and write with theory and practice lessons and writing exercises. We are currently redoing all of these courses and adding lessons along with brand new lessons every week to our new LTP Premium Course. So we have one subscription now for all three courses, plus we just started an advanced section with more lessons.

Our idea with all lessons and the essential idea with all our courses is to enable members to take baby steps with our lessons while making giant leaps in learning the Thai language. For example once you understand that for the falling tone in Thai you just have to start a syllable with a bit higher sound and end up at the regular sound of your voice it becomes much more easy. We are trying to find these foreigner-friendly concepts that just work and pass them on to our subscribers.

I think this is also one of the benefits of the Internet. A lot of things can be made a lot easier because we have all the time of the world. We do not have to fit all content on a CD or DVD and therefore can cover things with a lot of detail and as we always do with a lot of examples. Why so many examples?

Instead of learning a language like it is sometimes taught in school, through repetition and strict rules, we want to emphasize usage based language acquisition. Of course the best thing would be that everyone could just walk out and immerse themselves in the Thai language but that isn’t possible for a lot of people. So we try to add as many examples and usage scenarios to our lessons as possible to help people to get a feeling for the language and to learn it more naturally.

There is no way around learning rules, especially in the beginning when you have just started to learn Thai, so if a new member learns with our course before he should move on to conversation lessons we recommend to do the basic sets of grammar lessons (that all come with a review lesson to reinforce what you have learned… yes! lots of examples!) that has a foundation to start from. Things just become a lot more simple in Thai if you know the basic rules very well (and there are not that many too!)

After that and in all our intermediate and advanced lessons we focus on conversational Thai (or in some advanced lessons formal Thai like you see on TV). With these lessons people also learn Thai within a context so it is easier for them to remember it. Our intermediate and advanced lessons come as individual groups or how we call it cycles in which all lessons relate to each other. How we do this can be seen in our video about cycles.

About the technological side of things Jay has some more things to say: I’m a technology geek I have to admit it. I get excited thinking about the mobile Internet and read technology blogs several times a day. We choose the Podcast format as our form of delivery because it is very easy for people to receive new content and if you have always new content already on your computer or mobile device you will use it more often and therefore it is easier to create a habit of learning Thai (which is so important if you really want to learn the language).

We did a survey some months ago and over 70% of the people mentioned the ease of using the course and the content delivery as one of several reasons why they enjoy learning with us. We are dedicated to this idea and will support future technology that enables users to learn better in any way possible. We are already working on some more ideas to make it easier for people who use the mobile Internet to enjoy our content (and vocabulary trainer).

The site has grown a lot, and we currently have over 55gb of individual lessons. This will of course get even more with the new LTP Premium Course and its new video formats. We also have over 16.000 entries in our database, along with audio files, that will become available in the vocabulary trainer as we post all the updated lessons in the coming months (along with the new lessons).

Jo and Jay,
Learn Thai Podcast

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Learn Thai with Benjawan Poomsan Becker

Benjawan Poomsan Becker

Learning the Thai language with Benjawan…

It is an undisputed fact that Benjawan Poomsan Becker of Paiboon Publishing is the top producer of Thai language products.

With that jewel in mind… while I was working on the Benjawan Poomsan Becker Interview, I came up with a way to show just how proliferate she is.

Not only would I list each of her language courses, but I would share the details of each product. Most important? The table of contents and vocabulary count.

Vocabulary count is a popular way of keeping score. I don’t do it, but many language learners do. And when I contacted Benjawan about the vocab count in some of her courses, she kindly obliged (thanks Benjawan!)

Products from Paiboon Publishing…

Benjawan is constantly adding new products; below is what she has so far. And when her new products hit the market, I will edit them in too (foo foo to the ‘no editing of blog posts’ rule).

Thai for Beginners

Thai for BeginnersAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 1995
Pages: 262
Size:8-1/4 x 5-3/4 x 5/8″
Sound files: CD
Vocabulary: 880 vocabulary words + sentences
Dictionary: No

Overview: Thai for Beginners teaches speaking, listening, reading and writing at the beginner level.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to Pronunciation
  • Lesson 1: Greetings; polite particles; yes-no questions; personal pronouns; cardinal and ordinal numbers; the Thai writing system; consonant classes; determining tones in written Thai; middle consonants; long vowels; tone marks
  • Lesson 2: bpen, yuu (to be); more vowels; live and dead syllables; tone rules for middle consonants
  • Lesson 3: Colours; ja (future tense); daai (can) more vowels; complex vowels; final consonants; seven vowels that change their forms; tone rules for middle consonants (cont.)
  • Lesson 4: Telling time; high consonants; tone rules for high consonants
  • Lesson 5: Days of the week; months; tone marks with high consonants; low consonants introduced
  • Lesson 6: ao, yaak (to want); gamlang (to be …ing); tone rules for low consonants
  • Lesson 7: dai-yen (to hear); jam (to remember); noon-lap (to fall asleep); moong (to look); tone rules for low consonants (cont.)
  • Lesson 8: Body parts; everyday life’ special )))); silent hhhh
  • Lesson 9: Family and kinship terms; occupations; animals; how to use ddddd; other features of written Thai
  • Lesson 10: Comparisons; adjectives; classifiers
  • Appendix 1: Summary of the Thai writing system
  • Appendix 2: Test and writing exercises

Purchase: Thai for Beginners

Thai for Intermediate Learners

Thai for Intermediate LearnersAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2007
Pages: 211
Size: 8-1/4″ x 5-3/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: 2 CDs
Vocabulary: 1200 vocabulary words + sentences
Dictionary: No

Overview: Teaches vocabulary, sentence structure, and conversation.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to Pronunciation
  • Lesson 1: Directions; Thai place names; public holidays; provinces
  • Lesson 2: More directions; Bangkok place names
  • Lesson 3: Using
  • Lesson 4: using
  • Lesson 5: Using
  • Lesson 6: Using
  • Lesson 7: Thai names; food; desserts; English names used in Thai
  • Lesson 8: More about kinship terms; pronouns
  • Lesson 9: Using particles
  • Lesson 10: The twelve year cycle; words from English
  • English translation
  • Test answers

Purchase: Thai for Intermediate Learners

Thai for Advanced Readers

Thai for Advanced ReadersAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2000
Pages: 208
Size: 8-1/4″ x 5-3/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: 2 CDs
Vocabulary: 950 vocabulary words + sentences
Dictionary: No

Overview: Thai reader with vocabulary list, definitions, and pronunciation guide.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Part one: Passages in Thai: My family, When I was a student, Thai food, Thai geography, My hobbies, Songkran Day, My university life, Muay Thai, religions in Thailand, Loy Kranthong Day, Thai language, climate of Thailand, Hill tribes of Thailand, education in Thailand, Thai people in America, a brief history of Thailand
  • Part two: Practice reading the newspapers: Brief news, world news, horoscope, help wanted, advertisement
  • Part three: Miscellaneous Thai: Thai National Anthem, Buddhist prayer, tongue twister, Ai Mai Muan, Thai songs, Thai proverbs, Provinces in Thailand, the ten Asean countries
  • References

Purchase: Thai for Advanced Readers

Practical Thai Conversation 1

Practical Thai Conversation 1Author: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2005
Pages: 81
Size: 7-1/2″ x 5-3/4″ x 1/2″ (hard case with booklet)
Sound and video files: 1 DVD
Vocabulary: 430 vocabulary words
Dictionary: No

Overview: See and hear Thai conversations. You are given a choice of subtitles: English, transliteration, and Thai.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Conversation 1: Greetings and introductions
  • Conversation 2: Asking for directions and taking a taxi
  • Conversation 3: Asking for directions II
  • Conversation 4: Asking for personal information
  • Conversation 5: In a Thai restaurant
  • Conversation 6: On the telephone
  • Conversation 7: Shopping
  • Conversation 8: In a hotel
  • Conversation 9: Talking about yourself
  • Conversation 10: Talking about Thailand

Purchase: Practical Thai Conversation 1

Practical Thai Conversation 2

Practical Thai Conversation 2Author: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2006
Pages: 52
Size: 7-1/2″ x 5-3/4″ x 1/2″ (hard case with booklet)
Sound files: 1 DVD
Vocabulary: 211 vocabulary words
Dictionary: No

Overview: The conversations are targeting intermediate Thai learners. As with volume 1, there is a choice of subtitles: English, transliteration, and Thai.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Conversation 1: At the bank
  • Conversation 2: Making phone calls
  • Conversation 3: Talking about work
  • Conversation 4: At the tailor
  • Conversation 5: Directing the secretary
  • Conversation 6: At the doctor’s clinic
  • Conversation 7: Looking for a place to rent
  • Conversation 8: Describing people
  • Conversation 9: Going to Songkran Festival

Purchase: Practical Thai Conversation 2

Speak Like a Thai 1

Speak Like a Thai 1Author: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2007
Pages: 80
Size: 7-1/2″ x 5-3/4″ x 1/2″ (hard case with booklet)
Sound files: 1 CD
Vocabulary: 500 key words and phrases
Dictionary: No

Overview: Basic and common expressions in Thai.

Table of contents:

  • About the book
  • Politeness
  • Characteristics of the Thai language
  • Guide to pronunciation
  • 500 Thai phrases

Purchase: Speak Like a Thai 1

Speak Like a Thai 2

Speak Like a Thai 2Author: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2006
Pages: 52
Size:4-5/8″ x 3-1/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: CD
Vocabulary: 250 key words and phrases.
Dictionary: No

Overview: Thai slang and idioms. Includes 320 bonus words (not recorded on the audio CD).

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Practical Thai conversation

Purchase: Speak Like a Thai 2

Speak Like a Thai 3

Speak Like a Thai 3Author: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date:
Pages:
Size:4-5/8″ x 3-1/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: CD
Vocabulary: 400 key words and phrases
Dictionary: No

Overview: Common Thai proverbs and sayings.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Thai proverbs and sayings

Purchase: Speak Like a Thai 3

Speak Like a Thai 4

Speak Like a Thai 4Author: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2008
Pages: 89
Size:4-5/8″ x 3-1/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: CD
Vocabulary: 300 key words and phrases
Dictionary: No

Overview: Thai heart words. Includes 160 bonus words (not recorded on the audio CD).

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • 300 Thai heart words
  • Featured ‘jai’ word
  • Review of Thai phrases, slang and sayings with the word ‘jai’
  • Other Thai phrases and sayings with ‘jai’
  • Thai names with the word ‘jai’
  • Thai last names with the word ‘jai’
  • Thai songs with the word ‘jai’

Purchase: Speak Like a Thai 4

Speak Like a Thai 5

Speak Like a Thai 5Author: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date:
Pages:
Size: 4-5/8″ x 3-1/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: CD
Vocabulary: 500 key words and phrases
Dictionary: No

Overview: Phrase book for the Northeastern (Issan) dialect. Includes 190 bonus words (not recorded on the audio CD).

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Northeastern dialect
  • Bonus Issan words

Purchase: Speak Like a Thai 5

Speak Like a Thai 6

Speak Like a Thai 6Author: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2009
Pages: 83
Size: 4-5/8″ x 3-1/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: CD
Vocabulary: 525 key words and phrases
Dictionary: No

Overview: Twenty real-life conversations.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • Greetings and introduction
  • Directions 1
  • Directions 2
  • Personal information
  • Restaurant
  • Wrong number
  • The telephone
  • Shopping
  • Seeing a friend
  • Describing yourself
  • Thailand
  • Directing your secretary
  • The bank
  • Small talk
  • Teaching English
  • Doctor’s office
  • Internet shop
  • Describing people
  • The election
  • The museum
  • Good luck

Purchase: Speak Like a Thai 6

Improving Your Thai Pronunciation

Improving Your Thai PronunciationAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2003
Pages: 44
Size: 4-5/8″ x 3-1/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: CD
Vocabulary: 94 vocabulary words
Dictionary: No

Overview: This book is guaranteed to help improve your listening and pronunciation skills. The low number of new vocabulary words in this product assumes the student already knows vocabulary words and is seeking to improve their pronunciation skills.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • The five tones
  • The vowels
  • The consonants
  • Clusters
  • Confusing words
  • Poly-syllabic words
  • Thai intonation
  • Tongue twisters
  • Thaiglish

Purchase: Improving your Thai pronunciation

Thai for Travellers Phrase book

Thai for Travellers Phrase bookAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2006
Pages: 182
Size: 4-5/8″ x 3-1/4″ x 1/2″
Sound files: CD
Vocabulary: 1450 vocabulary words
Dictionary: A vocabulary in the back of the book is arranged by subject.

Overview: Phrase book with sound files.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Greetings and introductions
  • Often used phrases
  • Language difficulties
  • At the hotel
  • Getting around
  • Shopping
  • Services
  • Phone conversations
  • Food and drinks
  • Health matters
  • Emergencies
  • Small talk
  • Love and romance
  • Vocabulary

Purchase: Thai for Travellers Phrase book

Three-way Thai-English Dictionary

Three-way Thai-English DictionaryAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker and Chris Pirazzi
Date: 2009
Pages: 982
Size: 5-4/4″ x 4-1/4″ x 1-1/2″
Sound files: No
Vocabulary: 26,000+
Dictionary: :-)

Overview: Three way dictionary Thai-English English-Thai English-Thai transliteration

Table of contents:

  • How to use the dictionary
  • Speaking and understanding Thai
  • Reading and writing Thai
  • Section one: English
  • Section two: Thai
  • Section three: Thai sound
  • Appendices
  • Quick reference

Purchase: Three Way Thai-English Dictionary

Thai-English English-Thai Dictionary

Thai-English English-Thai DictionaryAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2002
Pages: 658
Size: 5-3/4″ x 4″ x 1″
Sound files: No
Vocabulary: 16,000+
Dictionary: :-)

Overview: Dictionary with transliteration for non-Thai speakers.

Table of contents:

  • Guide to pronunciation
  • Thai writing system
  • Dictionary abbreviations
  • Section one: English-phonetic-Thai
  • Section two: Phonetic-English-Thai
  • Appendix

Purchase: Thai-English English-Thai Dictionary

Thai Hit Songs Vol. 1

Thai Hit SongsAuthor: Benjawan Poomsan Becker
Date: 2009
Pages: 96
Size: 4.8″ x 7.1″
Sound files: Yes
Vocabulary: Unknown
Dictionary: No

Overview: The idea is to learn Thai language while singing songs.

Table of contents:

  • Thailand fever
  • Bangkok
  • Thai proverbs
  • I My Muan
  • Thai slang
  • Learning Issan
  • Thai consonants
  • Heart words
  • Abbreviations
  • Abbreviations song explained
  • Bangkok music
  • Thailand fever

Purchase: Thai Hit Songs Vol. 1

PS: There are no affiliate codes attached to this post.

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Reviewing Thai Language Schools in Bangkok

Thai Language Schools

Thai Language Schools in Bangkok…

I often get emails requesting information about decent Thai language schools in Bangkok. And as I don’t have any experience with the schools (yet), I started referring people to the long discussion on the Thaivisa.com Thai language forum. But the discussion grew to eleven pages (and was repeatedly disrupted), so I switched to cutting and pasting the detailed research shared by Todd Daniels.

During his continuing quest to improve his Thai language skills, Todd set out to compile a fair amount of data on the subject of Thai language schools in Bangkok. So far, out of the 25 plus schools he visited, he kept detailed notes of 14 of them. To help those wading through the many language schools in Bangkok, Todd retooled his information for the post below. Thanks Todd!

And now, over to Todd Daniels…

A review of Thai language schools in Bangkok…

Here is the list I compiled from the Thai language schools I’ve toured and/or taken free lessons from.

DISCLAIMER: The following is totally MY opinion of Thai language schools; their materials, their teachers and their perceived value – what I call, “bang for the baht” – as far as what you get for the money you pay. My experience will, in all likelihood, be different from yours. And my opinions MAY indeed run contrary to yours too.

PLEASE: By all means feel free to post about your experiences at any of the listed schools, or those I’ve missed. The more people post their experiences and observations, the better informed potential students of the Thai language will be in making a decision in attending a school of their choice.

Also, realize different people have different goals in learning the language. Some use it as a means to an end via the education visa route and take the language as a freebie, some want to speak, some read, some write and/or a combination of all of the above. What works for me might be a shite method for you, and vice versa.

I urge ANYONE interested in learning Thai to attend and sit the free lessons at as many schools as they have time for BEFORE paying the tuition. It is only your time and travel invested, and well worth trying on different methods before deciding on the one that works for you.

Thai language schools in Bangkok…

Andrew Biggs Academy (no longer online)

  • Info: The name says it all. He is probably the most recognizable foreigner in Thailand. And he’s certainly marketed his trademark “shaved head and big ears” into one serious moneymaking machine in the English language market.
  • Material: Well thought out and presented. Very new. Developed (if I am not mistaken) by a professor from a well-known college. Side note: This is a set of textbooks I want, but don’t have.
  • Teachers: Last year when I attended the evaluation (when the Thai language aspect of his school was just getting off the ground), there was only one teacher. She was very good and professional.
  • Value: Mid-range. And, for the money, very good.

AUA

  • Info: One of the oldest (if not the oldest), Thai language school catering to foreigners in Bangkok.
  • Material: None. They now use the ALG (Automatic Language Growth) Method to teach spoken Thai. You observe two teachers (actors) who talk about a wide variety of topics with various props. There is NO class interaction, no question/answer period, and it is observation ONLY. Their claim: After attending 600 hours you will suddenly being speaking in tongues, I mean in Thai.
  • Teachers: Interesting, amusing, and entertaining. However, as there is no interaction other Thai observation, I cannot comment further. But the teachers do seem dedicated to their methodology.
  • Value: This is one of the cheapest Thai language schools a person will ever attend, and buying time in blocks gets you a further discount. I believe AUA is a valuable school, but ONLY if you have a grasp of at least basic spoken Thai. At that level of Thai comprehension, even a few hours a week will increase your listening skills as it’s only in Thai with no English spoken in class.

Baan Aksorn

  • Info: A good school that is somewhat expensive. However, they TEACH you speaking, reading writing, and are a no nonsense school. There is a TON of repetition in getting the tones correct and they hold you to a much higher standard than most native speakers in enunciation and clarity (which is not a bad thing). If your employer is footing the bill, go there.
  • Material: Extremely well put together.
  • Teachers: As I said before, they are no nonsense. You are not going to just coast by in this school’s program.
  • Value: Expensive. But for the quality of education you receive, if you have an unlimited education budget, go there.

Berlitz

  • Info: An international language company that teaches far more languages than I care to list.
  • Material: GREAT textbook.
  • Teachers: Good, dedicated, followed the book. Side note: This is a set of textbooks I want, but don’t have.
  • Value: Expensive as all get out, but a good corporate choice.

Jentana & Associates

  • Info: Another lesser known, but high quality school. The owner (Jentana) caters more to corporate people who need intensive Thai in a limited time frame. Jentana will develop a personal program based on what a student wants, be it speaking, reading, or writing.
  • Material: Very diverse, as many courses are individually tailored to a customer’s needs.
  • Teachers: Very well trained and professional.
  • Value: Another expensive school. But again, if you’ve got someone footing the bill, it is a good choice.

Language Express

  • Info: A relatively newcomer in the Thai language niche, with a brand spanking new school in a very convenient location.
  • Material: When I was there, they were using Benjawan Poomsan Becker’s books as their course material: Beginning, Intermediate & Advanced. This is not the detriment one might think. Believe me (despite what ANYONE may claim, there are NO new innovations in learning this language). Benjawan has probably done more single-handedly than any other Thai national to encourage foreigners to learn this language.
  • Teachers: Good, well spoken, and dedicated.
  • Value: Good.

My Thai Language

  • Info: A recent (a year or so) addition to the Thai language market.
  • Material: A well-designed textbook with Thai on one side of the page and phonemic transcription and English on the other. If you can read Thai script, you will not be distracted by the English text or Thai transcription.
  • Teachers: Firmly dedicated to imparting the Thai language to foreigners.
  • Value: Good.

Paradigm Language Institute

  • Info: Little used or known school. But with that being said, they offer a wide variety of courses.
  • Material: Some of the least dated material I have seen. Well thought out, nicely presented.
  • Teachers: Good, informative, and dedicated.
  • Value: Good.

Piammitr Language School

  • Info: A little known school, trying to carve a slice of the Thai language pie for themselves.
  • Material: Good, somewhat dated, but still not the worst by a long shot. They are in the process of redesigning their textbooks.
  • Teachers: Again, this is a crapshoot. Some teachers are good; some are less so. If you’re in a class with a bad teacher, ask for another.
  • Value: Good.

Pro-Language (Bangkok)

  • Info: I mention the Bangkok branch as this company seems to be a franchise.
  • Material: Well thought out, lessons build upon earlier ones, not as dated as Unity.
  • Teachers: Seem to be a crapshoot. If you start a class with a teacher that you don’t like, don’t be afraid to ask for a different one.
  • Value: Not as cheap as some, but it is still good value.

SMIT

  • Info: Again, not so well-known (but still a contender). I’ve met many people who have attended SMIT in the past.
  • Materials: Well thought out, somewhat dated, but still good.
  • Teachers: Friendly, professional, and dedicated (for the most part).
  • Value: Good.

TLS

  • Info: A good language school catering predominantly to other Asian nationalities learning Thai, but they are expanding their market to attract more native English speakers. Group classes are offered as well.
  • Material: Good materials, well thought out, well presented, etc.
  • Teachers: They cater to Asians, so unless you are Asian, you will need to get into a class that is NOT taught in Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. They are now employing teachers who have experience teaching Thai to English speakers, and have come a long way in this regard.
  • Value: Good.

Unity Thai

  • Info: One of the oldest and well-known Thai language school. TONS of people have studied at Unity Thai.
  • Material: Quite dated, yet still cohesive.
  • Teachers: Honestly seem dedicated to teaching people to speak and learn the Thai language.
  • Value: Their ‘intensive’ courses (21-24 days every day for 3 or 4 hours) are of good value. I know many people who have taken several levels and now speak quite clear Thai.

Here are other websites for the various schools I perused but have muddy memories of. After touring 25+ schools, some are less memorable than others, but in no way does that mean they are not quality schools (only that I am getting old and have a failing memory).

I am sure there are more, as there is NO shortage of Thai language schools in Bangkok. I wonder why, with the plethora of language schools here, foreigners don’t speak better Thai or sometimes any Thai at all (especially long-stayers). Then again, I wonder the same about the plethora of English teachers I’ve met, and why the Thais don’t speak better English too.

Todd Daniels
Thai Language Learner

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Most Effective Way to Learn Thai

Lanta International Language School

What does science have to say about the most effective way to learn Thai (or any language)?

I am writing on behalf of Lanta International Language School, a Thai language school located on Koh Lanta, a small island along the west coast of Thailand. Our methods of teaching are fun and effective, and embrace the latest findings in educational science.

Whilst researching the existing market of Thai language courses we stumbled across Women Learning Thai, and felt you may all be interested in reading about the recent findings in educational science, especially when it comes to learning a second language.

Many of us struggle to learn a second language. Why is this? When you consider the extremely high success rate of children under the age of six when learning their native language, you have to wonder why we find it so difficult as adults. Dr. James J. Asher was so intrigued that he embarked upon an in-depth study of the learning processes of children, particularly when learning their native language. His findings, along with other scientists, including Blaine Ray, Prof. And Stephen Krashen, led to a breakthrough in brain research, especially in the arena of learning a second language.

Here’s a brief overview of the latest findings in educational science when it comes to learning a second language.

1. Learn by engaging all of your senses

As children, we learn to speak our native language by doing, touching, smelling, tasting, experiencing, looking and listening. For example, if we touch something that is hot, our parents will say “hot”. They will repeat this every time we go to touch something hot, until as children we understand that we use the word “hot” to express the feeling of heat.

Your brain is able to learn from all of your senses. By involving all of your bodily senses in the learning process, you gain a deeper understanding of every word, and multiply your learning speed and retention. PLUS, the experience is far more fun than if you were only reading from a book, or memorising vocabulary lists.

2. Learn to think Thai

Many traditional Thai language courses will teach you to translate from your native language; however, it is far more effective to learn to think directly in Thai. If you learn to think Thai, you move from having the thought to speaking Thai, in one-step. If however you have the thought in your own language and then translate to Thai applying the grammar rules and vocabulary that you know, it takes a lot longer, and it inhibits a flowing conversation.

In order to think in Thai, you need to be taught in a particular way. By associating a word with a feeling or experience, rather than what it means when translated to your own language, you will gain a much deeper knowledge and memory of the word. Effective courses will therefore deliver commands in Thai, and will involve acting, imitation and doing, using ONLY the Thai language. This approach also imitates the way we learned our native language.

3. Learn by varied repetition

Repetition is the best way to learn anything, and this is particularly the case with languages. Traditionally repetition has been applied by providing vocabulary lists to be read and repeated until all of the words have been memorised, at least until the next day. One of the problems with this method is that the situation in which you use the word does not change. Your brain cannot get any help from remembering where you were or what you did when you were learning.

A good Thai language course will introduce you to Thai words through numerous experiences and media. Let’s take the word “door”. To learn the word door your tutor could tell you to; “close the door”, “open the door”, “knock on the door” etc. “Door” could be repeated several times in many different situations during a number of lessons.

In addition to this repetitive use of the word “door” during classes, if you also hear “door” in videos loaded onto your computer, and meet the word in computer games, sound files and in wordlists, you will have a very varied experience of the word “door”.

Due to the variation in your learning, you will not be bored by repeating the same word tens of times. On the contrary, your memory traces will grow deeper and broader until your Thai words become a part of you.

4. Your learning rate will improve if your brain has sufficient energy

When you study, your brain uses a lot of energy. Actually, even though it makes up just 2% of your body weight, your brain can consume as much as 20 – 30% of your total energy intake if you are studying. Glucose is the fuel that your brain needs to be able to think, and your body generates glucose from what you eat and drink. If your levels of glucose run low you will think more slowly, which means that if you study Thai, you will learn the language more slowly. Make sure you have regular snacks while studying to top up those glucose levels. Melon is great for a quick release of glucose, and banana is good for a slower release, keeping you fuelled for longer.

We hope that you find some useful tips in this article to help you on your journey into the Thai language. It’s a beautiful language, and becoming fluent in Thai will help you gain a deeper understanding of the Thai culture. Good luck with your studying, and most importantly, make sure you have fun along the way!

Tina Gibbons
Lanta International Language School

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