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Tag: What Makes a Good Thai Teacher?

Interviewing Thai Teacher: Aoy

Interviewing Thai Teacher

What Makes a Good Thai Teacher?…

Welcome to the sixth post in the Thai Teacher Interview series. If you missed it, Yuki Tachaya (PickUp Thai Podcasts) was the first Thai teacher interview, the second Kannaphat Saelee (Jan), the third Waan Waan (Learn Thai with Waan Waan), the forth was Kruu Cherry (Rian Thai Kruu Cherry) and the fifth was Jang (Learn Thai the Easy Way).

Note: At the end of each interview you can download the interview questions to ask Thai teachers of your own choosing.

Interviewing Thai Teacher: Aoy…

Name: Rujirat Pitsadee
Professional Name: Aoy
Age Range: 30-45
Location: Bangkok & Samutprakarn
Facebook: Pitsadee Thai Instruction
Line ID: rpitsadee
Skype: easythailanguage

How long have you been teaching Thai to foreigners?

I have been teaching Thai for 16 years – starting with students from the U.S. Embassy.

What made you want to teach Thai?

Meet people from different cultures and share Thai culture. I have had many jobs, but found my passion in teaching Thai. It is a labor of love, even when working long hours.

What motivates you to continue teaching Thai?

The love of sharing Thai culture and rewarding when my students can speak Thai, and I can keep friendships after they leave Thailand.

What qualifications do you have to teach the Thai language?

I’m a native speaker of the language and I have a liberal arts degree, with an English major from Ramkamhang University.

What student age brackets do you teach?

My students are adult learners 25-68 years old.

What are the types of courses that you offer?

  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced Thai.
  • Speaking, reading and writing.
  • Customized Course Focusing on Business Language Priorities.

What nationalities have you taught?

American, French, English, Australian, Austrian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Brazilian, Spanish, Italian and Indian.

What percentage of your students are beginner, intermediate, and advanced?

Currently I have around 60% Beginner, 30% Intermediate and 10% Advanced.

Apart from Thai, what other languages do you use to teach Thai?

English.

What is your level of proficiency in those languages?

Very proficient at English and native at Thai.

Have you studied and/or lived abroad before?

Yes – for a time in the U.S.

Is your teaching approach more teacher centered or student centered?

Student centered: student determines what they want to learn.

Do you use course books in teaching Thai

I created my own textbooks tailored to the beginning and intermediate Thai language student. I believe that my copywrited materials are superior to anything I could use off the shelf.

In your opinion, how important is reading and writing Thai in helping foreigners learn the language?

To learn a foreign language we must become children again. This how we learned our native language, by imitating our parents. It is very important to hear the native language often to understand tone and word structure. You must learn to speak like a child also, unafraid of making errors and willing to speak. Reading and writing comes after that.

Ideally, when should foreigners start to learn how to read and write Thai?

Listening and speaking are the most important first steps. I don’t advise students to study reading and writing in the beginning, if they don’t have enough time. They should only start to learn how to read and write when they have reached the intermediate stage of learning.

Do you teach in a classroom, venue(s) determined by your student(s), or via Skype?

I teach where the client or student is most comfortable.

Which setting(s) do you prefer and why?

In a quiet setting where we can concentrate, but sometimes its better in social settings.

What do you believe is the hardest subject matter to teach in the Thai language?

Tones are by far the hardest for foreigners.

What are some of the issues unique to a particular nationality in learning Thai?

How Western cultures are too direct with how they talk to each other, this is not the way we talk to each other in Asian cultures.

What is your philosophy in respect of teaching vocabulary?

The words that are used most to start, again, like a child.

How do you get your students to use Thai?

By asking simple questions in Thai immediately, such as what is your name or how old are you. I also enjoy role play, using flash cards or training books to aid students with confidence in speaking. I encourage students to speak Thai as soon as we start by reading from training material or by mimicking what I say.

How strict are you in respect of tones and/or vowel length?

Strict at first so they learn the correct way in the beginning.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of teaching Thai?

Teaching culture with Thai – it’s very important to understanding Thai and Thais.

Rujirat Pitsadee (Aoy),
Pitsadee Thai Instruction

Thai teacher interview questions…

The download has additional questions for you to pick and choose from – enough for everyone’s liking.

Download: Questions for potential Thai teachers

Watch this space for more Thai teacher interviews.

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Interviewing Thai Teacher: Jang

Interviewing Thai Teacher

What Makes a Good Thai Teacher?…

Welcome to the fifth post in the Thai Teacher Interview series. If you missed it, Yuki Tachaya (PickUp Thai Podcasts) was the first Thai teacher interview, the second Kannaphat Saelee (Jan), the third Waan Waan (Learn Thai with Waan Waan), and the forth was Kruu Cherry (Rian Thai Kruu Cherry).

Note: At the end of each interview you can download the interview questions to ask Thai teachers of your own choosing.

Interviewing Thai Teacher: Jang…

Name: Phonphailin Ketprayoon
Professional Name: Jang
Age Range: 30-35
Location: Bangkok
Website: in progress
Facebook: Learn Thai the Easy Way
YouTube: Learn Thai with Jang
Instagram: learnthailanguage
Skype: jangwang12

How long have you been teaching Thai to foreigners?

10 years. I have been teaching Thai to foreigners since 2008.

What made you want to teach Thai?

After I graduated from the university, my first job was staff in a high school and I needed to assist teachers including foreigner teachers with school papers. At that time, I had a chance to use my English to explain things and also taught them Thai words to use in daily life. Since then I felt that it was interesting and useful if I could help foreigners to be able to use Thai, so they could live and work here more easily. Then I decided to start working as a Thai teacher at language schools.

What motivates you to continue teaching Thai?

Watching my students speak in Thai with Thai people, using the language to communicate in their daily lives. After years of teaching, I know this job is what I am happy to do.

What qualifications do you have to teach the Thai language?

I have a Bachelor of Arts with Thai major and English minor from Silapakorn University.

What student age brackets do you teach?

The youngest student I have taught was a 5-year-old girl and the oldest one was 77 years old. (Never too late to learn!)

What nationalities have you taught?

My students are from various countries from all over the world! For example: USA, Australia, UK, Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Korea, China, Japanese, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, India, Vietnam and Myanmar!

What percentage of your students are beginner, intermediate, advanced?

70% beginner, 20% intermediate and 10% advanced.

Apart from Thai, what other languages do you use to teach Thai?

Mostly English and some Japanese for very basic words. Anyway, all of my Japanese students can speak English.

What is your level of proficiency in those languages?

Very good in English.

Is your teaching approach more teacher centered or student centered?

It’s mixed, but 80% student centered. As I mostly deliver one-to-one lessons, I focus on what my students need. The students and I always discuss what they want and need to learn.

What are some of your favorite teaching methods?

I show students Thai structures with examples first so they can start creating their own sentences. I encourage them to speak Thai as much as possible, so they can use the structures they have just learnt.

What is your philosophy regarding the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing?

To learn languages naturally you need to listen to natives first, to learn how they pronounce words. And then you can start imitating those sounds. When you feel more comfortable speaking and know more vocabulary you can then start reading and writing more easily, because you can guess what it means. Also, if you have correct pronunciation, you will be able spell words more easily.

Do you prepare your own materials to give to your students?

Yes. I prepare my own materials to fit individual students. I also create free Thai learning sources on social media: Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and blogs.

If yes, what system of transliteration do you use?

I use Paiboon as it is easy to understand, in my opinion.

In your experience what, if any, are the shortcomings of that system?

There are some symbols that do not exist in English and some look the same as English spellings but they are pronounced differently. These cause a little confusion to learners at the beginning, but I found it easier than other books I have read so far.

What your thoughts about the use of transliteration in teaching Thai?

It causes confusion to the learners because different books use different systems. If you are willing to learn survival Thai, it is fine to start from transliteration. But if you want to be serious and have a good understanding of the Thai language, I think it is better to learn the Thai alphabet.

In your opinion, how important is reading and writing Thai in helping foreigners learn the language?

As I mentioned above different books use different systems, so you will get confused and might not be able to pronounce words correctly as there are some sounds that don’t compare to English. Then learning Thai scripts will help you to pronounce words correctly and have better communication with Thai people as not every Thai can read the symbols in the books.

Ideally, when should foreigners start to learn how to read and write Thai?

If you plan to live in Thailand long-term, you should start learning Thai alphabet earlier rather than later. You cannot avoid Thai script because you will see it every single day and everywhere. Anyway, some of my students gave up learning Thai script as they thought it was too difficult. My suggestion is you can start with the transliteration first until you feel more comfortable communicating in Thai, then start learning how to read and write. It is a good feeling when you finally read and write the words you know in Thai and you will become proud of yourself.

Do you teach in a classroom, venue(s) determined by your student(s), or via Skype?

My lessons are both in person and online via Skype. The in-person lessons can be held at coffee shops or students’ places as agreed.

What do you believe is the hardest subject matter to teach in the Thai language?

It depends on where the students are from. I think tones are very difficult for most of students who are not used to tonal languages. It takes time to practice and learn from mistakes as well. Also, some ending particles are difficult as you cannot find a direct translation in English (but some of them compare to Japanese).

How do you assess whether or not your students understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

As every student of mine needs to interact with me in lessons, so I can check if they understand me or not. For example, I will ask them questions in Thai and request them to answer, or they make sentences using vocabulary or patterns they have just learnt. Also, I assign exercises and homework after the lessons, so I can check then correct any mistakes and make a decision whether I teach the next topic or review the last one.

What do you do when it is obvious that your students do not understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

I will repeat that topic and make sure my students understand it. I will give new examples or explanations until they completely understand.

Ideally, when should an absolute beginner begin to speak Thai?

Right away! At least they should know some basic words like “Hello”, “Thank you” and “Sorry”. It does not have to be anything complicated.

How do you get your students to use Thai?

At the beginning of the lessons, I would simply ask them in Thai what they did yesterday or at weekends. Then they need to tell their stories in Thai. It is a good opportunity to use words and patterns they learnt in previous lessons to form their sentences. If there are words that they have not learnt yet, we will take the opportunity to learn new words as well.

How strict are you in respect of tones and/or vowel length?

I am strict but in a friendly way. I will give examples how tones and vowel length affect meanings. It can cause bad words, funny situations or misunderstandings. This will help students to become aware of their pronunciation. If I hear mistakes, I will correct them and also give funny tricks to remember tones or vowel length better as I believe that humour sticks in our minds longer.

What are some of the pronunciation problems unique to a particular nationality in learning Thai that you have observed in your students?

Most of my Chinese students cannot pronounce “ง”, “น” or “ม” they pronounce in “ล” instead (Also “ง”, “ป” and “ต” in general students). I need to show them how to form their mouth to pronounce those sounds correctly.

What are your thoughts about beginners learning and using colloquialisms, slang and/or swear words when they speak Thai?

If those colloquialisms and slang are commonly used among Thais, I think it is okay to use them. Anyway, you should know proper words as well because not everybody understands all slang. As for swear words, I think they are good to know, but not to use. I am also a language learner, so I know how exciting it is to learn something bad sometimes. To be honest, I also learn swear words and bad words in English, but I do not use them. I do not think it is nice manners to say rude words to other people.

What are your thoughts about beginners using ภาษาวิบัติ or ‘social media Thai’?

As long as they know the real meanings and spellings, I think it is okay. It is something funny to giggle about with friends. You must know when is a good time to use those ภาษาวิบัติ, and when you need to use a formal Thai. It is another way of learning.

In respect of standards, what are the general expectations you have of your students?

I expect my students to be able to communicate in Thai and spend their daily lives with less problems. They should be able to express what they would or would not like and have a good relation with Thai people.

What advice would you give to students of the Thai language?

Don’t be scared of making mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes all the time. You can laugh and learn from them. Then you can try to have small talk with street venders, taxi drivers, or your Thai friends every day. You can find good learning sources on the Internet to practice Thai as well. You can make your own flash cards or download applications for your mobile phone to learn new words on the way to work or return home. It will turn your boring time in traffic to a fun learning time!

Phonpailin Jang,
Learn Thai the Easy Way

Thai teacher interview questions…

The download has additional questions for you to pick and choose from – enough for everyone’s liking.

Download: Questions for potential Thai teachers

Watch this space for more Thai teacher interviews.

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Interviewing Thai Teacher: Kruu Cherry

Interviewing Thai Teacher

What Makes a Good Thai Teacher?…

Welcome to the forth post in the Thai Teacher Interview series. If you missed it, Yuki Tachaya (PickUp Thai Podcasts) was the first Thai teacher interview, the second Kannaphat Saelee (Jan), and the third Waan Waan (Learn Thai with Waan Waan).

Note: At the end of each interview you can download the interview questions to ask Thai teachers of your own choosing.

Interviewing Thai Teacher: Kruu Cherry…

Name: Chutima Saetang (Cherry)
Professional name: Kruu Cherry
Age range: 30-40
Location: Nonthaburi, Thailand
Facebook: Rian Thai Kruu Cherry
Twitter: @Thaikruucherry
Skype: krucherryteach

What made you want to teach Thai?

I might have started out like many other Thai teachers by teaching Thai to my foreigner friends. At first, they all gave me the same feedback that I have a talent for teaching and that I should try teaching other foreigners. So, I decided to try teaching Thai and have been teaching for the last two years or so. Now I have been teaching Thai for two years, I have received a lot of positive praise and feedback, way beyond what I could ever have expected.

What qualifications do you have to teach Thai?

The most obvious qualification needed for teaching Thai is of course, Thai, which is my mother tongue. I graduated from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University in 2013, with a bachelor’s degree in Education and in 2017, I attended specific training on ‘Teaching Thai to Foreigners’ held by Sumaa Language and Culture Institute. Aside from these two qualifications, I also love reading both fiction and non-fiction texts, which help me to develop my vocabulary and enable me to teach students in a way that they enjoy.

What are the age brackets of students you teach?

I have taught students from age 10 – 70. I could say people’s ages do not matter, but when it comes to learning a new language, you are never too old to learn!

What are the types of courses that you offer?

Normally I offer both face-to-face Thai lessons and online lessons, but I’m currently living abroad so at present, I can do only online lessons via Skype. My main courses are constructed to follow the skill levels of students and their goals. These include things such as Thai speaking for beginners, speaking Thai with confidence for intermediates, discussion classes for advanced students, Thai for travelling, and even a step-by-step Thai reading class!

What motivates you to continue teaching Thai?

“Happiness” Teaching is a passion of mine, and something that I want to do every day. It gives me a huge sense of energy and happiness when teaching. This may sound like a cliché, but it is true. After I finish teaching, I feel like I have achieved my goal in life, which is to help others. It is such an incredible feeling to see student’s not only progress, but their happiness when they achieve their goals for learning a language. Some of my students started learning Thai for fun, much like a hobby, and then they became more serious learners who fell in love with this beautiful language, like me.

Is your teaching approach more teacher centred or student centred?

I enjoy both approaches. I have my own unique teaching style which is both flexible and relaxed, but I do not enjoy fixed teaching approaches. My approach depends on a student’s preference, such as their learning style and approach, level of Thai and learning goals. I always design a specific lesson plan with my students in mind. For example, if a student is at a beginner level and knows nothing about the Thai language, I will provide a structured plan and everything they need to know for leaning Thai, but if a student has been learning Thai before and already knows what he wants to learn, then I can prepare a lesson based on these needs.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of teaching Thai?

In my opinion, I always assess and plan a specific lesson for my students, so I have found it is quite challenging to design approaches suitable for each student, as well as their strong and weak points of skills I can help to improve. The good point is that the more I teach, the more experience I gain and as a result, it only takes one or two more lessons until I am sure that we are on the right track and that students are happy with their learning. Student’s happiness is the most important thing for me. We cannot do things well if we are not happy doing them.

Ideally, when should an absolute beginner start speaking Thai?

First of all, you do not need to know many words to be able to start speaking Thai. For instance, I always start teaching students with just six Thai words: I, you, love, very, true, and really. From these six Thai words, you can then say ten simple Thai sentences. Secondly, it is important for you to be able to use words you learn to make a sentence, not just learn and/or remember the words. To do this effectively, you should learn vocabulary in context and duplicate that sentence from a model sentence. Finally, as a teacher, I must bear in mind that my students take lessons with me because they want to be able to speak Thai. So, it is my responsibility to make them feel that speaking Thai is easy and that I can give them the confidence to do that even from day one of learning.

How important is reading Thai for helping foreigners to learn the language?

Reading Thai is a crucial aspect that helps you to learn Thai faster and it is the best way of improving your pronunciation. Some people can learn Thai through a transliteration system, especially those people who live in Thailand or love watching Thai TV programs or movies. This is because they already have an opportunity to listen to native Thai sounds and it is easy for them to mimic these. However, for those who live abroad or do not have opportunities to interact with Thai people, it is very difficult for them to pronounce Thai words correctly by reading only a transliteration. Sometimes transliterations alone do not make sense for English speakers, even if written in English. Therefore, reading Thai scripts is a more productive method of learning the Thai language.

What do you to do relax?

In my free time, I enjoy interacting with my friends from different countries, as well as trying to improve my English as much as possible. I also enjoy reading books, watching some TV shows, and talking to my family and friends back in Thailand.

Kruu Cherry,
Rian Thai Kruu Cherry

Thai teacher interview questions…

The download has additional questions for you to pick and choose from – enough for everyone’s liking.

Download: Questions for potential Thai teachers

Watch this space for more Thai teacher interviews.

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Interviewing Thai Teacher: Waan Waan

Interviewing Thai Teacher

What Makes a Good Thai Teacher?…

Welcome to the third post in the Thai Teacher Interview series. If you missed it, Yuki Tachaya (PickUp Thai Podcasts) was the first Thai teacher interview, and the second Kannaphat Saelee Study Thai).

Note: At the end of each interview you can download the interview questions to ask Thai teachers of your own choosing.

Interviewing Thai Teacher: Waan Waan…

Name: Napaporn Yinbanroeng
Professional name: Waan Waan
Age range: 30-40
Location: Bangkok
Facebook: Learn Thai with Waan Waan
Youtube: Learn Thai with Waan Waan

How long have you been teaching Thai to foreigners?

Since 1999. Now it is not difficult to guess how old I am, right? Lol

What motivates you to continue teaching Thai?

As a teacher, I do not consider myself to be only a language teacher but more like someone who understands what my students feel when they experience cultural differences but unable to express themselves because of the language barrier. It is such a rewarding sensation to bridge the gap and help them have mutual understanding with the Thai people using the Thai language.

How long do you see yourself teaching Thai?

As long as I still enjoy it. With the social media nowadays, it makes it even more fun to create teaching materials. I find myself enjoying going around Thailand filming different things related to the Thai language for my students, be it cultural, psychological or linguistic aspects of the country. I‘ve got so many ideas in my head for creating resources for my audience and I hope to deliver that to them in a fun and creative way. I also want to write books that my students can use and also do some recordings for audio lessons or organizing workshops / meetups / outings for people who not only want to learn the language but want to immerse themselves in the Thai environment and culture. As you can see my career still has lots of room to grow. Hope you guys do not give up before me! lol

What student age brackets do you teach?

My students are mostly adults between 20 to 60 years of age. Sometimes I have some students who are younger or older than that. The youngest one is 6 years old and the oldest one is 65 years old.

What are the types of courses that you offer?

I offer a variety of courses to fit all kinds of students’ needs. As I tend to create my own materials to teach them, each course can vary from beginner Thai, intermediate, to advanced business Thai, not only conversational, and reading but also writing courses. For example I had a student from Q8 petroleum company so I created teaching materials from his work documents. And when I taught students from the US embassy the teaching materials were created based on their needs to pass the exam held to test their ability of using Thai at the work place. Some other students of mine are from different industries eg Unilever, Chanel, Thai namthip (Coca Cola) and as you can imagine I had to design the courses and activities that were suitable for their interests and nature of work each one has to deal with on a daily basis. All you need to do is contact me and let me know what types of course suit you best, I may have to assess all 4 of your skills and we will further discuss possible options in detail.

What nationalities have you taught?

I have taught students from all over the world like in Asia I have had Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Burmese, Indian, Filipino, Cambodian, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Korean students. From Europe, they are from France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Spain, England, Scotland, Belgium, Ireland, etc. and of course students from the US, Australia and Brazil as well.

Apart from Thai, what other languages do you use to teach Thai? Have you studied and/or lived abroad before? If yes, please tell us about your experiences as an overseas student or expat.

English and Chinese language. English was my major subject and the minor subject at the university was Chinese. I lived in Guangzhou, China for my study for two years so that is very useful when I teach students who speak Chinese.

I was also a cultural exchange student in New Zealand and travelled to the US and South America for a year which helped a lot with character building and understanding of different cultures. I realized I became more extroverted after all these years of traveling and living abroad since I had to try to communicate with the locals using English and Chinese. Speaking a language is a skill, just like driving and swimming , which means you will have to actually “do it” and practice a lot if you want to be fluent. When it comes to speaking, I have to say it is really your own choice to have to push yourself against your true nature in order to master a language. I myself was an introvert before and I had to break out of my comfort zone to improve my language skills. All of these experiences greatly give me sympathy for my students as a language learner.

What are some of your favorite teaching methods?

My teaching methods are dependent on whom I teach and how many of them in one class. Some students can learn best when they listen, some by speaking and some by reading. When I start a new class I have to determine what each student is like, what are their interests and learning methods in order to deliver the best lessons to them. Having said that, my favorite methods are flash cards and role play. At the beginning I would make my students look at pictures and listen to a lot of series of words repeatedly without taking notes and I will have them repeated those words with increased speed each time they repeat them. Then I will teach them sentence structures and put those words into sentences and stories. I tend to want to train them to listen and speak with the Thai speed and I also teach them both the proper Thai and the spoken street Thai. So social media like Facebook and Youtube are used for some short listening practice as well as teaching materials created by me.

Is your teaching approach more teacher centered or student centered?

Both teacher centered and student centered approaches are used with different groups of students. I have a course outline of what the students are supposed to learn and I let them determine what they want to learn. With structured lessons and my help, they will grasp things naturally and develop their language skills gradually.

Do you use course books in teaching Thai?

Sometimes as a supplementary material. I prefer my own selected materials.

How do you assess whether or not your students understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

By letting them do exercises after each lesson…maybe making sentences, role play, making questions from what has been taught, etc.

What do you do when it is obvious that your students do not understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

I give them more examples and let them practice with different approaches. One thing I always keep in mind is that each student has their own way and their own pace of learning things and everyone can have a bad day, so sometimes I have to tell myself not to be too hard on them and I will try to find out what works best for them and help them achieve their goal gradually. The key is to Jai yen yen! ☺

What are your thoughts about the use of transliteration in teaching Thai?

I am not too strict when it comes to transliteration. A student said to me once transliteration is like learning another language that no one actually uses in reality …and I agree. So I tend to let my students spell things the way they hear it and it works very well considering they are from different countries having different mother tongues.

In your opinion, how important is reading and writing Thai in helping foreigners learn the language?

I think it is important to learn to read Thai. There are a number of students who claim to read before speaking so I think it is very important on day to day survival because if you can read at least you will be able to read road signs and go around by yourself. However, to go beyond your limits you are required to speak the language as well. In my opinion it is best if you learn to speak a bit before starting to read and the reading exercise should be prepared based on the vocab you previously learn from speaking lessons so that it enhances your speaking ability eg pronunciation and so on. I do not teach reading from ABC (ก ข ค), but I teach them based on their three groups of consonants and built up exercises are created afterward.

Ideally, when should an absolute beginner begin to speak Thai?

As mentioned above, it is your own choice to break out of your comfort zone and start using it. I would say anyone can speak another language from day one they start to learn even if it’s a short sentence like “bpai nai ไปไหน” or a word like “ห้องน้ำ toilet”. When I was traveling in South America I didn’t speak any Spanish, the first word I picked up was Banos as it was written at the toilet every time the bus stopped for it. So I started to say “Banos” and some other words came up from time to time. Later when I had a chance to take an intensive short Spanish course in Sucre, Bolivia, I walked to the market from day one that I learned to buy my food and it wasn’t just ready to eat food, but I tried to buy a kilo of beef / pork and some veggies because I wanted to cook by myself. Yes, I went with my notes taken in class but the next few days I got better and better I didn’t need it anymore. Then one day I wanted to buy sugar but it seemed the sugar shops only sold a kilo at least so I had to think of how to get a small quantity of five baht sugar. So I walked to the fruit juice stall that I had my juice for the past days and tried to tell the seller I only wanted to buy a small amount but those people wanted to sell me a kilo, can I buy just a bit from you? And yeah I got a five baht of sugar for my cooking that evening…And I was so proud of my limited Spanish language at the time. I am not good at Spanish but did you get what moral of the story is?

Last but not least, do I have to tell you speaking a language cannot kill you unlike when you learn to drive or to swim? :D You are not gonna die or hurt yourself by speaking it, right ? So just go out and have a laugh with your new learned language as soon as you can, ok?

With love,
Waan Waan, your Thai teacher
Learn Thai with Waan Waan

Thai teacher interview questions…

The download has additional questions for you to pick and choose from – enough for everyone’s liking.

Download: Questions for potential Thai teachers

Watch this space for more Thai teacher interviews.

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Interviewing Thai Teacher: Kannaphat Saelee (Jan)

Interviewing Thai Teacher

What Makes a Good Thai Teacher?…

Welcome to the second post in the Thai Teacher Interview series. If you missed it, the first interview was with Yuki Tachaya (PickUp Thai Podcasts).

Note: At the end of each interview you can download the interview questions to ask Thai teachers of your own choosing.

Interviewing Thai Teacher: Kannaphat Saelee (Jan)…

Name: Kannaphat Saelee (Jan)Interviewing Thai Teacher
Professional name: Jan
Age range: 30 – 40
Location: Bangkok
Website: Study Thai
Facebook: Study Thai With Kru Jan
Skype: jankannaphat

How long have you been teaching Thai to foreigners?

Almost 7 years. I started in 2011 in Chiang Mai and moved to Bangkok in 2017.

What made you want to teach Thai?

I find teaching Thai to foreigners very challenging. Even though you’re a native speaker and speak perfect Thai, it doesn’t mean you can teach it to others. I have a good understanding of both English and Thai, not just the language but also the way both cultures think and interact . So I enjoy helping foreigners to understand the similarities and differences to bridge that cultural gap. And because I enjoy helping others see the connections, it never feels like work.

What qualifications do you have to teach the Thai language?

Apart from being a native speaker of the language, I also have a degree in linguistics. I’m officially trained and have worked in 2 licensed schools in Chiang Mai, teaching Thai as a foreign language. And with 7 years of experience under my belt, I am confident of my qualifications.

What student age brackets do you teach?

All ages, the youngest student I ever had was 8 and the oldest one was 80. Yes, 80! You can never be too young or too old. People often debate about the best time to learn a new language, and I always say the time is now.

What are the types of courses that you offer?

I offer:

1. Survival Thai ( 2-6 sessions)
2. Beginner Level (Beginner Level 1, 2)
3. Intermediate Level (Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate Level 1, 2)
4. Advanced Level (Pre-Advanced and Advanced Level 1, 2)
5. Reading & Writing Thai (15 – 20 sessions)
6. Customized Thai Lessons

Have you studied and/or lived abroad before?

Although I get asked many times whether I have studied or lived abroad before, I actually studied in Chiang Mai University and have always lived in Thailand my entire life. So, I jokingly tell my students if I can learn to speak English fluently growing up in Thailand, they have no excuse not to learn Thai!

Is your teaching approach more teacher centered or student centered?

Both. I always listen to my students’ requests and suggestions but I make the final decision on what is best for them. I pay attention to each student individually and see how they learn best. Each student requires a unique approach to learning. Some methods might work with some students, while others may not. And sometimes, students don’t know what they need most. So while I follow a specific course overall, each lesson is tailored to the individual student or class.

What are some of your favorite teaching methods?


I have seen so many learners fail in learning to read Thai or they find it’s extremely difficult to conquer. So, after having successfully taught many students to read Thai, I found it’s best to teach them for a shorter time with specific orders.

I designed a reading & writing course that will help students to learn Thai script in 30 hours within a 5-week period. It has worked really well so far. I was confident it would work from the beginning, but when I really started to see increased comprehension, I knew this unique approach was gold.

For conversational Thai, I sometimes take my students to a local coffee shop, restaurant or a market, so they can learn from using the language in everyday life. It’s relaxing and effective.

Do you use course books in teaching Thai?

I use books and handouts and online materials. I wrote my own books and all materials to use in my lessons.

What your thoughts about the use of transliteration in teaching Thai?

It’s not the best idea and could cause confusion. However, it’s useful for complete beginners. They just need to stop depending on it as soon as possible.

In your opinion, how important is reading and writing Thai in helping foreigners learn the language?

I think being able to read Thai script is essential in learning Thai and eventually mastering the language. The more interactions you have with the language the more likely it will stick. Also, Thai language is a phonetic language so learning how to read will help you better to pronounce and communicate with the locals.

I usually recommend students to learn to read Thai if they want to speak Thai well. Thai language is all about the pronunciation. With the romanized transliteration you can never learn the real sounds. It’s only close but not the same.

I wrote about the benefits of learning how to read and write Thai. You can find here: Five Reasons for Learning to Read and Write Thai.

Do you use technology in teaching Thai? If yes, what do you use?

Yes, I also offer lessons on Skype. I use google spreadsheet and online whiteboard as tools. In my classroom, I put all my flashcards on iPad, so I don’t have to carry the cards everywhere and it’s easy to share to my students. Furthermore, I put all my lessons + audio recordings on Dropbox so that my students have access and can download from anywhere.

What are some of the issues unique to a particular nationality in learning Thai that you have observed in your students?

Hmmm…. It seems to be harder to learn Thai for those who come from English speaking countries. Most of them only speak one language and learning your second language is harder than your third.

How do you help your students overcome those issues?

Since I have a good understanding of the English language, I show them how it works in English and how it works in Thai. I explain the similarities and the differences. It usually helps.

In your opinion, how important is learning about Thai culture in helping foreigners learn the language?

I think it’s the other way round, learning the language helps foreigners learn Thai culture. For example, we have many words with ใจ (jai) which means heart in Thai e.g. ใจดี ใจร้าย ใจร้อน ใจเย็น เข้าใจ เปลี่ยนใจ. We use the heart to understand and we (Thai people) would say “change the heart” as opposed to “change the mind”. Because ใจ (jai) is simply THAT important in Thai culture.

How do you assess whether or not your students understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

I give my students an evaluating exam from time to time to see their progress. Sometimes I just ask them if they understand and if they say they do, I ask them to explain back to me.

What do you do when it is obvious that your students do not understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

I explain again but in different ways or give them lots of examples. I always make sure they understand correctly.

How strict are you in respect of tones and/or vowel length?

Strict. All for their good. I correct them every time they say a word wrong, especially a super common word, until they get tired of that and finally remember the tones. I don’t mind doing it over and over.

What are your thoughts about beginners learning and using colloquialisms, slang and/or swear words when they speak Thai?

I always tell them to avoid using slang and swear words that they don’t fully understand. When you are not sure, don’t use it. Because it could offend people.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of teaching Thai?

Answering students questions. My students are from all over the world, with different backgrounds. They ask all sorts of questions related to the Thai language. Some questions you have never thought about before. But as a teacher, you should have a good answer for them. So, I find this challenging. It also determines whether they think you’re a good teacher or not because understanding their questions is important too.

What advice would you give to students of the Thai language?

Be patient with yourself but don’t wait until your Thai is perfect to speak Thai. Be comfortable making mistakes because that’s the best way to learn Thai. Try to use it in your daily life even when they speak back to you in English. Take the opportunity and get yourself fully immersed with the language if you’re in Thailand. Finally, practice, practice and practice.

Good luck!

Kannaphat Saelee (Jan),
Study Thai

Thai teacher interview questions…

The download has additional questions for you to pick and choose from – enough for everyone’s liking.

Download: Questions for potential Thai teachers

Watch this space for more Thai teacher interviews.

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Interviewing Thai Teacher: Yuki Tachaya – PickUp Thai

Interviewing Thai Teacher

What Makes a Good Thai Teacher?…

Welcome to the first post in the series! So just how did this series came about? Well, my foreign friends kept asking me to refer Thai teachers who’s skills looked good, so I scanned social media to find possible candidates for consideration.

Soon enough I realised that my friends needed additional help so I came up with questions to put to the teachers. Of course there’s more to it but that’s the series in a nutshell.

Note: At the end of each interview you can download the interview questions to ask Thai teachers of your own choosing. Good luck and happy hunting!

Interviewing Thai Teacher: Yuki Tachaya from PickUp Thai Podcasts…

Teacher: Yuki Tachaya
Age range: 30-35
Sex: Female
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Website: PickUpThai
Facebook: PickUpThai
YouTube: Yuki Tachaya
Twitter: @pickupthai
Products: PickupThai Podcasts (Learn real Thai the super fun way)
E-book for learning Thai The Unforgettable Day of Forgetful Tamago
PickUpThai merchandise for learning Thai (T-shirts, mugs, phone cases & more).

How long have you been teaching Thai to foreigners?

Exactly 10 years. I’ve been teaching since 2008.

What made you want to teach Thai?

I started from teaching English to Thai people. After doing that for a few years, I tried doing the opposite, teaching Thai to English-speaking people. And after having given a few classes, I discovered that I was pretty good at explaining things to people and helping them to understand, especially things that most Thai people know how to use but can’t explain. And while my students enjoyed studying with me, I also enjoyed teaching them. I then realized this is what I want to continue doing for a long time!

What motivates you to continue teaching Thai?

I myself am also a language learner. I picked up English and Japanese quite fast without living abroad. I know how to be successful at learning foreign languages and I want to use my experience and expertise to help people to be successful at learning Thai with the methods I used to learn foreign languages. I don’t just offer private lessons to individual students, but I also constantly post free and fun lessons on my website as well as videos on Youtube in order to share my knowledge with Thai learners. Most importantly, my sister and partner, Miki Chidchaya, and I have also developed our own Thai teaching/learning method through our self-made Thai learning materials PickupThai Podcast in order to reach out to a larger group of students and help more people to be successful by learning realistic, authentic, practical Thai the fun way. I don’t want to keep the knowledge to myself and waste my skills, so I want to keep teaching Thai in many different forms for as long as I can.

What qualifications do you have to teach the Thai language?

I’m a native speaker of the language and I have a liberal arts degree, with an English major from Chulalongkorn University. I’ve also completed a research student course in Second Language Acquisition at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. And I have first-hand experiences learning foreign languages so I understand what a learner has to go through (all the difficulties and obstacles). I’ve been in their shoes and I know what they have to do in order to be successful.

What student age brackets do you teach?

The youngest student I’ve taught was 15 years old, and the oldest 67.

What nationalities have you taught?

More than 70% of the students I have had are from the United States and Japan but I’ve also had students from other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Holland, Germany, Sweden, China, Taiwan, and Bolivia.

What percentage of your students are beginner, intermediate, advanced?

50% beginner, 30% intermediate, 20% advanced.

Apart from Thai, what other languages do you use to teach Thai?

English and Japanese.

What is your level of proficiency in those languages?

Fluent.

Have you studied and/or lived abroad before?

I lived in Japan for two years (I passed the highest level of Japanese proficiency test and was awarded the Japanese Government scholarship before I had been there). I’ve also lived in United States for about five years. Currently, I spend half of my time in Thailand and half in the United Kingdom. (I could speak English fluently before I had left Thailand for the first time.)

Is your teaching approach more teacher centered or student centered?

Student centered. This is what I care about the most when it comes to teaching private lessons. Classes will only work when tailored to each student’s goals and needs.

What are some of your favorite teaching methods?

For students who already understand and speak some Thai, I love to do a free conversation with them on the topics of the their interest. I try to let my students talk as much as they can. I mostly ask questions to encourage them to speak. And I generally correct their mistakes made during the conversation at the end of the class so they know what’s the correct and natural-sounding way to say and pronounce things. I always focus on helping my students to sound natural like native speakers rather than textbooks.

What is your philosophy regarding the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing?

Learning a foreign language is all about imitating native speakers. So, it’s important to listen a lot before learning to speak and read a lot before learning to write. That way, you will be confident in what you put out. Never stop practicing listening and reading. It’s so important in helping you to become a fluent speaker and a good writer as well. On the other hand, you also should not wait until the day your Thai is perfect to start speaking or writing. It’s OK to try and make some mistakes. After a few times, you will learn the correct things and won’t repeat them.

If you do not use course books, what do you use?

PickupThai Podcast, the materials my partner and I developed ourselves because we couldn’t find any textbook that teaches Thai the way we think is the most effective – teaching the real unaltered Thai, the exact language that we Thai people speak and use, from fun stories and entertaining resources. We learn the best from what we’re interested in or enjoy. Most people give up too soon, because they lack or lost interest in their learning. We believe that it’s very important to create a fun learning process in order to help students achieve the most effective results and become successful.

What system of transliteration do you use?

The Paiboon system, just because we think it’s the one that Thai learners are most familiar with.

In your experience what, if any, are the shortcomings of that system?

The system includes some uncommon characters that aren’t in the English alphabet, although they’re pretty common in IPA (international pronunciation alphabet), so quite a few people don’t know how to read or pronounce them. For certain vowels, short and long vowels are also not differentiated so the pronunciation could be inaccurate.

What are your thoughts about the use of transliteration in teaching Thai?

It works for those who want to come to Thailand for a short period of time and only want to know how to say basic phrases to get by on their trip. For people who want to take Thai studies seriously and really want to come live in Thailand long-term, knowing how to read Thai script is a must.

In your opinion, how important is reading and writing Thai in helping foreigners learn the language?

Since there are many different transliteration systems, every time they start using a new book, they’ll have to relearn how to read. This could be confusing and unnecessarily time-consuming. Knowing how to read Thai script could help you to pronounce words more accurately. But the thing that makes the biggest difference is the fact that every single thing apart from Thai language textbooks is written in Thai script. So a person who knows how to read Thai can learn and practice Thai from any resources they could find. This gives them a huge advantage and helps them to progress much faster.

Ideally, when should foreigners start to learn how to read and write Thai?

It all depends on your goal. If you plan to live in Thailand, you should start learning how to read and write as soon as possible. But if you’re just learning Thai to be able to connect with the locals on your vacation, then there might not be a need to know how to read at all, especially if you have a short amount of time to learn to speak, you definitely should spend your time learning conversation instead. But even if you decide to learn Thai script, you can do that while also learning conversation. There’s no need to wait until you can read to start learning to speak. This is what I usually do with my students. We do both simultaneously and transition from transliteration to Thai script whenever the student is ready.

What do you believe is the hardest subject matter to teach in the Thai language?

Ending particles because they don’t exist in English, yet they are such an important characteristic of the Thai language. Thai people use them all the time, at the end of most sentences. There’s no way to ignore them. And explaining how to use each one is quite challenging.

What is your philosophy in respect of teaching vocabulary?

I only teach vocabulary from context. That way, learners will know how to apply the words in real conversation. And I don’t believe in rote-memorization. I also don’t think that it’s important to remember all the vocabulary words you learn the first or second time you look at them. In real life, when you hear the words you have learned over and over again, you will naturally remember them without using things like flashcards. And just by memorizing words without applying, you will soon forget them anyway. If you learn a word once, next time you see or hear it, you may not remember it yet and that’s completely fine and totally normal. After you have heard it ten or fifteen times, you will naturally remember it. Language learning is all about repetition, not memorization.

How do you assess whether or not your students understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

My classes are very interactive and engaging. I always ask my students to produce sentences using the vocabulary words, phrases or grammar structures that they’ve learned, and not just listen to me. So it’s quite clear and easy to know if they understand something or not from their output.

What do you do when it is obvious that your students do not understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

I always make sure that my students truly understand the information before moving on to the next lesson. I won’t be satisfied and let them move on until I make sure they know how to apply their knowledge in real usage. I don’t mind repeating things over and over at all. It’s very important that they learn, even if it takes time or even if we have to go slowly or go back to the previous lesson. Because there’s no point in reaching the last lesson and finishing a book if the student can’t really use what they have learned.

Ideally, when should an absolute beginner begin to speak Thai?

As soon as day one! There’s no reason to delay speaking Thai. You don’t need to wait until you’re fully confident and certain you won’t make mistakes. In fact, learning from mistakes is an excellent way to progress. But always keep listening to native speakers to learn the right information because after a while, you should know how to speak correctly and stop making the same old mistakes.

How do you get your students to use Thai?

I always encourage my students to practice composing sentences using words and grammar structures that they’ve learned and focus on letting my students talk as much as they can during the class, instead of me talking. On top of that, I usually let students who can speak Thai to speak as much as they can, even though they’re not fluent. And outside of the class, I also encourage them to find every opportunity to talk to any Thai friends they have, whether in real life or online.

How strict are you in respect of tones and/or vowel length?

Generally, I’m quite strict. I always correct my students’ tones and vowel length if they mispronounce, especially the words of which the meaning would change if pronounced incorrectly. Some words are more acceptable to let slide, but the pronunciation of some can be crucial to understanding.

What are your thoughts about beginners learning and using colloquialisms, slang and/or swear words when they speak Thai?

For colloquialisms and slang words, they should understand all of the words we use and know how to speak like we do. If Thai people use certain words, there’s no reason for them not to use them. For swear words, it’s different. Because not everyone swears. Some people swear less than others. Some don’t swear at all. So if they don’t swear in their language, they shouldn’t do it in Thai either. With that being said, I encourage them to learn the meanings of the words so that they understand what the words mean when they hear them but they don’t need to use them.

What are your thoughts about beginners using ภาษาวิบัติ or ‘social media Thai’?

It comes and goes with time. It doesn’t last forever. Although a lot of words don’t sound very proper and rather annoying, they do add some fun to the conversation and help people express feelings.

What advice would you give to students of the Thai language?

Practice listening and reading as much as you can. The more information you gain, the more you will be able to put out. There’s no shortcut to success. Learning a language takes time. But you won’t be discouraged if you enjoy your journey. Try to do everything you like in the language you’re learning if possible. If you like cooking, instead of watching a video teaching how to cook in English, watch ones in Thai. If you’re a movie lover, instead of watching Hollywood movies, watch Thai ones. If you like novels, find ones in Thai that you enjoy. Basically, do everything you like in Thai whenever possible. You learn the best when you’re not learning. Last but not least, if you find learning from real-life materials too difficult, PickupThai Podcast can be a good start. It’s the next best thing. Try free samples on our website and you’ll know that learning a language can be so much fun!

Yuki Tachaya
PickUpThai Podcasts

Thai teacher interview questions…

The download has additional questions for you to pick and choose from – enough for everyone’s liking.

Download: Questions for potential Thai teachers

Watch this space for more Thai teacher interviews.

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