AUA: Payap University…
Website: Payap University
Tele: (+66) 53 241 255
Address: Super-highway Chiang Mai – Lumpang Road, Amphur Muang Chiang Mai, 50000
Payap University Language Enhancement Center is located at the Mae Khao campus, which is the one further away from the city. I live near Chiang Mai hospital and it took me 20 minutes to get there on a motorbike every morning.
You’re being taught at a university and either because of that or regardless of that, the facilities were basic. There were a few small shops and cafes there, but for example, there wasn’t a water dispenser in the building (which I have come across of in other schools) nor was there toilet paper, which I regard as a necessity.
This is the most expensive Thai school in Chiang Mai; sixty hours costs 8000 baht. Classes are Monday-Thursday 9am-12pm, with half an hour break after the first 1.5 hours.
There were 12 people in the class and since everyone had paid a lot of money to study there, most of us turned up every day. The majority of us were farang, contrary to the scene at AUA.
What really surprised me though, was that all reviews and articles I had read about Payap said that this is the place to learn to speak Thai, the best school in Chiang Mai, with really fast pace, a lot of pressure to study and lots of homework. I was unfortunately disappointed with it. I loved our teacher, who was super energetic, bubbly and explained everything really well, but already after the 2nd day I realised that I preferred AUA. I can’t say it’s the teacher’s fault, I think this was Payap in general and their teaching style.
At Payap, the pace of presenting new material was as fast as at AUA (new topic approximately every 2nd -3rd day), however, the pace at which we went through the material was slower because we were side-tracked often and a lot more English was spoken than one would expect and in my case, prefer. I asked around how Level Two was at AUA and apparently, they were expected to only speak Thai and the teacher only spoke Thai to them and quite fast in fact. At Payap, the teacher doesn’t try to get people to stop using English. The speed at which our teacher spoke with us in Thai was the same as at AUA Level One, plus she also spoke a lot of English herself. A bit too slow for Level Two at the allegedly, strongest Thai school in town.
The level of students was also very varied, some were still at the complete beginner’s level, while some felt that they were in a sixty hour Thai review class. This made group work difficult, that and the fact that usually very little Thai was spoken in groups, so at times when we had to practice dialogues and new words with each other, we just had a chat in English about something very different.
Grammar wise they teach you really well, we covered a new topic every 2-3 days, and there was a lot to take in and that’s the part I cannot fault. But I often felt that progress would have been faster, if we didn’t get off topic so much, and we would have cemented everything better.
We didn’t have a book, only handouts. Each handout covered a topic and started with 1-2 pages of words, question words relevant to the topic and dialogues we had to translate and speak out. Much too often our time was consumed by writing down lots of additional words and phrases (not always on topic), which people asked the teacher to translate. But since we didn’t practice dialogues with these words enough, I feel that I didn’t cement neither all the new words nor the grammar. But I have a huge stack of papers with all the information and can always refer to it.
Homework was very light. I remember four times when we had homework, and a couple of times it wasn’t checked or not everyone’s was checked, so I wonder whether some people felt a bit unhappy with that, putting in the effort and not getting feedback.
I can’t say that I didn’t learn anything, I had an interview at AUA to go back and they put me on Level Three, which means I’ve developed at least to their next level. But I really expected to learn a lot more and speak a lot better Thai by now. And while one’s personal ability and motivation are important factors, studying 60 hours over five weeks at a top school, and paying a lot of money for that, should leave a much bigger mark than it did.