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Intensive Thai course

Immersive programs, classroom study and private instruction, worldwide.

Moderator: acloudmovingby

Intensive Thai course

Postby Thailandexile » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:01 pm

Hello posters.

I wonder if you coulg give me some advice, I am planning on taking a year's sabatical and studying Thai fulltime in Bangkok for a year. I am 38, married to a Thai and have a very close extended family.

Whilst I can communicate pretty well (I cant read and write) with them and my Thai is better than a lot of farangs I meet, its still no way near 'good' its just functional and I so want to be able to fully converse with my family.

So, Ive saved all my pennies, I can support a full year to do this. I had thought about Chula but , strangely, they have now reduced the year long course from 9 to 6 levels.

Essentially, I hoping that you may be able to advise me on where to study and how to approach it. As I said, I am 100% committed to this and have bagged about 17,000 GBP to pay for the courses and support myself for the year, so money isn't an issue regards fees etc.

Anyway, thanks for reading and ahead of time, thank you.
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby Toffeeman » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:10 am

Hi Thailandexile. Hope you have success with your Thai learning. Having the motivation of an extended Thai family will no doubt help. I would recommend learning the alphabet asap as that foundation will help with the course that you decide to take.

One of the regulars on this forum, Tod Daniels, has done a review of Bangkok language schools on another website. Here is the link: ... d-daniels/
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby tod-daniels » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:17 am

You know, I went to Chula to peruse their Thai language program. Sadly for such a “well known” (at least in Thailand or S/E Asia) university, I was totally under-whelmed with what they offer in terms of price versus quality or material.

Granted I come across to Thais as a “man of means by no means”, but still I’ve rarely been treated with the outright distain, bordering on contempt that I received from their staff.

The books they have, have been copied so many times the pages were all skewed. The English translations were horrific, and even the Thai had errors in it.

I’m NOT sayin after attending there a year, a person couldn’t come away with some really good Thai. I’m only pointing out that there are far better schools and methods out there which could give the same results for a fraction of the price.

I did have a chance to peruse Srinakharinwirot University’s Thai program and thought it was far better structured than Chulas. Then again, seeing as I ain’t Thai, I’m not caught up in the “Chula fever” where every Tom, Dick and Somchai who hears a person went to Chula is awe-struck. I’m also not out to “impress” any one on where I learned Thai. It’s my experience not a single Thai here cares in the slightest where a foreigner learned to speak, understand, read and write Thai.

I’d certainly recommend you look around and see what’s out there in the “teach Thai to foreigner market” before dropping that kinda baht on a Thai language program, no matter how “famous” the uni is here.
"Whoever said `Money can`t buy you love or joy` obviously was not making enough money." <- quote by Gene $immon$ of the rock group KISS
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby daฟาน » Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:54 am

tod-daniels wrote: I’m also not out to “impress” any one on where I learned Thai.

I'd be curious though. Did you study Thai anywhere else than in Chula as well? It would be nice to have a few names in this thread here so Thailandexile got a couple of choices.

I have heard only good things about the Chula Thai program so far. Personally I cannot judge it yet as I didn't attend the program however my friends definitely recommend it.

I went to AAA, a small Thai language school that offers a nice price. However at least the few beginner courses are filled with students who probably don't take the courses seriously enough and there is only little pronunciation correction from the teachers (however they correct everything else in a good way and I actually had a nice time there, but I think Chula will definitely provide better quality).

Toffeeman wrote:One of the regulars on this forum, Tod Daniels, has done a review of Bangkok language schools on another website. Here is the link: ... d-daniels/

ohh I honestly missed the link sry :) thx

i've read the AAA review and this is definitely a high quality one.
It's funny that you had a completely difference experience in the pronunciation corrections though. I gotta admit I wasn't able to join the first few courses so they were kind enough to give me a few private lessons for free so I could acquire the same level as the others! For the very first lesson I have to agree with you, I have been corrected a lot (and I liked that). However after the first class, pronunciation was not really important in the two programs I attended. We had really strong accents in the classes and sometimes it was almost impossible to understand a few people if you didn't know what they were saying anyway.
Oh... beginner lvl 1 that i joined: at least 9 people
lvl 2: only 6 but most of the time we were only 3 or 4 - however this was short after the red-shirt issue so the school was rather empty

so i wouldnt be so sure about the 3-5 people rule

I hope this post is not misleading, I actually enjoyed the time at AAA. I had a very nice teacher and was treated friendly all the time. For the price the quality was ok. But I'm sure if I had invested more money and the same time at another school then the outcome would have been higher.
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby tod-daniels » Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:30 pm

Honestly, of the hundreds and hundreds of foreigners I've met here who study Thai; I've met exactly two people who attended Chula. One big draw back is that it's a "full time occupation". I mean it's a uni course taught on a uni schedule, so if you ain't gonna take a year off from work, you ain't gonna make the cut. As the class progresses the amount of homework goes up exponentially and you could easily put a couple three hours a day into it.

Of those two people; one person dropped out, although his company had paid the tuition. The other person did stick it out and certainly appeared to me to be able to speak, understand, read and (they said) write Thai.

I think if a person picked any one of the better quality private Thai language schools out there and investing that amount of time into studying Thai they could come away with the same results for possibly a fraction of the price. I don't believe for a second that just because it's taught at Chula; it's the slightest bit better than programs taught at some of the good private schools. After all they ain't walkin' away from Chula with a "degree", all they get is a paper which said they took a year long Thai course.

There's really no good gauge to check it anymore either; seeing as the MOE discontinued the .6 test a couple years ago in favor of a "general proficiency" exam which uses different criteria to rate foreigners Thai abilities.

As I always say, I'm only posting my opinions about the various schools I perused. Another person might think something I was under-impressed with is "the best thing since pre-sliced bread" (and we know how big that's become! :lol: ) My only point of reference was to compare Chula's program with Srinakharin's because they also offer a "Thai for foreigners" program and I did get to check that one out pretty well.

If the O/P is hell-bent on attending a "real university" I think both Thammasat and Mahidol offer Thai language courses; although I looked into them a couple years ago, so I'm not sure anymore. Also there's Payap University too up north.

"daฟาน": Sadly (for the Thais who endure my horrifically American accented and errantly toned Thai) I'm mostly self taught. I mean, I speak something which sounds close enough to Thai so that Thais understand and reply in kind. I have spent many many hours teaching myself to read, write, type as well as studying indioms, Thai sentence structure, vocabulary, etc. I really try to say things like a Thai is used to hearing it. That way they correct my errant tones in their heads because they’ve heard the structure I’m using all their lives. It’s been a tough row to hoe, but I’m getting there ;) .

About those reviews; that's the tough part of doin' 'em. I hafta judge; is what I'm seeing indicative of a "normal" class as far as, am I in with a group of "ninja language learners" :D or a bunch of "special ed students" :o ? I think a lot of it comes down to the students and the teacher in those classes on the day I happen to show up. Still I love going to the schools, lookin' at material, talking to the current students, and actually started reviewing them because there wasn't anything out there about the different ones in Bangkok. :)

I tell people if they're not happy with a teacher don't be shy about letting the school know. The school is most definitely NOT doing the student a "favor" by teaching them Thai; it's the student who's doing the school a "favor" by learning there.

I wish the O/P good luck; I ain't all that smart, so I know if I can learn to speak, understand, read write and type Thai, any foreigner out there can too, IF they invest the time and effort.

My favorite line to foreigners interested in learning Thai is; "There're about 64+ million people in this country who seem to speak-understand Thai just fine; I'm pretty sure they all ain't smarter than you are :shock: . Some certainly are, but not every last one of 'em. ;) "

Sorry this was long. . . :oops:
"Whoever said `Money can`t buy you love or joy` obviously was not making enough money." <- quote by Gene $immon$ of the rock group KISS
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby daฟาน » Sat Aug 11, 2012 5:43 pm

If I'm lucky enough, I might get a chance to study a regular program at Chula next year (nothing confirmed yet though). I thought about attending the language course there too if it's possible, but I am not sure if I can combine it with my schedule anyway. In case I can do it, I will let you guys know my thoughts on it.

long post yep, but truly informative as well - thx
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby DanR » Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:24 pm

I know one of the owners of Sumaa Language School - she taught on the Chula course for quite a few years but left to set up her own school. I think some of the other teachers are also from the Chula course (though I can't be 100% certain of that) so the quality of teaching is not going to be substantially different. I'm not sure how they compare on price although when they were starting Sumaa were pretty pricey but, as with all things, I think you probably tend to get what you pay for with these schools.
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby subashseo » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:07 am

Where is the best place to learn Thai in Chiang Mai? There are certainly a lot of options. Private teachers abound and can be found in the classifieds of almost any English newspaper or newsletter.
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby Doolie » Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:22 am

Having read the whole thread, there are sadly no great commendations that jump out at me, all the above recommendations have limitations.

I have spent quite some time at Union language School, Bangkok and I did advance whilst there, I found certain aspects although very frustrating !
The school has a policy of not explaining anything in English, but in Thai only, this is portrayed as being a benefit, the reason for this policy is most likely that the teachers ability in English is really non existant anyway and this 'we explain in Thai only' becomes a good excuse.

To my thinking, a teacher is someone who can teach, someone who can explain, someone who can explain to me in my language ( English ), else I am wasting inordinate hours at guessing games.

I now learn Thai on my own, I can read well and I get help with pronounciation as that is easy to find.

I have met Thais who have a degree in English and they have owned up that they could not read and understand an English novel, so the search for a teacher means mass school rejection, as most schools are what I would clasify as for elementary or intermediate learning.

I do not need a teacher who will open the dictionary and finds the English meaning of a word for me , as I can use the dictionary and find words myself. I need a teacher with a profficient command of English who can explain suttleties of Thai in English.

I would dearly like to find a teacher who can teach and explain intricacies of Thai grammer use and to be able to translate Thai text books as class teaching matterial.
I need a teacher who can teach ! ( Chonburi prefered - Bangkok as 2nd choice )

Does anybody know one ?
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Re: Intensive Thai course

Postby pensive » Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:55 am

I met one in Silom, I think, on the main road near where the underground and the skytrain cross. She was *perfect* in English, but the company charged about 750 baht an hour.

Edit: Fixed the rate.
Last edited by pensive on Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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