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Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

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Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby MyDonalbain » Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:29 pm

Although I'm definitely still an intermediate thai learner at this point, I have been in the advanced classes at Thai Language Express (just a demo lesson), Pro Language, and Payap ( Thai 6 & 7 ); so I'd like to find a school that has more advanced courses than these.

Any recommendations on schools that are currently offering advanced intensive courses? I can study anywhere in Thailand.

My current list of potential schools is:

Rak Thai

Thanks in advance!

ps I have based my list on searching here, women learn thai, and the old thai visa thread on best language schools

pps I though thai language express was excellent but at the time I tried them they didn't have enough advanced students. Payap and Pro were also excellent but same problem.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby bobcat321 » Sun Aug 24, 2014 9:09 pm

I have studied at two different schools.

The first one was Lanta International Language School down on Koh Lanta, where I went from basically not being able to say hello, to advanced. In total I studied there for about a year, first 6 months and then I took a break for a while, coming back for another 6 months later.

After that I took a break again, but after a while I decided that I wanted to expand my language skills, so I signed up for Chula. What can I say about Chula.. well they are very academic. You don't focus a lot on speaking, leading to the students studying there from a basic level not having a very good pronunciation. From my point of view, this was not a problem as I was already at an advanced level when first signing up. You focus a lot on reading (not so much writing in class, but homework!), but most of the time you're listening to your teacher lecturing. Don't get me wrong.. I learned a lot from Chula, but most of it was academic / formal words etc.. The teachers are very competent, they know what they're doing, but the system is kinda outdated. Even some teachers are complaining about it.. Anyway, if you already have the pronunciation pinned down, and don't have a problem with the everyday lingo, and want to improve your formal / academic Thai, I can recommend Chula.

Please note this is based on my studies in Thai level 7, 8 and 9, which was the highest levels they had. As for the lower levels I don't know what the exact teaching methods are, but like I said before, based on the other students pronunciation they don't focus a lot on speaking :)

Let me know if you have any questions, and if you are interested in going down to Koh Lanta I can tell you my experience from there too.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby MyDonalbain » Tue Aug 26, 2014 8:48 pm

Thanks for the detailed reply bobcat.

I wasn't aware of a quality school on Koh Lanta so that could be an option in the future.

I've worked pretty hard on my pronunciation and speak relatively clearly so Chula's lack of focus on that wouldn't be a problem. I'm more concerned with studying formal/written thai rather than spoken Thai as most of my Thai is self learned from reading so I already sound a bit like a book :)

One of the most important things for me is the quality and motivation of the other students as if they're good that will tend to push/motivate me and in that sense Chula may be the best fit.

Was there a reason you didn't go to one of the union based schools?
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby tod-daniels » Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:24 am

What one person thinks is advanced another might think is low intermediate, etc. Those terms are bandied about with a lot of lee-way :o . I've met more than my share of "advanced" foreign learners of thai who were anything but advanced. :oops: .. I'm NOT sayin' that's your case only that as a rule, of the many hundreds of foreign students of thai I've met almost to a person they overestimate their skill in the language. ;)

With that outta the way;
Are you wanting to study those same old beat to death topics like "a day in the life of Somchai the rice farmer", "holidays in thailand", "thai culture", "the history of thailand according to the thaiz", etc?? Those provide very little bang-4-the-baht in terms of useful vocabulary. Some people think they're great, I find them mind-wobblingly boring.. :)

One of the best (what I'd call high intermediate) courses I saw was a school that used the free newspaper M2F (given out Monday to Friday, hence the catchy name). They would teach Friday's paper on Monday, Monday's paper on Tuesday and so on. This let students have the time to persuse the headlines, highlight words or phrases they didn't know, look for topics which had relevance to them and basically prepare for class. Sadly I can't remember the school which was doin' this :shock: , because honestly after all the schools I've been to reviewing them, they all blur together after a while. :?

Given your penchant for reading, perhaps you'd be better off finding a good private teacher and either use a newspaper or a book which you're interested in. I've found that fiction novels are really good because they contain both written descriptive stuff and a lot of spoken dialog. This gives a person a good chance to see how disparate written thai is versus spoken thai. Newspapers are always good because they give you something to talk about with the thaiz on a daily basis.

I'd weigh in with my two satang's worth and say; for me Chula ain't worth the money they want versus the quality of their material. I don't think Duke has any advanced classes running right now because they're a really new school. Piammitr, Rak Thai, Union and Unity are all "Union Clone Schools",(pretty much cut from the same cookie cutter :lol: ) so you're unlikely to get anything other than those same old hack stories in their advanced classes.. However, with that being said, IF you can find one of those schools offering a contemporary daily news class, as opposed to one with articles dating back from the stone age, you could do very well.

Good Luck,

Please realize no disrespect is intended or implied in my broad brushing as far as students of the thai language or schools teaching it. After 7+ years beating my head against the wall studying this oh-so hard language, I call 'em as I see 'em.
"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: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby MyDonalbain » Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:48 am

I agree on there being no standard of beginner intermediate and advanced. I say I'm intermediate although I've been in the advanced class at places like Pro and Payap in CM (and 5 years ago even Walen :lol: - if you call their book 3 advanced) I think this may be what causes students to overestimate their abilities.

I can have a conversation on general subjects with a Thai and be understood and understand. But reading the newspaper is 100% out and reading a book like ฉันคือเอรี่ does require a dictionary for a few words per page and although I get the jist of it of course there will be many idioms or some grammatical structures which i don't get or don't get 100%. And of course when speaking I know I make grammatical mistakes as I often realize after the fact.

I probably have gotten more out of studying on my own (reading and I also got a thai to record all the sentences from the thai reference grammar and anki-ed them and memorized most of them) or one on one than I have out of classes thus far, but I find it hard to study "intensively" on my own so even if classes aren't as good as private lessons, I think I'd work harder.

I thought the teaching and little bit of materials I saw at Thai Language Express were great but like I said they just didn't have the advanced students in class and it wasn't really intensive either if I recall. Payap was great too but they don't (or didn't) offer Thai 7 and 8 very often and there wasn't as much homework as I would have liked. They also did spend (waste) some time on spelling "irregular" words which is something I'm not very interested in - if I'm not going to be using those words in an email or message why do i want to memorize their spelling as long as I can read them. But there were Phd/MS students from the US/UK/Denmark in the class who probably did care :)

If most of the union clones are basically the same maybe that's good news because if i find one that has the right class for me with a good teacher than I'll know how they are. Then I only have to look at maybe duke and chula and decide.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby Alan » Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:44 am

I find it hard to study "intensively" on my own so even if classes aren't as good as private lessons, I think I'd work harder.

Hi MD,
I know what you mean. Sometimes studying on your own can lack that "urgency" that we need. But one thing I wanted to mention that I found very motivating and helpful was this: If you read the newspaper of that same day, you sort of get a double payback: You're certainly getting exposures to some good Thai language phrases/expressions, but I found that I could take what I read and actually discuss it with Thai people who I knew. It doesn't matter which newspaper you read, but read the current paper, that same day. I found that I was able to talk about "news of the day" with friends and that made me a more interesting person to them. I wasn't the "typical farang" who could only talk about my trip to Ko Chang. It didn't matter if I was able to talk about the headlines about a big car crash, the earthquake in Chiang Mai, the roof that blew off a building in a storm, the child who was left in the bus and died - or - being able to comment - in Thai - about issues of the day, or even being "up on" the latest divorce, or romance rumors from the entertainment news - suddenly I was "in the know". Also, when the phrase or expression I was learning was couched in the context of a hot issue of the day - retention and reproduction were much more successful.

Also, there was a feedback loop all throughout the day - because I would often discuss the story with more than one person. Built in repetition.

As to the issue of who will teach you to read the newspaper. I found that it wasn't necessary that it be professional teacher. The newspaper is not a text book, and you aren't learning technical stuff like tone marks, grammar etc. If you have a friend who is a native Thai speaker, maybe that friend would work just fine. But remember, you're going to encounter some articles which may contain harsh language, incorrect grammar, or content which discusses problems. The teacher has to be someone who is willing to discuss those sorts of things with you and doesn't feel badly about the occasional article which appears in the newspaper showing negative things going on.

If you know the news of the day, you'll find that people will say "Wow, how did you know that?" Or "It's so cool that you have a genuine interest in issues which are important to Thailand or Thai society". I think that in addition to the language learning value of reading the same-day newspaper, there's a who bonding-effect that goes along with it (bonding with other people to whom that news is important).

I'm not sure if there's a "today's newspaper" class being offered at any school yet, but I would guess there will be soon.
I realize that a lot of the readers of this forum do exactly what I've mentioned, so I'm not saying anything you don't already know, but I thought that a testimonial to the great benefits of plunging right in to the daily 'paper might be useful.

I heartily recommend reading the daily newspaper (and the Tod-Daniels post referred to the fact that it has to be current)!

Best of luck!
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby Pirin » Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:57 pm

Last edited by Pirin on Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby bobcat321 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 5:17 pm

MyDonalbain wrote:Was there a reason you didn't go to one of the union based schools?

Honestly, at first the biggest reason I chose the school down on Koh Lanta was that it was approved by the Swedish government, so I get money if I study there. Back then I couldn't find another school which had been approved, so yeah, that's why I chose it :) In hindsight I am extremely happy than I chose that school to be my first, as I made very fast progress there. The only downside is that living on an island with the beach 10 meters away, and nothing else to do gets boring after a few months, especially in the low season :)

Last year when I was looking for a school in Bangkok I tried finding out if there were any schools there that was approved by the Swedish government, and it turns out Chula was. Though it seems they don't know about it themselves, because when I asked them if they were approved they said no.. haha. Also Chula has a good reputation so I assumed it would be good.

Speaking of newspaper classes, Chulas Thai level 6 is all about newspapers. I wish I would have done that one instead of one of the advanced ones.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby Alan » Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:33 am

I did this when I started to learn Thai in a small village out of town where nobody, except my teachers at my first school, spoke Thai. At my second school, nobody realized that I was actually in the course of learning Thai language.

This is a great, compelling testimonial - thank you for sharing that. What strikes me as so amazing about this achievement is that it debunks the myth that high proficiency is only achievable with "total immersion". Even without total immersion (and this should be good news for the folks, like me, who don't live in Thailand) - high proficiency might still be possible (although it sure has been elusive!). :)
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby Pirin » Thu Aug 28, 2014 6:42 pm

Last edited by Pirin on Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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