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Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby Rick Bradford » Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:57 am

Regarding the various modes of language fluency, I rather like this chart, which places the various activities on a matrix.

Image

Activities can help each other when linked by arrows, but the diagonal move won't work -- i.e reading, which is passive and done at your own pace, won't directly help your speaking, which is active and time-critical.

But reading will obviously help your writing, and reading will also help your listening, because if you have read a word, it is more likely you will recognise it when it is spoken.

The same guy also formulated a succinct statement about learning languages in general. "Anything which keeps you going in the marathon of learning languages, is your friend. Anything which you find demotivating which detracts from the pleasure of doing it, is not your friend."

A longer discussion about the Four Functions is here.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby David and Bui » Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:22 pm

Thank you, Rick. To that list I would add four higher functions: typing, translation, humor, and poetry. And, in today's world, I would substitute "typing" or "keyboarding" as one of the four essential skills in place of "writing".
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby tod-daniels » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:29 am

Everybody bandies that word "fluent" around concerning languages as if it actually has some meaning or is the imaginary yard stick by which competency in a language is gauged. There are any number of criteria which linguists have come up with to mark "fluency".

NEWS FLASH; fluency means completely different things to different people.

I mean can you walk into a court and talk about legal proceedings? Can you walk into a hospital and talk to the head surgeon about a pending operation? Can you read a legal contract and highlight points you don't agree with? Can you do some but not others? If you can't do any of them does it mean you're not fluent? Fluency in any language is what you think it is for your own particular situation, period, end of story.

I don't begin to consider myself fluent in thai, yet I rarely come across situations anymore where I can't express my views, voice my opinion, ask questions pertaining to the discussion, disagree with or effectively communicate with the thais I interact with. It also appears, seeing as they answer in thai that they understand my "version of thai" just fine. So, am I fluent? I don't think so, and I say that simply because I'm not at the level I want to be at, yet ;) .

I don't know how much reading helps either your speak or understand thai. I read somewhere that reading versus listening/speaking are done by different areas of the brain. Factor in the various accents the thaiz have even if they're speaking Central Thai, and you may or may not understand what they're saying. I also don't know a single person who thinks about how a particular word is spelled BEFORE they speak. As a rule we speak far to fast for that to happen.

I have had it up to here with "successful learners of thai" saying in order to speak you need to learn to read, because it's been proven time and again, you don't. Nor am I of the mind that reading actually helps your thai pronunciation when speaking either. Mostly people read silently to themselves, not out loud with a teacher there to correct errant pronunciation.

I think I can read thai at a pretty wicked fast speed, with pretty darned high comprehension. However I don't "sweat the small stuff". If I find a word or two which I don't know the meaning of, can't work out by context in a paragraph and which seems to not critically impact the story, I skip them and keep goin'! :o

As an example there was a school which has some b/s . reading competency dealy which I sat. We were allowed 45 minutes to read and answer the multiple choice questions. I was done in about half the time and scored in the high 90's on it. In fact I was done so fast the teacher mistakenly thought I couldn't do it and tried to make an example out of me in class by grading the paper in front of everyone :oops: . It was done to show that if you didn't take her class on reading you couldn't pass the test. That sorta backfired on her, when I asked her to say my score out loud :lol: . Interestingly I've not been invited back to that school. The other students taking that test agonized over it for the entire 45 minutes and still sucked at it. Then again, I READ a LOT in thai. In fact I read far more thai than I speak on a daily basis. This is why there's such a disparity in my reading ability and my speaking ability. :(

I totally agree with the statement Rick Bradford posted "Anything which keeps you going in the marathon of learning languages, is your friend. Anything which you find demotivating which detracts from the pleasure of doing it, is not your friend." <-those are true wordz 'o wisdom!

I say, don't put too ANY emphasis on the word "fluent" because it can and will get in the way of your learning thai..

Anyway, didn't mean to get off topic . . . :roll:
Last edited by tod-daniels on Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby tod-daniels » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:52 am

sorry for the doubled post
"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 Sep 17, 2014 9:10 am

I visited 5 of the 6 schools on my list today --

Chula - they don't do the placement test until October 10th and then I could start in November :(

Duke - looked good but they don't have enough advanced students now but they may have one at my level and may start a class for us.

Piammitr - they have started their 6 (or whatever it's called now) prep class which I sat in on. It was good but the students that were there today weren't as advanced as I'd like but they were pretty good.

Unity - They don't let you sit in on classes. The lady I spoke to said I was more advanced than the students in their advanced class and that the students in the 6 class are at my level or better. Unfortunately the 6 class has already begun and there's no joining it now :( So would have to wait 11.5 months!

Rak Thai - I'm scheduled to sit in on a class on Friday.

I didn't go to Union because it looks like it's a bit off the beaten path (ie not right on the regular BTS) but I think I will go there and anywhere else I can find tomorrow.

If I don't find anything better I might study at Piammitr in the morning 6 class and Duke privately for an hour or two some days in the afternoon for reading the newspaper.


This finding a school with advanced students is harder than I thought. I really wish I'd gone to Unity on time. I'm open to suggestions.


Alan wrote: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.


Thanks for the suggestion. This may be a good technique for me as I readily admit I don't speak Thai enough nor do I have any close Thai friends.
Unity said their newspaper class now uses recent newspapers but they won't know until next week whether they're going to offer it next term. Unity looks very professional in that they won't let you sit in on classes as they don't want to disturb the students. (other than the beginner classes)
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby David and Bui » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:23 am

Congratulations on your advanced language status! We very much appreciate learners who have taken the time and made the effort to learn the Thai language to the extent you have.

Instead of attending a commercial school, have you considered hiring a private teacher, perhaps a school teacher at at government secondary school to teach you after hours? Would the price be competitive?

Thanks for letting us know about your progress.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby MyDonalbain » Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:37 am

David and Bui wrote:Congratulations on your advanced language status! We very much appreciate learners who have taken the time and made the effort to learn the Thai language to the extent you have.

Instead of attending a commercial school, have you considered hiring a private teacher, perhaps a school teacher at at government secondary school to teach you after hours? Would the price be competitive?

Thanks for letting us know about your progress.


Well if I'm advanced, I must be beginner level advanced :)

So, I've expanded my search, today I went to:

Union:

Seems like they're very serious and the teacher I met with definitely holds people to a high standard - she admonished me on being sloppy with my pronunciation and was good about correcting grammar errors. I talked to her and did their placement test (for 300 baht). Spent 2 hours there.

The placement test at Union is difficult if you don't know any religious vocabulary in Thai. She said I could join level 5 - whatever that is. But, whatever it is, I think it would be good as they seem really serious.

Two problems for me. (1) classes start at 8am; and (2) of course, it has a christian feel to it and I saw only one other student who turned out to be a missionary. It may be too religious for me to deal with - one of the test questions was what do you do on Sundays? 555. And of course I was asked why I don't go to church when I said I go shopping :)

But, I bet you would learn a lot there - it was the most impressive place I've been so far. I'm sure the missionaries are all really really serious so it's probably a really motivating environment - BUT, you may need to learn a lot of (unnecessary?) religious vocabulary - much of which I may not even know in English.

AAA:

Looked good and they said I could sit in on their 6 class on Monday.

Rak Thai:

I returned to do my free lesson. The material and the teacher were very very impressive. The other students were ok - two japanese and one korean person. I assume they're serious about studying so they may improve quickly.

Rak Thai gave me a really hard time about not being able to write in Thai by hand very well. (Union also complained a bit about it and AAA said it may be a problem if I don't improve) At first they wanted me to take Writing 1 and 4 (I could skip 2 & 3) before taking their advanced classes. I told them I didn't want to stay in Bangkok studying writing by hand for 2 months and so they said I could work on it myself and join the next class.

I'm open to suggestions on other places that offer "advanced" classes. I plan on going to baan aksorn tomorrow to talk to them but I believe they're more of a one on one kind of place.

At this point I'm leaning towards either Rak Thai advanced class (whatever they offer next term) or Piammitr's 6 class and maybe doing a private newspaper class at Duke 3 days a week. I thought the material (I sat in on the sayings 1 class) at Rak Thai was more interesting than Piammitr (test prep handout) but I thought the students at piammitr were better.
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby MyDonalbain » Sat Oct 18, 2014 6:57 am

So I took the 2nd month of the Piammitr 6 prep class (or most of it).

It met my goal of the class having the most advanced students at Piammitr, but none of them was very fluent - although neither am I :) Pronunciation definitely wasn't stressed there btw.

I wouldn't recommend taking these test preparation classes unless you're going to actually take the test but it was interesting to me nonetheless.

Next time I will hire a teacher to help me with the newspaper - maybe for a few weeks to build up a list of vocabulary and do some anki cards and then I'll be better at listening to the news as well as being able to talk about current events with Thais.

In summary, I definitely recommend Piammitr but if you're looking to get from an intermediate level (??) where you can speak on general subjects but aren't very fluent to a more fluent level, the schools in Bangkok are helpful but you may not find many students at the same level or higher at except maybe Chula and Union and UTL??

I'm going to just accept the fact that although I'm not very fluent, I can't rely on taking classes but need to speak to Thais (duh :)) and use a private tutor.

Just my findings :)
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby Thomas » Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:41 pm

MyDonalbain wrote:Rak Thai:
...

Rak Thai gave me a really hard time about not being able to write in Thai by hand very well. (Union also complained a bit about it and AAA said it may be a problem if I don't improve) At first they wanted me to take Writing 1 and 4 (I could skip 2 & 3) before taking their advanced classes. I told them I didn't want to stay in Bangkok studying writing by hand for 2 months and so they said I could work on it myself and join the next class.

MyDonalbain,

I read your descriptions of your experience with much interest.

A short (?) story from my side:

A collegue of mine (we live and work in Germany, my wife is Thai, to be precise, from Isan - my Thai is rather limited because I use it infrequently, my wife and me speak a mixture of English, German, and Thai, and I stay only each second or third year in Thailand) once sent my a foto from holidays in Lao showing a bus. She asked me whether I could tell to her to which city the bus was driving because they had not understood this during their "rucksack" holidays in Lao.

I replied to her: The bus was driving to Pakse as the sign in front of the bus explains.

Then she asked me: Thanks! Sounds very plausible to me. We were not in Pakse but in the South of Lao while leaving the bus. Could you teach me to read Lao?

I replied to her: To be honest: No! I can read (and write a little bit) Thai. Lao letters are, in principle, easier to learn but I have very few reliable material on "Lao letters", and in effect I cannot "read" Lao letters just be myself (only "decipher"). I can tell to you that learning Thai writing system is more difficult but at the end you will also be able to decipher in Lao that the bus is driving to Pakse.

She told to me: We are also frequently in Thailand. So, why not to teach me Thai letters so that I can understand at least a little bit what is written in Thai.

I replied: Ok! Let's start.

I gave her some of these ko kai kho khai booklets and explained to her general principles of the writing system and asked her, in effect, to learn first the consonants from ko kai to ho nok huk. She should do so by writing 100 times ko kai 100 times kho khai etc. My wife checked the result and I "translated" to my collegue what was wrong, or where she should improve her Thai hand-writing. In this way she learned also some Thai vocabulary (chicken, egg, human beeing, water buffalo, bottle etc.).

Since the lessons found their "natural" end by a job change (and change in the city) I cannot tell to you very much about how successful this method was actually to bring my collegue nearer to her original wish (to read Lao letters while staying next holidays in Lao). But...

As just pointed out by David, writing is not only hand writing. Also for me hand writing and typing in Thai are two very different exercises.

I would like to add that of course any human being can learn a language without letters. In the case that homo neandertaliensis and sapiens ever encountered, and stayed together for a while, sapiens will have learned language neandertaliensis and vice versa, and even without studying Thai consonants they may have been able to hunt down mammoths together. But letters for (silent) communication is a great invention of homo (limited to sapiens?) so that I would argue always that learning to read Thai letters is the best starting point for the language study. As to the question whether learning to read Thai needs the facility to write the letters with the hand I have no (longer) a clear/strong opinion. I think if you can locate Thai letters on a key board, and can read Thai text, handwriting may eventually not really required.

Please don't ask me how much time has passed since I wrote more than about 5 words in English or German by hand.

What is your opinion as to 'learning to write Thai by hand'?
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Re: Best Advanced intensive school(s) in Thailand

Postby tod-daniels » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:56 am

I think there's incredible benefit in being able to type thai, BUT in order to do that you need to know the inz-&-outz of the squirrelly spelling a lot of thai words have. :o

Right now the only way to gain that kind of proficiency is to take writing classes at a language school, where they teach you all the tricky stuff and you write until your hand aches every day. :( Plus if you misspell a word, your home work is to write the word 30 times, which will beat it into your head for sure :lol: .

There is a good free type thai tutor here;
http://www.thai-notes.com/

OFF-TOPIC; all of what I call the "Union Clone schools" (Union, UTL, Rak Thai, AAA, Piammitr, Sumaa, Nisa, and others) offer what they call a P.6 (.) prep course,however the real . was abandoned by the MOE quite a few years ago. I think it's now called the "Thai Proficiency Exam".

Sadly, it does NOT rate you against what a 6th grade thai would know. Instead it rates you against everyone else who takes the test. If you take the test with a bunch of ninja language learners or super-brainz, you might score quite low. Conversely if you take the test with a bunch of half-witz you could score quite high. I really think that now-a-days it has lost the value it had before when you were tested at a 6th grade level against what thaiz would know.

Good luck, stick with it, as I said, forget the word fluent and go instead for fluidity when you speak, you'll go way further in your learning thai endeavor. :) .
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