Choosing A Thai Language School

From my experiences in going to school in Thailand there are a few things you should be aware of when you are trying to find a good class to learn the language. If you are really serious about giving this language a good attempt to learn then you will want to be in a good class that much is obvious. I have come up with a few tips that you should be aware of that might help you in your search. The first thing I have always said is if you are in Thailand do not commit to a school right away, go to the school and review the course book and also sit in on some free classes, almost all the schools will let you sit in for at least one or two sessions.

Tips on finding a good class for your Thai Language Learning:

1. The Size Of The Class – From what I have seen a group class is usually about 4 to 6 people.  However, I have experienced classes where the school has shoved  up to 12 to 15 people in one small class.  This makes it difficult to learn because usually there are too many skill levels of the students and a lack of personal attention from the teacher will also result in a poor learning session.  You do not want to be waiting 30 minutes to be asked one question, it is just too long and it is also a stress factor for the teachers.  Ask the size of the class before you join and make sure they have a limit.

2. Teacher Speaks Too Much English – During a free session see how much the teacher speaks English.  I have been in classes where the teacher speaks more English then Thai when explaining every detail.  Sure it is okay for a teacher to speak some English in the learning process but to get a full benefit of learning they should be at least 80% Thai in my personal opinion.

3. Teacher Avoids Wrong Tones – Thai is a Tonal Language. That means that one word can have different meanings by the tone, in fact one word in the Thai Language can have five different meanings in some cases.  Also there are some unfamiliar vowels that are not used in the English Language.  For instance the word มา or MAA with a normal tone means “to come” but the same word หมา  with a rising tone MAA means “dog” in the English language.  I have found some teachers get used to students incorrect tones.  The teacher is so used to hearing foreigners say the tones incorrectly that they do not correct the student.  Then when you go into the real world and talk with a Thai they might have no idea what you are talking about because you are using the wrong tones.

4. Being Placed In Wrong Class – Sometimes schools are so anxious to get your money that they will just throw you into any class that has space.  This can be okay if the class is relatively new and you can quickly catch up.  Sometimes  you might be put in a more advanced class which might be overwhelming to the beginner.  I would ask what class you will be going to and how far along they are.

5. Pushy Front Staff – Some schools will have a pushy front desk staff trying to get you to sign up right away.  Personally, this is a turn off for me as I do not like to be rushed into decisions.  I respect the schools that explain the process slowly, let you join a class for free and do not push you into signing up with them.  I know all the schools are also in the business of making money but a school that is somewhat  persistent in getting you to join might be having some troubles behind the scene, perhaps losing money.  Do not be persuaded by terms such as this is the best school around, we are the cheapest school, we can give you 10 years on your visa etc.  For example just because a school is the most expensive around doesn’t mean it is the best one. Look around and find a school that suits you, the difference in price will probably be small.

6. The Level Of The Other Students – If you get a chance to go to a free class then observe the Thai Language level of each student.  If all the students are pretty similar then chances are you are in a good class.  If you find that some people are way ahead or way behind then it might not be a good choice for you.  Having people way ahead of you just can make you frustrated as you do not understand anything that student says.  Having someone well below your level is also difficult as you have to wait for the teacher to take time explaining to the weaker student things that you already know.  In every class there are people better or worse then you which is quite normal,  it’s when the levels are extreme that you should perhaps look for another class.

7. Offer Private Lessons – If you are having a hard time keeping up with your class or perhaps you want to cover a subject outside of class then private lessons should be available to you.  Most schools will offer private one on one lessons paid on a per hour basis with deals if you buy packages. I am not saying you have to use them but having that option is a very nice bonus.

So there you have it, some of my tips that I have learned from going to school in Thailand.  I will admit it will be difficult to find a school where every one of these tips are solved.  Just keep them in mind when you are searching for your new school.  If you really want to learn the language it would be quite beneficial to find the best class for you.  Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have, I am always happy to help you in making a final decision.

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