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I'm having trouble following this thread. Is there only one AUA school, as mentioned above?

AUA is a good example of a school with pseudo-scientific claims – this school states in its sales leaflet that they have never seen a student master Thai who has not learned via the natural method.

Is this the same AUA company which has a branch in Seri Center, or is it a separate Thai language school? I was trying to work out whether AUA was a university, but someone in the 'Teaching In Thailand' forum said it was a langauge center - AUA's website says they teach English - do they also teach Thai?

Appreciate any info.

Also, there was a member called 'Soloman' who seemed interested in learning Thai. I have advice for him and anyone else which is that location is a key factor in deciding where to study. When I was looking around, UTL was one of the closest to where I live. If someone told me that Bangkok's best school was 30km away from my house - what difference would it make? I'd spend more on transport than on learning Thai - you just need the access to a real teacher (there is a difference!)

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@LantaSchool

Thanks for this nice summary, and I don't wish to unduly criticise what seems a well-intentioned post; however, there are a couple of myths here about the psychology of language acquisition and about the Thai language I should like to point out for those just starting out and choosing a language school.

Point 5 about Thai being a 'high-context' language seems right enough, but it's not quite accurate to say Thais cannot use 'tone' the way other languages do. Thai is 'tonal', but the word 'tone' has a very specific, and quite limited application in reference to Thai. Like English, Thai speakers can and do use intonation, as well as vary stress, pitch, volume and tempo (all of which may generally, if inaccurately, be connoted by the word English word 'tone' in the wider sense) to reflect emotions. The sound of an angry voice, to take a blunt example, can be similarly recognised in both Thai and English by a speakers' intonation, stress, volume and so on even if one has no knowledge or understanding of the vocabulary. The idea that because Thai is a 'tonal' language, emotions can only be understood in context is, at best, a bit of an over-simplification. Switch on channel 3, close your eyes, and even a beginner will be able to tell the differene between two lovers smooching and two 'ladies' cat fighting!

Points 1 and 2 are more of a worry in terms of misleading new language learners. I agree physical activities can make language learning fun and interesting and can help to cognitively cement new vocabulary. However, that is not to say that this is i. the only way or ii. the best way to learn a language. People respond positively to different kinds of teaching methods. Personally, I would not enjoy going to a class where a teacher tried to make me engage in "child-like" learning games. To imply that people who share my aversion to this kind of 'role play' are reducing their chances of successfully acquiring a new language is, at best, misleading.

It is also manifestly false that learning from a vocab list will condemn you to translation as stated in point 2. I'd hazard a guess that most of those reading this post who have picked up Thai as a second language learned ห้วเราะ in just that way and can use it, and much other vocab, quite reflexively. Whether someone translates before parsing meaning has nothing to do with how they learned words but with the frequency in which they meet and use those expresssions.

Finally, if you're choosing a school for the first time, please beware the BS about 'natural learning'. Despite what a lot of 'quick-fix' language schools say to generate business (i'm not suggesting this about Lanta, i don't know anything about them, my point is general), there is NO valid research that shows adults can learn a language like a child.

Our cognitive abilities are utterly unalike, not least because children learn a language while discovering the world, developing social interaction skills and expanding their cognitive and conceptual abilities. Language plays an essential role in their psychological development. They are hard-wiring their brains through language as they physically and psychologically mature. For adults, this process has already taken place, which means adult language learns have always to deal with interference from their native language and the habitual hard-wiring of their brain. This point is so widely accepted in academic circles, its barely credible that so many schools get away with perpetuating the "learn naturally like a child" myth. Of course, it sells seats, but I would strongly advise anyone looking for a good school to avoid this kind of charlatanism (indeed, it would be interesting to hear from any of the more advanced non-native speakers of Thai who populate this site whether ANY of them had learned 'naturally like a child' - i'm betting my rather inedible hat that the number is absolute zero!)

All that said, once again, I do think you made a nice summary of some points worth sharing.

Hello Softwater

Thank you for your eloquent reply, and I'm glad you liked our summary.

I'm not allowed to place a link, there is a website which can provide details on some of the research and evidence accumulated to support the concept that learning through experience and action is far more effective when learning a language. If you google TPR World Review Evidence I think it comes out top. Please note this site has nothing to do with our school...

I would also like to highlight that we have chosen to adopt these methods, as we were unsatisfied with the results traditional methods were providing. We closed our school for 6 months to research educational science, and find out how we could help people to learn Thai more easily. We developed our courses based on our findings, and we tested, tested and tested before introducing them to paying students. As a result, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the success rate of students. Over the last 6 months 100% of our students have passed their final exams, all of which are based on the same structure as the Cambridge ESOL, a highly regarded qualification.

In summarisation:

Students will benefit if they

1. Learn by activity and doing, using both brain hemispheres to learn.

2. Learn by a lot of interaction with the teacher, and learn how to put together their own sentences by listening and understanding interaction, not by repeating dialogues.

3. Use translation to avoid confusion, when understanding from context is too hard or time consuming

4. Learn how to read Thai early but start with words and sentences that they already understand

We truly believe that these methods are the most effective, that's why we have chosen to use them. These methods open the door to more people – making it easier for everyone to learn Thai – not just those who have an aptitude for learning a second language. That's not to say that people can't learn Thai in other ways though J

It all comes down to personal preference and choice.

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Hello Softwater

Thank you for your eloquent reply, and I'm glad you liked our summary.

I'm not allowed to place a link, there is a website which can provide details on some of the research and evidence accumulated to support the concept that learning through experience and action is far more effective when learning a language. If you google TPR World Review Evidence I think it comes out top. Please note this site has nothing to do with our school...

I would also like to highlight that we have chosen to adopt these methods, as we were unsatisfied with the results traditional methods were providing. We closed our school for 6 months to research educational science, and find out how we could help people to learn Thai more easily. We developed our courses based on our findings, and we tested, tested and tested before introducing them to paying students. As a result, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the success rate of students. Over the last 6 months 100% of our students have passed their final exams, all of which are based on the same structure as the Cambridge ESOL, a highly regarded qualification.

I want to make it clear I don't have an axe to grind with Lanta school. As an education professional, I do have an axe to grind with bogus theories and bogus research.

The first thing - and in fact only thing, because this point alone makes it invalid, but I will make a few other points too - that has to be said about the reference Lanta provide is that it is not independent research. If other TV readers care to look up the link, they will see that the research being cited is called 'The Total Physical Response (TPR): Review of the Evidence' by James Asher, 2009.

Now that looks like a fine title for something that should be academically credible material, until you notice that ALL the evidence being reviewed, and almost the entire bibliography cited in support, is actually written by the author, James Asher himself. That, I'm sorry, is NOT what we call valid research. Someone reviewing their own research is NOT a review of the evidence - it is a SUMMARY of his own work (reputable academics don't call summaries of their own work a 'review of the evidence' - this is wholly misleading).

Add on to this the fact that James Asher is selling a whole load of products based on his TPR method (and possibly franchising it to schools), and you can start to see why anybody with a bit of critical thinking skill might be a bit suspect.

Now I don't know if Lanta school is connected to James Asher or has just bought it into the hype, but the point is this: the only people claiming the TPR method works are James Asher (who sells the method) and schools like Lanta (who sell the method). Independent research needs to be from someone who has no vested interest.

There are also grave doubts about the validity of the research that Asher conducted to my mind. I won't bore the forum with them because I think regardless of any other points what I've already said is a knockdown argument. However, I'd be happy to privately send anyone a detailed critique of Asher's article by PM if they want it. If you read Asher's article and find yourself, apparently like Lanta, feeling persuaded - send me a PM and I'll tell you exactly why its BS.

By the way, I am an academic in a public educational institution and am not in competition with any private language school - nor do I sell a method of language learning - just in case anyone might wonder about my own 'vested interests' (i.e, i have none).

Edited by SoftWater
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I want to make it clear I don't have an axe to grind with Lanta school. As an education professional, I do have an axe to grind with bogus theories and bogus research.

It's good to debate these topics - no offence taken.

Now I don't know if Lanta school is connected to James Asher or has just bought it into the hype, but the point is this: the only people claiming the TPR method works are James Asher (who sells the method) and schools like Lanta (who sell the method). Independent research needs to be from someone who has no vested interest.

We are not connected to James Asher. We studied a whole range of techniques and our final methods are not SOLELY based on TPR. We understand your point about independent research, which is one of the reasons we tested our techniques before launching. We continuously assess our students performance, and monitor the effectiveness of our courses. Even though we are experiencing such a good success rate, we still review which areas of our courses are working most effectively, so we have a sound grasp of what actually works for our students.

Prospective students need to review the techniques available, and consider what will work for them. We don't ask anyone to take our word for it - we just want to highlight the techniques that are available, and communicate why we think they are so effective.

There are also grave doubts about the validity of the research that Asher conducted to my mind. I won't bore the forum with them because I think regardless of any other points what I've already said is a knockdown argument. However, I'd be happy to privately send anyone a detailed critique of Asher's article by PM if they want it. If you read Asher's article and find yourself, apparently like Lanta, feeling persuaded - send me a PM and I'l tell you exactly why its BS.

By the way, I am an academic in a public educational institution and am not in competition with any language school - nor do I sell a method of language learning - just in case anyone might wonder about my own 'vested interests' (i.e, i have none).

I would like to read a PM detailing your critique Softwater. It's always good to read another's perspective - especially a fellow educational professional. Two of the staff at Lanta School have a bachelors degree in education, and the course coordinator has a masters in educational design and multi media, so the decision to select these methods was not based on simply reading and buying into some hype. We have the best interests of students of the Thai language at heart. Our interest is in promoting methods we believe to be effective - which I guess is exactly where you are coming from too.. Do you believe that traditional methods are more effective? What methods of teaching do you support?

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I would like to read a PM detailing your critique Softwater. It's always good to read another's perspective - especially a fellow educational professional. Two of the staff at Lanta School have a bachelors degree in education, and the course coordinator has a masters in educational design and multi media, so the decision to select these methods was not based on simply reading and buying into some hype. We have the best interests of students of the Thai language at heart. Our interest is in promoting methods we believe to be effective - which I guess is exactly where you are coming from too.. Do you believe that traditional methods are more effective? What methods of teaching do you support?

If we may take you at your word, then I commend your professionalism. Alas, to the extent that you buy into TPR (which is significantly going by the things that you have said on this forum and the things James Asher says in his article), then I have to say you need to look a bit more critically at what you read. Did any of you B.Ed and MA graduated staff find any INDEPENDENT research to suggest that Asher's method was valid?

Regarding the critique, as I've already said in one answer to a PM request, you'll need to give me a few days to write up a considered point-by-point reply. I will post it in a separate thread when its done and put a link here.

Your final question also deserves an answer, which I have given in several places previously on this forum, one of which can be found here Reading/Writing: which one first

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We understand your point about independent research, which is one of the reasons we tested our techniques before launching. We continuously assess our students performance, and monitor the effectiveness of our courses. Even though we are experiencing such a good success rate, we still review which areas of our courses are working most effectively, so we have a sound grasp of what actually works for our students.

That's a sales pitch equivalent to "'we tested our baby powder and can assure you its safe". Sorry, it doesn't amount to independent research.

:)

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Last year, I taught 6 classes at Chula in my field using THAI as the language of instruction (believe me, it was too slow to use English ~ much easier to use Thai to increase class discussion...)

What field is that?

I was under the impression that the only foreign instructors at Chula were those teaching English or those teaching subject fields in international programs (in which case they are supposed to teach in English not Thai)?

Your "impression" is wrong on this particular issue with this particular person. Any department/ school at Chula (or any other university for that matter) can hire foreigners in whatever subject -- as long as that person is qualified. I am very well-qualified as a highly experienced school and educational psychologist. I earned my masters and Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley -- quite a few years ago. I have become fluent in Thai much faster than most folks because I understand the linguistic and developmental underpinnings of language acquisition to a high degree. Language acquisition and fluency varies greatly by person due to individual differences, abilities and experience -- among many other factors that have been partially touched upon in this forum...

I successfully taught six courses – in Thai and supplementing with English if needed: A) Psychological Tests for Early Identification of Exceptional Children; :D Educational Psychology and Learner Development; C) Introduction to Psycho-Educational Assessment: Measurement and Test Construction; D) Psychology of Teaching Exceptional Children; E) Theories and Techniques of Counseling for Guidance; and, F) Introduction to Children with Emotional and Social Disorders. I also co-taught a graduate seminar on personality assessment for PhD students in education. I was also involved in a number of committees and helped to co-found a new center where the language was Thai was the primary language for discussion...

For the interviewing process for this position, I gave my job talk in Thai.

I am not "a typical farang" teaching English in Thailand at this stage. I have been there, done that and moved on to the next level...

Feel free to PM me if you need more details. I am happy to explain you my duties and give a summary of the subjects in Thai if you like.

As you may ascertain, I am not a "wannabe" Thai speaker. I am a Thai speaker.

Enjoy & kaw hai chok dee duay na krab,

:)

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Last year, I taught 6 classes at Chula in my field using THAI as the language of instruction (believe me, it was too slow to use English ~ much easier to use Thai to increase class discussion...)

What field is that?

I was under the impression that the only foreign instructors at Chula were those teaching English or those teaching subject fields in international programs (in which case they are supposed to teach in English not Thai)?

Your "impression" is wrong on this particular issue with this particular person. Any department/ school at Chula (or any other university for that matter) can hire foreigners in whatever subject -- as long as that person is qualified. I am very well-qualified as a highly experienced school and educational psychologist.

Thanks for the clarification, dseawarrior. No slur intended on you. My comment was made from a mixture of surprise and personal interest. Allow me to explain (note to Mod: please be tolerant, I will be bringing us back on topic by the end of the post!!)

Your comment that Chula etc can hire foreigners in any subject is not quite accurate. Thai law and the Ministry of Education proscribes employment of foreigner for any job that could equally well be done by a Thai. Thais can of course teach English (and do), but since foreigners are native speakers they cannot teach it 'equally well' (in the eyes of the law, not perhaps, in practice!). Hence, foreigners teaching English is allowable under the law.

From what you have said, it must be that you are a specialist in your subject and that no Thai could, in the eyes of law, teach the specialist courses you taught to the same level/degree of expertise. My personal interest is that I am probably one of those 'typical farangs teaching english' that you refer to; however, my subject specialism is not English but Philosophy. I would love to teach philosophy here but there are few international courses in philosophy taught in English, and there are plenty of Thais who are equally if not better qualified on paper than I am to teach it in Thai. Moreover, although I am conversationally capable (i wouldn't say 'conversationally fluent') in Thai, I can't imagine ever having the ability to teach philosophy in Thai. The concepts are difficult enough to explain in English ( I used to teach philosophy in a UK university), let alone in Thai. It is truly remarkable - and hats off to you - that you have mastered the language to such an extent that you can explain and instruct a highly specialised field using Thai (and apparently without writing Thai, since I note from your posts that you tend to write in transliteration). That's a level of vocabulary and sophistication way beyond anyone I've ever come across (in another thread people are marvelling at Steven Jay Raj' language abilities, but I'd say yours are even more amazing). Well done you.

So, to bring us back on topic: I note in other posts that you endorse similar learning methods to the ones hat I have been pointing out: immersion, variety and repetition. TOTALLY agree!!! Could I ask whether you ever studied at AUA or a school that use the TPR method advocated by Lanta? I ask because these schools tend to imply that your level of mastery is impossible unless you learn like a child. I am, as you will be aware from my other posts, highly sceptical of their claims, and feel beginners reading this thread looking for a good school should have some balanced opinions / views from people like yourself who have mastered Thai as a second language.

Best

Sw

Edited by SoftWater
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I have become fluent in Thai much faster than most folks because I understand the linguistic and developmental underpinnings of language acquisition to a high degree.

:)

Wow!!

Care to share?

That would be far more germane to this discussion than Sofwaters obsession (sorry, honey!) with Lanta et al.

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That would be far more germane to this discussion than Sofwaters obsession (sorry, honey!) with Lanta et al.

Your point is well-taken, Dippy, and I think I'd like to draw a line under the softwater v lanta debate.

Only Lanta and one other person, primarily interested in academic research, have asked me for a full critique of Asher. TV is not really the place for this kind of thing, so I'll simply reiterate my original offer that anyone who is interested should contact me via PM, and we can take the debate elsewhere.

In summary, I'll repeat that there is no independent scientific support for the TPR method. People interested in Lanta can google their name as I did and find their website. They have videos and prices on the site which will give you a good idea of what you're in store for if you choose this kind of language school.

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Hi All

Just to clarify – whether you choose our school, a different one, or chose to study on-line – consider the benefits of learning in an interactive and experiential way. Our contribution on this thread was intended to provide readers with an awareness of different techniques and methods that are available, and thereby help readers who are looking for ways to learn the Thai language.

A quick word on TPR as I believe it is relevant to this thread - I move more directly back to topic further down...

TPR was established some 40 years ago, and there have been numerous debates among academics as to its effectiveness. Over the years it has fought off the critiques and maintained a steady following of supporters. We have references to independent write ups that support the method, such as this one at www.englishraven.com/method_TPR.html (not sure if that link will show).

"TPR is now a household name among teachers of foreign languages. It is widely acclaimed as a highly effective method at beginning levels, and almost a standard requirement in the instruction of young learners. It is also admired as a method due to its inherent simplicity, making it accessible to a wide range of teachers and learning environments."

Whilst we know this isn’t “independent research” as such, we would like readers to be aware that we have adopted it because we believe it to be effective for our students, and so far it has proven to be so. We have no interest in adopting a method that doesn’t work – why would we? But we’ll continue the TPR debate on another thread :D

If you’re trying to learn Thai – In many ways, we, as in Softwater and Lantaschool, are saying the same thing: "Speak, read, write, listen. Do all of these as much and as often as you can."

Unfortunately, however, many people do not have enough intrinsic motivation, or the attention span, to dedicate enough time and energy to learn a foreign language. Hence, many students drop out of language courses early, and do not reach the fluency they aspire to. Try to find out what the dropout rate is of any course you plan to enrol on.

If you enjoy learning in an academic way, using vocabulary lists and repeating dialogues, and you find it works for you, then the different methods we have been discussing on this thread are unlikely to be of benefit to you.

If however you feel uninspired, or put off from studying the Thai language because you find the idea of traditional, academic methods of learning too challenging or even boring, then – we encourage you to consider the benefits of other techniques. Using a combination of methods that will make you experience different ways of learning throughout the day, could engage your attention and motivation for much longer. Thus, you will be able to Speak, read, write, and listen more often and for longer - without getting bored or losing interest. You may even have fun as well...

Anyone interested in the methods we use are welcome to visit our school to see whether they feel they could benefit from different methods of learning or not. We also have a few YouTube videos that show the methods in action. At the end of the day, the methods you choose will be down to your own personal preference of what you feel will work best for you. We simply want to make you aware of some of the techniques available, and the results we have seen when they are applied.

Good luck :D

p.s Softwater - I’m sorry if you felt I was saying that adopting these methods was the ONLY way to learn Thai – I don’t think I made that claim anywhere? I’m sure there are other ways... It certainly isn’t my intention to “dismiss” other methods. :)

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TPR was established some 40 years ago, and there have been numerous debates among academics as to its effectiveness. Over the years it has fought off the critiques and maintained a steady following of supporters. We have references to independent write ups that support the method, such as this one...

but then you state

Whilst we know this isn't "independent research" as such,

You seem to be confused about whether you want us to believe it's independent or not...in fact it's not research at all and does not support TPR with any data or empirical evidence. It is one teacher's personal overview of the history of 2nd language teaching Interestingly, the same author notes elsewhere on his site that during the 1980s, well after Asher's TPR method had surfaced, language teaching had moved on from these debates about specific methodologies having all the answers, and moved to a more inclusive communicative methodology. To say that TPR was established 40 years ago is true but misleading - in the philosophy of mind, the behaviorism of Skinner and Watson was "established" over a hundred years ago, and roundly dismissed barely 20 years later.

In other words, like 'the silent way', a highly-discredited technique, 'TPR' was left behind as a historical experiment by most mainstream schools.

I'd also note that while the author of this site endorses TPR for children and beginners, he specifically notes it is tied to learning language that is connected to direct sensory experience, and it is little use for more conceptual and abstract elements of language. If you want to learn how to say 'jump' and 'smile' fine, you can learn a physical response similar to the way animals are taught to respond to behavioural commands. Most of us want to be able to do a little more than this though....

p.s Softwater - I'm sorry if you felt I was saying that adopting these methods was the ONLY way to learn Thai – I don't think I made that claim anywhere? I'm sure there are other ways... It certainly isn't my intention to "dismiss" other methods. :)

If you read your own posts, you'll find that you said people who learn from vocab lists are condemned to always translating...i'd say that counts as 'dismissing other methods'...

I would have thought the 'plug' I gave suggesting people check out your website for themselves would have been enough, but you seem determined to keep promoting your school under a thinly disguised attempt at offering us free advice. I think the forum has got it - both your view and mine. Shall we leave it here?

Edited by SoftWater
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p.s Softwater - I'm sorry if you felt I was saying that adopting these methods was the ONLY way to learn Thai – I don't think I made that claim anywhere? I'm sure there are other ways... It certainly isn't my intention to "dismiss" other methods. :)

If you read your own posts, you'll find that you said people who learn from vocab lists are condemned to always translating...i'd say that counts as 'dismissing other methods'...

I would have thought the 'plug' I gave suggesting people check out your website for themselves would have been enough, but you seem determined to keep promoting your school under a thinly disguised attempt at offering us free advice. I think the forum has got it - both your view and mine. Shall we leave it here?

Could it be that the p.s remark was a bait? I rather admire Mr or Mrs Lanta, quite a skilled marketing pro...

:D

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I am thinking about learning Thai and would like also an Educational Visa.

I live in Bangkok but not in the center. I live in RAMA 2 area. Does anyone know if this area has any Thai schools that are licensed by the ministry of education?

All help would be appreciated.

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Hello!!! my name is Wiyada Pimpaporn . I am a Thai teacher specializing in teaching Thai to foreigners living in Thailand. If you would like to learn to speak , read and write Thai in a fast and easy way, please contact me to setup schedule that is convenient for you.

Thank you

Wiyada

Teaching Thai to foreigners

can u send me ur information to my email: [email protected]

i want to know the price....

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