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I have some experience with this periodically over the last five years on extended stays having attended for a while at the Somchat, Jentana's and Smile languages school - in terms of materials and teaching standards there is little difference. In fact the two ladies behind Jentana and Smile schools both taught at Nisa school ( I think if that is the one at Sathorn) before setting up on their own.

The teachers are lowly paid and have to work long hours so staff turnover is high and their hearts are not always in it. As a beginner as well it is frustrating to get a new teacher with poor English who will just smile when you ask valid questions - If I was to recommend one of these schools it would be Jentana's purely for Jentana herself - she is a well-organised lady and a very good laugh as well.

I had previously attended group classes at London university and did go and look at Unity and AUA - I am sorry but I didn't feel I could possibly learn in a group situation again with the continuous mis-pronunciations ( when it got round to me I was probably the worse culprit) so attended the schools offering one-one tuition. What I have found is needed is a real teacher who will correct you everytime you make a mistake not a shy young lady who sits smiling as you utter gobbledygook.

Now that I live in Thailand I have decided it is an absolute must to finally learn the language. I considered going back to one of the schools but recall how hit and miss it was with teachers. I was pleased to find that one of the teachers I had previously encountered was still teaching but on a freelance basis - i learn about 4 times a week at home and in a short time have made considerable progress. I would have no hesitation to recommend this lady as she has been teaching for over 10 years and has helped many nationalities to fluency - for the first time i feel i will be able to achieve that. Anyway I know one is not supposed to advertise but I would happily pass on contact details to anyone seriously wishing to learn.

Cheers BB

can u send me the information of the freelance teacher?my email: [removed -- use PM]

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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.

55555... I tend to agree... It is easy to lecture endlessly on this topic, but I will try to keep my experiences, comments and tips short and succinct.

First, sorry to be slow in my response to this topic -- I subscribed to updates via email to this topic but that function apparently is not working at present... I am responding to your post 9 days after you posted...

IMMERSION... IMMERSION... IMMERSION...

Second, as SW guessed, I am a specialist in my field where there are no Thai personnel equivalents to my skills, education and experience... So Chula U. got a very "very good deal" in hiring me. I also got a "good deal" in that I was further immersed in Thai language and culture to a very high level -- a very unusual experience for a Farang -- I am the only Farang that I know of who has had a similar experience... If you can arrange a similar experience for yourself, I highly recommend it ~ but at the same time such a position is not easy to secure or to maintain... There are vast differences between expectations of Thai and Western university level academic positions... One of the things that I liked about Thai "academia" was the high level of social interaction ~ at the same time, this high level of social interaction can also be very "stifling" if one likes to have their own space and follow their own "drummer." There is a huge expectation for social reciprocity (including excessive work hours including socializing with work peers beyond normal hours even including vacation time, etc.). Frankly, I like to have my vacation time and personal time to myself as much as possible ~ but Thai academic peers have an expectation that "we are all family" so why not want to be together all the time??? To be honest, I don't enjoy being with my own family of origin all the time (one of the reasons that Farang folks individuate more than Thai folks from their families of origin). Personal space is very important to me (especially vacation time) and this concept is yet to truly emerge in Thai society... This interaction is a double-edged sword ~ now that I am out of that intensive Thai academic environment, I do miss it ~ to a certain extent....

Third, back to the question by "dippytart." "I understand the linguistic and developmental underpinnings of language acquisition to a high degree." Care to share? ...Big question and big topic for sure...

A) Much depends on your own understanding of your own skills in "learning how to learn" for yourself... That is, are you aware of your own learning "style"? Do you know how you learn fastest/ easiest in most subjects? Are you a visual or auditory or kinesthetic learner, or what kind or combination thereof? What is your own level of fluency in your mother tongue? Have you studied other languages and how has your success been for those other languages? What emotional connections have you made in your language studies? All of these factors interact within an individual level -- so individualized language learning programs will TRY to consider these different factors -- but as an adult, it is up to you to monitor and guide your own learning... You KNOW when you "get it" and you should also know when "you don't get it." If you are not sure, that is a tip that you need to review that same material again -- maybe in a different way... Seek out help frequently, but remember you are your own master as you move towards language mastery... No one "program" is going to do it for you... In answer to SW, I have NOT been in the AUA program NOR any other formal Thai language learning program in Thailand. I am sure that they all offer good techniques, activities and exercises, but I have created my own environments for learning and that has worked best for me... Yes, quite natural for me...

:D The answers you provide for yourself to part A) will help to guide you in your language studies... For myself, I have had high success in English (my mother tongue), and I have also studied, Spanish, Latin, German and Swedish to and beyond the university level. I am a polyglot and I have applied my successes in my other languages to my studies of Thai... I KNOW that I am an auditory and musical learner, who enjoys learning practically and passionately. Like learning how to play guitar or sing Jazz -- I enjoy learning how to express myself but also how to listen and repeat what I hear others (e.g., language speakers or musicians) are "saying." I have a very good "ear" -- that my be genetic -- but that is also a skill that I have practiced and developed...

C) When I advise Thai speakers on how to improve their English listening and repeating skills, I say: "Faang leh puut muen nok" = "Listen and speak like a bird." (do not "think too much" but repeat like a "bird"...) This is very important from my perspective... It is very important to listen carefully and repeat identically... In the beginning, it is very hard to accurately repeat the Thai phonemes (sounds) the same as a Thai speaker... You need a good teacher who has lots of patience and you must have lots of patience, too! And, repeated listening and repeating speaking along with Thai language tapes / CDs/ TV/ radio/ music is ESSENTIAL... There are no "shortcuts" -- this takes THOUSANDS of HOURS of listening and repeating... It is not particularly hard, but discipline, diligence and accuracy are needed... A few years ago, I spent many hundreds of hours listening and repeating the tape series for "Thai for Lovers" and "Thai for Beginners/ Intermediate Learners/ Advance Learners" (see Benjawan Poomsan Becker (now Terlecky) et al). It is a good audio tape series for the Thai portion... I listened to those tapes for more than a year while I commuted to and from work... I viewed it almost as a musical exercise in repeating for precision, tone, accuracy for the whole phrase and for individual consonants and vowels...

D) By the way, years ago I took two graduate courses in Linguistics and this gave me the tools via an IPA phonetic alphabet to break down Thai sounds so that they could be "parsed" and intelligible for me -- I have a rather accurate IPA writing system that I use for myself when I write down a new Thai word that I have not heard before... All of these studies I basically did on my own without direct supervision of a Thai teacher... If I was not sure of my accuracy, I would repeat the tape over and over until I mastered that tape... Then I felt I could move on to the "next level."

[The process that I describe above is basically what toddlers & preschoolers of all languages do "naturally" while they begin to master the sound system of their native language and learn the "accent" of their native language... Listen and repeat like a bird -- there is no replacement for that -- until you are confident of your mastery in that language -- you will know when you are reaching mastery because people will understand what you are saying... It is also OK if you speak "wrong" as long as you are open to being taught by your friends and acquaintances in Thai (or whatever new language you are practicing).] And as long as you encourage Thai speakers to correct you whenever needed... Do NOT worry about making mistakes -- that IS how we truly learn!!!

AND MORE IMMERSION:

The first year that I lived and worked in Thailand (8/2004 - 8/2005), I intentionally placed myself in an immersed language setting. I moved into a 100% Thai neighborhood (I avoided Farang friends during this time -- to avoid relying on English for communication...) Yes, give up on your Farang friends for a while if you can... ;-). I shopped at the local Thai market and local Thai businesses. I made many Thai friends. I ASKED QUESTIONS ALL THE TIME: "What is this? What is that? etc." I only listened to Thai TV and radio... I turned on Thai TV first thing in the morning and listened to the news, etc., and then went to work... When I returned home in the evening, I turned on the TV and listened to that until I fell asleep a few hours later... With this approach, I amassed about 4-5 hours a day of listening to Thai mass media X 365 = ~ 1,865 hours per year of semi-active listening for the gist of the story... At first this was very frustrating but I was patient with the fact I could not expect myself to understand every word -- but my progress was cumulative with time... During lunch, I sought out my Thai coworkers and listened to their stories and talked and ate with them...

At the same time during that year, I had two Thai girlfriends in succession... The first GF spoke some English, but soon we switched over to nearly 100% Thai ~ this frustrated her because she wanted to improve her English ~ but I more or less insisted that we speak Thai... (Yes, I am quite stubborn when I have a goal...) And, of course, I carried a dictionary with me at all times!!! REALLY!!! This is also essential as you begin to internalize your new language skills... That relationship ended after about 5 months... And then, I met another nice Thai lady who spoke NO ENGLISH at ALL! With the basic Thai I had learned already, my new GF and I spoke ONLY Thai together... This method allowed me to gain even more time practicing Thai every day ~ 4 hours per day talking with GF X 365 = 1460 hours per year...

As you can see, the thousands of hours really start to add up 1865 + 1460 = ~ 3,325 hours of Thai practice in that year alone... To add "excitement" (passion) to my language learning process, I also bought and drove an old car -- which required frequent repairs by local mechanics... This gave me deep experience in the "auto world" in Thailand for repairs but also for making trips and negotiating with locals for directions and also dealing with Thai police -- all of which was also invaluable for improving my Thai fluency...

For that year, it turned out that my second Thai GF was a "hilltribe" Thai who did not have proper Thai ID (mai mee baht bra-cha-chon Thai) and I hoped that we could fix this problem by working with the local bureaucrats at her amphur... (LONG story on that...) That experience (which elapsed over about 2 years) taught me greatly about Thai bureaucracy, Thai government, Thai lawyers and Thai "rigidness" about who are "true Thais" and not "true Thais." Sadly, I had to abandon that relationship because with inadequate Thai identification papers, that lady would never be able to travel outside of Thailand... Yes, there many hundreds of thousands of Thai people who do not have adequate documentation -- so they are not "true Thais" in the eyes of the Thai government... That is a truly sad story for many "Thai people" in Thailand... See that in other posts... Thai citizenry, Tabien baan, etc...

In Spring 2006, I met some new Thai friends who worked with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. At that point, I was ready to learn a more "professional" level of Thai language skills... For almost 3 years, I dated a Chula U. ajarn who helped me to become even more proficient in my Thai language skills, politeness and cultural awareness... Much of this learning came out of the natural friendship and fun that comes with new friends and a new girlfriend... As this relationship and process unfolded, my Thai became more fluent all the time...

From end of 2007 to the end of 2008, I worked as an active lecturer in my field at Chula U... As I began teaching my courses, I quickly found out that my students preferred my teaching in Thai over my teaching in English (hey, most young Thais study English in school but English is not a language that they use every day to converse and study...), so it was MUCH easier to teach and hold discussions in Thai as the language of instruction (Yes, I did give my Chula nisit / students readings in English but the discussion was always in Thai).

As you might guess, my Thai improved greatly during my year of teaching at Chula... EVERY Thai person speaks with their own accent and many young Thai university students speak in very quiet (low volume) respectful Thai that varies in accent based on where they grew up and their experience with middle Thai (Bangkok Thai AKA "passa glaang")... Listening and talking with hundreds of different Thais speakers on a WIDE VARIETY of TOPICS greatly improved my daily language skills...

During the same time, I was involved with several research committees and in developing a new international center for Chula U. These discussions with my Chula U. colleagues were ALWAYS in Thai... I also advised a number of students about their masters' levels theses -- again, in Thai... Of course, I also maintained my friendships with my GF and other Thai friends at the same time... All of these activities reinforced and extended my Thai language and cultural skills...

You can start to imagine how intense this level of IMMERSION has really been for me if you think about it... Just for the 2007 to 2008 year, I probably accrued 16 X 365 = ~ 5,840 hours of Thai practice and study just for that year... Of course, the level of intensity varies from activity to activity... But I highly recommend teaching the subject matter of your field in Thai ~ not many better ways to improve your own Thai ~ chai mai krab??? Oh, by the way, I almost forgot that I _often_ fell asleep in my room with my TV on ~ yet again adding hundreds more hours of passive study of Thai language...

So, in summary, if I include all extraneous studies and conversations, etc., I have probably accrued about 15,000 HOURS of Thai study and conversation to date since I first visited Thailand in 2002... Most Farang have not yet accrued 10% of that same amount of study time using true immersion methods... I am not criticizing most Farang, the reality is that most Farang do not have the time or the interest to study Thai so deeply... A SMALL percentage of Farang DO invest this LARGE amount of time and those Farang DO reap the benefits and rewards of learning Thai language, Thai culture and Thai people at a very deep level...

Please feel free to PM me if you have specific questions. This may be my last post on this particular string because it seems that other folks have already exhaustively discussed other methods...

As you can see, gaining fluency with Thai language, Thai people and Thailand is very much an individual journey... Thanks for reading and listening...

And, keep in mind that you will be creating your OWN version of Thai language for YOURSELF... Like playing a musical instrument with fluency and dexterity, you will learn to improvise best by playing with other people... It is very much like JAZZ!!!

Good luck to everyone for all of your Thai studies... AND YES, I AM _STILL_ LEARNING! ;-)

Chok dee na krab!

:D

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Whoa! That's a serious investment of time (both in reading the post and the learning strategy advocated), but worth it in the end (in both cases), if, as Dseawarrior says in point A, you are that kind of student.

As an ordinary mortal, the main tip I would take out of it is the point about parroting. I often advise my students to do just this, with movies, tapes, music whatever they are interested in. I am less than good at taking my own advice, alas...but appreciate the point he is making - the more time you can commit to this boring, repetitive type of task the greater the results will be. It's precisely this 'hard work' ethic that a lot of language schools are afraid to be honest about with students who come to them looking for proficiency.

It's worth comparing what dseawarrior says with an old thread also popping up today about the intensive Thai course at Chula. Read what the OP did (see here) and what he got out of it (also, bear in mind he had not studied Thai elsewhere) - yes, there are different learning styles, but at the end of the day, proficiency and fluency are mountains that can only be climbed with serious effort, and I just wish the schools that promote 'unique' methods would be a bit more up front about this. Games, and jumping up and down etc will only take you so (and not very) far...

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.

:D

Wow!!

Care to share?

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

55555... I tend to agree... It is easy to lecture endlessly on this topic, but I will try to keep my experiences, comments and tips short and succinct.

First, sorry to be slow in my response to this topic -- I subscribed to updates via email to this topic but that function apparently is not working at present... I am responding to your post 9 days after you posted...

IMMERSION... IMMERSION... IMMERSION...

Second, as SW guessed, I am a specialist in my field where there are no Thai personnel equivalents to my skills, education and experience... So Chula U. got a very "very good deal" in hiring me. I also got a "good deal" in that I was further immersed in Thai language and culture to a very high level -- a very unusual experience for a Farang -- I am the only Farang that I know of who has had a similar experience... If you can arrange a similar experience for yourself, I highly recommend it ~ but at the same time such a position is not easy to secure or to maintain... There are vast differences between expectations of Thai and Western university level academic positions... One of the things that I liked about Thai "academia" was the high level of social interaction ~ at the same time, this high level of social interaction can also be very "stifling" if one likes to have their own space and follow their own "drummer." There is a huge expectation for social reciprocity (including excessive work hours including socializing with work peers beyond normal hours even including vacation time, etc.). Frankly, I like to have my vacation time and personal time to myself as much as possible ~ but Thai academic peers have an expectation that "we are all family" so why not want to be together all the time??? To be honest, I don't enjoy being with my own family of origin all the time (one of the reasons that Farang folks individuate more than Thai folks from their families of origin). Personal space is very important to me (especially vacation time) and this concept is yet to truly emerge in Thai society... This interaction is a double-edged sword ~ now that I am out of that intensive Thai academic environment, I do miss it ~ to a certain extent....

Third, back to the question by "dippytart." "I understand the linguistic and developmental underpinnings of language acquisition to a high degree." Care to share? ...Big question and big topic for sure...

A) Much depends on your own understanding of your own skills in "learning how to learn" for yourself... That is, are you aware of your own learning "style"? Do you know how you learn fastest/ easiest in most subjects? Are you a visual or auditory or kinesthetic learner, or what kind or combination thereof? What is your own level of fluency in your mother tongue? Have you studied other languages and how has your success been for those other languages? What emotional connections have you made in your language studies? All of these factors interact within an individual level -- so individualized language learning programs will TRY to consider these different factors -- but as an adult, it is up to you to monitor and guide your own learning... You KNOW when you "get it" and you should also know when "you don't get it." If you are not sure, that is a tip that you need to review that same material again -- maybe in a different way... Seek out help frequently, but remember you are your own master as you move towards language mastery... No one "program" is going to do it for you... In answer to SW, I have NOT been in the AUA program NOR any other formal Thai language learning program in Thailand. I am sure that they all offer good techniques, activities and exercises, but I have created my own environments for learning and that has worked best for me... Yes, quite natural for me...

:D The answers you provide for yourself to part A) will help to guide you in your language studies... For myself, I have had high success in English (my mother tongue), and I have also studied, Spanish, Latin, German and Swedish to and beyond the university level. I am a polyglot and I have applied my successes in my other languages to my studies of Thai... I KNOW that I am an auditory and musical learner, who enjoys learning practically and passionately. Like learning how to play guitar or sing Jazz -- I enjoy learning how to express myself but also how to listen and repeat what I hear others (e.g., language speakers or musicians) are "saying." I have a very good "ear" -- that my be genetic -- but that is also a skill that I have practiced and developed...

C) When I advise Thai speakers on how to improve their English listening and repeating skills, I say: "Faang leh puut muen nok" = "Listen and speak like a bird." (do not "think too much" but repeat like a "bird"...) This is very important from my perspective... It is very important to listen carefully and repeat identically... In the beginning, it is very hard to accurately repeat the Thai phonemes (sounds) the same as a Thai speaker... You need a good teacher who has lots of patience and you must have lots of patience, too! And, repeated listening and repeating speaking along with Thai language tapes / CDs/ TV/ radio/ music is ESSENTIAL... There are no "shortcuts" -- this takes THOUSANDS of HOURS of listening and repeating... It is not particularly hard, but discipline, diligence and accuracy are needed... A few years ago, I spent many hundreds of hours listening and repeating the tape series for "Thai for Lovers" and "Thai for Beginners/ Intermediate Learners/ Advance Learners" (see Benjawan Poomsan Becker (now Terlecky) et al). It is a good audio tape series for the Thai portion... I listened to those tapes for more than a year while I commuted to and from work... I viewed it almost as a musical exercise in repeating for precision, tone, accuracy for the whole phrase and for individual consonants and vowels...

D) By the way, years ago I took two graduate courses in Linguistics and this gave me the tools via an IPA phonetic alphabet to break down Thai sounds so that they could be "parsed" and intelligible for me -- I have a rather accurate IPA writing system that I use for myself when I write down a new Thai word that I have not heard before... All of these studies I basically did on my own without direct supervision of a Thai teacher... If I was not sure of my accuracy, I would repeat the tape over and over until I mastered that tape... Then I felt I could move on to the "next level."

[The process that I describe above is basically what toddlers & preschoolers of all languages do "naturally" while they begin to master the sound system of their native language and learn the "accent" of their native language... Listen and repeat like a bird -- there is no replacement for that -- until you are confident of your mastery in that language -- you will know when you are reaching mastery because people will understand what you are saying... It is also OK if you speak "wrong" as long as you are open to being taught by your friends and acquaintances in Thai (or whatever new language you are practicing).] And as long as you encourage Thai speakers to correct you whenever needed... Do NOT worry about making mistakes -- that IS how we truly learn!!!

AND MORE IMMERSION:

The first year that I lived and worked in Thailand (8/2004 - 8/2005), I intentionally placed myself in an immersed language setting. I moved into a 100% Thai neighborhood (I avoided Farang friends during this time -- to avoid relying on English for communication...) Yes, give up on your Farang friends for a while if you can... ;-). I shopped at the local Thai market and local Thai businesses. I made many Thai friends. I ASKED QUESTIONS ALL THE TIME: "What is this? What is that? etc." I only listened to Thai TV and radio... I turned on Thai TV first thing in the morning and listened to the news, etc., and then went to work... When I returned home in the evening, I turned on the TV and listened to that until I fell asleep a few hours later... With this approach, I amassed about 4-5 hours a day of listening to Thai mass media X 365 = ~ 1,865 hours per year of semi-active listening for the gist of the story... At first this was very frustrating but I was patient with the fact I could not expect myself to understand every word -- but my progress was cumulative with time... During lunch, I sought out my Thai coworkers and listened to their stories and talked and ate with them...

At the same time during that year, I had two Thai girlfriends in succession... The first GF spoke some English, but soon we switched over to nearly 100% Thai ~ this frustrated her because she wanted to improve her English ~ but I more or less insisted that we speak Thai... (Yes, I am quite stubborn when I have a goal...) And, of course, I carried a dictionary with me at all times!!! REALLY!!! This is also essential as you begin to internalize your new language skills... That relationship ended after about 5 months... And then, I met another nice Thai lady who spoke NO ENGLISH at ALL! With the basic Thai I had learned already, my new GF and I spoke ONLY Thai together... This method allowed me to gain even more time practicing Thai every day ~ 4 hours per day talking with GF X 365 = 1460 hours per year...

As you can see, the thousands of hours really start to add up 1865 + 1460 = ~ 3,325 hours of Thai practice in that year alone... To add "excitement" (passion) to my language learning process, I also bought and drove an old car -- which required frequent repairs by local mechanics... This gave me deep experience in the "auto world" in Thailand for repairs but also for making trips and negotiating with locals for directions and also dealing with Thai police -- all of which was also invaluable for improving my Thai fluency...

For that year, it turned out that my second Thai GF was a "hilltribe" Thai who did not have proper Thai ID (mai mee baht bra-cha-chon Thai) and I hoped that we could fix this problem by working with the local bureaucrats at her amphur... (LONG story on that...) That experience (which elapsed over about 2 years) taught me greatly about Thai bureaucracy, Thai government, Thai lawyers and Thai "rigidness" about who are "true Thais" and not "true Thais." Sadly, I had to abandon that relationship because with inadequate Thai identification papers, that lady would never be able to travel outside of Thailand... Yes, there many hundreds of thousands of Thai people who do not have adequate documentation -- so they are not "true Thais" in the eyes of the Thai government... That is a truly sad story for many "Thai people" in Thailand... See that in other posts... Thai citizenry, Tabien baan, etc...

In Spring 2006, I met some new Thai friends who worked with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. At that point, I was ready to learn a more "professional" level of Thai language skills... For almost 3 years, I dated a Chula U. ajarn who helped me to become even more proficient in my Thai language skills, politeness and cultural awareness... Much of this learning came out of the natural friendship and fun that comes with new friends and a new girlfriend... As this relationship and process unfolded, my Thai became more fluent all the time...

From end of 2007 to the end of 2008, I worked as an active lecturer in my field at Chula U... As I began teaching my courses, I quickly found out that my students preferred my teaching in Thai over my teaching in English (hey, most young Thais study English in school but English is not a language that they use every day to converse and study...), so it was MUCH easier to teach and hold discussions in Thai as the language of instruction (Yes, I did give my Chula nisit / students readings in English but the discussion was always in Thai).

As you might guess, my Thai improved greatly during my year of teaching at Chula... EVERY Thai person speaks with their own accent and many young Thai university students speak in very quiet (low volume) respectful Thai that varies in accent based on where they grew up and their experience with middle Thai (Bangkok Thai AKA "passa glaang")... Listening and talking with hundreds of different Thais speakers on a WIDE VARIETY of TOPICS greatly improved my daily language skills...

During the same time, I was involved with several research committees and in developing a new international center for Chula U. These discussions with my Chula U. colleagues were ALWAYS in Thai... I also advised a number of students about their masters' levels theses -- again, in Thai... Of course, I also maintained my friendships with my GF and other Thai friends at the same time... All of these activities reinforced and extended my Thai language and cultural skills...

You can start to imagine how intense this level of IMMERSION has really been for me if you think about it... Just for the 2007 to 2008 year, I probably accrued 16 X 365 = ~ 5,840 hours of Thai practice and study just for that year... Of course, the level of intensity varies from activity to activity... But I highly recommend teaching the subject matter of your field in Thai ~ not many better ways to improve your own Thai ~ chai mai krab??? Oh, by the way, I almost forgot that I _often_ fell asleep in my room with my TV on ~ yet again adding hundreds more hours of passive study of Thai language...

So, in summary, if I include all extraneous studies and conversations, etc., I have probably accrued about 15,000 HOURS of Thai study and conversation to date since I first visited Thailand in 2002... Most Farang have not yet accrued 10% of that same amount of study time using true immersion methods... I am not criticizing most Farang, the reality is that most Farang do not have the time or the interest to study Thai so deeply... A SMALL percentage of Farang DO invest this LARGE amount of time and those Farang DO reap the benefits and rewards of learning Thai language, Thai culture and Thai people at a very deep level...

Please feel free to PM me if you have specific questions. This may be my last post on this particular string because it seems that other folks have already exhaustively discussed other methods...

As you can see, gaining fluency with Thai language, Thai people and Thailand is very much an individual journey... Thanks for reading and listening...

And, keep in mind that you will be creating your OWN version of Thai language for YOURSELF... Like playing a musical instrument with fluency and dexterity, you will learn to improvise best by playing with other people... It is very much like JAZZ!!!

Good luck to everyone for all of your Thai studies... AND YES, I AM _STILL_ LEARNING! ;-)

Chok dee na krab!

:D

Succinct?

:)

(I've no idea what this means; I'm just using it for effect...)

Edited by dippytart
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I found Pro- language in Times Square building very good. I had studied Thai at night class at SOAS (London University School of Oriental and Afrrican Studies) for a year before coming to Thailand but found myself still struggling quite a lot. Did the beginners course at Pro Language and thought it was very good. They kept it admirably simple but I really learnt the fundamentals of speaking Thai very quickly. Good course materials and the teacher was very good.

The problem I have with both Thai language learning experiences is that there is never sufficient focus on tones. You end up learning Thai words rather than both the words and tone. There is never enough stress on speaking the tone of the word correctly, and as a result, you never do. Most books / Cd's and audio systems also fail at this.

I recently bought Speak Thai book and 3 hour DVD as learnspeakthai.com and for the first time actually got my head around being able to identify and speak tones. It's worth buying it for the tone practice exercises alone. I'd recomend anyone wanting to speak Thai to check it out. Even if you're doing or intending to do lessons. The words and phrases you learn are really practical. I hear them being used all the time, which can't be said for much of what I have learnt elsewhere. They also do an Isaan Thai version of the book and DVD which could be interesting.

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dseawarrior,

wow wow wow - you probably are one of a kind or at least highly unique as a truly immersed & fluent thai speaker, but as you said you also had personal advantages specifically the linguestic skills/abilities as well as time/possibility/will to study, learn & abandon several girlfriends who came in the way of your thai language travels :)

hats off to that & that you also seem to have found an interesting job niche here.

personally I'm considering if I should use a bit of 'idle time' to take my very basic thai to the next level(s) & if yes what would the best way (school) be...???

definitely I'm not a natural language learner although I did master english as a 2nd language pretty fluently & even a 3rd language besides Thai.

for dseawarrior I might worry however if his immersion in Thai could ever threat his native english? well writing at least is still pretty good :D

keep up the immersion - cheers!

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Hiya,

Does anyone know about what kind of Thai language studying options exist in the South East generally? (I mean east of Pattaya & Jonbury).

What is there in Rayongshire, Jantabury, Brajinbury, Satgaew, & Drat? (Not much, I s'pose?).

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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!)

AUA is 'American University Alumni', and primarily teaches English to Thai students. They also have a rather small (compared to their English program) Thai Language department, where they use ALG - Automatic Language Growth, a method sometimes described as 'natural learning'. The main campus is located on Ratchdamri Rd., not far from the BTS station. They have had a branch in Chiang Mai, but I am not sure they use ALG there. They may have recently opened other branches in/near BKK, check the website for more info.

Having studied there, and at UTL, I can offer only my own impression: AUA does encourage natural sounding speech, mainly because they, in contrast to UTL (and Union, UTL's predecessor), do NOT use Romanization, or, indeed, ANY written lesson work, for the first 1000-2000 hrs. of instruction. They rely on the teachers acting and drawing on a whiteboard, to impart meaning and understanding of the material presented, and conduct class in Thai ONLY.

In my opinion, though, the missing pieces are speaking and feedback, which I believe, are required to facilitate improvement. The ALG method is quite clear: "DO NOT SPEAK THAI". I find this rule is broken frequently, with the encouragement of the teachers there, presumably because it is next to impossible to participate in class without speaking at least SOME Thai...

My experience at UTL was, however, not very good, either. The early reliance on transliteration and their script was especially problematic for me, since I joined the school, and was placed in Module 3, beginning reading and writing. I knew the alphabet and vowels BEFORE I started, and had to go back and learn their Romanization script in order to follow the lessons.

So my complaint with UTL may just be a problem with my own set of circumstances. However, once I overcame the initial problems, I still found the approach to be difficult: repetition, and many hours of written homework. I could do most of it on my own, and at my own pace to better effect than trying to keep up with the rather fast pace of the class.

Part of the problem may have been my age: I was 55 when I studied at UTL. Most of my classmates were in their 20s, or early 30s, and seemed to pick it up faster. The method, which as I said earlier, is exactly the same as Union Language School, established by Christ Church Thailand to train (presumably young) missionaries, and was considered one of the best schools. I have friends who finished the course, and were successful at passing the Prathom 6 test.

There are many examples of AUA's classes on YouTube; search for 'ALG'. David Long, who is the school's director, explains (and touts) ALG in great detail.

In the end, I agree with those who say that there is NO single best method for all learners. Your own learning style and intellectual capacities will determine how best to proceed. Given enough time, however, I DO believe that immersion can be profitable for almost anyone who wants to learn Thai.

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My experience at UTL was, however, not very good, either. The early reliance on transliteration and their script was especially problematic for me, since I joined the school, and was placed in Module 3, beginning reading and writing. I knew the alphabet and vowels BEFORE I started, and had to go back and learn their Romanization script in order to follow the lessons.

So my complaint with UTL may just be a problem with my own set of circumstances. However, once I overcame the initial problems, I still found the approach to be difficult: repetition, and many hours of written homework. I could do most of it on my own, and at my own pace to better effect than trying to keep up with the rather fast pace of the class.

Part of the problem may have been my age: I was 55 when I studied at UTL. Most of my classmates were in their 20s, or early 30s, and seemed to pick it up faster. The method, which as I said earlier, is exactly the same as Union Language School, established by Christ Church Thailand to train (presumably young) missionaries, and was considered one of the best schools. I have friends who finished the course, and were successful at passing the Prathom 6 test.

I don't know UTL, but I'd just like to point out that the many Union schools are not all EXACTLY the same. They are based on the same curriculum, but they may have developed different styles. For example, I went straight into Module 3 in another Union school, and there was no transliteration or romanization used at all. There was plenty of repetition and homework, but to my mind that is necessary and desirable for consolidation and internalization. As I often tell my Thai students, you cannot master a second language in class time alone. Class time should be for getting native speaker modelling, speaking practice and discussion and explaation over the texts. When I did the reading module, the class went like this:

1. Tch introduced a topic and asked my opinon about it, or how it is in my own country (according to subject). During this time she would introduce any relevant vocab that it was clear I didn't possess, but only in thai script.

2. I read the text that (surprise surprise) is on the very topic we've just been discussing.

3. Tch would ask me a few comprehension questions and/or i would ask for the meaning of words I didn't get in the text. The questions and answer would always and only be in Thai

4. When we were done with the text, she would then dictate a short, but related text for me to write down.

5. I'd get some homework based on this topic to write a paragraph on.

The lesson format followed this pattern almost identically every time, and I have to say that predictablility was a bit dull, but given that the topic changed each lesson i was always being challenged. The one area that probably needed improvement was repetition of earlier lessons in later lessons, but given the time available I'd say the lessons were pretty good and pretty effective. Even though it was a reading/writing course, i got just as much speaking practice out of it, and it did wonders at the time for my confidence (which I have now lost having not been back to school in nearly a year and a half).

Incidentally, I did the next module 3.1 after this at the same school but with a different teacher. The lesson format was exactly the same.

I don't know about UTL, but the Union school I went to gets a good 8/10.

Edited by SoftWater
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I came across a new school that looks interesting in that it offers a unique mix of intensive courses as:

1) speak & read - 120hours/6 week modules - 11k - 8-12am mon-fri. for the 2 beginner courses 1h out of the 4 is used on thai script & once mastered tranliteration willk be abandoned :)

2) only reading or speaking course - 90hours/6wk modules - 9k - 1-4pm.

3) refresher/special courses of 10hours+ @350bt/h. Can e.g. be used to improve/focus prononciation or brush up on previous studies prior to entering a group course...

Also course materials are inclusive & includes dvd, book etc. Seems nicely though out according web, so what could be nice is to have some experiences/knowledge on them although it may be hard as I heard they just open this year?

Everyday Thai Language School near Chang Nonsi BTS (Sathorn rd/naranthivas). http://www.everyday-thai.com .

Anybody heard/tried/visited them (yet)?

Thanks!

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I came across a new school that looks interesting in that it offers a unique mix of intensive courses as:

1) speak & read - 120hours/6 week modules - 11k - 8-12am mon-fri. for the 2 beginner courses 1h out of the 4 is used on thai script & once mastered tranliteration willk be abandoned :)

2) only reading or speaking course - 90hours/6wk modules - 9k - 1-4pm.

3) refresher/special courses of 10hours+ @350bt/h. Can e.g. be used to improve/focus prononciation or brush up on previous studies prior to entering a group course...

Also course materials are inclusive & includes dvd, book etc. Seems nicely though out according web, so what could be nice is to have some experiences/knowledge on them although it may be hard as I heard they just open this year?

Everyday Thai Language School near Chang Nonsi BTS (Sathorn rd/naranthivas). http://www.everyday-thai.com .

Anybody heard/tried/visited them (yet)?

Thanks!

No, but thanks. I will definitely have a look because its on my way home! (One of the reasons i keep putting off going back to school is findina good one that doesn't involve me taking a detour after work!!).

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well for me it's actually quite a detour living in the northern outskirts, but since I haven't come across any such schools up there this still seems my best bet currently for an intensive traditional school type. I know walen & others are up there, but I don't consider their types worthwhile no offense meant.

for you as an after school type I'm afraid you may leave empty handed as they only seem to offer grouo courses 8-12 or 13-16, so unless your work is alternative hours only their private lessons may be an option?

I'll drop by tomorrow & offer more info as it evolves...

cheers!

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umm narrowed it down to 3 schools with quite different methods, locations, price:

1) everyday thai - intensive 4 hours daily mon-fri 8-12 @ sathorn/narithivas 120 hours, 11,000 baht (main driver is modern interactive mixed talking & reading is taught initially with fonetics, but asap with script?)

2) walen - most intensive option is 9 hours weekly over 3 days @ ladprao/rachadpisek/pahonyothin - 60 hours, 9900bt (main driver is location & no fonetics & sexy female(s)?)

3) utl/unity - traditional intensive 'missionary' course as outsider 80 hours, 5700bt! (cheap cheap cheap, BUT no reading until level 3 & I have to start level 1!)

comments?

especially I'm natural sceptical on walen & their teachers & even the callan english 'method' which I've never seen any 'proven' records or major scientific/academic backing - merely claims of '4 times faster' than regular learning for english as 2nd language...

BUT this is now Thai language - totally different animal pretty much all over the board!

do any of the teachers have degree(s)? never been answered/commented so far :)

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From what I understand about Wallen you don't actually learn to "read" so much as just memorizing what words look like. I'm sure their cheerleader PR department will post otherwise, but it's must more efficient to actually learn the alphabet and rules etc. than it is to memorize every word in the language.

#1 sounds similar to what I did at chula... we did 5 weeks of phonetics in order to concentrate on speaking and hearing the tones accurately before reading and writing. I liked it a lot, but you have to be dedicated enough to study a LOT to keep up with an intensive class... it's at least another 4 hours a day sometimes. (depending how intense it is)

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Wallen = Walen

Why guessing, come for a free demonstration, you actually learn to read words not memorize them.

Regards, Walen School

Ps. Pretty teachers can also be good teachers, one does not exclude the other. Not all good teachers have to be older ladies.

www.thaiwalen.com

For priority service please register

www.dcs.walenschool.com/1mw290910.eng

Edited by macwalen
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