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Do you think the problems you had in Bangkok were a result of the teachers or just your unfamiliarity with the method?

I say this because, disregarding those 2 teachers who you rightly took offense at their rudeness as it seemed they were being mean, the other criticisms you had were just the method. It certainly is not in the method to say "Why don't you know this?" That's just wrong, for sure. I know because I taught the same method but for English (Callan, which the Walen School director has adopted to Thai llearning and called it "Walen"). Perhaps this had all been covered in the previous thread but I only read your post. I am sure you now realize that the point of the method is to not let you take a moment to think but the teacher is supposed to be force feeding you the answers at a frenetic pace. That's the whole point.

Anyway, looks like you are enjoying the method now so good luck to you. Too bad about those teachers. Also, in any Callan school I've ever taught at it's normal to change teachers every lesson as I believe this is part of the lesson as well. I recall with some certainty that it's in the instruction manual so students can listen to different accents and different voices as this helps in language learning.

Well, I am sure all that has been covered anyway. I may choose to use the Bangkok school so I hope I would not have the same bad experience with the teachers there. Perhaps Mac (Walen owner) can comment on this with regards to the teachers?

Edited by Jimjim
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Awhile back, I had posted some concerns on this forum that I had had about Walen School in Bangkok after attending some classes there (about a couple of its teachers). And, I had chosen to discontinue classes at the school in Bangkok. After moving to Pattaya, I had asked MacWalen if I could try his school in Pattaya and he kindly agreed for me to do so-- with enthusiasm.

Since I had posted a "negative" when/where there was a negative, I'd like to now post a "positive" where there is a positive. The teachers I have had in Pattaya are good, two of them I'd say are excellent. The physical facilities are also very nice (which is cetainly a plus for the learning experience). Bottom line, if you like the teaching method Walen uses, I'd definetly recommend the school in Pattaya with its current teachers.

Thanks for your kind post. We have a lot of groups in Pattaya so the school is certainly getting more and more popular. With the release of Walen recordings it will become even more popular (hopefully). Glad our Pattaya teachers are doing a good job. We need to hire more staff as we have more and more classes now.

The situation with the the two teachers mentioned was unfortunate. One of them is not working for us anymore and the other has learned a lesson, we did not have a complaint about her teaching since.

Now we are offering one week free lessons! If someone wants to try our method they can do it totally risk free. If they do not like the method they do not pay anything (apart from buying a book for 390 Baht). If they like it they just pay for the lessons taken.

One free week is good for many reasons.

1. People can get a better idea about the method.

2. You get to know the teachers as you will usually see a few of them.

3. You have plenty of time to talk to other students and ask their opinion about the progress they made.

4. You do not feel like you have much to risk because if you do not like the method, the school, the teachers etc. you just don't pay.

Kind regards,

Walen School - www.thaiwalen.com

For priority service please register

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

Edited by macwalen
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Perhaps you would be so kind as to post a reply to my ? and post that is directly above yours. I am glad to hear that it worked out for you. Did you have a problem with the care given or something else? I am trying to decide where to go myself

Thanks

The short version of it was a problem with the attitude of two of the teachers there. I felt they were very impatient and even quite rude when I and other students did not know how to respond to their questions. It did not lend well to the learning experience and environment, and was indeed the antithesis of a good setting for learning.

Again, this has not been my experience with the teachers in Pattaya. To the contrary, as I stated, I'd rate two of the three teachers I have had as 'excellent' and the other as 'good'.

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Do you think the problems you had in Bangkok were a result of the teachers or just your unfamiliarity with the method?

I say this because, disregarding those 2 teachers who you rightly took offense at their rudeness as it seemed they were being mean, the other criticisms you had were just the method. It certainly is not in the method to say "Why don't you know this?" That's just wrong, for sure. I know because I taught the same method but for English (Callan, which the Walen School director has adopted to Thai llearning and called it "Walen"). Perhaps this had all been covered in the previous thread but I only read your post. I am sure you now realize that the point of the method is to not let you take a moment to think but the teacher is supposed to be force feeding you the answers at a frenetic pace. That's the whole point.

Anyway, looks like you are enjoying the method now so good luck to you. Too bad about those teachers. Also, in any Callan school I've ever taught at it's normal to change teachers every lesson as I believe this is part of the lesson as well. I recall with some certainty that it's in the instruction manual so students can listen to different accents and different voices as this helps in language learning.

Well, I am sure all that has been covered anyway. I may choose to use the Bangkok school so I hope I would not have the same bad experience with the teachers there. Perhaps Mac (Walen owner) can comment on this with regards to the teachers?

The problem was definitely a result of the teachers-- since the majority of the bad experience was with the teachers' negative attitudes. When looking at the other aspects of my less than optimal experience there, regarding the method of "force feeding at a frenetic pace," I have found that the teachers in Pattaya usually give the student slightly more time before responding, which, for me, made a big difference. If the method is to allow only rapid fire responses, well, yes, that would be a problem with the method for me. Giving the student only a quick second or two for a response, in my opinion, limits opportunity for learning. Of course, there needs to be a balance regarding how much time is allowed. Regarding the changing of teachers in the Bangkok location, it was less of a matter of rotation; it was instead a matter of having completely new teachers too many times. Perhaps they were in the midst of personnel change at the time. Here, in Pattaya, I see the same teachers each lesson, while they rotate amongst themselves-- which works for me just fine.

If you choose Walen in Bangkok, and if the same teachers are there with whom I had had the bad experiences, hopefully they have received training to enhance (considerably) their teaching environment and 'style'. MacWalen has posted that such training has occurred.

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I had a talk with the teacher...

Here's my feedback.

Last week was my first day at Pro Language in Pattaya and it was not too bad. The teacher was energetic, actively corrected my pronunciation and she used a book from the school which was ok.

The pro-language teacher is much better than the teacher of my last school in Pattaya. The teacher from my old school had relational problems, looked depressed, overworked (and even looked a bit suicidal).

The only disappointment at pro-language was that after 1h40min the teacher said the course was finished, because every hour should have 10 minutes break. I was told nothing about the break at the moment I paid for my 20 hours. My 20 hours are now reduced to 16h40 minutes, making the school even more expensive than before.

If I would live at the same distance from BKK as from Pattaya, I would go back to one of the union based schools in BKK because I think they have a more structured teaching method (and they are cheaper than private courses).

But for anyone that stays near Pattaya I can advice this school: it's not too bad, better than many other schools in Pattaya. Too bad it's rather expensive.

Where exactly is this school?

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Whichever school you go to insist on one week free trial, that will give you a good idea what a particular school is like. Don't just listen to others. Personal experience is the best way to make a decision. Time spent at school allows you to talk to other students, teachers, get to know the staff and the method. If the school is really good they should have no problem with being transparent and letting students to study a week for free.

Walen School - try before you buy!

www.thaiwalen.com

For priority service please register

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

Edited by macwalen
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Isn't a "walen" what a Scottish father gives his son after too many Fs on his report card?

eg " You're a wee dunce lad aren't ya boy??.... I oughta give that hide 'o yers a sound walen!"

On a more serious note, I attended 1 walen class, argggg, and never returned. Who invented this method? Moby Dick?

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Last year Mr. Walen said on this forum hundreds of his students will join the government test of this year.

I'll go to talk to his students(in Thai of course) on the exam day. It should be easy to find them because last year there were only about 300 students joining the test. Now hundreds of Walen students join the test there will be much more students (last year there were 0 Walen students).

I'll write a report to you all what the Walen students think about the school and what their impression of the test was.

I'll also let you know how many Walen students I could found.

Please give Mr. Walen a chance to prove himself!

Edited by kriswillems
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Okay now that it seems this pinned topic is at least semi back on track about language schools here's a list I've compiled of various schools I've toured and/or taken their free lessons;

I admit this is a longish post; but I believe carries quite a lot of information

DISCLAIMER: The following is totally MY opinion of thai language schools; their material, their teachers and their perceived value (what I call; “bang for the baht”) as far as what you get for the money you pay. My experience will, in all likelihood, be different from yours, and my opinions MAY indeed run contrary to yours too.

PLEASE; By all means feel free to post about your experiences at any of the listed schools or ones I've missed. The more people who post their experiences and observations the better informed potential students of the thai language can be in making a decision in attending a school of their choice.

Also realize different people have different goals in learning the language, some use it as a means to an end via the education visa route and take the language as a freebie, some want to speak, some read, some write and/or a combination of all of the above. What works for me, might be a <deleted> method for you, and vice versa.

I urge ANYONE interested in learning thai to attend and sit the free lessons at as many schools as they have time for BEFORE paying the tuition. It is only your time and travel invested and well worth trying on several different methods, before deciding on the one which works for you.

Unity Thai - http://www.utl-school.com

run by a bunch of pretentious old wanna be khun-yings who think their <deleted> doesn't stink. One of the oldest and most well-known thai language schools and TONZ of people have attended it.

Material - quite dated, yet still cohesive

Teachers - honestly seem dedicated to teaching people to speak and learn the thai language

Value - their 'intensive' courses (21-24 days every day for 3 or 4 hours) are good value and I know many people who've taken several levels and came away speaking quite clear thai.

My Thai Language - http://www.mythailanguage.com

Another recent (a year or so) addition to the thai language market.

Material - well designed, thai on one side of the page, phonemic transcription and english on the other so if you can read, you need not be distracted by the english or transcription

Teachers - firmly dedicated to actually imparting the thai language to foreigners

Value – good

Pro-Language (Bangkok) - http://www.prolanguage.co.th

I mention the Bangkok branch as it seems this company might be a franchise and various posters have commented on the lack of cohesive learning at other branches in the country.

Material - well thought out, not as dated as Unity, lessons build upon earlier ones.

Teachers - seems to be a crap shoot, and if you start a class with one you don't like, don't be afraid to ask for a new teacher. Some only want to spout thai rhetoric instead of actually teach (especially so in the thai conversation class)

Value - not as cheap as some it is still good value

TLS - http://www.tls-bangkok.com

A good language school which caters predominantly to other Asian nationalities learning thai, although they are expanding their market to attract more native English speakers and now offer group classes as well.

Material - Good material, again well thought out, well presented, etc

Teachers - because they cater to asians, you will have to get into a class that is NOT taught in Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. They are now employing teachers who have experience teaching thai to english speakers and have come a long way in this regard

Value – good

Paradigm Language Institute - http://www.paradigm-language.com/

Little used or known school, but with that being said, they offer a wide variety of courses.

Material - some of the least dated material I have seen, well thought out, nicely presented.

Teachers - Good, informative, and dedicated

Value – good

Language Express - http://www.languageexpress.co.th

A relatively newcomer in the thai language niche. Brand spanking new school in a very convenient location

Material - Last time I was there they were using Benjawan Poomsan Becker’s books: Beginning, Intermediate & Advanced as their course material. This is not the detriment one might think. Believe me (despite what ANYONE may claim; there are NO new innovations in learning this language) While I am about as far from a fan of Benjawan as anyone can be; she has probably done more single-handedly than any other thai national to encourage foreigners to learn this language.

Teachers - good, well spoken, and dedicated

Value – good

Piammitr Language School - http://www.piammitrschool.com/

Little known school, trying to carve a slice of the thai language pie for themselves. They are in the process of redesigning their text books

Material - good, somewhat dated but still not the worst by a long shot

Teachers - again a crap shoot, some are good some are less so. If you're in a class with a bad one ask for another.

Value – good

SMIT - http://smitlanguage.ac.th/main/

Again not so well known, but still a contender, and I've met many people who have attended there in the past.

Materials - well thought out, somewhat dated but still good,

Teachers - friendly professional, and dedicated (for the most part)

Value – good

AUA - http://www.auathai.com

One of, if not the oldest thai language school catering to foreigners in Bangkok.

Material - none. They now use the ALG (Automatic Language Growth) Method to teach spoken thai. You observe two teachers (actors) who talk about a wide variety of topic with various props. There is NO class interaction, no question/answer period, and it is observation ONLY. Their claim is; after attending 600 hours you will suddenly being speaking in tongues, I mean in thai.

Teachers - interesting, amusing, and entertaining, however as there is no interaction other thai observation I cannot comment further. They do seem dedicated to their methodology.

Value - this is one of the cheapest thai language schools a person will ever attend, and buying time in blocks gets you a further discount.

I believe AUA is a valuable school to attend ONLY if you have a grasp of at least basic spoken thai. At that level of thai comprehension and attending even a few hours a week will certainly increase your listening skills as it's only in thai with no engrish spoken in class.

Baan Aksorn - http://www.baanaksorn.com/index.php

A good school that is somewhat expensive, however they TEACH you speaking, reading writing, and are a no nonsense school. If you are employed by someone who will foot the bill, go there..

Material - extremely well put together

Teachers - as I said, they are no nonsense, and you're not going to just coast by in this schools program

Value - expensive but for the quality of education you receive and you have an unlimited education budget, go there

Jentana & Associates - http://www.thai-lessons.com

Another lesser known but high quality school. The owner Jentana caters more to corporate people who need intensive thai in a limited time frame. Also develops a personal program catered to the individual based on what that person wants, be it, speaking, reading, writing.

Material - very diverse, as many courses are individually tailored to a customers needs.

Teachers - very well trained and professional

Value - another expensive school but again if you've got someone footing the bill, a good choice.

Andrew Biggs Academy - (no website info about the thai classes) but here's his site link anyway http://www.andrewbiggs.com

The name says it all. He is probably the most recognizable foreigner here in this country, and he's certainly marketed his trademark "shaved head and big ears" into one serious money making machine in the english language market.

Material - very new, developed if I am not mistaken by a professor from a well known college, well thought out, and well presented. (this is another set of text books I want but don't have)

Teachers - when I attended the evaluation there was only one (last year some time when the thai language aspect of his school was just getting off the ground), but she was very good and professional.

Value - mid range, but for the money very good

Berlitz - an international language company that teaches far more languages than I care to list

Material - GREAT textbook, (and as an aside IF anyone has the Berlitz book and will let me copy it, PM me)

Teachers - good, follows the book, and dedicated

Value - expensive as all get out, but a good corporate choice

Lest anyone thinks I am discriminatory in my posting penchants; here's a school (I freely admit to attending for a year) and which needs no introduction on this forum;

Walen School of Thai - http://www.thaiwalen.com

Here are some other websites for the various schools I perused but have muddy memories of. After touring 25+ schools, some are less memorable than others but in no way does that mean they are not quality schools (only that I am getting old and have a failing memory)

Thai Language Solutions - http://www.thaisolutions1502.com

TLA School - http://www.tlaschool.com

Thai Language Hut - http://www.thailanguagehut.com

Sumaa Language & Cultural Institute - http://www.sumaa.net

Thailish Language School - http://www.thailanguageschool.com

I am sure there are more as there is NO shortage of thai language schools in Bangkok. I wonder why, with the plethora of language schools here, foreigners don't speak better thai or sometimes any thai at all, especially long-stayers. Then again I wonder the same about the plethora of "engrish" teachers I've met and why the thais don't speak better engrish too.

As an aside; It is my hobby to collect thai language text books from the various and sundry schools here. Most schools will not sell their textbooks outright unless you attend (savvy marketing), and then you can only buy the book for the level you attend. If anyone has any text books I can copy, PM me and we'll take it from there.

Hope this post will help get the thread back on track to its actual title, (and away from the pissing match it seemed to have deteriorated into).

(edited for spelling mistakes, but probably still didn't get 'em all)

Edited by Rikker
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Baan Aksorn - http://www.baanaksorn.com/index.php

. . . they TEACH you . . .

Tod,

Thanks. Very informative.

Could you expand a bit on what you mean by "they TEACH you" compared to what the other schools do please?

I think I understand (as in many classes a student (me) often feels a bit passive in class, despite participating. Also, althogh I am no expert, far from it, many "teachers" often prove themselves incapable of teaching correct tones (in fact many times they have argued that they were correct and students were wrong, but when dictionaries and text books were later checked they were proved to have been wrong). Everyone makes an occasional mistake, but with some teachers this was consistently happening.

Having said all that, I would like you to explain what you mean by "they TEACH you", please.

Regards,

ST

.

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I would like you to explain what you mean by "they TEACH you"

Sorry about that, I was getting a little punch drunk, looking back on my scribbled notes of the various schools.

What I meant about the phrase "they TEACH you" was that this is a no nonsense school, (which is NOT the same as saying it isn't fun, because they make it very enjoyable); just that they drill you, and then drill you some more on proper pronunciation. There is a TON of repetition in getting the tones correct and they hold you to a much higher standard than most native speakers in enunciation and clarity (which is not a bad thing). They are also sticklers for another problem which I see plaguing foreign speakers of thai; proper vowel length (how long you carry out a vowel sound).

They do hammer home the correct pronunciation of "" in words, (even though I have rarely if ever heard it that way in casual speech unless someone is acting pretentious or condescending).

One other thing I didn't mention in my earlier post: almost to a school (at least 99.999%) use some method of phonemic transcription (the system varies by school) to get you speaking thai right away. Depending on the school you are exposed to the thai alphabetic system at differing stages of learning.

Many people I have met learned to speak only thru this method, and they speak far clearer than I can. When I ask people interested in studying thai what is their most important goal; to a person they said it was to first and foremost communicate (speak) with the thais around them.

As an aside;

I made the comment to a thai teacher friend of mine the other day perhaps it would be better if they concentrated initially ONLY on differentiating the falling and rising tones in similar words, especially high frequency or high value ones; as those are the words foreigners tend to go "off script" with in speaking (i.e. ขาว-R/ข้าว-F, เสือ-R/เสื้อ-F, ผี-R/พี่-F or ไหม-R/ไม่-F).

I told them it is my experience that the other 3 tones, while very important and markedly different in actual pronunciation (especially the high tone) can mostly be blurred together in colloquial speech as long as proper vowel length is observed yet still seem to be universally understood by thais. They tried it in one lesson and said the students came out speaking at least the falling and rising tones much clearer. (In hind-sight I could have been doing their students a disservice as they were not getting the benefit of differentiating all the tones.)

Anyway, sorry for the inconsistent post, as I said, it was a long tedious and tiresome process trying to remember differences in the schools.

Again I encourage ANYONE who's attended ANY thai language school to post their opinions, and thoughts about their language learning experience.

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I would like you to explain what you mean by "they TEACH you"

Sorry about that, I was getting a little punch drunk, looking back on my scribbled notes of the various schools.

What I meant about the phrase "they TEACH you" was that this is a no nonsense school, (which is NOT the same as saying it isn't fun, because they make it very enjoyable); just that they drill you, and then drill you some more on proper pronunciation. There is a TON of repetition in getting the tones correct and they hold you to a much higher standard than most native speakers in enunciation and clarity (which is not a bad thing). They are also sticklers for another problem which I see plaguing foreign speakers of thai; proper vowel length (how long you carry out a vowel sound).

They do hammer home the correct pronunciation of "" in words, (even though I have rarely if ever heard it that way in casual speech unless someone is acting pretentious or condescending).

One other thing I didn't mention in my earlier post: almost to a school (at least 99.999%) use some method of phonemic transcription (the system varies by school) to get you speaking thai right away. Depending on the school you are exposed to the thai alphabetic system at differing stages of learning.

Many people I have met learned to speak only thru this method, and they speak far clearer than I can. When I ask people interested in studying thai what is their most important goal; to a person they said it was to first and foremost communicate (speak) with the thais around them.

As an aside;

I made the comment to a thai teacher friend of mine the other day perhaps it would be better if they concentrated initially ONLY on differentiating the falling and rising tones in similar words, especially high frequency or high value ones; as those are the words foreigners tend to go "off script" with in speaking (i.e. ขาว-R/ข้าว-F, เสือ-R/เสื้อ-F, ผี-R/พี่-F or ไหม-R/ไม่-F).

I told them it is my experience that the other 3 tones, while very important and markedly different in actual pronunciation (especially the high tone) can mostly be blurred together in colloquial speech as long as proper vowel length is observed yet still seem to be universally understood by thais. They tried it in one lesson and said the students came out speaking at least the falling and rising tones much clearer. (In hind-sight I could have been doing their students a disservice as they were not getting the benefit of differentiating all the tones.)

Anyway, sorry for the inconsistent post, as I said, it was a long tedious and tiresome process trying to remember differences in the schools.

Again I encourage ANYONE who's attended ANY thai language school to post their opinions, and thoughts about their language learning experience.

Tod,

Thanks, that's what I hoped you would say. I have been having problems finding a school that can teach tones; most try to ignore or avoid it. This school might be worth visiting. I'd better go look at the web site to check the location (and the cost as you said it was one of the pricier ones).

Your view(s) was/were helpful. Thanks again. Hope you , and others, supply more.

ST.

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The best thing to do is visit a few schools and sit in on a class, and then talk to to the students to gauge their feelings. My advice is biased since I run a school myself, but I am more than happy for you to ask my students any questions you like. For the record, I have 20 years in language education, and my school has well trained teachers using a well planned course with non gimmicky methodology. We are very interested in education so use commercial textbooks in conjunction with textbooks we have produced/published ourselves on this and most of our other courses.

Mike Ratcliff

Edited by languageexpress
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The best thing to do is visit a few schools and sit in on a class, and then talk to to the students to gauge their feelings. My advice is biased since I run a school myself, but I am more than happy for you to ask my students any questions you like. For the record, I have 20 years in language education, and my school has well trained teachers using a well planned course with non gimmicky methodology. We are very interested in education so use commercial textbooks in conjunction with textbooks we have produced/published ourselves on this and most of our other courses.

Mike Ratcliff

Mike, as a sponsor of ThaiVisa I would have thought that you would have read the forum rules, which clearly state:

Company names, acronyms of company names, domain names and email addresses are not permitted for user names or avatars.

Or maybe your contract with TV means this doesn't apply to you? If so, perhaps you could advise Thaivisa admin to update the forum rules so that we are all on a level playing field and the people who drive this site, the users, don't get upset by what looks like either blatant disregard for the rules or a hidden 'one law for us, one for law them' policy.

Thanks.

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