Learn Thai in Chiang Mai

learning thai in chiang mai

Are you someone who is eager to learn Thai in Chiang Mai? I am an instructor here in the area and I have decided to start this blog to discuss the different options students have for selecting a Thai school in Chiang Mai. There are a lot of different options available. I will be going over many of them in upcoming posts but I think that today we will focus on some things you should be looking for in a good Thai school. While I would love it if every student that wanted to learn Thai in Chiang Mai would come to study with me, I am certainly not the only, or necessarily the best teacher available. There are lots of good teachers in the area, and the important thing is that you find somebody and start learning Thai as soon as possible! When you first set out to find a Thai school in Chiang Mai, you will find lots of places offering a few classes a week for a yearly tuition. Be wary of these places, generally the purpose of these schools is to offer Foreigners a way to get a 1 year education visa (at a very steep price) in exchange for a few very low quality Thai language classes or “culture lessons” 2-3 days a week. This is a great option if you want a casual introduction to the basics of Thai language or you are looking for a way to stay in Chiang Mai for a year at a time without going through the effort of making visa runs. For serious people who are interested in learning Thai however, these places just don’t meet the need. If you want to learn Thai in Chiang Mai, look for a school that will offer:

  • An Intensive program (classes meet more than 3 days a week, and for an hour or more at a time)
  • A structured syllabus and curriculum
  • Many different Levels and a path from beginner to advanced
  • Printed materials
  • Teachers who are fluent in the English language
  • Placement exams

An Intensive course to Learn Thai in Chiang Mai? intensive thai programWhat does this mean, an intensive program? Typically, an intensive program is one which offers students a chance to immerse themselves in the material for an “above average” amount of time several days in a row. Regular classes would meet, say for 45 minutes 2-3 times a week. An intensive Thai program would meet for 1-3 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. A Structured Syllabus and Curriculum Does your teacher know where you are going, and how you are going to get there? If not there is a good chance you will never reach your destination. If your goal is to learn to speak fluent, conversational Thai and your teacher doesn’t have any idea how to get you from where you are now, to there, then you are in trouble. Unfortunately, many instructors in Thailand use a “shotgun” approach to teaching and simply choose at random things to teach their classes each week. They make as many flashcards as they can, walk into class, teach a little vocabulary and then fly by the seat of their pants. They often don’t work from any written material and don’t have a sound plan for developing a solid foundation of basic fundamentals in their students. This is a recipe for disaster. Language must be absorbed in small, digestible parts that are given to the student at just the right time. As an instructor, one must have a plan if they hope to do this effectively. Many different levels, and a path from beginner to advanced What hope do students have of making small, incremental advances in their abilities as a Thai speaker if every student in the class is at a different level and has different needs? It is important that a school has many different levels of instruction available so that students can work with a group of peers who have similar skills so that they can work together to grow their understanding of structures, grammar and vocabulary. If you plan to learn Thai in Chiang Mai, make sure you look for a place that has a multi-level program. Printed materials thai study materialsThere is nothing wrong with not teaching directly from a book. It’s important to recognize that a good instructor will realize the needs of his class and use many different materials to meet those needs. Still, having some authoritative printed materials gives the class structure and direction, and guarantees that there is a path or “guide” to make progress throughout the course. A good instructor will take the main idea from a lesson in a book, then build on this main idea by using supplemental materials from other resources based on the needs of his or her students. Homework can be assigned from the book, and this gives the students a chance to touch on what they have learned and get another exposure later in the day. Choosing the right book can be the toughest part. I’ll focus more on this in a later post, but for now just make sure that when you look for a place to learn Thai in Chiang Mai, whoever you are learning from is at least loosely working from some text or written material. A Thai Teacher who can Speak fluent English “Immersion programs” are all the rage in modern language learning. From Rosetta Stone to bi-lingual international schools that punish students for speaking their native language in class, the current paradigm is to immerse students with the idea that they will learn their second language the same way they learned their first one. There is one flaw with this however… once the human mind reaches a certain age, it has a “primary” language and every new language that’s learned is a secondary language.Unless you are a 2 year old, you will need a mix of immersion, memorization and association to pick up a new language. The reason for this is that your brain has already made concrete associations between objects and their “name” in the language center of your brain. New associations can be made, but their strength will be relative to the frequency of use. Immersion doesn’t work if you only practice it 2 hours a day, 2-3 days a week with an instructor. It’s got to be a 24 hour a day thing… That’s not to say that some immersion techniques don’t have their place… they are great for teaching basic vocabulary and structure but especially at the more intermediate levels of language learning, a student needs some things explained to him in a language he or she can understand. Again, this is something I will speak about in detail in a later post. For now, just make sure you look for a Thai teacher who can speak decent English! Placement Exams and Assessments This really could fall under the category of “many different levels and a path from beginner to advanced”. Again, the importance being that students of the same level should be in the same class. If a students level is too high for the class, the student will become bored and will learn very little. Conversely, if a students level is too low for a class, they will be lost, feel frustrated and at best take nothing from the class. At worst, they will often quit altogether. When you are looking for a good place to Learn Thai in Chiang Mai, make sure they give (free) placement exams. I had better stop myself short here, as this is becoming less of an article and more of a novel…If you can find a school that meets the above criteria at a reasonable price, you will be well on your way to becoming a speaker of the Thai language! Just remember my recommendations when you are looking for a place to Learn Thai in Chiang Mai.

Cheers! -Simon

My Best Contact for your time reservation: banpasathai@gmail.com

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