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Posted 2012-12-27 16:39:14
I am looking for some advises on a Thai Language school in Chiang Mai. Which one you think is the best and why?
Of course I will only consider a school that is recognized by the Thai Ministry of Culture, that can provide an ED Visa.
Posted 2012-12-27 16:42:14
The best ones don't provide visas.
So we are a bit stuffed to answer you.
Posted 2012-12-27 16:47:43
So if they don't provide a VISA they are not recognized by the Thai ministry of culture, then I'm not interested. Thanks for the effort
Posted 2012-12-27 20:26:49
I'm unclear on how the educational Visa works.
To clarify for myself...
To get an educational visa you have to apply to a school first, and that school has to have an accreditation to provide an educational visa?
However, there are other Thai language schools, that might be better, but you will not get an educational visa from them?
Posted 2012-12-27 21:14:46
The Ed visa schools tend to have given up actually trying to teach Thai (some never tried in the first place), as the students mostly only attend minimum time to get the ed visa, do no homework, pay no attention in lessons, etc. Think a classroom with teen school kids that are only there because they have to.
When CM uni were playing the game, even the teachers missed lessons, no lesson prep, etc.
Edited by TommoPhysicist, 2012-12-27 21:15:53.
Posted 2012-12-27 21:35:05
Essentially correct - however the Ed Visa is not issued by the School - the School only provides the necessary documents that you actually study. There are mainly 3 different categories of Schools.
1) "Longstanding established Schools" with typically accredited teachers who have taught Thai (and other languages) to foreigners for many years who started to give Ed Visa support TO STAY COMPETITIVE - at the advent of Ed Visas - since the demand for a "means of longer term stay" was/is so high.
Typically each class/module/term will be between 5-8 weeks (extendable to the next higher module).
2) "Newer Schools" (started with the advent of Ed Visas) for students whose PRIMARY INTEREST is to be able to stay in Thailand legally long-term. Typically these Schools will not have specific "session starting dates" but rather run on a continuous basis year round. In other words - on your specific starting date you may find yourself starting with page 40 or so rather than on page one.
3) "Professional Schools" - such as Universities - who are also able to provide Ed Visa Support if you are willing to sign up for an extended period (but Ed Visas is not their primary business).
Edited by Parvis, 2012-12-27 21:44:25.
Posted 2012-12-27 21:42:44
Well, that is a bit clearer for me! Thanks for the replies Parvis and Tommo
Sorry for the diversion OP!
Posted 2012-12-28 10:04:43
Matteo, the best way is to visit Walen, talk to teachers, talk to students and observe a lesson or two to get a feel how we teach. It is free so you will not lose any money at all. You only enroll if you like it. I strongly believe you will not be disappointed.
I attached a recent picture of our Walen Chiang Mai teachers.
Edited by MacWalen, 2012-12-28 10:30:08.
Posted 2012-12-28 10:09:27
Thanks I will check it out. Anyway I am in Bangkok for work till end of January, so I still have time to make up my mind. Once in CM I will go have a look at both schools and decide which one is better for me. Have a nice day
Posted 2012-12-31 14:04:27
I know 3 people who attended courses at Walen in Chiang Mai and either didn't like them or outright said they had very low expectations.
I personally studied at Pro Language on Nimman -- I thought the teacher, the materials and the location were good but the other students weren't serious about learning. I became frustrated by the slow pace and the fact that only one other student in the class was actually studying outside of class. The rest outright admitted they never spent a moment looking at the work outside of class. The cost is around 23,000B for the year.
When I return to Chiang Mai, I will pay a little more and attend the 1 year intensive course at Payap University. As far as I understand, it's about 60,000B for the course for a year. Everyone I know in Chiang Mai who speaks Thai at a high level (not counting the native Thais!) went to school there. To contradict Tommo completely, Payap University provides paperwork for a 1 year ED visa and are known to be one of the best in the area, if not the best.
EDIT: All of the schools mentioned provide the paperwork for 1 year ED visas, not just Payap. Chiang Mai University also offers a 1 year course, but they have a history of closing that course down suddenly and not offering refunds. Don't know the whole story there, but could be a risk.
And, re: the Walen photo - I don't feel very welcomed when the teachers are flashing gang signs at me.
Edited by gatsby32, 2012-12-31 14:08:10.
Posted 2013-01-05 11:07:23
Thanks for sharing, I heard about Payap University. The only concern is the location, a bit far from city center.
Posted 2013-01-05 15:50:27
Interesting re: Payap. Thanks for that info
Posted 2013-02-11 02:16:05
Here is one student's experience at AUA in Chiang Mai:
I took two classes there in the fall of 2012, starting at Level 2, as I had been studying on my own for a few months and already had a lot of the basics covered. Level 2 was a good fit for my skill level. I had Kantira as my teacher, who I enjoyed and learned a lot from. She is extremely friendly, and could usually explain things clearly. Most classes involved getting a handout or two that explained some grammar point or how to use common words and phrases that could be applied in a lot of situations. We often had a bit of homework too, just writing sentences using the stuff we'd learned that day. I learned a lot of grammar, word order stuff, and vocabulary from her and enjoyed the classes. It was well worth my time and money.
My only complaints would be:
1) The class moved too slowly for me... I had a lot of time and motivation, and could have learned a lot more if she had given it to me (although to be fair to Kantira, she had to accomodate for other students, not just me).
2) AUA insists on teacing "proper" Thai, even if that means teachign words nobody actually uses, while ignoring commonly heard phrases because they're "wrong." For example, she always told us that if we wanted to say "see you tomorrow," we must say "phop gan prung nee," and that "jeh gan prung nee" was wrong. In my experience, I hear Thais say "jeh gan" much more often than "phop gan," and it seemed a bit ridiculous that she wouldn't even aknowledge that it was commonly said, and just insist on us saying "phop gan"...
Generally, however, I learned a lot from Kantira and liked her personally. Satisfied with that experience, I signed up for Level 3. My teacher was name Took. This class was not nearly as good of an experience, as I found Took to be bad at explaining things (and/or reluctant to even try), and was generally a pretty lazy teacher. I have worked as a language teacher for several years, and she did things I would be ashamed to do, because they show that she's really barely trying. Some examples:
1) Handouts routinely had multiple typos. This is not only obnoxious, but with a tonal langauge quite important. If the wrong tone is written on a word, you effectively learn the wrong word. Fortunately for me, I can read Thai and could compare the tone written on the transliteration with the Thai script, but most other students were at the mercy of Took's handouts. Formatting was also often messed up (i.e. lines ending in mid-word), which in my view showed a lack of basic proofreading and professionalism on Took's part.
2) Explanations about why one would phrase a sentence in a certain way (i.e what words do I need to put where) were often limited to "Thai is not English, you can't say things the same way." An example might be with the "present continuous" form in Thai, gamlang (verb) yoo. You don't have to say gamlang all the time, but instead of explaining how it works, when you shoudl use it or leave it out, etc, she just told me "it's not like English." Yes, that sure clears things up....
3) Activities were often really boring and seemed designed to take up as much time as possible, even when they had clearly been exhausted. This part irritated me the most, and struck me as very unprofessional. For example, one activity we did several times was she woudl pass out a short story, which usually didn't introduce any new concepts or use new stuff we had recently learned (i.e. didnt teach or review anything of value), and we would have to write 5 questions abotu the story to ask to each other. All well and good, except that the story would have such a small amount of information in it that everyone would invariably end up with basically the same questions, which we would then ask each other. We would then repeat this with 3 or 4 partners, killing maybe 40-45 minutes of class time with what should be a 10-15 minute activity.
Another example of this that I thought was absurd was when we learned the word for "usually" or "habitually," and she went around the room asking every student the same question, something like "When you're with friends do you usually drink beer?" (i forget the exact question, but something basic like that). The answer could be either "yes, i usuallyd rink beer" or "no, i don't usually drink beer." She did this literally 4 times, with 4 questions, asking everyone in the room the same question requiring the same answer. There were like 12 students in the class, so it took a little while to go aroudn the room. Now, if people were having problems, that kind of review might be appropriate, but nobody was having problems with the phrase. If she asked different students different questions, so you had to understand and respond in real time, it might be worthwhile. If she did one cycle through all the tsudents with one question, it might be reasonable just to verify people got it. But going through 4 complete cycles with every student havign to answer the same question was, in my eyes, clearly a way to fill time that she hadn't prepared anything for.
So, the second class was a disappointment, but at least I learned some things I can do if I ever decide not to lesson plan before I teach.... About 5 weeks into it, I stopped going. I wasn't learning anything, classes were boring... it was a waste of my time. I went once more after I decided to stop, just in the name of getting my money's worth, but it was indeed a waste of time, and that was it. Comparing my notebooks, I took about 3 times as many notes (i.e. new vocabulary, explanations of how grammar worked, etc) in Kantira's class.
Overall, as at any school, your experience at AUA will largely depend on your teacher. The handout system they have works well, if you have a good guide. The campus is a pleasant place with a nice garden area, and the price is good. 60 hours for 4200 baht. If you really want to learn Thai, you might find it a bit slow, but many of my classmates seemed to be much more casual learners, who would go directly after class and order lunch in English rather than practicing Thai. I guess they have different goals than I do, and the AUA pace is good for them, so it depends on your study habits and priorities. I would not reccomend Took, but I don't know if you can really choose....
One final thing is that, although I was still considering going on to Level 4 at AUA (as long as I had a new teacher), it turned out that NOBODY from my class would be allowed to move on. In my case, I think skipping the last 7 or 8 classes automatically failed me, but it turns out that you can't go on to Level 4 unless you know how to read and write, which they don't teach at all in levels 1-3. You either have to learn somewhere else or take their reading/writing course. Also, it seems that they "recommend" people taking the Level 3 course at least 2 times, although this seems absurd to me since a lot of the material would be the same as you learned before.
Posted 2013-02-18 09:48:09
The best Thai language school in Chiang Mai is AUA. They will provide you with the documentation you need to get an ED visa. Any other school is just a waste of time in my opninion.