Learning Thai in Thailand!

My Thai boyfriend of 2 years recently graduated from our university in Germany and that was how I found myself on a plane heading to Thailand for the first time 3 months ago. Well I am a Malaysian actually and I should be used to the weather (it was summer over here when I left too), but my first thoughts after leaving the airport were “Woah, it’s hot”. I am a summer person but the humidity takes some getting used to hehe.

Then we were off to meet his family. I was rather nervous since it was the first time that I actually meet them. Well, everything turned out fine in the end. The language barrier is still there (My boyfriend has to play interpreter sometimes) but all in all, we can understand each other with a bit of effort. His parents are super nice though I heard from someone that Thai parents generally don’t like Farang girlfriends.

Anyway, I was determined to go for a language course while I was there. Just don’t have enough discipline to study myself from the internet. And so the hunt began for a school. I searched www.learningthai.com and got a list with some 20 schools on it.

My boyfriend made some calls and I found myself going for a trial class at a famous institute called AUA. They were quite friendly and allowed me to join a class for an hour free of charge. There were many classrooms with air conditioning too! Equipped with a cafeteria it kind of reminded me of my high school days. The group I joined had very few students. The four of us sat there and listen while our 2 teachers acted out conversations in Thai. With the help of pictures, sketches and some good acting we were able to understand what they were talking about. The idea is that we pick up the language naturally. In fact we are even discouraged from trying to speak in the first module (There are 12 altogether). They say a baby learns first from hearing and learning Thai with your mother tongue as a reference will severly limit your ability.

Since I wasn’t staying too long, this class was not for me. So I went back to hitting the phones myself. In my survey, I asked about the price(very important for a poor student!), the hours, whether the school is far from a BTS station (their electric train in the city), whether books came with the deal and whether there was a trial class that I can attend first before deciding. I finally settled for a center called UTL. Even though there were no trial classes, it was cheap, 7000 baht for 80+ hours and they even threw in a text book plus a CD. At first my aim was quite high, which is to learn to read and speak a little. But many schools arrange their syllables that the students learn to speak first and read later. An exception, of course, are private tutors.

UTL has 6 modules to offer. Each module lasts 20 working days. The first 2 modules are for speaking, the next 2 for reading/writing while Module 5 and 6 are for advanced students concerning Thai culture. But you have to take note of their “semesters”, when they start and end, to plan properly.

So for 20 days I spent 4 hours from 8 am till 12 pm at a classroom in the Times Square Building. Our class consists of 8 students: 4 Koreans, 1 French, 1 Japanese, 1 Brasilian and 1 Malaysian. Some are still studying, some doing business while other are wives. The first 2 days we concentrated only on intonations and pronunciations. The following lessons then range from introducing yourself, counting things, ordering food, buying and bargaining, asking for directions to several other life situations. Everyday we had to memorize around 20 Thai words for the lesson the next day. What really pleased me were the grammatical patterns that we learned each day. Really helped me to form sentences. Our teacher Khruu Pussadee made the lessons quite interesting too. Her energetic efforts and cheekiness definitely livened up the class. All in all, I recommend her class whole heartedly. Aiii, I miss those days: commuting with the BTS, buying breakfast from the street vendors in front of the Times Square Building(my favorite is grilled pork sticks with sticky rice for only 15 baht!). For those interested, you can call:

UTL Unity Thai Language School
15th Fl., Times Square Building,
246 Sukhumvit Road (Between Soi 12 & 14), Bangkok 10110
Tel. 0-2653-1538

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