“You have a knack for languages,” my boyfriend pointed out. The ability to memorize foreign words and rattling off the words and phrases during our travel baffled my boyfriend all the time!
As for Thai language, I first started learning the language for personal reason. Being a perfectionist, it took me a long time to finally break free from “not-speaking-until-I get-it right” to “just-speak-and-learn-from-mistakes” mentality. During my YMCA days in KL, I spoke little but kept on building my vocab, and finally I just let it go at Walen, my first language school in Bangkok. With the help of Thai lakorn (ละคร) and radio and the need to speak Thai sometimes for work, there’s no turning back and I am proud to say I do speak the language now.
The Thai language skill turned into such a valuable skill set living and working here. While it’s not mandatory, being able to speak just make life easier in so many levels. I am able to connect with local people, and communicating in Thai when needed is just simply amazing.
End of last year, I decided to study Thai reading to improve my pronunciation of the language. Thai is a tonal-language – there are five tones/pitch – pronounce wrongly and you might end up insulting someone’s mother by calling her a dog!!
While looking for a Thai language school at Phloenchit end of last year, RTL school came up on search and I like what I read – thanks Tod Daniels for the review. The school is located at 10th floor, Mahatun Plaza building (อาคารมหาทุน พลาซ่า). Mahatun is a square, divided into main building and surrounded by arcade of restaurants, etc. BTS Phloenchit exit 2 is the nearest exit to the RTL school – walk towards Bangkok Bank, turn right and you’ll be at the Mahatun Arcade with few landmarks such as Fowlmouth and Guss Damn Good. The entrance of the Plaza is at the opposite row facing this arcade, next to 7-11 – take a lift and go up to 10th floor.
When I first visited the school, I was tested on my then-current level of Thai. Kru Si Jan was the one who tested me, and ended up being my first teacher for Level 1. You’ll get the same teacher throughout your course – but sometimes, there might be replacement teacher when your assigned teacher is on leave. They do practice changing teacher though, for students to get used to different voice. I was taught by Kru Si Jan in Level 1, and then Kru One Pen in Level 2. As I was already used to Kru Si Jan, adapting to a new teacher in Level 2 was not easy. But I grew to like Kru One Pen and her way of teaching. I highly recommend the teachers here. They also try to provide a “home” to us foreigner students, by organizing social activities such as Christmas party for students to mingle with others. Also, on the last day of each course, an outing is organized to visit museums, etc for them to put their Thai to practice.
Classes are available in three slots: Morning: 9.00-12.00 (3 hours) 7,500 baht, Afternoon: 13.00- 16.00 (3 hours) 7,500 baht and Evening: 18.00-20.00 (2 hours) 8,500 baht – price is the same for Speaking and Reading/Writing. The price is excluding of textbook fee of 200 baht/level and you also need to prepare notebook for class. There are 20 days/lessons from Mon-Fri for each level – yes, it’s an intensive 40-hours of (20 lessons, 2 hours per day) for evening classes or 60 hours (20 lessons, 3 hours per day) for daytime classes. I usually stick to regular time slot of 6-8 pm, except on Friday that I start early 4.30-6.30pm (teachers are flexible so long it doesn’t clash with their other classes). There were days that I struggled with homework assignments – finishing class at 8pm, leaving little time for revision and homework in the evening. So I had to do homework during lunch break in some days. When it comes to exam, it was crunch time during lunch break!
Evening classes usually have lesser students – from what I observed, usually 1-2 students per class with the rare exception of 4 students per class. I myself had been lucky enough not to have any classmates – from my previous experience at Walen, the considerably-fast students are usually slowed down by others. So in a way, I paid group price for a private class.
Reading and writing course – completed only two levels (out of total four levels). You need to pass exam at the end of the course, before proceeding to next level. And reading and writing comes together – so no choice, had to learn writing too.
Level 1 – (30 Sept – 28 Oct 2019) introduces the Thai writing system, the consonants, vowels, tone marks – too easy for me and I breeze through this level. Classes are usually 1.5 hour, especially at the beginning (since I’ve basic knowledge of the Thai consonants, vowels, etc) – besides my speed of learning, sometimes we also skip the 10-minute break in between class. However, they do want you to memorize the consonants, etc in certain way – such as low consonants in one group, mid consonants in another group, etc – I learnt not to question, but just follow.
Level 2 – (29 Oct – 25 Nov 2019) – Learning the remaining Thai consonants and vowels and tone rules, and discovered that there are many “specials” – double function, double grouping, tone exception, etc, etc. Started writing longer sentences. Classes are now hectic, and we usually take that 10-minute break. Level 2 was so much tougher and I also had little time to do revision, but it got better later on .. by the time I finished the Level 2 course, I had improved a lot.
Level 3 and Level 4 – to be continued. Level 3 is said to introduce some spoken slang, Thai idioms and many commonly used phrases and experiences – sound like my kind of thing! Level 4 focuses on the characteristics of Thai writing. Level 4 sounds boring, but I might just get it over and done. There are plans to resume classes, but I dread the intensive one month ahead of intensive studying plus the 1 year gap means knowledge lost sort of.
They now provide two options: studying Live online (adapting to covid-19) or studying at the school. New course will begin on Nov 26th 2020, until Dec 25th 2020 and I am so tempted to go back to school ….
RTL “Rak Thai Language” School (โรงเรียนรักภาษาไทย)
888/104 Mahatun Plaza 10 Fl.
Ploenchit Rd. Lumpini Patumwan
Tel: 02-255-3036 , 061-978-5962, 089-520-5391, 083-823-4863
LINE: @rtlschool or WhatsApp +66619785962
Nearest BTS: Phloenchit, exit 2
Afternoon: 13.00- 16.00