This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Baan Aksorn Thai Language School…
School: Baan Aksorn
Telephone Number: 02-258-5617 or 02-662-3090
Address: House #40 Sukhumvit Soi 33, Klongton Nua, Watana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Location: Baan Askorn has a PDF that shows exactly how to get to their school either by walking from Phrom Phong BTS or by driving. Meaning, I don’t need to give you directions!
Basic Info: I looked at this school a few years ago, but kinda forgot about it. Actually, when I toured the school the first time I was quite put off by the condescending attitude of a particular student. But, in retrospect, students shouldn’t come into play so an in-depth review was in order.
I have to say the overall ambiance of this school is the best of any I’ve been to. From the outside it’s the most un-school looking building I’ve ever seen. Baan Askorn is located in a 30 year old Thai house that has been totally redone as a functional Thai language school. The garden area is full of towering mature trees, with places to sit. It’s shady and certainly more than adequate for having a Thai lesson outdoors (weather permitting). Honestly, I wouldn’t mind just stopping by their garden to “hang out”. Inside the school is just as inviting. The downstairs is the reception area, with the classrooms are upstairs.
Materials: The first four books are pretty standard fare. And I don’t mean that with ANY negative connotation. It’s just that they’re close to the materials seen in the better private Thai Language schools around Bangkok (as far as basic intro Thai books go). These types of books are designed to get you speaking something that at least resembles Thai. The books also provides a student with a base line vocabulary with the means to concentrate on conversation, reading, writing or a combination.
Baan Askorn’s advanced reading and writing materials are not the same old beat to death stuff I’ve seen at other schools. The course books are contemporary, up to date, and interesting. Stories start out with just a few sentences and progressively get longer in content and harder in vocabulary. New vocabulary is introduced at the beginning. And to gauge a student’s comprehension, questions (both spoken and written) are asked afterward. Quite honestly, as far as advanced materials go, these were some of the most interesting books I’ve come across in any school I’ve toured.
Method: The initial methodology at Baan Askorn is similar to other schools. Their phonemic transcription uses a system pretty close to Benjawan Becker’s Paiboon Plus. The material is presented in Thai, karaoke and English. This is situational-based material, covering the basics: greeting, meeting, getting around, asking questions, etc. It’s presented in a straightforward manner. The more advanced classes have discussions about topics relevant to the material being covered. Their advanced classes discuss articles from Thai newspapers.
Teachers: The teacher I had was more than capable insofar as teaching a foreigner the Thai language. She obviously knew the materials. In fact, she was so adept at teaching she was even able to write both English AND Thai upside down and backwards (so it would read right side up for me) as we sat across the table from one another! (I give her kudos for that feat in and of itself). I tried it after I got home and it’s definitely a skill-set which takes practice to pull off proficiently.
I spoke to a student who who sat the Thai proficiency exam after attending Baan Aksorn. He said teachers in all levels were more than competent and able to explain the “whyz-in-Thai” versus “that’s just how it is in Thai”.
Classes: Baan Aksorn offers group classes but only for those at comparable levels of Thai. However, I definitely got the feeling that they really prefer to teach private 1-on-1 lessons. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve sat group classes in many Thai language schools where the disparity of knowledge between students compels the teacher to teach either to the slowest student, holding back the faster ones, or to the fastest student, dragging the other ones along. As this can create bad feelings, some schools prefer to give private lessons.
ED Visa: Baan Aksorn offers education visas for students who enroll in a year long Thai program. It’s operated pretty much like all private Thai language schools registered with the Ministry of Education. Once students have paid their tuition, the school supplies support documentation for a Thai Embassy or Consulate (in a neighboring country), and secure a single entry 90 day ED visa. This is extended every 90 days at Thai Immigrations with additional documentation supplied by the school.
Bang-4-The-Baht: I rate this school quite high on the ‘bang-4-the-baht’ scale in terms of real value versus cost. They have some of the most contemporary and error free material I’ve seen. Their books are all written in-house, instead of being 5th generation copies of the oh-so dated Union Method material still in use by some Thai schools. They put a lot of time and effort into coming up with a solid curriculum of material for students to learn to speak, read and write Thai.
I’d recommend Baan Aksorn to anyone serious about undertaking Thai. You aren’t going to show up for the Ministry of Education’s stated minimum class time of 4 hours a week and suddenly start speaking Thai like a Thai. And you aren’t going to coast thru a class parroting material like a mynah bird (as is done in a school which shall remain nameless). This school will challenge you to learn Thai, but more than that, it will teach you the necessary skill-set to meet that challenge.
After perusing Baan Aksorn’s material I realised that I was quite remiss in my earlier dismissal of this school. And if I was still looking to attend a Thai language school, I’d certainly put them very near the top of the list.
Hope you found this review of value. As always I rate schools on what I’ve found works for me. This may or may not work for you. I urge ANYONE contemplating enrolling in or attending a private Thai language school to check out as many as you can BEFORE you pay a single satang of your hard earned baht.