This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
PRO Language: Bangkok…
School: PRO Language
Website: PRO Language
Telephone Number: 02-250-0072
Address: Times Square Building, 10th Floor, 246 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Location: Exit BTS Asok, take the sky bridge into Times Square and then the lift to floor 10.
Basic Info: Unless I’m mistaken, PRO Language is a chain or possibly a franchise with the main school in Times Square. PRO Language has locations in Pattaya and Chiang Mai too. This review is ONLY about what they offer at their Times Square location. I did call the Chiang Mai location and they use the same textbooks, material.
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When I went to PRO Language they were courteous enough to let me sit two levels of conversational Thai classes and part of a reading/writing class. I was there almost 4 1/2 hours! I thought the front office staff were well versed. They spoke English proficiently, outlined the programs they offered, talked about various options for learning (private and group), and explained the ED visa for yearly enrollees, etc.
It’s an easy school to get to via either the BTS Asok Station or the MRT Sukhumvit station. And if you drive to PRO Language there’s a parking garage with free (validated) parking.
Materials: PRO Language has level after level of learning materials! I mean, they have more materials then I could get thru during my visit. I perused 6 or 7 different books and didn’t make it thru half of the materials available. PRO Language even has learning materials developed specifically to teach the inz-n-outz of taking the Thai proficiency exam offered at the end of each year (although the books are still titled ป.๖ Prep Test).
PRO Language’s beginning books are in both English and karaoke Thai if you can’t read Thai script, and in English and Thai script if you can. The books have the English translations and the special notes (the whyz-of-Thai) written in English. PRO Language also has supplemental handouts for reading and writing exercises in the classroom and workbooks for home use. Note: ALL of the textbooks, workbooks and handouts are FREE if you sign up for a year’s Thai language program.
Method: The method is pretty straightforward in regards to learning to speak Thai via karaoke (phonetic English). They start out with standard situational Thai: meeting, greeting, getting around, etc. The vocab is introduced, practiced out loud in a group, and then each student participates in a round robin. The conversations are read aloud, with the class breaking into pairs for the ask/answer part.
Even in the karaoke only class a LOT of emphasis is put on learning the correct tone for Thai words. Drill after drill, the reading/writing class goes over consonant class, tone marks, and the toning possibilities of words. This is repeated again and again, in a fairly easy (as easy as toning Thai words can be made) manner. I almost understood it even!
The class I sat through was involved in an exercise on differentiating the tones in similar sounding Thai words by using the different tone marks. Not being able to recognize the tone of the word solely by how it’s spelled, I failed at this portion abysmally. Then they had a word matching test where they matched the Thai words to pictures of words meanings. In that exercise I got almost all right.
The reading class is more story-based. First you read a short story, talk about the topic, and then take an exam to gauge your comprehension. A large portion of the reading/writing class is assigned as homework because it’s not cost-effective to sit in class writing out the Thai consonants, vowels, and Thai words over and over. In the more advanced writing classes answers to the questions from reading lessons are also done in this manner; out of class.
I think it’s a plus that they assign homework. I’ve yet to meet a single person who sat in a class the required minimum 4 hours a week to EVER learn anything close to speaking or reading Thai without supplementing their learning with outside activities. Sadly, as far as valuable out of class activities go, sitting in a beer bar chatting with the service staff oftentimes falls far short! Having assigned homework makes the student focus on the topics they are learning so it ties the studies together quite nicely.
Teachers: The classes I sat had some pretty sharp teachers who were able to field questions asked in English about the whyz-of-Thai. The teacher would answer first in Thai. Then, if the students’ Thai wasn’t at a level to where they understood, the teacher would answer in English. In the higher level classes students were encouraged to ask questions in Thai and were answered in kind. I’d say past level 3 or so about 85-90% percent of the class was taught only in Thai. If you’re reticent to speak Thai this will get you over it fairly quickly. I would rate myself as an extremely reluctant but at least semi-capable Thai speaker. But by the end of the Thai conversation class even I was speaking all Thai which for me is a HUGE thing.
Classes: PRO Language has reading/writing classes and strictly conversational Thai classes too. Most students I spoke with said they do 2 hours of reading/writing and 2 hours of conversational Thai each week.
If you enroll for a year you are given the choice to focus on your primary goal. So if you aim to learn to speak Thai only, don’t go to the reading/writing classes, just stay in the conversational ones. Several students I spoke to are currently studying this way. I feel that a new learner of Thai gets great benefit out of attending BOTH because at some point you’re going to need to learn to read Thai to know how things really work with the language.
PRO Language offers classes at a wide variety of times: mornings, afternoons and evenings. If you sign up to start book 1 level 1 in a group setting there might be a time lag because they need to get a sufficient number of students together (2-3 minimum) first. Seeing as the classes don’t merely go thru the book over and over (like some schools do) you can’t just jump into an existing class; you have to start with book 1, page 1, to get off on the right foot.
Like most schools out there, PRO Language isn’t going to teach you 1-on-1 if you paid for group lessons. They do offer private 1-on-1 classes and the price point is about the same as private lessons at most schools.
ED Visa: PRO Language is running the same promotional pricing for the year-long ED visa type deal that most private Thai language schools in Bangkok. As I mentioned earlier, if you enroll for a year ALL the textbooks, workbooks, practice books, etc., are provided FREE. Depending on your motivation (as in how much you learn, how many levels you take, etc) this can be a factor as most schools charge per book.
Their ED program is run pretty much like other Thai language schools. You enroll in class, pay your tuition, start studying, and the school processes your paperwork. Once they get it back from the Ministry of Education you go to the Thai Embassy or Consulate and get a 90 day Non-Immigrant type ED visa. Every 90 days the school provides additional Immigration documentation to extend your stay in Thailand.
Bang-4-The-Baht: Very Good. I toured PRO Language a long time ago and from what I remember, they’ve re-written their materials. And that far back I didn’t have near the idea about the quality of materials that should be offered at private Thai language schools. As far as schools in Bangkok go, there are certainly worse places to attend but only a few are on the same level at PRO Language, or a little better.
I’d say that PRO Language would be a very good fit for students looking to speak, read and write Thai. If you’re not afraid to start speaking Thai right away and willing to invest the time it takes to learn that particular skill set, PRO Language could be for you. To find out for yourself just stop by, look at their materials, and sit a free class.
PS: A lot of my perceived bang-4-the-baht is subjective but then so are my reviews. I’ve seen many schools and perused a lot of material, that unless a school is really outstanding, or is standing somewhere out in left field, they tend to blur together.
Hope you found this of some value.