6 Best Places to Learn Thai in Bangkok

One of the great things about living in a new country is the opportunity to learn about the culture and, of course, the language. Speaking to Thai people on a daily basis will inevitably help you pick up the basics but to really progress, you will need a few professional lessons. Speaking the language, even if it is just at an elementary level, will make your life easier and enhance your whole experience of living in the country.

Daily life is Thailand is easier if you know Thai language

Daily life is Thailand is easier if you know Thai language

Bangkok is a great place to live with great shops, restaurants and bars. Most people use a professional laundry service, to make daily living more convenient but even in all of these situations; speaking Thai will be hugely beneficial. Here are six language schools that can help you to get to grips with Thai.

  1. Duke Language School

Located on the 3rd floor of the Trendy Building, Sukhumvit Soi 13, you will find the highly regarded Duke Language School. They offer classes throughout the day to suit your schedule and your lifestyle. Courses that will entitle you to qualify for an Education Visa (ED) along with corporate training, are also available.

  1. AAA Thai Language School

AAA Thai Language School is situated in the Wannasorn Tower, Phayathai Road and offer a range of courses to suit all abilities. For those who are entirely new to the language, the Preparation Thai Course would be an excellent starting point and allow you to gain some confidence. Private, semi-private and group lessons are offered.

  1. Walen International

Walen International is in the Times Square Building on Sukhumvit Road. The school provides an interactive style of learning with students being taught several words and their different uses. In class, you will be required to answer questions to establish your level of understanding. The school believes that this is a more natural way of learning a language.

Learning Thai in Bangkok

Learning Thai in Bangkok

  1. AUA Language Centre

AUA Language Centre is one of the longest established language schools in Thailand. In the Bangkok Metropolitan area, there are seven schools so you will easily be able to find one that is relatively close to your home or place of work. They offer an extensive range of courses that incorporate reading, writing and speaking with short videos used to demonstrate certain aspects.

  1. Pro Language School

Found in the Times Square Building, Pro Language offers an easy and enjoyable approach to learning a new language. Their learning program is more relaxed than at many of the other schools but equally professional. A range of courses are available that cater for individuals, groups as well as having corporate training available.

  1. Learn Thai Style

Learn Thai Style is entirely different. It is a far more personal approach to learning as you choose a teacher in your area. They will meet you in a coffee shop, come to your home or even offer online learning. The lessons are still structured, although far less formal with greater scope for flexibility. The courses can be tailored to your needs.

Why Speaking Thai is So Beneficial in the Workplace

Thailand is a beautiful country, and many visitors fall in love with the people and the culture. As a result, a small but still significant percentage of those visitors decide to make Thailand their home. Some are retirees while others are still of working age and need to find jobs locally to support themselves during their stay.

In terms of 'farang', a European in Bangkok (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram@knack66)

In terms of ‘farang’, a European in Bangkok (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram@knack66)

Finding a job in Thailand for a foreigner (often called a farang or falang) is not always as straightforward as you may imagine. It is best to use a recruitment agency such as Job Worker Service who bring business and workers together. You do not need to be able to speak Thai to obtain a work permit, but it certainly has many benefits. Here are just five:

  1. Gain Respect

Respect is a hugely important part of Thai culture, and if you aren’t respected, it can be a significant barrier – something that is a severe problem in the workplace. Whatever your role, it is likely that you will have people working for you or you will be in a teaching role. Being a teacher or leader requires respect for you to succeed. Many of your team will probably only speak a smattering of English at best. If you can’t speak their language you will lose their respect and subordination is common and extremely hard to stop once it has started.

  1. Better Communication

Being able to communicate with your team is vital in any organisation, and this can only be done by talking directly to those concerned. It will mean that you can relay the message that you want to convey and not be obstructed by needing it to be passed through various chains of command. When this happens, are you totally confident that the correct message has been delivered to the relevant person? Of course, communication works both ways, and your team will feel more confident being open with you if they can talk Thai.

Learning Thai is fun at Asoke Language Association

Learning Thai for the workplace

  1. Can Join in Team Activities

Team building and social events are viewed as being important in modern business. They build morale, increase loyalty and make the workforce happier in their work. There are benefits for both the individual and the organisation. However, it should be apparent that to build a team; you will need to work closely with those around you and being able to talk to one another is a critical factor.

  1. Greater Productivity

Greater respect, better communication, and being able to join in with your team will all combine to help increase productivity within the business. While having a happy workforce is one thing, but they must be motivated to achieve the desired results and meet the objectives of the organisation. Inevitably, an increase in productivity will produce better results, your goal as a business leader, manager or teacher.

  1. It’s Polite!

Finally, being able to speak Thai within the workplace is simply more polite. We are guests in the country and should respect the Kingdom’s culture, values and language. Even if you can only speak a small amount of Thai, it will show that you are making an effort and this will be appreciated.


Learn Thai at ALA Language School in Bangkok

To most Western people (me included) learning Thai language seems to be a scary undertaking. Not only is Thai a tonal language which means that there are five tones, but Thai also has 44 consonants and 30 vowels which makes learning it a challenge for foreigners. However, on the level of grammar Thai seems to be simpler than most European languages like English or German since Thai has fewer grammar restrictions and exceptions. Thus, forming sentences in Thai appear to be easier and much more straightforward.

Learning Thai at Asoke Language Association

Learning Thai at Asoke Language Association

Well, let me include some of my own learning experiences with Thai language. First of all, I must admit that I’m not proficient in Thai and that I have only basic knowledge. I’m a native speaker of German and I’m also a language instructor for German and English. However, until this day I haven’t mastered Thai language. This is due to different reasons, first I was not thaught Thai as a child (meaning I didn’t grow up with Thai). When I was very small though, like four to six years old, my dad thaught me a bit of Thai. However, later we didn’t speak Thai at home at all and since I grew up in Germany there was also no urgend need to learn the language.

Welcome to ALA Asoke Language Association

Welcome to ALA Asoke Language Association

So the years went by and it was until much later when I was in my early 30s that I wanted to learn some Thai. Thus, I enrolled in two courses at the community college in Hamburg, Germany. I guess I did up to level A 2. After that I didn’t continue learning Thai because I hardly ever used the language and I rarely travel to Thailand. For this reason, there was only little or no opportunity to actually speak Thai. Hence, the courses at ALA language school also sound interesting to me, if I’d decide to go to Thailand!

Classroom at ALA in Bangkok, Thailand

Classroom at ALA in Bangkok, Thailand

There are some advantages of speaking Thai as a foreigner. Firstly, you will be more accepted by Thai people if you know their language and it also help you to understand Thai culture and colloquialisms better. In this way, you will be able to understand some basic aspects of Thai culture like grengjai (being gracious). Knowing Thai it will also be easier for you to make Thai friends, to find a Thai partner and to get integrated into their community. What is more, learning Thai might also increase your chances as a foreigner to find employment in Thailand.

Learning Thai for travel and work at ALA

Learning Thai for travel and work at ALA

After all, it might not be so difficult to learn Thai language! First, it is possible to learn Thai without learning to read and write. That might be sufficient knowledge for traveling. Only in a second step, if you decide to get more into depth, you can learn the Thai alphabet. Now you may ask ‘How to learn Thai the best way?’. Well, firstly it is important to find a helpful teacher or a good language school respectively.

Learning Thai is fun at Asoke Language Association

Learning Thai is fun at Asoke Language Association

Thus, I’d like to present you the Asoke Language Academy (ALA) located in Bangkok (Asoke/Nana). ALA is a newly established language school that focuses on helping international students learn Thai as a second language while they are in Thailand for work, play, or travel. The school offers group classes as well as private instruction which students can take advantage of.

ALA Language School Logo

ALA Language School Logo

The curriculum is flexible and can also be personalized for each student. In this way, it is more of a personalized learning experience. Thus, before starting a course, ALA likes to learn why the students want to learn Thai and how they intent to use the language. Hence, it is possible to personalize the students’ experience. ALA offers the most current curriculum, custom school textbooks, daily news as well as videos from the internet.

Learning Thai at ALA

Learning Thai at ALA

What is more, ALA also offers an ED-visa course that can allow students to stay in Thailand studying Thai with the school while traveling around Thailand or visit the Bangkok area with the 6-months or 1-year programs available. This might be very valuable since it allows them to immerse themselves in the language during their learning experience.

Nice atmosphere at Asoke Language School

Nice atmosphere at Asoke Language School

Finally, we may say that it is really recommendable to visit the Asoke Language Academy when you want to learn Thai in Bangkok while travelling or for work. There you have the opportunity to get a personalized curriculum as well as an ED-visa course which might be of interest to many foreigners not only from Western countries but also from Asia.

Media Review: Thai Ways by Denis Segaller

Today’s media review is about Thai Ways by Denis Segaller (ISBN: 9789749575734 ). This book was published in 2005 by Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The book is in English language, comprises 254 pages and is available as print version and e-formats (iBooks, Kindle, Google Books and Kobo). It costs 395 Bath, on Amazon the print version is about 15 EUR. You may take a look inside the book here.

Denis Segaller: Thai Ways

Thai Ways written by Denis Segaller (b. 1915) can be regarded as a delightful collection of stories and tales covering nearly all aspects of Thai culture, customs and beliefs. Segaller came to live in Thailand at an older age in 1965, married a Thai lady, became a Buddhist and worked as a writer for the Bangkok Post among others.

‘Thai Ways’ comprises many of Segaller’s magazine articles that were mainly published, updated and completed during the 1970s in the popular weekly column ‘Thai Ways’ in the ‘Bangkok World’ which was the former afternoon tabloid companion to the Bangkok Post. The weekly ‘Thai Ways’ column ran continuously from 1975 to 1985. In short articles and anecdotes, the author describes Thai culture very comprehensively and accurately. Even though the selections are about four decades old, they nevertheless remain as informative today as when Segaller first wrote them down.

The book starts off with a preface and a note about the spelling of Thai words. ‘Thai Ways’ has ten chapters which are each divided into several sections. The chapters are about ‘Royalty and Nobility’, ‘Festivals’, ‘Ceremonies’, ‘Customs’, ‘Beliefs and Superstitions’, ‘Legends’, ‘Families’, ‘Thai Fortune-Telling’, ‘Names, Words and Language’ and ‘Miscellaneous’.

Thai Ways, customs & beliefs: It's a Thai belief that if you put a coin up and it stands still, then your wishes will come true (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Thai Ways, customs & beliefs: It’s a Thai belief that if you put a coin up and it stands still, then your wishes will come true (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

The chapter about ‘Customs’ takes up the largest part of the book. For instance, this chapter is divided into 16 sections. To give you an impression of the structure of this book, this chapter is subdivided into the following topics:

  • Some Social “Do’s and Don’ts” in Thailand
  • Khun: An Everyday, but Deep, Word
  • Some Other Social Norms
  • The Wai
  • More Elaborate Forms of the Wai
  • Music – Classical and Western
  • Worshipping Brahma and Other Deities
  • Lak Mueang – The Log that Helped to Found a City
  • Traditional Thai Medicine
  • Preserving Thailand’s Traditional Arts of Self-Defense
  • Telling the Time
  • Lunar Months
  • The Twelve-Year Cycle
  • When a Child is Born
  • When Traditions Intermingle
  • Some Like It Hot

Segaller covers numerous aspects of Thai culture and customs, thus demystifying constructs like the system of royal ranks and the Thai musical scale, and customs like the Loi Krathong festival and the Wai Khru ceremony, for instance.

In my view, the book is a gem of information that provides insight into the heart, mind and social structure of an Asian country not to be subjected to the culture of colonial rule. It probably provides more information than the typical tourist wants to know. However, for anyone who has personal, economic or diplomatic interest in Thailand it is a source of important insights. The book might seem a little dated, nevertheless it offers a deep understanding of how Thailand has developed and functioned on many levels.

Finally, I can highly recommend Thai Ways by Denis Segaller because it is comprehensive and provides you with a picture of Thailand that the non-Thai readers are not likely to encounter elsewhere. In addition, it should be noted that there have been two subsequent publications titled “More Thai Ways” and “New Thoughts on Thai Ways” which offer additional topics presented in a similar format.

Yours, Sirinya