The national and official spoken language of Thailand it Thai or Siamese. Very much a tonal language the overwhelming majority of the countries population use it as the main form of dialogue and communication with each other. The first Thai language schools offering courses for the non-overseas visitors or ex pats began during the early 1990's. As overseas visitors affection for the land of smiles grew so did the number of language schools. The Chiang Mai region has certainly got aboard the boom train of this industry and the province is seeing new schools open every year to cater for it's ever growing ex pat community. Regardless of your sex, age or background visitors to Chiang Mai for extended periods of time are keen to embrace the local culture and language. For the average linguists they may well be able to pick up simple dialogue from interacting with locals on the street or in bars and restaurants. For others the different sounds and tones can prove extremely challenging. Taking a Thai language course can be very beneficial regardless of your length of stay in Thailand. So whether you are here for a holiday or intend to stay long term you will be able to get a whole lot more from your trip by being able to communicate sufficiently with the locals.
Thai Language Schools and CoursesRegardless of your knowledge of Thai language or your general language skills the Thai Language schools within Chiang Mai will have a range of courses available to cater for your needs. You can tailor your courses to focus on specific areas of learning Thai to include any of reading; writing, speaking and listening or you can combine all four of these into one course. Ask for the course curriculum at your chosen school for more details. In general English will be the chosen language from which all Thai is translated into. If English is your chosen language or you are comfortable with speaking English you shouldn't find too many problems in finding a School. Although there are schools that may offer courses into additional languages such as French or German theses are very few and far between so a little bit of extra research may be required to ascertain a suitable school. You can arrange one to one tuition through the schools to speed up your learning process and have a more personal experience. Although a more effective and faster way to learn it can prove to be a fairly expensive option. For block lessons booked in advance, some schools will offer a slight discount to ease the costs a little. Most courses within the language schools will be taught in a group classroom environment. This is far cheaper than one to one lessons. The group lessons also offer a great opportunity to meet new likeminded friends from countries all across the world. A group class can have anything up to to 20 people per class at any given time. The dialect of language across Thailand differs from province to province. Within the Chiang Mai Thai Language Schools you will learn either the central Thai language, which is the most common spoken form of Thai or the Northern Thai dialect. Please check with your school before enrolling on a course to ascertain which version they teach. Most courses lesson will teach you dialect that you can expect to use in everyday life. This will cover things such as ordering food or drink within a bar or a restaurant or booking a hotel room. You will also learn about general greetings, the Thai alphabet and the different consonants and vowels.
Choosing a Thai Language SchoolChiang Mai has an abundance of Thai language schools with its province so ensuring you choose the school that suits you best can prove a challenging experience. There are many things you should take into consideration to help you identify the correct school to suit your requirements. A good starting point to determine whether a school is reputable and respected is whether it holds the correct accreditations. All schools should be licenced in full by the Thai Ministry of education and should be able to verify this to you. Most schools will publicise this on there website but it is still worth double-checking with them. Any language school which is hesitant to answer this or unable to confirm are unlikely to hold a licence, so you may wish to consider an alternative. How long you intend to stay in Chiang Mai or Thailand in general is something you should take into consideration. Yes some school will offer you a service to pay as you learn by the lesson but to get the best value and extract greater knowledge a long-term course is your best option. You also won't be able to qualify for a Non-immigrant education (ED) visa unless you enrol on a long-term course. Most language schools longer-term courses will start from 12 weeks up to a year, this should make finding a course to fit your schedule fairly straightforward. If you are planning on learning Thai prior to your visit to Thailand then most schools can cater for you also. Tuition via video call or Skype can be arranged. For most students in Bangkok our budget for what we can spend on our education is one of the most important factors in deciding which school we enrol with. The average cost between schools can vary quite considerably, so a little bit of research and shopping around is best advised. As a rough guide a 1 year Thai language course in Chiang Mai can vary between 15,000 and 25,000 Thai Baht depending on the school and group sizes. The schools location is also something that should influence your decision-making. The cheaper schools tend to be outside the busier suburbs of Chiang Mai so if that is an hour journey across town and a long taxi ride each lesson it may not prove the most cost effective in the long run. Look for schools within close proximity of your home. The majority of Thai Language schools within Chiang Mai are located fairly centrally around busy tourist areas to cater for its target market. To keep things simple and straightforward in finding a school close to where you are staying, we have all the Language Schools listed on a map above. If you are fortunate to know anyone attending a Thai Language course, whether they are an acquaintance, friend of a friend or relative its worth asking for there opinion on the school they are attending. Here you will get a better idea of how the lessons are taught from a personal point of view rather than the schools. It may well be beneficial to pay for a single lesson to start off with before committing to anything long term to gauge the quality of the school yourself. To give you a good starting point in this mine field of a subject, here at Farang Friendly we have done a little research into the subject ourselves and some of our personal recommendations of Chiang Mai Thai Language schools can be found on the left hand side of the page.
Education Visa'sIt's far from uncommon for a first time visitor to Thailand to fall in love with the beauty and diversity the country has to offer. This leads them to look at different ways to allow them to stay in the land of smiles on a long-term basis. One of the biggest challenges is obtaining a visa that allows them to stay in the country longer than the 30 days tourist visa allows them. One of the most simple and best ways to overcome this is by obtaining a 1 year Non-Immigrant ED visa or Education Visa. This visa is obtained from the ministry of education upon a successful application of enrolment with in a Thai Language school. The course must be for a minimum of a 6-month period in order to qualify. There aren't to many headaches in filling out forms ad finding the necessary paperwork as each school will provide all this and make the experience stress free. All you require is a copy of a valid passport with at least 6 month validity left, 6 passport sized photos and a completed application form. The information will then be sent to The Ministry of Education. The application will take up to 3 weeks to process and they will then inform the school whether your application was successful. You will need a minimum of 3 weeks left on your tourist visa if you intend to stay in Thailand to allow enough time for your application to be processed. For all successful applicants, the ministry of education will issue a letter of approval to your school. This will be given to you as an original document (Copies are not accepted) which you will need to take to the nearest Thai embassy or consulate outside of Thailand. If for any unfortunate reason the Ministry of Education decline your application, most reputable schools will refund you the cost for the language course minus any admin fees you may have occurred. Please ask the school prior to your application to confirm their policy in the event of this. For all successful applicants you will be required to leave the Kingdom of Thailand for the next step of obtaining your Non-Immigrant ED visa. The nearest Thai embassies or consulates outside of Thailand are Vientiane in Laos, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Kuala Lumpur or Penang in Malaysia and Hanoi in Vietnam. You will need to allow a minimum of two working to give sufficient time for your application to be processed. Check the relevant embassies website for dates of public holidays as the embassy will be shut during such dates. If you apply for your courses prior to arrival in Thailand you can apply in any Thai embassy within your home country. You will need the original letter of approval to do this. The cost of the education visa in most Asian countries is approximately 2000 baht. It may however cost more for countries in Europe and outside of Asia. Whilst you are not required to leave the country once your Education visa is permitted you are required to report to immigration every 3 months. Here you will be required to pay an extension fee of 1,900 Thai Baht where a further 90-day extension of your stay will be permitted.
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