5 Reasons to Learn Thai While Living in Thailand

If you plan to stay in Thailand for any extended period of time, I recommend taking Thai language classes – for a few very good reasons (that I’ve conveniently numbered for you below ☺).

1.    Time-Saving Communication
2.    Better Deals $$$
3.    Less Stress
4.    “VIP Status”
5.    One-year Thai Visa

1. Communication. Even if you are in a city full of other foreigners, such as Bangkok or Chiang Mai, in your daily interactions you will encounter many local people who do not speak English. It is more polite (not to mention time-saving) if you can communicate at least the basics. I once walked to 5 different Laundromats in search of one with a dryer – with a heavy bag of wet clothes in tow on a hot, sunny day (long story…). The point is, had I been able to communicate in Thai I might have gotten proper information and directions from the first place I asked. Believe me, from little things like asking prices at the market to explaining what ails you at the doctor’s office, it much easier to know some rudimentary lingo than to quest for English speakers.

2. Cash Savings. If you’re living in Thailand, you’re spending in Thailand. Which brings me to reason #2 for learning Thai — Saving precious money! After all, Baht doesn’t grow on trees… Most Thai people will assume if you are a Western foreigner (which they call “Farang”) that you are rich. There’s really no getting around it (It’s right up there with the stereotype that Germans drink a lot of beer…). At least if you speak Thai, you can explain that you’re on a budget. It may not win you any sympathy, but it will win you respect.

Imagine that you want to buy a used scooter (a common activity for newly settled expats). If you

Classmates and teacher at Effective Thai Chiang Mai
Classmates and teacher at Effective Thai Chiang Mai

don’t speak Thai, you are limited to purchasing from people who are probably accustom to selling to foreigners and at a higher price… But if you speak Thai, you are in a better position to look at all your options and negotiate. The same is true even for those little purchases you make at the market. People will respond well to your efforts, and probably even ask you a little about yourself. (Your capacity for new friendships becomes exponential ☺.)

3. Stress-Free Life. Beyond the every day communications, you will find yourself in any number of situations that can create anxiety if you don’t speak Thai. Once I was trying to get to a small school in the countryside near Chiang Mai and found myself with a driver who spoke no English. After a half hour of circling around (he was clearly lost) and unable to understand where I wanted to go, I had to ask to get out of the car… already 30 minutes late for my class. The only place around was a gas station, where I was at the whim of strangers to help me figure things out. Lucky for me there was a very nice woman with her son, who spoke a little English, and they offered to drive me to the school (after I nearly cried in front of them!). Yes, there are many kind people willing to help here and this bad situation ended well… but I would not want to experience it again!

4. Getting on the Guest List. I came to Thailand because it’s a safe and beautiful country that’s incredibly affordable compared to my old stomping ground of San Francisco. But if I ignore the fact that I’m in a unique culture, with its own beliefs and customs, then I have failed to experience the real Thailand. In which case, why not stay home? Rather than be a squatter, why not be an ethnographer who immerses herself in her new surroundings in search of deeper understanding? (Sounds a little more romantic than “expat,” doesn’t it?!)

I know from my previous experience living in France that there is a night and day difference in how you are treated by most people when you speak the language compared to when you do not. Kindness suddenly comes out of mouths you didn’t even think were capable of smiling when you just make an effort to communicate! It’s a wonderful experience (like getting an invite to the VIP room when your name wasn’t even on the guest list ☺).

Effective Thai School in Chiang Mai
Effective Thai School in Chiang Mai

5. One-Year Visa Support.  Many people who visit Thailand decide they want to live here. But doing so requires the right paperwork. I have enrolled in a school called Effective Thai Chiang Mai, which offers one-year Thai education visa support to its students. The course is one-year long, and meets 3 times per week (for 2 hours). We are off for major holidays and have the option to dial in from Skype if we are out of town. (There is also the option for private lessons, though I prefer being in a classroom with other students.) The total cost is around $840 (27,000 Baht). (This doesn’t include visa fees.) New classes start every month. You can enroll after arriving in Thailand, and visit Laos to obtain your visa, or you can enroll from your home country.

I especially like my school (Effective Thai) because the people who work there are very thorough in preparing you for trips to the consulate and informing you of requirements. The teachers are also quite good and classes are genuinely fun. It is located just East of the city center. Here are a few other options with visa support in Chiang Mai:  Walen International , Chiang Mai University. (Note: If you aspire to open a business in Thailand, you may consider Chiang Mai University, as it is well known and respected.)

I hope this post has convinced you of the benefits to studying Thai while living in Thailand! Please let me know in the comments section if you’d like more information about the Thai education visa process or schools that support it in Chiang Mai. If so, I may be able to answer your questions or create another post with more specifics and options.

One thought on “5 Reasons to Learn Thai While Living in Thailand

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s