There are some major criticisms of language schools (such as this one by Tim Ferriss) and, to be honest, a lot of these criticisms are valid.
I’ve been to a few language schools in Bangkok with the intention of learning Thai, and the quality of teaching varies wildly. Several teachers at various schools scolded me for taking the initiative to teach myself to read and write Thai while living in London. I was surprised at how negative their responses were!
But eventually I did find a school here in Bangkok that was right for me.
The first thing about language express is that they have a simple teaching structure. There are 4 levels of language teaching. Each level is broken up into two types of class: conversation, and reading and writing. There is a 12 week cycle for each level. At the end of the 12 weeks, you can take a test and you have a chance to progress to the next level.
The school teaches the same material over and over again until you are ready to pass the progress test. This could seem monotonous, but actually it is far from it: the enthusiastic teachers tell stories, and run activities and games – all in Thai.
The smart thing about this teaching structure is that the class never goes at the pace of the slowest student – because everyone has the chance to take the class again. Even if you are struggling a bit with the material you can watch natural(ish) conversations with other students and the teacher. You can learn from other people’s mistakes as well as your own.
A personal thing that I love about the school is that the teachers encourage students who independently study Thai language. Another student may share a story, or introduce some vocabulary which really adds an extra dimension to the lessons.
I must confess that even the most fun and engaging language classes are ultimately a waste of time if you do not apply your new language knowledge in the real world. I’ve been on meetup.com and have joined a few local groups here in Bangkok so I can hopefully meet some interesting people and use more Thai language outside of a classroom.