Study Thai for One Year at Chiang Mai University Language Institute
I study Thai at the Language Institute in Chiang Mai University, and I love it.
I'm definitely the kind of person who needs to be in a classroom to learn a language. I've tried, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to learn Thai over the past 4 years by myself or with friends, but I've never been successful. Recently I realised I was becoming one of those astounding people who've lived in a country for more than a year, yet still can't make small talk in the local language, read any signs, or make friends with anyone who doesn't speak English. So, I enrolled at Chiang Mai University to study Thai language for one year. I love it, and highly recommend it.
The one year Thai language course teaches you how to speak, read, and write Thai.
My teacher, Khru Aom, is fantastic. She teaches using text books, conversation, and YouTube. I adore her teaching style. I have 12 classmates from all over the world - the UK, USA, Korea, Slovakia, China, Germany, Brazil, and more - and they're all wonderful, supportive, fun people.
About the class
The Learn Thai One Year class is for students who actually want to study Thai. We're expected to study, do homework, and progress - this isn't one of those visa farms. You also have to maintain an 80% or higher attendance rate.
The three hour classes are held Monday to Friday twice a week from 09:00 to 12:00 or 13:00 to 16:00. There are no weekend or evening classes. The course costs 30,000 baht for 216 hours of instruction. There are quite a lot of holidays, too - when you're choosing your dates, you can request a timetable from email@example.com to see exactly when your holidays will be.
How to enroll and the one year non-immigrant education visa
There are no formal entry requirements, but you have to be enthusiastic and you cannot enroll if you're older than 55. Spaces fill up fast because this course is so popular. The confirmed 2017 dates are listed below, but please note that the Language Institute reserves the right to cancel a program if it does not meet the minimum number of student enrollments.
23 Jan 2017
20 Feb 2017
20 Mar 2017
24 Apr 2017
22 May 2017
19 Jun 2017
24 Jul 2017
21 Aug 2017
18 Sept 2017
While you're a student, you'll be staying in Thailand on a Non-Immigrant Education Visa. If you're currently in Thailand on a tourist visa or visa exemption stamp, you'll have to leave Thailand to apply for your education visa in a different country. First, visit the Language Institute in Chiang Mai University to tell them you want to enroll and give them the paperwork they request from you. After a few days, they will give you all the necessary paperwork to get your education visa. Then, you must go to a different country and apply for your education visa at the Thai embassy or consulate there.
If you're currently at home or in a different country, you can apply for the education visa before you leave. First, you must enroll at http://www.learnthaicmu.com/apply. Then, you must email a digital copy of your passport, photograph and signature to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then, the Language Institute at Chiang Mai University will email all necessary documents to you after a few days. Then, you must take those documents to your nearest Thai embassy or consulate to get your education visa. Many Thai embassies and consulates request that you make an appointment to get your visa.
When you have your education visa it will be valid for 90 days. You must enter Thailand, start your course, and visit Chiang Mai Immigration to extend your education visa before it expires. The Language Institute at Chiang Mai University will help you with this process. I recommend you tell the office you need to extend your education visa at least 30 days in advance. It can be a real hassle to extend your education visa - queuing up as early as 02:00 to get a ticket at Chiang Mai Immigration is normal right now. I recommend paying a reputable local service to queue and get your ticket for you. You can extend your visa up to 7 days before it expires, and I highly recommend you do that. That way, if something goes wrong, you have 6 days to fix it.
You must have a photocopy of a signed tm.30 form from your landlord or lady to extend your education visa. Your extension will be refused if you don't have it, and you'll have to leave Thailand.
Where to live while you study
My advice is to live as close to Chiang Mai University as possible. Living near your classroom will make life so much easier, and I find these areas to be far more interesting and accessible than the Old City anyway!
I made a map of good neighborhoods to live in near Chiang Mai University - check it out here.
Do you have any questions about studying Thai at Chiang Mai University? If so, let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!