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Thai language classes and lessons in PJ and KL

by Yin on January 7, 2012

The next Thai language is on Sunday 4 March 2014. Please refer to THIS POST dated in January 2014 for more info.

Update in 2014: The Classes by the Thai natie speaker has been discontinued. On Saturdays, a Thai monk is teaching the intermediate class while Peter’s beginners class is on Sunday, 2.30pm.

If you would like to learn the Thai language, there are classes available at Wat Chetawanวัดเชตวัน in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. The temple is located in Jalan Gasing. Beginners class will start on the first week of March 2012 and continue till end of the year.

Please note classes on Sunday, 5 May 2013 is cancelled due to many students not able to make it


Please note that the latest changes is as follows:

1. Thai classes by teachers from Thailand on  (this is from a collaboration between the Malaysian and Thai government whereby Thai teachers are sent to selected locations in Malaysia. So far in Klang Valley, there are classes held at 2 venues:
a. Petaling Jaya – Multipurpose Hall, Wat Chetawan, Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya
b. Kuala Lumpur- Kampung Baru Kuala Lumpur (location at the floor above or near Restoran Garuda, an Indonesian restaurant located at Kg Baru opposite the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital) 
Class Schedule for March 2013- timing are the same for both venues as classes taught but 2 different set of teachers:
  • Saturday 16, 23 March, 6 April 2013 at 9am- 11am and 1pm- 3pm
  • Sunday 17, 24 March & 7 April 2013 at 9am- 11am
  • Note: Classes on 30 & 31 March are canceled and next class would resume on 6 & 7 April 2013
  • Note: No classes from 13 & 14 April 2013 due to Songkran (the Thai teachers are back in Thailand celebrating the festival and the temple also would be abuzz with ‘water throwing’ as Songkran is celebrated in a small scale in the temple as well)
  • Note: No classes on 5 May 2013 due to many students not able to make it. Saturday 4 May have class.

During each of the listed sessions above, there are 2 classes running at the concurrently at each venue :

  • Thai for  beginners (held downstairs at the Multipurpose Hall at Wat Chetawan) - But do note that the class is conducted in a mixture of Malay language with Thai  as the Thai teacher is from Southern Thailand and can speak Malay with the Kelantanese dialect.
  • Thai for intermediate (held upstairs at the multipurpose hall at Wat Chetawan) – the entire class is conducted in Thai language and the Thai teacher cannot speak English or Malay- if you are attending this class you need to be proficient in Thai language for written and spoken

Note: For Kampung Baru classes, it is taught by Muslim teachers and same timing as in Wat Chetawan. I only know it is either located upstairs of Restoran Garuda or an upstairs building near there.  For those who are attending the class there- do share the details of the venue for the benefit of others who would like to attend.

 2. Sunday  class by Peter (local retired teacher)- only at Wat Chetawan.

Venue: Multipurpose Hall, Wat Chetawan, Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya

  • Intermediate at 1 pm – 2.30 pm- you should have knowledge in written and spoken Thai
  • Beginners class-  2.30 pm – 4 pm – if you are new to the language, you can still attend this class as we have beginners still joining this month

 All the Thai classes in PJ  are held at Multipurpose Hall of Wat Chetawan.

Direction of the hall: from the temple’s office, you would see a store selling flowers and amulets next to the office. Behind is a space where you see a Buddha statue. The multipurpose hall is the building behind the store that sells flowers. Photo as shown below- the location is the building right behind:

Additional information on Peter’s class:
1. No profit and it is a charitable class
2. Taught by local qualified teacher for beginners
3. RM30 per month- it is per month and even if participants attend all the 3 classes, the amount is still only RM30. Collection of funds goes to printing of training materials and occasional donation support to the temple (since we are using the temple’s facilities to conduct the class).

My personal experience

I agree with some non Thai native speakers who mentioned that the most effective way to learn the Thai language is by being able to read their writing and develop one’s own convention to spell out the words. This is because, in Thai language, there are various tone marks and rules- and if one is unable to read, one can only speak based on what one hear- often, one’s hearing may not be accurate and causes the tone to be off….which can totally give a different meaning.

Therefore, if you are serious about learning the Thai language, my advise is to invest some time to learn up the alphabets, tone marks, tone rules and you would be able to speak accurately.

Another thing is if you rely on learning Thai by referring to the romanized phrase books, you may end up being much more confused than ever. This is because a number of Thai words just cannot be romanized due to the complexity of the prounciation. Even when we learn the tone rules, we need to develop our own convention in pronouncing the words. Therefore, if you learn from various books, different authors may use a different set of convention and spelling. For example, chicken is called “kai” in Thai but some books romanized as “gai” as well. If you can read know how to pronounce ไก่ because you have learned the Thai vocab and the tone marks, you would be able to pronounce it correctly yourself.

I strongly recommend the Thai language class taught in Wat Chetawan- for the past year, I’ve had the privilege and good fortune of attending the beginner’s class taught by Mr Peter, a retired schoolteacher. And I must say the dedication and passion to teach are evident. Learning beginners from a teacher who is also a Malaysian is easier because he understands the limitation and constraints of Malaysians who wishes to learn the Thai language. He is able to teach in a way that makes it easy for Malaysians to pick up the language. Each class he would introduce slowly and systematically the grammar rules or the alphabets.

Teachers like Peter is hard to find nowadays- and what’s even more great is that Peter does not even take a cent from any of the proceeds- as the regular RM30 paid is meant for materials and also sometimes the class fund is used to donate to the Thai flood last year, for kathina, for Wesak. Today, even if you are willing to pay you also cannot get a teacher that is so dedicated to teach.

Before that, I tried to learn on my own but lack of like minded company as well as difficulty in comprehending the language resulted in not much improvement. When learning under Mr Peter, because he does give us a little homework to do and because every week we do attend the class, it gave me the discipline to really pick up and do my homework. Initially I was a slow learner (I always am when initially learning up a language). But within 3 months of the class, when I visited Thailand, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to read the Thai texts, even though slowly from my favourite Thai books. This had motivated me to continue learning the language through focusing on texts that I enjoy reading.

After learning the alphabets, the grammar rules, you can then attend the intermediate class where you would be taught on more vocabulary. Because the teachers would read from the Thai words, if you cannot read the basic words, it may be a little difficult. But once you can read, learning the vocabulary becomes a breeze.

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