A Review of Language Express School Bangkok
In an earlier post I wrote about joining a language school whilst you stay in Thailand and mention that myself and my girlfriend joined Language Express and warned of a pending review, well here it is.
We’ve been at the school at the time of writing this for two months, so I may update this post at later date if my opinion changes.
How many Stars out of five?
I wanted to add a star rating for Language Express but as I’ve only ever studied with one Thai language school this seems a little unfair, so I have decided to skip the star rating as I have nothing to compare it to, except for the education system in England where I spent my school and college days.
Language Express have Education Consultant’s to assist you in the enrolling process and ED VISA process (where applicable), in essence, they are sales-people and there main aim seems to be to get you signed up. They are not the slippery, suited, snake-oil sales-people we have in England, it’s nothing like buying a car – they seem to be friendly, helpful, polite and not at all pushy.
Their spoken English is good and although you probably pay for the privilege, they are a useful contact. They are always around to answer your questions pre-enrollment and seem to be available to help with things after you enroll, if you do.
The main part of the Language Express building is nice, clean and air conditioned. The class rooms too. The place is literally right on the steps of the BTS in Phloen Chit, a pleasant and busy part of town, walking distance from Siam. Language Express have their own small cafe, which is very affordable and a good place to sit around chatting or making the most of the free wifi.
When you enroll you get a Language Express bag with your school books (included in the price) and some vouchers to give to friends for a free week and a coffee card allowing you to have five free coffee’s in their cafe. You also get access to the school’s wifi.
On the Language Express website, as well as on the marketing information we were shown prior to joining there were some other goodies promised, such as a Language Express Notebook, a 100 Baht BTS voucher and some other little things I forget now. We never got this. Not a big deal as their value are questionable, even with that in mind, you do feel a little let down when you miss out on something you are previously promised. No doubt we could ask for the missing items and be given them, we chose to write about it online instead because the pen is mightier than the sword (we’re too lazy to ask).
You also get a study ID that you can use to log in to their online booking system to book your Thai lessons, this is actually quite a neat feature of Language Express.
How much does Language Express Cost?
We both signed up for a Thai course consisting of 200 lessons within a year. This includes help and paperwork to get an ED VISA. There are cheaper schools, there are more expensive too – In my experience this is one of the mid-high range prices, but we’re happy paying it for a clean, friendly and helpful place to learn.
They have shorter courses too which are cheaper however do not cover a ED VISA. They also offer various other things such as teaching qualifications and private tuition.
How Busy are the Classes?
We generally go in the day time on a week, I’m on level one and the classes usually consist of 3-7 people. Plenty of room. My girlfriend is on level two and classes there at this time are usually 1-3 people.
From speaking to other people, evening classes tend to get much busier, seeing 12 or more people in a class. Apparently these classes are much more interactive yet harder to get personalised teaching. Preference I guess.
Is the Course Material and Structure Good?
The material is O.K. There are better books to learn from on the market I believe. The books have quite a few errors
apparently, not that I have spotted any myself since writing this review I’ve started to notice these mistakes more and more. In fact, I have become a little disheartened by the written material, every page is the same – Different words of course, but other than that, every page is the same and it gets a little tiresome.
The source structure is a tricky one. Because the school doesn’t run strict terms, you may be joining a class where people have been studying for months – The first handful of lessons I sat there confused at what was going on, I could have used an “introduction to Thai” of some kind and even more useful would of been an introduction to how the classes are taught. I went home and tried to work a few things out that confused me and then settled in nicely. Now I’ve been there a while I see the same puzzled look on almost everyone that starts, for at least a few weeks.
This is especially true with the writing classes. My first few lessons we opened book one half way through and starting drawing letters. I could draw a letter a million times, but if no one explains why I’m doing it or what it means, it’s useless. I had to do quite a lot of study on writing at home to catch up and understand. You can buy some pretty decent flash cards in any of the bigger book stores for a couple hundred baht that really help with this.
This is actually quite a problem and I think without studying outside of the class, you may really struggle to learn Thai well here. I guess you should be studying outside of school anyway?
Are the Teachers Good?
Yes, awesome. I’ve had three different teachers so far and think they were all good, very friendly and if you had questions, they are happy to answer.
Teaching styles and the personalities of each teacher are obviously difference, so explore as many teachers as you can and try and follow their schedule.
Taking Tests to Track your Progress
Apparently you can take a test every 8 weeks to track your progress and see if you need to move up a class. This has never been explained to me, and most other students I have spoken to who have been going to the school for months are in the same situation – all confused or entirely ignorant of any tests. When you feel you are ready, you need to go and arrange the test for yourself, no one will approach you about it (unless you get an awesome teacher that really thinks you should go up a class and takes you to reception to book a test – I’ve seen this happen, that’s cool.
Some people really do not like tests, so maybe Language Express’s approach explained above is actually genius, maybe not – It’s down to preference again I guess. I’m happy with how it works, but then I’l do everything I can to avoid any type of test.
Summary of learning Thai with Language Express in Bangkok
Friendly staff, nice building, good atmosphere, online booking system for classes.
Hard as a beginner to settle in to classes as the rest of the class may be somewhat ahead, course literature not the best.
This school seems much more focus on learning English rather than Thai. They hold activity days every Friday, where games are played or workshops are held. Some times I see a cooking class or something, which is a nice idea but I’ve not attended any, they really seem geared the English learners so I’ve never felt that welcome to attend.
Overall, I’m happy enrolling at Language Express and would recommend it – But only to people who are happy putting some effort it themselves to get moving in Thai.
Try It Out, Let Us Know
They offer free trail lessons so try one out to see what you think for yourself and if you have comments on Language Express or any other Thai language school in Thailand, post your experiences below or contact me to write a full post on here about it!