Monday, August 8, 2011

“Thai Classes with a Difference.”

"Khru Kaew’s bright little classroom sits at the end of an orange single story building opposite the Ban Lamorn Restaurant. If you are coming from the Lamai direction work your way through Hua Thanon, follow the road as it sweeps right at the market and then fork left the intersection with the non-working traffic lights. The sign reads Ban Thon Krut. This road is the 4170. The classroom itself can be found on the right hand side some 100 meters before the T junction that will take you to “The Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo”.
Sitting beside me on the chair is a small black and white kitten whom we have just named “Kitty”. She has a number of stitches across her fat little belly but is presently looking very comfortable. Kaew recued her from behind the building a couple of days earlier. She had been attacked by a larger predator, possibly a dog that had literally ripped out her guts. An emergency visit to the “Animal Rescue Centre” in Talig Nham saved her life . She is only one of a number of animals that the teacher has rescued. Often the class is joined by a puppy or cat who sit quietly as the foreigners struggle with the vagaries of the Thai language.
Kaew completed a B.Ed program and Chaing Mai University and went on to get a Masters at Silpakorn University; located just outside the gates of the Grand Palace. Yes, why do we call it Bangkok when the correct Thai name is Khrung Thep? Ajarn Knew went on to teach at Buurapha University. Those familiar with Pattaya know it is situated at the Bang Saen exit of the Motorway. An indication that the journey from the city or the airport is almost over and Pattaya awaits with open arms. Life teaching Thai language and literature in an academic institution can be tough and the gentle teacher succumbed to the pressures by suffering a series of blinding migraines that persuaded her to hand in her notice. As a child her parents had often brought her to Koh Samui for holidays and this is where she came to start a new life. To support herself she decided to open a Thai language school.
It offers two levels of study in listening and speaking. The beginners’ class introduces spoken Thai whilst the Intermediate stage works with more difficult structures and vocabulary. After that the avid student has the chance of going on to learn how to read and write. The course is divided into a beginners’ and then intermediate level. Some students have been with her for some years which speaks highly of the quality of instruction. Fees are very reasonable. She charges THB 200 per hour but if you feel fit enough to tackle 90 minutes the rate rises to THB 250. This is extremely good value for money!
Learning Thai is not easy as there are very few reference points for speakers of European based languages. However, making the effort to learn is always well received by the locals even if the “farang’ has only grasped a few rudimentary basics. Everybody respects this effort is an important step in the bridging of the gap that divides the two cultures
Ajarn Kaew has her own animal rescue centre where she uses her earnings from teaching to support 40 stray dogs and cats in her own home located some distance from the school. Feeding her flock is an expensive business; the bill usually exceeds THB 10,000 per month. That is a lot of teaching hours! Often she runs short of cash and has to ask her parents for help. Perhaps, you could help her in her struggle to give injured animals like “Kitty” the opportunity of life. She is not asking for charity, but really welcomes you as a student which would then aid her fund her passion. Khun Kaew would really welcome your call or inquiry. Her telephone number is 081-928-9146. Isn’t it time you learned Thai?"
This article first appeared in the "Samui Gazette" of August 5th 2011

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