My online Skype lessons are one hour long. I advise beginning Thai students to sign up for a minimum of two classes a week for six months straight (canceling classes does not count). For those who do not have pressing engagements (work, school, etc), three to five three times a week is preferable. After six months of learning regularly, or when both of us feel they are comfortable with the Thai language, classes are cut back to once a week.
To get the most out of the course, students are expected to study three hours on their own for every one hour Thai lesson with me.
Beginners: This level starts out using transliteration or Thai script (their choice). Students are given instructions to learn the Thai alphabet on their own. For each lesson the student picks a subject interesting to them, but I will suggest if they prefer.
In the beginners class I also focus on sentence structure and the pronunciation of tones. Some students come to me as basic beginners, while others have some knowledge of Thai vocabulary but their pronunciation is sometimes not quite right. And as I feel it’s important to get the tones down before moving on to other aspects of the Thai language, we concentrate on tones.
For all levels, if requested I keep 15 minutes spare at the end of the class to rerecord any key elements discussed during the lesson (vocabulary, phrases, etc). Doing this benefits both Skype and face-to-face students.
Intermediate students: This level is taught using Thai script only, no transliteration. Students paste Thai phrases about subjects interesting to them into Skype’s chat box and I correct their mistakes, explaining grammar if necessary. I also create sentences patterns for them to work with. Conversations are practiced towards the end of the class.
For homework, students study the new phrases and vocabulary, create sentences using the sentence patterns, as well as prepare new sentences for the next class.
The intermediate level is where I work with students studying for the 6th Grade Thai Language Proficiency and Permanent Residency tests.
Advanced students: For conversation, we talk on a variety of topics occurring in real life situations with Thai people. We also discuss current events.
I find that students at this level are more interested in the different usages of words having almost the same meaning, but not quite. Learning how to use these types of words correctly helps students sound fluent in Thai. Advanced students are often perfectionists, so we spend the time needed to iron out the small details of the Thai language.
For reading and writing we read real news and websites. We also write stories, letters, emails, and more.
For all levels, I create exercises to strengthen reading and comprehension skills based on their lives (stories about themselves, their friends and family). I also add real life reading materials (menus, street signs, etc). A part of the class is spent discussing the reading materials. Advanced students graduate to the more difficult Thai newspapers and magazines.
With writing lessons my students use Skype’s chat box, typing in Thai. For handwriting they can show their finished work for to me to correct, but to save them money, I prefer that my students practice on their own using children’s books.
And I’d like to take this time to point out that I’m the queen of time saving strategies. I don’t like to waste time, so whatever I can assign my students to do in their own time, I do. Especially as it’ll save their Thai study budget. I’d rather have my students come to me for the heart, the secret, the real tips of learning the Thai language. It is more important for me to have Thai students who are no longer with me, because successful students become my public relations people :-)
Every learner has their own gems inside. It is up to the teacher to find and polish those gems. To do that, the teacher must adjust their teaching style to match the student’s learning style.