Ages: 55 and 54
Courses: Beginner Level 2 - Intermediate Level 2 (Five months)
>> Why do you want to learn Thai?
After having visited Thailand several times during the last 20 years we decided that we would like to live here permanently. And we believe that if you want to live in another country you have to be able to speak the language. It is a matter of showing respect for your host country. But knowing the language also makes things so much easier. Authorities will treat you better and we can bargain and negotiate to get better prices for example.
>> Did you know any Thai before you started your studies at LILS?
Yes, we knew some Thai, well we knew a lot about food and how to order many different Thai dishes but apart from that we couldn't say much. Torsten had studied with a Thai teacher in Germany but she used the traditional Thai style of teaching. We would have preferred to join the course at LILS from the start. Here we are advancing very fast compared to the traditional way of studying Thai.
>> How would you describe your language skills today?
Petra: I'm usually very fast when it comes to learning languages but I haven't met my goals. I would have expected to be more fluent by now but Thai is so different from any other language that I know so I suppose the learning curve is different too. In the beginning I was too shy to speak Thai on the phone but now I can make reservations and book tickets without any problems.
Our life here would not have been so easy without our Thai language skills, Torsten adds. But we're not on a level where we can make really close Thai friends yet, although we are often invited to join parties, celebrations and visit the home towns of our Thai friends together with them.
We would not have had this good Thi language skills without the school though. I think one month at school is equivalent to six months on the streets trying to immerse ourselves in the language, Torsten says.
>> How would you describe the courses you have taken?
The courses are very close to the reality of living in Thailand. The three modules in Intermediate; Family, Work and Culture, cover most of what you need in everyday life. The three Beginner courses give you all the tools you need to dive into the Intermediate topics. But you have to do your homework and come to class. Some days are frustrating as the course is challenging but the rewards are worth the hard work. When we can use the new vocabulary outside of school and understand more than we could before, then the frustration turns into a really good feeling.
>> What do you think about Koh Lanta as a location for studying?
We have always liked Koh Lanta, since the first time we came here 18 years ago, and it was easy to make the decision that we want to live here. The island is so small that we can get to school within a few minutes and there is no such thing as traffic jams. Lanta is not overdeveloped. We don't want Starbucks and McDonalds, we prefer to have our coffee and eat at restaurants run by local families. The infrastructure is good enough for Westerners, you can find a variety of food from many countries and the local supermarkets have the daily things you need to buy.
Another reason why we chose to move to Thailand is that we use it as a base for further travel in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Our dream has been to see the world and experience different cultures and now our dream has come true! We have even had the chance to train to become mahouts (elephant riders) here in Thailand which was an amazing experience!
But even though we are living our dream and enjoy every day of our lives we do so responsibly. We live in a simple Thai style house and spend our money so it benefits the local community rather than big global companies. We think about what we are doing.
>> What do you do when you are not studying?
We travel a lot and try to spend as much time in the Thai community as possible. And then of course we need to deal with the practicalities of taxes and tenants as we still have our house in Germany. We are so happy that the internet works so well! We also have many friends visiting us and when we are not studying Thai we are taking online courses to learn new things, Photoshop and photography for example. Then of course we enjoy taking spa treatments and massages, spend time at the beach and in nature. We feel so privileged and thankful for being able to live here.
>> What would you like to say to people who are thinking of applying to a course at LILS?
You MUST come and you MUST learn! The method is so good and if you want to learn Thai you should do it in Thailand. Lanta is a great location if you want to combine a nice environment with studying. You will find highly motivated and experienced teachers at LILS and they have a proven plan that works! But don't forget the most important part, which is your own input and effort. You will have to do the work to get anywhere. But we would strongly recommend anyone who is thinking about learning Thai to start at LILS.