The History of Lanta International Language School
In 2006 the predecessor to Lanta International Language School; Lanta Learning Centre used to teach Thai to small groups of students. We used the traditional way of teaching Thai, with a course book and a teacher who wrote vocabulary and sentences on the white board. It was a terribly frustrating experience both for the teacher and the students as the students progressed very slowly and with great agony. 80% of the students quit before the last day of the course and on that very day, the teacher quit too and left for Phi Phi.
Paula Westberg, who started Lanta Learning Centre, realised that if students were going to learn Thai and the teacher enjoy teaching them, it had to be done by using different teaching methods. She started to search for methods that were both effective and enjoyable. As she had a master degree in educational design she knew where to look.
After many months of studying various teaching methods and results from scientific research Paula had an outline to a beginner course that would let both the students and teacher enjoy the learning experience. She had also done the paperwork for opening a real school (If you want to teach more than seven students you need a school license in Thailand) and named it Lanta International Language School. But she still had no teacher.
At the same time Ninnete Surarat (Ying), our present Head Teacher was fed up with her job as a hotel receptionist, and came to look for a job at the new school. Paula found Ying to have the perfect skills and personality for a teacher position and Ying found the idea of developing something completely new to be an interesting challenge. Together they started to test the new course outline.
Many groups of tourists and longstayers on Koh Lanta were invited as test students and with every group the course outline was improved. Effective methods that the students and teacher enjoyed were kept and the rest were discarded. After more than a year of researching and testing Ying and Paula had found a good combination of methods and the school opened for paying students in September 2008.
The first course that was offered was the three month Intensive Thai Beginner Course. As Thai is a tonal language and listening comprehension plays a major role in learning Thai every student received an mp4-player together with their course material. A ten minute repetition session was filmed every day in class and loaded on the mp4-players together with sound files and short movies for homework.
The filming of repetition sessions were later discontinued as the students were too embarrassed to watch themselves but digital course material is still an important part of the Thai language courses at Lanta International Language School. In 2009 the mp4-players were exchanged for laptops as real computers provided a greater flexibility regarding file types and user control.
In January 2009 the first students entered the Intermediate level of the Intensive Thai Course and one year later the Advanced Course opened. In 2011 the full year of Intensive Thai Language Courses was complete and the first students graduated from the Proficient Course after 52 weeks of studying.
In order to provide Thai lessons for students who don't have time to study full time LILS developed a course that was taught twice a week, two hours per time. This is the Thai Standard Course and was first offered in October 2010.