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Name: Mikael Hanning
Age: 42
Nationality: Swedish
Courses: Intensive - Beginner Level 1 to Advanced Level 2, (8 months) 

>> Why do you want to learn Thai?
My main reason for learning Thai is because I plan to move to Thailand when I retire. My girlfriend is Thai and I have two children who are half Thai half Swedish so I have a lot of Thai in my life. 

>> Did you know any Thai before you started the course?
I knew a few words, like how to order food but I couldn’t read or write. The first week of the course was easy but in week 2 or 3 my prior knowledge didn’t help me much anymore.

>> How would you describe your knowledge of Thai today?
Now I can talk almost fluently. I help out at an internet cafe and tour agency during the weekends and it’s a great feeling to be able to communicate with Thai people in their own language. I’ve learned so much in such a short time, it’s hard to believe that just eight months ago I wasn’t even able to hold a simple conversation in Thai.

I understand Thai TV pretty well but radio is trickier, radio hosts speak so fast.

I find it harder to read and write than to speak in Thai, but I’ve never been a good reader, neither in Swedish nor English. I can read easy stuff like text messages and children’s books in Thai but newspapers are still too hard for me, although my reading has really improved during the Advanced course.

>> How would you describe the courses?
The Beginner course is tough because that’s when you have to learn the foundation of the language. When you know the basics it’s so much easier to continue. That’s why I found Intermediate to be easier. I had done the groundwork and could start to build on that. The Advanced course is tough too but in a different way. The teachers expect you to take more responsibility for your own learning, for example by letting us choose our own magazines to read and present in class. I like that style of learning but it can be hard for someone who doesn’t have study skills.

>> Have you been bored in class?
Let me see... no never. Well, once we did project work in the Intermediate course. We got to choose a topic, interview Thai people, search the internet and write a report about our findings. That was a bit boring because we just came to school for an hour or so during the day to hand in our texts and get individual feedback. I like going to class and see my classmates and teacher so that was the only time that I was bored.

>> What do you think about Koh Lanta?
I like Koh Lanta because it’s not very commercialized. I’ve been to Koh Samui and Phuket and I would never like to live there. It’s too crazy. Lanta is more quiet and good for studying. My girlfriend got a job here after a week or two so she has enjoyed her stay too. Now the company that she works for doesn’t want her to leave. They’ve offered her positions both here and in Bangkok, maybe she’ll come back to work for them after our holiday in Sweden.

>> What would you like to say to people who are thinking of applying to a course at LILS?
You’ve only got one chance in this life - take it and come to study for a year. You’ll have a great time. It’s tough but you’ll get to see and experience so much. Do it now! Don’t wait until you’re older. 

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