Some Tips for Thai Students in International Degree Programs
There's a lot of experience available you can learn from!
I am Ulrich Werner, the author of this Website. I teach in international degree programs since 2002. Until present day, way over 10,000 students attended my courses, most of them Thai. I teach at Ramkhamhaeng University with temporary 'help-out' appointments at Asian University, Burapha University, NIDA and Thammasat University over time.
I learned a lot from my Thai students about how you should approach an international program, and which one is the best for you.
International degree programs are not equally good at all universities. Many just deliver a Thai program, with only the textbooks being in English. Studying such a program, which is sure more expensive than the same program in Thai, doesn’t bring you any advantage.
In a job interview after graduation, you will fail instantly since you cannot communicate properly in English. You studied and hang around with your Thai fellows all the time, so how would you become proficient in English? It is this proficiency that ensures you a well-paid job, not just the graduation certificate from an international program.
So, what is the best university for you? Well, we all know that you learn much more from your peers and fellow students than you learn from your teacher. That makes the answer simple: The best international degree programs are those with many foreign students from different countries.
To make the point clear: Studying in an international program where you are surrounded only by Thai students is a complete waste of time and money.
Why is that? When talking about English, school education in Thailand is great in terms of grammar and structures, but almost all Thai students have a problem to speak English. As soon as you begin to study together with foreign students, you will automatically start using your English. Don’t forget that Thai is not an easy-to-learn language for foreigners, so English is the only available medium of communication.
From my experience, even shy students became fluent in English speaking within a few months, if only the classroom is international enough.
That certainly only works if you don’t hang out only with your fellow Thais. Get in touch with the foreign students – they are your age, have your hobbies, like your preferred food, and are nice girls and guys. They are young, so are you. If you follow this advice, you will be perfect in English at the time of your graduation.
And, by the way, don’t think that studying in an international program in English would be much easier for the foreign students. At least for those who are not native speakers of English, the same communication problems will come up as you face them.
Dig in and try it out. You will be surprised how good you are in a few months.
Another aspect are the lecturers. Go there where many of your lecturers are from foreign countries. For lecturers the same is valid as for your foreign fellow students: They can’t learn Thai quickly, so the classes will really be in English.
Sure, some lecturers have interesting accents in their English, such as Germans, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and so on. It needs a few days for you to get used to the accent – but from that moment on, you will understand anybody who speaks with such an accent.
I speak Thai quite well, but after only three words at the phone, every Thai knows that I am a foreigner who tries to speak Thai. I don’t mind; I can communicate with my Thai friends. That is the other side of the coin, and it’s a very valuable one.
So, don’t fear. Just be open to your fellow students, and avoid any international program where there are no international students. That wouldn’t be ‘international’ at all.