Hi, thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Tell us about yourself for a bit!
Actually, my name is Puchapong Puttarak, and my nickname is CAN. So I’m called Kru CAN. ‘Kru’ means teacher in Thai. I quite love the title. It’s not just me in my family who is called Kru, but also my father, my mother, and my sister. Teachers’ Family! Lol. By the way, I lived in Alexandia, Virginia, USA and Vancouver, Canada for a total of 4 years. That explains my ability in English skills.
Okay, first of all, tell us about your experience in teaching.
10 years ago, I started teaching English for Thai students in Trang, a southern province in Thailand. I discovered that I loved teaching from the first time I taught. And I started teaching Thai for foreigners in Bangkok in 2011. I had both online and face-to-face students. In 2012, I only taught online since I had to move to Vancouver, Canada. I came back to Thailand again in March 2013; however, I still keep teaching Thai online since I settled down in my hometown, Trang, and there are not many expats living in the areas.
Can you tell us about your teaching methods/styles. Do you teach over Skype or face to face?
Now, I only deliver my tutoring online as well as maintain my blog, krucan.com. When I have a new student, I usually talk to them first about what his/her goal is. Then I create what’s best for the individual student.
Basically, I believe in building a good foundation for my students by teaching them simple structures of Thai Language so that they can multiply sentences themselves when they learn more words. Generally, it is suggested that every student starts with learning how to write Thai by using phonetic transcription, and when the students have enough basic words and structures, I encourage all of them to learn Thai script too.
What materials do you use for your classes?
I customize my materials to fit the needs of individual students and also consider other factors, for example, how they learn best, how fast they learn, and how much time they have. Right now, I also use my some of my blog posts as my materials.
Do you emphasize the importance of the Thai script to your students? If so how do you teach it?
Absolutely! There are two simple reasons for that. First, there are not enough resources for Thai learners to find materials written in phonetic transcription, though krucan.com is one of them. And the other reason is that no Thais can communicate by using phonetic script; they only read Thai script. Therefore, in order to live in Thailand or to understand Thai well, the learners are highly recommended to learn Thai script.
As most people are scared of Thai as a tonal language, I don’t recommend anyone to take the tones seriously when they first learn the Thai alphabet system. I think it’s better to encourage them to memorize the consonants and vowels in order to pronounce words correctly. Tones come after to me.
Do you give homework to your students? How do you keep students engaged in learning the language?
I often give homework. I believe that it is better to learn during the class, and practice after. The best way to practice is by doing homework. That means it costs nothing for practicing.
To keep them engaged is a challenge. I always customize the examples to fit the student’s lifestyle and preferences.
What kind of Thai do you teach? Is it the super polite Thai or do you also teach slang, street language and even rather extreme language as well?
I teach the kind of Thai that most Thai would understand. Put it this way; I call it ‘The real Thai language’ which is polite and practical. It’s not too polite, but also not too much the other way around. For slang or other kinds of extreme language, I wouldn’t mind answering the student’s curiosity. But I wouldn’t use it in my main materials.
What do you see as most important qualities needed for successful learning in your students?
First, those who always review and try to memorize the lessons are always successful. Second, observing the real language and trying to imitate the sound and structures leads to success in learning Thai and other languages. Finally, and most important, the students who always have a chance to practice like talking to Thais even though at first they may not be able to communicate well, but they will pick up the language very fast because Thai people would help them to correct their language especially the pronunciation.
Reverse of above. What do you think most likely to lead to students not succeeding?
The answer is very simple. Lacking of reviewing the lesson and never practicing with real people are the answer. Having said that ‘real people,’ doesn’t mean only face-to-face, but also including online chatting with text or voice.
Contact – how to, website, fb, youtube, email etc.
Anything else to add? Any last words?
I’m lucky to find the career I love.