Chiang Mai Thai

Ever wanted to learn Thai, in Chiang Mai? I did just that from November 2010, returning home in October 2011. If you don't want a headache, start HERE, it will explain the preceding posts. I'm Snap, Stray's other half. COOEE is our (other) travel blog.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Call for CMU Language Institute reviews and blogs

After discovering the Blog section on the CMULI website I went back for a bit of a sticky beak.

There are four bloggers on the main menu, but only two have submissions...and are, of course bias towards the Language Institute and CMU. To be expected. Only four postings between two bloggers, all in June and three published on the same day. HHmmmm, not what I was looking for.

I have been trawling the Internet for a blog or review, written by a farang, like me, who has attended the same course that I will. No such luck.

This might be a good thing, or a bad thing?

The only negative comments I have found out in cyberspace were those on Thai Visa. But to be fair, these were about the Cultural Exchange program, where money is paid to Volunteer?????????

As one commenter rightly stated "Paying to volunteer and got cheated. Bummer". Does seem a bit silly doesn't it, but still, not a favourable review.

*Personal observation - I have read much about 'pay to do volunteer work' and met those who do it, an oximoron if you ask me. I can understand a novice traveller signing up for such a program, but if you ask me, just investigate it before you arrive, arrive and settle in for a few days. Look into it, ask questions and then decide. I am sure  that honest volunteer work should not be costing YOU a penny.

I refuse to climb aboard any band wagons and have always maintained an 'I'll make my own mind up' attitude before making any judgements. And, come to think of it, I have read some negative things about Thai Visa on my Internet travels and have found some pretty childish conent in their forums also.

So it makes me wonder, why aren't there any (non commercial) blogs about the course?

In case you hadn't noticed, I am a BIT of a pre-preparation freak..what's that word? I like to know a little about what I'm getting into, before my toes hit the boiling water. I like researching just about anything.

I'm not too worried about the whole process/event/outcome, I have ways out and backup plans in mind. But, if you know of any online accounts of foreigners who are attending or who have completed the CMU One Year Thai Language course, I'd love to hear about it.


  1. I asked around awhile back as CMU contacted me about WLT.

    One friend (Chiangmai blogger) went to Payup, not CMU.

    Hugh Leong is the former director of AUA in Chiangmai. He'd be the one to talk to about the language teaching people in your desired area.

    Another place you could ask is ChickyNet Chiangmai.

    ChickyNet is a great place to connect with other expat women even before you move there.

  2. Thanks Catherine...I did see ChickyNet, but didn't venture in, as I'm not actually there yet, but I'll go back and poke around a bit.

    Contacting Hugh is a good idea, I hope he doesn't mind me picking his brains too much!

    I read his interview with John Gunther about AUA which was very informative.

  3. Before I relocate to any new country, I check out the different groups available and make contact if there is a fit. That way, I'm not moving to a land of strangers.

    Borneo was snail mail. With the Internet being here, it's easier.

    Six years ago some of the posters at ThaiVisa were negative towards western women. TV have since changed their policy, and the forum for gals is friendly. The gals will give the guys a good thrashing when/if they get out of control.

  4. Rather than publish a post edit...

    Regarding volunteering in Thailand - This must be done using the relevant visa and requires a work permit, which will incur fees. Doing so without the required visa/permit can lead to fines, 3 months to 5 years imprisonment. You could also face deportation and be blacklisted from Thailand for 99 years... (from what I've read)

  5. Yes, you can not legally volunteer in Thailand without a work permit. In order to get a work permit, you must have a non-immigrate visa~probably multiple entry. Therefore, any real volunteer organization will have to spend time, money, and energy to allow you to help them. In addition, you would probably need to pay room and board plus food....

    The CMU Cultural Exchange Program no longer exists. It was closed down on very short notice. Many people lost money, and some had to leave the country because they no longer provided visa support. I was in this program, so I know. I am also taking the online TEFL program there....

  6. AUA is a great school, but they do not provide visa support. CMU does not provide visa support to foreigners any longer either. The only place I know that provides visa support is Pro Language. The school is not the best, it is good, and if you work hard, you can learn quite a bit. I am sure there are other schools in CM that provide support, but I don't know of them. There are many language schools, unfortunately, many have shied away visa support because of more strict requirements from Thai Immigration and the costs involved.

  7. Hi Dave, thanks for dropping by and for your input. I arrived in CM a few days ago and will go in search of a school soon. I am one of those who lost my deposit with CMU(probably, time will tell). I have those you mentioned, on my list and a couple of lesser known schools to visit. Fingers crossed!

  8. Hi Snap

    I just found your blog today and am enjoying it a lot (Very good info!!) since I am planning the exact same thing with going to Chiang Mai next October 2011 and signing up for 1 year of Thai language course and getting a 1 year education visa along with it.

    I just started reading your blog starting at the beginning (May 3/10 entry) and see here that you mentioned that you lost your deposit with CMU.

    I am hoping to learn from your experiences there (my favourite way of learning ;)) so can you tell me what happened? Did your 1 year visa not go through? Do you recommend the route you took by signing up for a school before arriving or should a person arrive first on a 1 month tourist permit and then apply for a 1 year educational visa once they are there?

    You probably answered these already but I am just making my way through your regular entries in chronological order.


  9. Hi Kevin, I hope my posts didn't give you a migraine. I'll try to answer your questions in brief. Yes, technically I lost my deposit. CMULI shirked all responsibility and told everyone to pursue Matt Kay/IUS, who was running the course. LUCKILY, my husband had enrolled in a TEFL course being delivered by the same parties. His course was resurrected by Matt Kay and relocated. My loss became my husband's discount :)

    Because I was following a forum on I was aware of CMU ousting the Language Institute as it existed. I recieved my visa support doc, after much pestering, but still didn't want to take the risk of having my application rejected at the Thai Consulate in Australia. I emailed Matt Kay and asked 'am I safe to apply for my Ed Visa', his reply was, no! Matt has been very cooperative throughout this whole mess.

    Sooo...I applied for the 60 tourist visa and researched one year Thai language courses via the internet and blogs and forums. Get the 60 day visa and sign up in the first week you get here. If you're in Oz? the visa was free a few weeks ago :) Research before you come.

    I enrolled with Pro Language and they were going to make me leave the country, get another 60 day tourist visa, return and then leave again for the ED visa. But, I said 'I have 7 weeks left on my visa and your website says I need 3 - 5 weeks'...they agreed. First impressions: They are very helpful and have a great attitude.

    Currently I am waiting for my application to be approved by the Ministry of Education (up to 3 weeks). Once approved, I will take a road trip to Laos just before my 60 day visa runs out...then I will get an additional 12 month ED visa.

    According to, someone said that CMU has reinstated the course...but I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole.

    This is the link to the current forum, the old one was closed for fear of liability.

    There is a lot of unnecessary banter and tit for tat, some confusing info, but worth a read.

    Phew! I hope all that made sense. Ask as many questions as you like, I know how it is when you're trying to organise things from home.

  10. Well, on september 30 all foreigners at the language institute at Chiang Mai University(C.M.U) were meet with a big lock on the door and no explanation. All courses were hereafter cancelled, and no refund made. All educational 1 year visas were cancelled. This concerns about 300 people. Chiang mai University can not be trusted at all, and the advice is that no foreigners have any contact with them in the future

  11. Ron, I've met some of those who were locked out and those who were never refunded for a course, they couldn't start. Word has it that the course has restarted at CMU, although now even more expensive and old students are being made to pay the extra if they wish to continue. There is new gossip floating around about embezzlement, which I personally think is a big load of codswollop and a form of damage control on CMU's part.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  12. Seems like CMU is no longer a good place to take Thai course?! I'm looking into the one year Thai course for my boyfriend who is Australian. Having read these posts, i'm quite concerned. I tried to check the info on the website but couldn't access. Hmmm...what are some other options for you guys out there who is done wronged by CMULI?
    The plan was my boyfriend comes to Thailand and stays for a year or so and learn Thai at CM, which is close to my hometown, Lampang. He doesn't have a degree. Does that mean he cannot work as an English teacher in Thailand as well? Do you have any suggestion? Thank you in advance!!!! my email is any ideas are appreciated.

  13. Hi Tinger,

    The Thai Course: I attend Pro Language and know someone teaching and learning at can recommend these, as being reliable. I would not go anywhere near CMULI. The past events were very unfortunate, as the course had a very good reputation.

    Teaching English: Stray, my husband completed his TEFL, but does not have a degree. He has not yet looked for work...too many other commitments at the moment. I think the chances of getting work without a BA, are very slim, particularly in Chiang Mai, as the area is flooded with English teachers. I have heard of people gaining employment, via back doors, but don't know any personally.

    I hope this helps, feel free to ask more questions if you like and thanks for dropping by.

  14. I mad eht e mistake of enrolling in CMU in 2008 for a TEFL course. I was surprised that the teaching staff never wanted to start work until at least 11am. Further, some 2 hours ofthe course was devoted to m learning Chinese.

    After just 7 days I realised that I had wasted my money and left. No refund was offered to me at any time. Also, it was better to be American rather than british. This school should be avoided like the plague.

    1. Anonymous, thanks for dropping by. There's no such course at CMU anymore, well not when I was there last year. I'm befuddled as to why Chinese would be incorporated into a TEFL course!

      Stray (my other half) completed his TEFL with UniTefl...the falang members of the CMU language teaching staff that up and moved premises. All went well and the teachers were very punctual and Chinese studies.

      I'm sorry to hear you also had such a negative experience, as did I with my Thai Language course that never eventuated.

      Did you end up completing your TEFL elsewhere?

  15. In all real TESOL courses (Trinity and CELTA--the only ones that really count in the World) you spend some time beginning to learn and L 2 so you will have a rough idea what others go through trying to learn English--this is because the majority of TESOL teachers are monolinguals and have no idea about learning languages as an adult. BTW, do not waste money on taking any TESOL course that is not a CELTA or a Trinity.

    1. Hi Anonymous, thanks for visiting and for your input. Personally I know very little about TESOL courses, and would never consider teaching in general as a profession (not enough patience ;), let alone teaching English as a second language...very hard work indeed!


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