From Thailand to a great English adventure in New York
Ratchasate Theeraratlertkul and Pracharat Taepakdee are from Bangkok, Thailand, and have been studying on the Vacation English course for 4 weeks at Kings New York. We sat down with them to talk about American campus life, improving pronuciation, and what they have gained from studying at Kings.
What brought you to Kings New York?
R: I learned about Kings from Education Link agency. I saw a picture of Concordia College and loved it! I liked that it was not in the middle of the city. Very close to the city but it doesn't feel like a big city, like Bangkok. We saw pictures of the trees and flowers on campus and the dormitory and I said, yes, that is what I want. A real college campus with beautiful nature.
P: The buildings looked so nice and we liked the campus and the environment. We decided this school was a good fit for us. We did not want to study in the city and take English classes then go home every day. We wanted to live on a college campus like real students.
Is this your first time studying English outside of Thailand?
No. We studied English for 1 month in Wellington, New Zealand last summer.
In your classes, what do you enjoy the most, and what do you find challenging?
R: I enjoyed my friends. Panamanian students [classmates] pay a lot of attention to studying. Every time a teacher asked a question, many students raise their hands, they participate and respond to the question, they express their opinions. I felt very motivated, and wow, everyone is so serious about studying, and I wanted to work hard too!
P: Our teacher Sue is very nice, very professional. She prepared very well for lessons. First time I saw her, she made me feel very comfortable and explained everything and helped all the time.
R: Yes, she speaks slowly to make sure we understand and sometimes she repeated information to make sure we understood. She is very dedicated. She also gave us many tests and homework. Before coming here, I used to think in Thai and then translate every word in my head, but now I think I speak English more automatically.
P: I agree. I think I improved my English skills as well. When I speak with my friends, it is not too difficult. I think it is easy to understand people here, definitely easier than in New Zealand! In New York, people speak more clear.
The challenge is pronunciation. For example, we have trouble between sounds L and R. When we first came here we used to say 'lestloom' and people didn't understand that we meant 'restroom'. But now we are trying to pronounce R sound more clearly. Our Panamanian classmates, who speak Spanish, helped us with R sounds!
That’s a great story! What do you do back in Thailand?
R: I am a business owner. We produce sportswear. I have a local brand called Victory.
P: We are business partners. I work at the same company.
How long have you been in this business?
R: 14 years!
P: When I was attending university in Thailand, it was my dream to study in the US but I did not have a chance then. I am glad that I have the experience to be a student now. I want to know about the culture and I want to know about how students live in America.
Last year, we talked about taking an English course. I really wanted to come to New York. Ratchasate said New York is too far, but I'm glad that we chose New York! We also were sure that we wanted to be on a college campus, not at an English language center in the middle of the city.
We are also happy that you chose New York! How will this experience of living in the U.S. and studying English at Kings New York help you in your profession?
R: Some of our customers are from Vietnam, Singapore, India and Malaysia, so they speak English very well.
P: Yes, so we can communicate with them more easily and understand them clearly when they are interested in our products. If they want our factory to produce something for them.
Have you taken part in any of the extracurricular activities outside of English classes?
R: Yes, we participated in many activities. We went to the Bronx Zoo with many other students, more than 40 students! It was great!
P: Yes, it was a lot of fun. We went to the Zoo with a yellow school bus. I felt like a real American student.
R: Even the bus driver was very friendly. She was saying funny things and entertaining us and was also speaking with Jodi [Campus Support Coordinator].
That's great to hear! What other activities did you participate in?
P: We also went to the FIT museum with Jodi and other students from Brazil and Italy. We took a train to Manhattan.
R: We also went to the Easter Party. We didn't know what Easter was and why students were painting the eggs. Our friends, other students, and also Jodi, explained to us about Easter so we learned something new.
P: I really enjoyed playing volleyball, ping pong, and soccer. We even played these games with Concordia students, not just Kings students. These activities were great for helping us practice English and meet new people.
For example, we met a Concordia student from South Africa. She plays tennis on a Concordia tennis team. And today we are going to the movie theater together to watch The Avengers!
We also became really good friends with another Concordia student from the Philippines. We even went to the Niagara Falls together and we spoke English for many hours!
That's fantastic! How did you meet these Concordia students?
R: Well the first student, from the Philippines, we met at the Brickyard cafeteria. We thought he is also from Thailand so we started a conversation.
P: Yes, after that he invited us to see a tennis competition at Concordia. They had a competition with another college. And there we met even more friends!
And how about your friend from South Africa? How did you meet her?
P: I met her when I was playing volleyball here on campus. She was there and wanted to join the game but didn’t know how to play. After that game, we saw each other on campus again and started talking and became friends. She is very easy going and friendly. We keep in touch with both of these friends now. And they helped us meet a lot of other Concordia students.
What would you say to someone considering coming to Kings to study?
R: What I want to say is this is more than a language school. It really is a great adventure and everybody is very quick with problems and many friendly and caring people everywhere.
When I came here I had a rash and I wasn't sure if I could speak with someone about it. Another student suggested that I speak with Jodi, who was very attentive. Jodi went with me to the Minute Clinic and she brought me to buy medicine. She was very quick to respond to everything, like chop chop chop. I was so surprised. She solved everything!
Anything else you'd like to share?
P: I agree, Kings has such a good system and everyone is very helpful. People at Kings take care every student.
Also, there is great technology here. Our classroom has a smart board. Amazing. Teachers have a computer and access to internet right there in the classroom so can find things on the internet very quickly. For listening activities, teacher use new technology and a very good sound system. The chairs and desks are very modern and nice.
And you have a good method for teaching. For example, we received the books we needed for the class and then we returned them to the teacher when we finished.
Another great thing was that Jodi give us Activities calendar for the whole month. It was very good and helpful for us to have that kind of a plan.
Sometimes we learn English and it's not easy. Here we have different levels, from easy to more difficult, so you can start from very easy then move to more difficult.
Another thing I want to say is you learn everywhere here. We learn things at the cafeteria! We practice English at the cafeteria when they ask us, "What kind of cheese, what kind of bread?" So we learn and practice English everywhere from cafeteria to classroom, to other dormitories where we have friends.