Hua Hin Education
Education in Hua Hin is provided by various schools, colleges, universities, and language centres, as well as a few private individuals. While Hua Hin does not quite have the same choice and quality of educational institutions compared with Bangkok and some other countries, there are certainly many reasonable schools around town that have either Thai or international curriculums. However, the situation seems to improve each year with more and more options becoming available, and with the increasing importance of the English language, schools and universities are realising the value and benefits of teaching at least some English-based courses.
There are many expats in Hua Hin with children of varying ages, who understandably need quality educational establishments with a high standard of teaching that we are accustomed to in the West, as well as having the chance to gain internationally recognised and respected qualifications. Foreign residents usually want to send their children to schools that teach subjects in English or their native language, which has created a high demand in the local area that is perhaps not fully satisfied. Many schools employ native English speakers, but there is ongoing criticism about the standards of teaching. Nowadays, the situation has somewhat improved with more stringent requirements on the teachers’ qualifications and experience required.
The problem remains, how do you choose a prospective nursery, school or university in Hua Hin and what conditions and calibre of education can you expect? Important criteria include the school’s curriculum (it could be mainly Thai or international), the teaching methods, range and availability of courses, any associated costs and fees, the location, class sizes, as well as it’s overall reputation. You might be wise to visit the school at various times especially when classes are being held, and talk with the teachers and as many others as possible such as existing parents.
There are comprehensive resources on the Internet about the local schools and universities, as well discussions on local forums such as Thaivisa. Many residents in Hua Hin have already gone through the complicated process of finding the right place for themselves and their children. Our guide gives you an overview of what’s available in Hua Hin, with contact details for some of the well known and popular establishments.
The Thai Education System
The Thai education system is focused on the Thai curriculum and subjects, but there have been moves to incorporate English more widely. The entire system has been shaken up in recent years in attempts to modernise and ensure it can compete on a more international level. One important consideration is that teachers are very highly respected in Thai society, so much so that students may be reluctant to challenge their assumptions or pose the kind of inquisitive questions that are considered normal in the West. Until attitudes change in Thai society, even though laudable this high regard for teachers can be a barrier to modernising and reforming Thailand’s education.
Education in Thailand is categorised into basic and higher levels. A free basic education of twelve years is guaranteed to all Thai citizens as set out in the Thai constitution, but only nine years of attendance is compulsory. The municipal government runs the majority of schools but parents may be asked to contribute towards some costs, and there are likely to be additional fees for essentials such as school uniforms, books and meals. Some schools however do provide a free lunch and other items such as school bags.
Since funding is a big issue for Thai schools, many of them are run by private enterprise and charitable or religious organisations such as the Catholic church. Such schools are able to provide educational programmes based on foreign curriculums (such as British or American) and are usually approved by the Thai Education Ministry. These tend to be the schools favoured by expatriates, however the annual costs and fees may be substantially higher than at the state-run schools.
Thai School Levels
The basic Thai education school ages are typically between 3 and 17 years old and are summarised below. Nursery school is for younger children before attending kindergarten, and it has no specific formal requirements.
Kindergarten (in Thai: Anuban), levels 1-3, children aged between 3 and 5.
Primary school (in Thai: Prathom), levels 1-6, children aged between 6 and 11.
Secondary school (in Thai: Matthayom), levels 1-6, children between 12 and 17.
Secondary school is split into lower school (levels 1-3) and upper school (levels 4-6). The upper levels can lean towards vocational or academic courses. The academic programmes usually aim to prepare students for a bachelor’s degree at a university or for additional higher education.
Higher education in Thailand is supported by various colleges and universities, many of which are quite reputable internationally and have large numbers of foreign students attending, or have close affiliation with established and highly rated universities abroad.
Hua Hin Nurseries
Nurseries in Hua Hin cater to very young children of pre-school age and usually focus on play related activities and fun learning. There are a couple of specialist nurseries in Hua Hin as follows. Fees apply so check their respective websites for up to date prices.
The British Educational Children’s Centre (BECC)
School type: nursery, kindergarten and primary
The BECC is a nursery, kindergarten and primary school all rolled into one. They have fully trained and qualified British teachers that deliver a UK national curriculum in the primary school section, and adhere to relevant UK educational policies and procedures. As well as the normal school schedule, they also organise summer school camps to keep the little ones busy.
Address: Near Vic Hua Hin between Soi 114 and 116
Telephone: +66 (0)870 489 558 or +66 (0)89 003 7963
Pratthana Nursery and Kindergarten
School type: nursery and kindergarten
Pratthana Nursery is a popular nursery for children aged between 1 and 3 years old, and a kindergarten for slightly older children. There are currently no English programmes, however.
Address: 41/79 Petchakasem Road
Telephone: +66 (0)32 547 363 or +66 (0)86 760 8863
Hua Hin Schools
There are dozens of state-run municipal schools in and around Hua Hin, and each subdistrict usually has its own public school. These schools are normally free to attend but parents may be asked to make a modest contribution. Most have a Thai only curriculum but may incorporate English to varying degrees. There are also various private schools in Hua Hin that have comprehensive English language programmes. Below we have listed some of the more popular and well known schools in the local area.
Baan Hua Hin Municipality School
School type: kindergarten, primary, and secondary
This municipal school is located near the main Hua Hin temple in the centre of town and teaches a Thai curriculum to students between 3 and 15 years old. Because it’s a state school, Thai children can attend for free.
Address: Naeb Kehardt Road, next to the temple
Telephone: +66 (0)32 511 106
Salesian (Vitthayalai) School
School type: kindergarten, primary, and secondary
This private Catholic school has around 3500 pupils, and an English language programme taught by native English teachers. Contact the school for the latest information on fees.
Address: 240 Petchakasem Road
Telephone: +66 (0)32 511 233
Website: www.hv.ac.th (Thai only)
Wang Klai Kang Won School
School type: kindergarten, primary, and secondary
This quite famous school is very closely associated with the current Thai King (Rama IX) and is mainly privately funded. All levels of education are covered from kindergarten right through to secondary or high school. It’s achieved notoriety for it’s successful and innovative distance learning projects and even runs its own TV broadcasts that are beamed by satellite to remote parts of Thailand and to other Asian countries.
Yamsa Ard School
School type: kindergarten, and primary
This is a private kindergarten and primary school that offers bilingual programmes with half of all lessons taught in English including subjects such as maths, science and art. Contact the school for up to date information on fees.
Address: Soi 94, Bongai
Telephone: +66 (0)87 694 6420-1
Somtawin Witead Suksa Huaymongkhon School
School type: kindergarten, primary, and secondary
Somtawin is a very popular private school which is located around 15 km from Hua Hin. There are essentially two schools, one has a solely Thai curriculum and the other based on English. At the English school a UK curriculum is taught by native English speakers, and students can take the international IGCSE exams which should be beneficial when applying for higher education later on. IGCSE subjects offered include English, Mathematics, History, IT, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. There are also many extracurricular activities and sports at the school. Discounted fees may be offered for siblings of students that are already enrolled.
Address: 192 Moo 13. Nongplub Road, Hin Lek Fai district. Approximately 15 km west of Hua Hin.
Telephone: +66 (0)32 576 223 or +66 (0)81 378 1160
Hua Hin Creative Schools & Courses
There are a couple of notable establishments in Hua Hin that have various creative classes and courses such as music, martial arts, dance and ballet.
Patravadi High School
The Patravadi High School is closely associated with the Vic Hua Hin theatre and well known Thai actress, producer and playwright Patravadi Mejudhon. Subjects taught include Thai, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Health, Art, Technology, and Foreign Languages.
Address: 62/63 Soi Moo Baan Huana, Nong Kae
Telephone: +66 (0)24 127 287-8
Website: www.patravadischool.com (Thai only)
Vic Hua Hin Weekend Workshop
The Vic Hua Hin theatre holds workshops every weekend followed by free Latin dance classes and movies. Classes include Dance, Music, Arts and Crafts, Culinary Art, Living Arts, Language Arts, and Gymnastics.
Address: 62/70 Soi Moo Baan Huana, Nong Kae
Telephone: +66 (0)32 827 814
Hua Hin Universities
There are several reputable universities in an around Hua Hin which accept Thai and international students. Despite this, Bangkok inevitably has a wider choice of institutions and a greater quality and range of university courses.
Stamford International University (STIU)
Stamford University is a private university located on the outskirts of Hua Hin and has a broad range of undergraduate and graduate degree programmes covering Business, the Arts, Science and Technology.
Address: 1458 Phetchakasem Road, Cha Am
Telephone: +66 (0)32 442 322-3
Webster University is a private university which is affiliated with the American branch of the same name in St Louis, and offers bachelor and masters degrees which are accredited by the USA and Thailand’s Ministry of Education. The courses are divided into Business and Technology, Arts and Sciences, and the School of Communications.
Address: 143 Moo 5, Tambon Sammpraya, Cha Am, Petchaburi
Telephone: +66 (0)32 456 162-8
Petchaburi Rajabhat University
Petchaburi Rajabhat University is not in the immediate vicinity of Hua Hin but only an hour’s drive northwards in the next province, and so is a feasible option for those living in town. They have bachelors and masters degrees and a wide range of courses. Faculties at the university include Agriculture, Education, Humanities, IT, Industrial Technology, Management and Science.
Address: 38 Moo 8 Hardjaosumran Road, Nawoung, Petchaburi
Telephone: +66 (0)32 493 300-6
Hua Hin Language Schools and Tuition
In Hua Hin there are an increasing number of Thais that want to learn English, and foreign visitors that want to speak Thai. Numerous private language schools and learning centres are based here that can offer language courses, educational visas, and teaching training. The following companies will be happy to give advice and enrol you on a suitable course.
Insight English is a reputable school that provides a wide selection of English language and Thai courses for one-to-one, group or distance learning. English courses emphasise social and business language skills as well as techniques for interviews, presentations, and writing. Thai courses focus on conversational Thai, from basic to advanced levels.
Insight also has internationally accredited English teaching (TEFL) courses and can assist with employment once a course is completed. They have various translation and editing services and can help to obtain visas (such as educational and business visas). Insight organises English language summer camps in cooperation with local schools. There are two branches in the local area, one is in Hua Hin and the other in nearby Cha Am.
Address: 79/9-10 Petchakasem Road (Hua Hin branch)
Telephone: +66 (0)32 470 681
The Language Centre
The Language Centre teaches Thai and English but also has German and Swedish courses, which are all available on an individual or group basis. The Thai classes include speaking, reading and writing and cater to all levels of ability or can be tailored to address your specific needs. Courses can last from a few weeks to a year or more, and help with educational visas is possible.
Address: 303 Wong Chomsin Building, 83/14 Petchakasem Road
Telephone: +66 (0)32 533 428 or +66 (0)81 341 3274
The Learning Centre
Licenced by the Thailand Ministry of Education, The Learning Centre specialises in Thai, English, Japanese, and German lessons. Run by professional and experienced staff, the school provides courses to help students achieve the maximum results in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The Learning Centre can assist in obtaining an education visa, which also helps to avoid costly trips back and forth between countries. Additionally, German and English courses that are intended to help applicants obtain visas for settlement are available.
Translation services are offered at a reasonable cost, as well as computer skills classes using popular software packages. In addition, TEFL and TESOL courses are run in partnership with WECI. The Learning Centre is a test centre for Cambridge Seminar scholarships.
Address: Ground Floor, Wong Chomsin Building, 83/14 Petchakasem Road
Telephone: +66 (0)32 532 650 or +66 (0)83 801 335
WECI English and Computer Institute
WECI is a popular school with a variety of English programmes such as General, Hospitality and Business, Hotel, and Young Learner. All levels are catered to, from novices to advanced speakers. Thai courses aimed at tourists, residents and businesses are held with a focus on conversational Thai. They also have regular TEFL teacher training courses and use only native English speaking teachers. Once students have passed the exams, WECI can help them find employment in the area. The Hua Hin branch is just past the flyover on the way out of town going south, and there are a couple more branches in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Samui.
Address: 25/30 Petchakasem Road, Nong Kae
Telephone: +66 (0)32 536 889 or +66 (0)81 857 6086
Hua Hin Private & Home Tuition
Private tutors can be found in Hua Hin offering individual language courses tailored to your needs, usually on a one-to-one basis. These tutors can sometimes be found advertising in discussion forums, local newspapers and various message boards around town. Make sure you check what qualifications and experience they have before you sign up. Besides language courses, there are a few private home-based education initiatives in Hua Hin which aim to provide a broad and high quality education. They don’t advertise widely, but ask around and check out the Internet forums for more details.
Learning to speak Thai is a very rewarding experience and immensely useful for those staying in Thailand for any length of time. Whilst some foreigners prefer not to learn any Thai, it can be a beneficial skill to have and helps break the ice in many situations. It’s possible to learn Thai at the various language schools mentioned earlier such as Insight English, The Learning Centre and The Language Centre. Depending on your ability and aspirations, the schools will be able to recommend a course appropriate to your needs and experience. It’s also quite possible to learn the basics independently using phrasebooks and online resources.
Many people assume that Thai is very hard to learn because it’s so unlike European languages and has what seems like a very peculiar alphabet. With a little perseverance however, it’s possible to pick up the basic phrases quite quickly and start to appreciate how the language works. Thais usually appreciate the effort you’ve made to speak their language no matter how few words you can manage, and seem quite impressed when you’re able to have a real conversation. The best advice is to practice a lot and try to speak some Thai every day.
Once you’ve mastered the basics it can be good fun learning to read and write Thai, which comes in handy especially in remote places where English is not widely understood. In most Thai phrasebooks a system of transliteration is used to write Thai using the standard Latin alphabet. The problem is that it’s only an approximation and can’t really convey the full range of sounds that are used to speak Thai. The transliteration systems used by the government and those in language books also differs; the government uses the Royal Thai General System of Transcription (RTGS) but it’s not universally adopted and has attracted criticism because it doesn’t represent the five tones, or distinguish between long and short vowels. RTGS is not always applied consistently either, for example road signs seem to
use many different spellings for the same place name.
The Thai alphabet comprises forty-four consonants and thirty-two vowels. The vowels are further split into both short and long variants, so there are effectively only sixteen basic vowel sounds to learn. In written form, the vowels can be placed before, after, above or below the consonants or a combination of those, and even though it appears confusing at first it soon becomes second nature when reading Thai. It gives a great sense of achievement when you’re able to read menus, road signs, and even the subtitles on TV with a little practice! Even though there are 44 consonants in Thai, they only represent around twenty-one unique sounds because some consonants have almost identical pronunciation.
Consonants may also change phonetically depending on whether they occur at the start or the end of a syllable, which can lead to many inconsistencies when Thai words are written in English. This is noticeable everywhere and a relevant example is the way that Poonsuk Road in Hua Hin is spelled. In Thai it’s pronounced as “Poon-suk” but in English it’s often written and pronounced incorrectly as Pool-suk because the Thai name Poonsuk (พูลสุข) includes the consonant lor-ling (ล) which has an “N” sound when it comes at the end of a syllable as it does here, but an “L” sound when it’s at the start of a syllable. There are many other examples (ด or dor-dek can represent either a “D” or a “T” sound when it’s an initial or final consonant respectively) and similar mistakes and idiosyncrasies can be spotted all over the place!
Thai is a tonal language and has five tones (it could be worse, for example Vietnamese and Cantonese have six tones), and the various tone marks may be included (but not always) in written text to indicate a high, middle, low, rising or falling tone. Tone markers are not always present however, because the tones can also be determined by the class of the consonant (either high, medium or low), which makes it possible to deduce the implied tone without them. Reading Thai is perhaps easier than writing it, because it’s usually possible to figure out the word and meaning based on the context, without having to know too much about the complicated tone rules.
For some essential basic phrases and more detailed information about learning Thai we recommend that you pick up a phrasebook and dictionary, and browse the comprehensive guides and videos that are available on the Internet. There are also discussions in our language forums about Thai and how to learn it. Ultimately, it reaps dividends to speak Thai with local people, and you’re guaranteed to have lots of fun along the way!