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Learning to speak Thai
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  1. #1
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    Learning to speak Thai

    Hello I am Australian with my business in Bangkok. I really want to speak Thai is there anyway or anyone out there who can assist me in this task that I am having difficulty with.

    I would appreciate it greatly.

    Dan

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    Re: Learning to speak Thai

    hello Dan.
    I am in Bangkok now. And i am learning thai also, meanwhile i am learning how to do business. Maybe we can exchange our knowledge.

    Do you use MSN or Skype? If please let me know we can talk further.

    Best Regards
    Jia

  3. #3
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    Re: Learning to speak Thai

    If you ever want to learn Lao or the Northeastern Thai Dialect ( Issan) I can assist you with that.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Learning to speak Thai

    If you can afford lessons at one of the many language schools in Bangkok, I'd recommend that. Daily one-on-one lessons with an experienced school/teacher for about 3 hours a day for up to 6 months will give you a solid foundation from which to build.
    "Random Witty Comment"

  6. #5
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    Re: Learning to speak Thai

    The original poster is in Bangkok?? Isn't that like being in Italy and writing Ragu or Heinz asking how to make a tomato sauce for pasta? Welcome back Chai! Chai I do hope life has been kind to you.

    Dan I think most here can agree that the place to start or focus is learning to read first, this way you can in effect teach yourself. Chai's suggestion I think is the best you'll get considering you are knee deep in it already. Though Isaanboy may have a good point, perhaps leave Bangkok head 300km in any random direction, rent a house and try to survive seeing what it is like to be surrounded by zero English? They call this total immersion, this agreed by all experts is the most effective way to learn any language. Some can immerse themselves virtually no matter where they are, others refuse to immerse themselves even when all they need to do is walk outside (this is merely a generalization not directed specifically at the original poster). Don't be the latter, if you want to learn Thai I suggest starting with some Thai friends and colleagues. Even the chatroom at the top of this forum often has many willing and able to help you learn. No matter your learning curriculum I strongly suggest learning the alphabet first so that pronunciation is not an issue.

    Once you learn how to read at a basic level there are countless ways to start the next step, expanding your vocabulary. As far as learning online, this collection of websites is one of the very best places to start, you came to the right place Dan!

  7. #6
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    Re: Learning to speak Thai

    Hi Joshua
    many valid points, i would say the best 40 bht spent is the Thai Alphabet poster, yes its in most books but the problem is you have to open it! ha ha

    I know plenty of falangs who live in sticks and speak as much thai as they did 10 years before???? little to none!

    Once you have the skill to be able to read a little, your partner or friends become great learning tools but until then they sadly seem to be the biggest reason i've seen friends in these situations get frustrated and learn no more thai.

    Just standard reasons of becoming frustrated when your being told your saying the word wrong, i mean come on how can you know if your saying a word correct if you cant read it in Thai script? its best to see hear and read a word to best understand how to learn it.

    Plenty of people will say this is rubbish and you can learn thai very well in English script, but for me lots of times i have to read the thai script as i can not make head or tail out of the English translation.

    I must admit it seems like a lot of effort to learn to read without much early payback, but in the end you will leap and jump over most non reading learners. good luck and keep it fun how ever you chose, but dont rush its not a quick process.

  8. #7
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    Re: Learning to speak Thai

    A good friend of mine who has a language school which teaches English to Thais and Thai to foreigners made this observation;

    He said, "Tod, if I put a glass jar of hard candies on the counter and told everyone who came in wanting to speak English or Thai that this "pill" costs twice as much as a year long course, that 50% of the people who take the pill die immediately after they take it, BUT the other 50% wake up the next day speaking the language they want fluently, I bet I'd sell more "pills" than year long courses because everyone wants something for nothing!" I almost believe that he's on to something. .

    There's NO short cut, no magic pill, or "best method" or any great secret as far as learning to speak, understand read and write Thai. It's nothing but motivation on your part and a LOT of time. It's like those books I see in the Thai bookshops, "speak English in 140, 160, 99 etc hours", they're a crock of shite. Doin' anything with a high degree of proficiency takes a good chunk of time.

    Still as convoluted as the Thai language seems it isn't beyond the reach of most foreigners here. What usually runs out first is their internal motivation. That's why sometimes group lessons for beginner, intermediate levels in conversational Thai yield a good return on investment or a good "bang-4-the-baht". You're around people who have a similar goal "speak Thai", you're scheduled to attend classes, you review and practice structure, speaking in class and get corrections in pronunciation on the spot. All those things can make it easier to start to acquire the language.

    I don't buy into the fact that you hafta be able to read Thai to speak clear Thai, in fact I dismiss that as total hog-wash. Reading Thai and speaking clear Thai are totally different things.

    I know a LOT of foreigners here who speak some really clear, well structured Thai yet can't read a single character of written Thai. A person can learn good conversational Thai via what I call "karaoke Thai" (Thai represented in the English alphabet and a mix of special characters which show vowel length and intonation) just fine. There wouldn't be a TON of "Union Clone" method schools here in Bangkok teaching foreigners Thai with karaoke if it didn't turn out fairly proficient Thai speakers.

    Once you get "basic conversational Thai" under your belt, you can take specialty classes like "Thai for business people" etc to further polish your language skills. I'm not saying don't learn to read Thai, because I wouldn't trade my reading ability away for all the somtam in the kingdom (mostly because I don't like somtam). I've just found that being able to read Thai doesn't help a person speak Thai ANY clearer. Clear speaking comes with practice, with correction and via what ever method you choose to go about it.

    Also I am NOT a fan of "immersion" or going to a one buffalo village in Nakhon Nowhere to be "surrounded" by the target language. For that type of method to work you need to have "comprehensible input” or you need to know what is being talked about. Sitting Soi side with a bunch of Thais is just killing time because you don't have enough "points of reference" to make leaps in logic about what is being said except very superficially.

    To better illustrate the idea of "comprehensible input" here's a really old video of Stephen Krashen doing a presentation on it.


    I always tell people, I ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer, and truth be told I'm just a dumb country boy from the U-S-of-A. So I know if I can learn to speak something which resembles Thai enough so that these people understand me and respond in kind, just about anyone who wants to can too.

    Good Luck. . .

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