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Best approach to learning thai ?
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  1. #1
    pas29 Guest
    Hello,

    i have a general question.

    what is the best way to get fluent in thai ? To learn to read and write well first, and then start to learn how to speak ?

    or the other way round... first start to learn how to speak and copy the sounds you hear, and later start to read and write..

    or a combination of both ?

    i ask this because i feel quite frustrated now, as my reading and writing skills are quite good now, but I still feel i can almost not understand spoken thai when i hear it.. i have tried the links to the thai radio stations here, and i can at best understand 10 words each minute or something !

    is there any method to really learn how to understand thai, when youre not actually near any thai people ? Or does your ear just need to get used to the sounds for a while ?

    does anyone have any experience with this ? thank you !

  2. #2
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    I would say for sure learn how to read Thai first which is what you have done. But, speaking and listening should come at the same time. I have noticed sometimes that Thai people don't always pronounce words properly or clearly. When I learn a new word I always make a point of seeing how it is written down. This not only helps me remember it better but gives me a better chance of pronouncing it correctly.

    Listening to Thai radio is a good start though don't be put off if you cannot understand much of it to start with. Like you say, you are tuning your ear to the Thai sounds. Over a period of time you will start to understand more and more words (or maybe i should say phrases) and you should have an understanding of most conversations. The phone-ins are quite good as they always ask the same kind of questions. I did hear of some people learning English by just only listening to the BBC World Service on the radio so keep at it!!

    On the web sites the school is putting more conversations in to help you tune your ear:

    http://www.learningthai.com/listen/index.html

    Look out for more in the new year. Also, check out thaiphrasebook.com at the end of January for some more conversations.

    Listening to Thai songs is also another good way of "tuning in". You can try these at our ethaimusic.com web site.

    If you have any ideas for conversations or ways you want to listen to Thai then please let us know.

    Good luck!!

  3. #3
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    Hi there pas29, I'm kind of in the same situation, trying to continue learning Thai despite not having been in Thailand since Songkran. I'm far from fluent myself but I think at least I'm better now than I was 6 months ago, despite not being in Thailand in that time. I agree with what Richard said, and I like the approach David Smyth takes in 'Teach Yourself Thai' where you're taught to read very early on. Perhaps it's possible to get reasonably proficient in Thai without being able to read/write but it'd certainly be doing it the hard way (not that there is an easy way&#33 Just being able to read/write won't make you fluent overnight, but it's useful to build from.

    Thai songs are pretty helpful to learn from as words are generally pronounced clearly, and you can get the lyrics and follow them as you listen. They're also useful as a means of increasing vocabulary, I've learnt a lot of new words by trying to translate a few songs. Some of the vocabulary often in songs is a bit poetic and not particulary useful in the average conversation ( " " ᷹ "") but much of it is helpful. To train your ears to make out Thai words, try listening and trying to work out what the lyrics are before looking them up on the internet (on sites like music-road.com), it gets easier the more you do.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the Thai radio, it is very difficult. What's helped me is to get a sound recorder program for my computer and record clips of the phone-ins and then replay them trying to work out exactly what was said. It makes it much easier as you can replay it over and over and you'll understand more of it. The other main problem I've encountered is simply not having a big enough vocabulary in Thai to understand all the words that are being said, and, not being in Thailand, the only way I've found to improve it is by a lot of studying of the 'Learn Thai' books I've got and practising translating as much as possible (songs, webpages, whatever...)

    Anyway these are just my methods for trying to learn, hopefully they work reasonably well though I've still a long way to go before I'm actually any good at Thai . In my experience there's no decent subsitute for conversation practice, but if you're out of Thailand as we are there's not much that can be done about it unless you have Thais living locally. Good luck.

  4. #4
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    My advice would be to spend a couple of hours a day (whatever you can manage, but the more the better) listening to Thai radio or TV, but also to start talking to people as soon as possible.

    I find simple conversations such as ordering from a street vendor can be heart-breaking, despite their apparent simplicity, as you're trying to listen to the vendor and think of something to say at the same time. You are also competing with noise and are usually in a hurry.

    Talking to Thai friends can also be a pain, as they tend to assume you know next to nothing and when you do say something they want to correct you. I know that sounds lame, but sometimes I really want to get something out and I know my vocab extends to more than just the words for rice or bus or whatever. One exception is when your Thai friends themselves want something. Then they are prepared to listen to anything.

    A couple of months ago I want to go to hospital, and chose a hospital where no one was likely to speak English. I found one close to home, and have been back several times. I speak only in Thai, as do the doctors and nurses I meet. I emerge feeling great - it's like a huge energy charge or confidence boost. I can control the environment to some extent - I read up on the words I am likely to meet before I go, and I can go at my own pace. And we're all talking the same language, in another sense - my medical complaint. The conversation is not likely to branch off into a hundred unexpected directions.

    As a minimum, I however, I urge you to listen to Thai radio and TV. I do it for at least two hours a day, and hate it sometimes, but I know it's for the best in the long run.

  5. #5
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    Are there any websites which have good quality Thai TV to watch ? I don't mean in terms of quality of the programs but of the streaming. I've tried to watch a couple but the sound quality was so poor I found it just a waste of time. The sound quality of some of the radio stations is excellent, I don't know why the TV seems to be so bad. ?

  6. #6
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    Anywhere in the world it is possible to get the Thai TV Network by dish (no subscription, no charge).
    There are news, variety, games, reports, and 95 % of the programs are in thai.
    On the same frequency there is also a thai radio.

  7. #7
    fredfong Guest

    question

    Hi,

    if there is any website that we can watch the Thai TV channels??? I live in Hong Kong. I think the only way I can watch is on the web.

  8. #8
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    We have broadband internet access in the school office and the homepage for this service is the following site:

    http://www.ip-tv.tv/

    I just took a look now and it looks like the format has changed a bit to "view on demand". Before there used to be links to all Thai tv channels at the top so that you could watch any channel live. But now it looks like you view a daily schedule and choose which program you want! I didn't realise you had to pay for this as it was included in our internet subscription. But, it looks like anyone can sign up. Not sure if this is worth it though.

  9. #9
    Sonja Guest
    Hy,
    I´m an absolute beginner. Lettes look like noodles on a plate. It seems, learning to read/write in thai is best, but then: is it better to learn phrases first, or to get some vocabulary ?
    Best regards

  10. #10
    Vali Guest
    Hey Sonja, what is your purpose in learning? Do you plan on visiting/living in Thailand at one point? Are you just interested in the language?

    Knowing WHY you want to learn the language will help determine a good approach (not the "best" because there isn't one right way)

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