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Thread: A.U.A.

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    A.U.A.

    Going back to school on Tue. to learn Thai. I mean, back to A.U.A. Level 1 conversation course for the 4th time this year. Having experience, now, with students who want to learn Thai, there seems to be 3 types (not counting the quitter): the gung ho tourist out to make the most of a vacation then SYL, the maniac who always does what the teacher says, memorizes everything, studies at home and lost his life to the greater cause of success but doesn't love the language. My attitude is: attitude matters. I love the Thai language, I love learning things that blow my mind: like, cha means slow (git it?) and cha cha means very slow. Also you can say cha cha cha, if you like. But I hate to study. There's a time for everything. I spent 16 years getting a formal education, 3 more months (40 hour weeks) getting a technical one. I'm retired, I don't want to work that hard. So I don't study at home yet, or minimally. And part of my attitude is that there's a time for everything: i.e., take your time and be less stressed.

    Another thing, the workload at A.U.A. is way heavy. There's no textbook (you can still buy the original textbook which comes with CDs but the teaching methodology has advanced beyond it. They just haven't the means to rewrite one yet). But you can still fill up a notebook and they also give out a minimum of 2-5 mimeographed sheets per day. They charge 4800 THB for 2 hours/day, 5 days/week for 6 weeks. That's about 80 THB per student hour. The school has a great rep. and I believe in its methods (e.g., one rule is don't ask questions---everybody does but it puts the teacher on a different track).

    OK, so maybe you think I'm stupid but I did pass the middle of the 3 Level 1 courses I've finished so far. It's just that when you go to Level 2, the teacher speaks 100% Thai. I can't put up with that yet. And Thai is so complex, good teachers will teach the same course in an abundance of different ways, while following the same or nearly the same syllabus. (I've had the same teacher 2 out of the 3 times). I haven't felt bored at all: stressed, yes.

    Finally, I taught English to lower and middle school Thai students for 3 years. The curriculum requires every student to be taught English for all 12 years of their primary and secondary education. And they're taught English up to 3 times per week. Yet most 15-18 year-olds still can't say "hello, my name is Bill. How are you? Where are you from? What's your favorite sport? Let's go play outside?" and get appropriate responses back. AFTER 12 YEARS!

    So, I'm a goal setter. I think the year is only half over. After 1 year, I may have taken Level 1 6 times but I hope to speak Thai better, then, than any Thai student I've taught, can speak English. Learn Thai? Yes. But learn it slow and easy at first. That way you'll love it as well as learn it. There will be time for the hard stuff later. I've been informed that Level 3 conversation students must study at least 3-4 hours per day. And we're not even talking reading and writing yet. That comes after Level 4. One more goal I have: I don't care if I'm illiterate until I die, I just want to be fluent.
    “The Master said, At fifty, I knew what were the biddings of Heaven. At sixty, I heard them with docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.”

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    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Gor gai
    Have you tried any on the free learn to write thai apps on Google play

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    Quote Originally Posted by baldrick View Post
    Gor gai
    Have you tried any on the free learn to write thai apps on Google play
    No, I'm a lazy student, requiring prodding. I hate to be embarrassed in front of classmates and teacher so push myself harder, I think, in that environment. Like I meant to say, learning Thai is hard work. It makes it easier when you can share the pain. Plus, there's a social network aspect to it, i.e., meeting new people.

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    Well, here's my review of AUA Bangkok on my friend Catherine Wenthworth's website

    FWIW: the Bangkok branch teaches ONLY via Marvin Brown's ALG (Automatic Language Growth) method.. Their premise is children learn languages by listening and adults can do the same.

    I disagree 100% with the methodology. My argument is, the first thing kids learn to do once they can speak is ask "WHY?" The reason kids learn this way in the first place is they are forced to because they CAN'T talk yet. As adults we already possess our mother language, we have life experience and are able to make "leaps in logic" language wise which can facilitate the learning process.. Then again that's just my take on it, so it's probably not worth the time you wasted reading it.

    Those ALG "passive listening classes" to me provide very little "bang-4-the-baht" for new learners of the thai language.. There are NO books, NO vocab lists, you can't ask questions. Instead you sit in a room with two thais who mime out stuff whilst speaking ONLY thai. They recommend you take between 600-800 hours BEFORE you start speaking thai.

    The other branches and offices of AUA may teach via a more traditional means i.e.; "karaoke" (example Hello = สวัสดี = sà wàt dii). Really called phonemic transcription - the representation of thai syllables/words using the roman alphabet and other characters to represent vowel length, intonation.

    Now honestly, I dunno what Chiang Mai does (and I'm only hazarding a guess you're goin to the AUA branch up there from your profile location). There also Payap Uni up there which has a great thai program from what I've read.

    The "workload" you reference in reality isn't all that "heavy", really. Most schools which teach module based intensive stuff are based off the original Union Thai School's material and methodology. Coincidentally I call those schools "Union Clone Schools" because they almost have carbon copies of the books. Those types of schools all teach 60 hour modules; 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks. So the 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for 6 weeks is about average for "intensive thai" programs offered.

    Listen man, what ever motivates you to learn thai is a good thing!!

    The first 3 years I lived here I tried to compel thais to speak what passes for engrish in this neck of the woods. I finally said to myself, "F*ck these people and their half-arsed engrish skills! I'm gonna learn thai just to spite them." So I did.

    I taught myself to read, write, touch type, speak and understand thai motivated to a large degree by spite. Granted it might not work for everybody, but I ain't everyone else.

    Of course it also came to me, that while 1 percent of the world's population is certainly smarter than I am, it is a statistical impossibility that all 70 million of the 1 percent are thais.. If thais can learn thai, so could I.

    Don't under estimate the power of spite, it's a mighty motivator...

    One last thing. I did write a dealy on Cat's website about "Students from Hell" Part 1 & Part 2 I found the thai teachers I interviewed said, to a person foreigners overestimated their actual ability in thai by a large margin. Even when it was proven during the interview they did not possess the skills to take "Level 2" conversation they refused to take "Level 1".

    My advice, you ain't learning thai to impress none of the muther-felchers in your class and you certainly ain't learning it to impress the teacher. Take a level as many times as you need to so that you "get it", so the material sticks and so you can apply it when you go on to the next level.

    Good luck,

    NOTE 2 MODS: I hope it was okay to post links to my reviews and stuff on the forum. I didn't write any of that for profit, just to let people know what's what about learning the language.. If the posting of links contravenes forum rules, delete them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    Those ALG "passive listening classes" to me provide very little "bang-4-the-baht" for new learners of the thai language.. There are NO books, NO vocab lists, you can't ask questions. Instead you sit in a room with two thais who mime out stuff whilst speaking ONLY thai. They recommend you take between 600-800 hours BEFORE you start speaking thai.
    Can't imagine that. Woulda turned me into a quitter real quick.

    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    The other branches and offices of AUA may teach via a more traditional means i.e.; "karaoke" (example Hello = สวัสดี = sà wàt dii). Really called phonemic transcription - the representation of thai syllables/words using the roman alphabet and other characters to represent vowel length, intonation.
    Yeah, that's more like AUA CM. Like for the first 3 weeks, the first thing every morning is to practice pronunciation of the short and long vowels and complex vowels. The teacher writes them in phonemic transcription on the white board, points, speaks, prompts, etc. She'll mix the order and eventually just point to the transcripted vowels and prompt for the correct pronunciation. So what's so fuckin' frustrating is we're actually learning two languages. Not all of the vowels can be romanized, for example. Like there's a character like a '2' or a steroidal 'a', a 'u' with a horizontal slash thru it, then a double 'u' written that way. It's practically a whole new alphabet. Then the next 3 weeks the first thing the teacher does is ask all the students (thankfully, no more than 7-10) "Mua wanni long jack rian phassa thai khun tham ?araay" (yes, the '?' is a character, not a typo.)

    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    The "workload" you reference in reality isn't all that "heavy", really. Most schools which teach module based intensive stuff are based off the original Union Thai School's material and methodology. Coincidentally I call those schools "Union Clone Schools" because they almost have carbon copies of the books. Those types of schools all teach 60 hour modules; 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks. So the 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for 6 weeks is about average for "intensive thai" programs offered.
    I meant intensive workload b/c you have to learn the pronunciation and spelling of the romanized transcription alphabet before you can speak a word of Thai. And, believe me, the course is not 'vocabulary light'. She'll give us paragraphs to translate into English with new Thai words that she'll define on the board but words that she's maybe used once or twice before (I mean, we get lists of fruit, have to count to 999999, family relationships). Once you've translated the paragraph, write 6 questions to ask your classmates. But you have to ask them all, all 6 questions...too much

    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    Listen man, what ever motivates you to learn thai is a good thing!!
    Thanks for that. It does take motivation. And practice. So I noticed right away, if you fuck up a normal Thai sentence without adding 'krab' or 'cop' (northern thai pronunciation), strangers will ignore you at best, laugh at you to your face or after you've turned your back, or, at worst (the women are real good at this) will make these horrible gutteral sounds that just humiliate you. On the other hand, I noticed that if you don't pretend to be fluent by combining common English, "OK", "Bye, bye", that sort of thing, with "Sawatee cop", "Subid mai cop", you have a window of opportunity to practice Thai and get some smiles back.

    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    Don't under estimate the power of spite, it's a mighty motivator...

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    The thing about learning to speak thai via "karaoke" is once you get the squirrelly characters down pronunciation-wise you can pretty much get really close to how it sounds when you read stuff written in karaoke.

    It's a crutch to get you speaking something resembling thai without having to front load learning the 44 thai consonants (which only make 21 sounds) because thai has 6-T's, 5-K's, 4-S's, 3-P's, etc down the line, AND you don't have to learn the 32 vowels with 28 different sounds, the tone marks and a plethora of other whacky stuff about this language, which would suck the will to live out of you if you had to learn it BEFORE you could even start to pronounce thai words.

    Think of karaoke as the "bridge over the river thai" to get you speaking. I thought that up too so don't steal it...

    Just so you know, my thai is off-toned and has a horrific Ohio hillbilly accent to it. I rarely crap (ครับ) at the end of sentences. I speak thai in a totally "un-thai" way. I'm direct, blunt, terse and often times borderline rude compared to the way these people speak their language. That's because I didn't want to give up who-what I am when I speak english (which is usually an asshole) just because I'm speaking to these people in their language.

    What amazes me is, I'm almost universally understood by any thai I speak to, ONCE they know I can speak thai..

    Anecdotally, the worst thing you can ever do is walk up to a thai and immediately bust out in thai.

    Thais have a "secret selector switch" imbedded in their brains which they activate when they see a foreigner approaching. They switch from "listen for thai" to "listen for english". Then when you bust out with your best thai, because they were listening for english, they couldn't understand you.

    It makes them get that glazed look in their eyes, plus they have to re-boot their entire O/S (and these people ain't bootin' off solid state hard-drives). They just go all "safe mode" on you and start repeatin' "My cow died" <- thai for "I don't understand" (ไม่เข้าใจ)

    However, IF when you meet a strange thai (granted they're all pretty f-ing strange, but I mean one you've never met) and as you walk up you greet them with "Sweaty Crap", <- funny enough, thai for hello (สวัสดีครับ). Then ask how they're doin' "sà-baai dii mái" (สบายดีมั้ย), immediately the selector switch goes back to the default position of "listen for thai" and you should be okay with 'em after that.

    Those are what I call "phrozen phrasez" <- (that purposely uses z's because I thought it up, so don't red me)! Those constructs never change and thais have heard them a million times in their lives. The big plus to doing this "language dance" is that thais can see how badly you mangle those phrases and it gives them a reference point to your whacky foreign accented thai..

    Here's one more tip. Take ANYTHING these people say about your spoken thai and chuck it in the bin. I have never met a more complimentary race of people when it comes to foreigners speaking their language than the thais.. There are a couple levels which thais will praise you at, first they're tellin' you that you pûut tai gèng (พูดไทยเก่ง) speak thai skillfully, then they're tellin' you that you pûut tai chát (พูดไทยชัด) speak thai clearly, BUT... It's only when a thai you're speaking to NEVER EVER comments on the fact you are a white person speaking thai to them that you know you're making strides in thai.

    I know you can do it, after all I'm just a dumb hillbilly from Ohio, I have NO gift for language, and thai was the first 'second language' I learned. If I can do it I know just about anyone who really wants to can too. It's the "wanting to" that's the make or break factor.

    Good luck Honestly, IF I hadn't decided to learn thai I'd probably bailed outta this country LONG ago.. Now I feel I've got so much invested in the learning of it, I'm almost loathe to leave here..

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    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    ain't bootin' off solid state hard-drives
    if you follow the computer threads you would know WJ ( I hope that does not stand for wank juice as I think our member withnall has copyright on WWJ )
    cope with the difference between hard drives

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    Thailand Expat Dragonfly94's Avatar
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    Leaning to speak it is one thing, but after 21 years I still can't understand what the buggers saying back!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly94
    Leaning to speak it is one thing, but after 21 years I still can't understand what the buggers saying back!
    Oh, that's funny. Got to be slowed down to 45 rpm, right? I was walking past a couple of caddies hanging outside of Kad Suan Kaew, right, thinkin' to meself: "all I gotta do in the next couple of years is be able to understand conversations like the one they're having. Don't have to stop and talk, just get an understanding of what they're saying." I don't think so.

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    It's true, sometimes thais seem to be speaking at 78rpm like those old 1/4 inch thick Victor records for the wind-up Victrola record players.

    There are a couple of tricks you can use to increase your understanding.

    First off thai as it's spoken contains a plethora of "fill in words" which can be discounted right out of the gate. They're not completely meaningless, as they do add important emotional clues to what's being said, as well as how the listener is taking the information in. With that being said, early on for a foreign listener they can be skipped with little real impact to the overall understanding what is being talked about. Most of these are called ending particles, which are used in thai to provide emotive value to what's being said seeing as you can't really vary intonation in thai like english to do that. They're almost all single syllable words, or sounds added at the end of sentences.

    Secondly, know that in colloquial thai, the subject is either mentioned in the first sentence and then never mentioned again, OR if it's understood by both parties it's never mentioned at all. This means walkin' in on a conversation already underway you might know the what but you won't know the who.

    Learning to speak thai has to go hand in hand with understanding the information comin' back from who you're speaking to. You can't have half the pieces and no box with a picture on it and think you're gonna put the puzzle together. It don't work that way.

    Listen for verbs, adjectives, adverbs, to get a rough idea of the action being discussed.. Then try to listen for nouns, pronouns, names to get an idea of who that action is affecting..

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but eavesdropping on these people when they're talkin' ain't gonna give you the keys to the kingdom.. You'd be surprised just how mundane and shallow the topics these people tlak about are.. It is a wide spread rumor (perpetrated by foreigners who can't speak/understand thai for shit) that thais conversations revolve around food, weather, money, etc.. It's certainly not the case, but they ain't talkin' about solving world hunger or the G8 summit either.

    AUA Bangkok has a TON of their passive listening classes on You Tube, I mean level after level of them, watch some, hone your listening skills..

    Good Luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    Secondly, know that in colloquial thai, the subject is either mentioned in the first sentence and then never mentioned again,
    that carries over to when they speak english to you also

    you feel that you need to drag information out of them.

    but to be fair I have noticed this with other nationalities also - it is common that I have to encourage technicians to communicate in technically correct language and precisely describing the equipment so as to communicate effectively without any ambiguity which is very important in technical conversations and can be quite helpful elsewhere

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    One thing that throws me is the way thais answer yes/no questions in reverse of how we do in english.

    I always have to re-ask the question so that it's more "multiple choice".

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    Thailand Expat Dragonfly94's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels View Post
    Listen for verbs, adjectives, adverbs, to get a rough idea of the action being discussed.. Then try to listen for nouns, pronouns, names to get an idea of who that action is affecting..

    Good Luck.
    That's me done then, never was very good at languages- even at Englsih

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly94 View Post
    That's me done then, never was very good at languages- even at Englsih
    Christ, not that beat to death excuse again. It's right up there with gems like;
    • I'm too old to learn
    • I can't hear the tones
    • My thai wife, she sa-peak engrish good
    I'm not very good at languages either, but I learned this one.

    It's motivation..

    You're either motivated to learn or you make excuses why you can't/won't/don't learn thai.

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    just too lazy is my excuse and not interested enough

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    It's true: you need the means to be motivated.

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    Level 1, Day 2 (missed day 1): teacher defined words using hands (big, small, hot, cold, pretty, delicious, like, delicous). Had us answering questions: Yiin yay, may? Yii pun roonyg, may? A.U.A. suay, may? America may suay, cop. Khun choop bier, may? Pom choop Chiang Mai. (<--- that's not the correct Q&A sequence, btw). Had us answering her as a group, asked us individually, has us ask her questions, had us Q&A the person next to us. Homework: write some correct questions and answers on tablet paper (not notebook). I guess she wants us t turn it in.

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    khun kru suay mai?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    khun kru suay mai?
    Neverna; IF you ask a question like that I'd wager you're NEVER gonna speak more than "2-word-tourist-thai", "taxi-thai" or "horse-peak".

    I don't care if the thai teaching me is a dragon lady!! I'm tryin' to learn thai.

    If I want a young beautiful gurl, I'll grab a Soi side whore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna
    khun kru suay mai?
    so-so, cop (northern Thai pronunciation. "Crab" is BKK pronunciation...Thanks, Todd!)

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    if a gurl isn't all that cute or all that ugly she's ไม่มีอะไรพิเศษ - nothing special, or เหมือนนกกระจอก - like a sparrow (a little more derogatory).. Because sparrows are all over, are plain looking and are nothing to get excited about.

    No, wjblaney; You are confused that I was writing ครับ in engrish, I wasn't I was writing CRAP; the american english word for SHIT. That's exactly how I pronounce it when I'm compelled to say it to these people.

    When I greet them I say "sweaty crap"; in perfect american english meaning 'a pile of shit that is sweaty', it's my bastardized greeting. I'm not big on mindless pleasantries with the thais.

    Every time a thai asks where I'm going ไปไหน? I answer, "goin' to catch a lost chicken" ไปจับไก่หลง which is an older idiom for 'gonna go pick up a street side whore'. Tell thais that once or twice and presto-chango they stop askin'!

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    Thailand Expat Dragonfly94's Avatar
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    when they ask me where i come from I say my house and the district. Even the comic MUM laughed at that when on TV with him a couple of months back. They laugh at anything here.
    Last edited by Dragonfly94; 02-07-2015 at 04:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    One thing that throws me is the way thais answer yes/no questions in reverse of how we do in english.
    Sometimes our questions are poorly worded. Guilty of it myself.
    "Are you not going to the market?"
    "Yes"

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    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    When I greet them I say "sweaty crap"; in perfect american english meaning 'a pile of shit that is sweaty', it's my bastardized greeting. I'm not big on mindless pleasantries with the thais.
    Wow. Spent 2 hours a day, 5 days a week for 6 weeks getting corrected by teacher if one 'crap' was not added to every sentence. I swear this to every God. I retook the class with the same teacher (not immediately after: 2 months or more) and she did not give a 'crap'. Now I understand you...HAVE A LUIGI



    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    Every time a thai asks where I'm going ไปไหน? I answer, "goin' to catch a lost chicken" ไปจับไก่หลง which is an older idiom for 'gonna go pick up a street side whore'. Tell thais that once or twice and presto-chango they stop askin'!
    Teacher told us today don't answer, or spit or walk away when Thais ask "Thaw ray". Anyway, the rest of the day was spent counting from free to 9999

  25. #25
    disturbance in the Turnip baldrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddaniels
    Every time a thai asks where I'm going ไปไหน? I answer, "goin' to catch a lost chicken" ไปจับไก่หลง
    I used to try the " Bai ba - bai duui ? " but it went over their heads ( maybe it was my pronunciation - I am going mad , do you want to come ? )

    now I just give them the bai noon and point in the direction I am heading

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