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  1. #26
    Member WhiteLotusLane's Avatar
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    My approach to learning Thai was three-pronged.

    1. Get books. Books teach you writing and grammar, both of which don't really require anyone else, you can learn by yourself. This is also by far the best start for people beginning to learn outside of Thailand and/or with little access to Thai people.

    2. Couple times a week chatted with some Thai friends smart enough to be able to teach / explain something. In my case they were Education faculty students at CMU.

    3. Talk to absolutely everyone with enough time on their hands to listen, or otherwise unable to run away. Keep pen and notebook nearby to make notes of any new words or constructions, to then ask the 'proper' teachers under point 2. above.

    That's about it. Main thing though is to realize that this is not a language you 'just pick up' the way you could pick up a more similar language like French. It requires a lot of study, and at least 3 months of feeling like you're getting nowhere. After that it gets easier.

  2. #27
    anonymous ant
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    i had no choice but to learn. i was stuck in a little village in isaan, broke, and there was not a sole within a 30km radius who spoke english.
    i bought english/thai phrasebooks, set aside an hour per day, and did one page per day, revising the previous page each day and marking the phrases i had had difficulty with, then kept going back to them 'till i had them off pat, crossing them off as i got them right. two phrasebooks later, i was walking around making a **** of myself, speaking thai to everybody. they would correct me and eventualy i started getting the hang of it.
    you reach a stage where everything starts falling into place, and then you progress very fast.
    the grammar is very simple and easy, but you have to remember that almost every word has up to five different meanings, depending on the accent or tone placed on it. i found that if i ignored the bloody tones, concentrated on vocabulary, then spent a lot of time listening to people, trying it out, and forcing myself to watch thai tv, i could get the gist of a conversation, then got to the point where i could do business, or at least make myself understood.
    i don't think i will ever get the tones completely right, but i have one hell of a vocab. and get by to the point where the locals come to me for translations, etc.
    you just have to keep at it, and discipline yourself.
    good luck

  3. #28
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    I really need to have some formal lessons now. My vocab is too small and I've not learnt more complex sentence structures.

    My ears are pretty good though, so I think that is a bonus.

  4. #29
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsicar
    forcing myself to watch thai tv
    Wow, the ultimate sacrifice. I find the Thai soap operas to be best for learning. They, like soap operas around the world are so dumbed down to serve their viewers they make wonderful training for beginners.

  5. #30
    I am in Jail
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    I think we went through that discussion already in another thread, and the consensus was that speaking monkey was fine as long as it was superficial like asking directions or paying a barfine.

  6. #31
    I am in Jail
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butterfly View Post
    speaking monkey was fine as long as it was superficial like asking directions or paying a barfine.
    Clearly misinformed. Nobody will give you directions here no matter how politely and correctly you ask.

  7. #32
    Tax Consultant
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown View Post
    I did not know you spoke Thai.
    How long did you go to that school?
    It would be better to say I speak some Thai.

    I've sone two stints at ULS each for one month. I also did six months with AUA.

    Having been here almost five years it would be pretty dumb of me not to pick up some of the lingo. It used to drive me nuts figuring out why sometimes I would get taken to soi 31 and other times to soi 38 when I used the same intonation and pronunciation.... but listening to Thais it is clear they don't all pronounce the language the same anyway. Now I just tell them where I want to go and then sit back and see where we end up.

  8. #33
    I am in Jail
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    Try it in Lao: "Pha khoy pai orm muang."

  9. #34
    Mea-Culpa
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog
    My vocab is too small and I've not learnt more complex sentence structures.
    Yeah its inbarrasing...cant ever ask a girl for her phone-number...How you manage to get laid is a mystery to me...

  10. #35
    Not an expat Fabian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texpat View Post
    I was determined not to wind up with an Isan farmer's accent.
    Who understand and can speak far more than practically all farangs.

    I'm amused at the recent bashings of Issan on other threads. Great entertainment.
    Really tempting but I won't comment on that one.

  11. #36
    I am in Jail

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    The damn massage girls said "hello Uncle" to me today and made me really depressed for the holidays. Yeah, I'm getting old but Christ...

  12. #37
    Mea-Culpa
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabian
    Really tempting but I won't comment on that one.
    Dont hold back, you want to say it so much, then get it out ! ! ! Tell us all what you think of Isaan...

  13. #38
    Mea-Culpa
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinthee
    Yeah, I'm getting old but Christ...
    Next it will be "gran-pa'"..

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butterfly View Post
    I think we went through that discussion already in another thread, and the consensus was that speaking monkey was fine as long as it was superficial like asking directions or paying a barfine.

    I'd rather learn Thai (monkey) than French, much more useful.

  15. #40
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    Actually you don't need to learn Thai for taxi drivers, as I was reminded yesterday. They know instinctively where Farangs want to go.

    Motorsai driver dropped me off at the end of the soi and commented, "you go Patpong now" (We're in Rangsit at 10.00am) and proceeded to stop a taxi for me.

    Then around 5.30pm my assistant and I get into a taxi and ask for soi 18. Taxi driver knows exactly where we are going because I am a Farang and she is Thai so we whistle past Soi 18 en route to some bladdy shopping centre.... even though she had clearly stated soi 18.

  16. #41
    Member Bubba's Avatar
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    I lived for two and a half years in Trang when I first came here. Not many farangs about and no one spoke English, so if I wanted to have a social life had to learn. Picked up the basics of coversation in Yah Dong bars waving my arms around a lot.

    Eventually worked out why what I was saying made sense by consulting grammar books after using the langauge for a while.

    Taught myself how to read and write basic Thai with a book called 'easy thai' when I had a skint couple of weeks and a bit of time on my hands.
    tnuc

  17. #42
    Member lozillionaire's Avatar
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    I initially learnt it when i was a pro fighter in Bangkok. I was at a very good gym and they didnt have any foriegn guys there so i had to learn pretty quickly. Initially i was taught the very basics and then swear words. After a few months my Thai improved and then i starte dating students who also helped. My missus teaches me some words each day and we speak Thai around the house so i dont forget them. I am trying to learn to read and write Thai at the moment; very difficult.
    "I live for myself and I answer to nobody."
    Steve McQueen

  18. #43
    punk douche bag
    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lozillionaire
    I am trying to learn to read and write Thai at the moment; very difficult.
    honestly, it isn't...really.
    if i can manage.

    i think the worst thing you can do is to try to remember all the letters and vowels before you start reading stuff.

    far better to look at full words and work it out from there, sort of site reading.

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiangMai noon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lozillionaire
    I am trying to learn to read and write Thai at the moment; very difficult.
    honestly, it isn't...really.
    if i can manage.

    i think the worst thing you can do is to try to remember all the letters and vowels before you start reading stuff.

    far better to look at full words and work it out from there, sort of site reading.
    Then how would you know what sounds the Thai letters make ?

    How could you possibly even try to sound a word out w/o knowing the intended sound?

    I speak Thai like a champ but still am baffled at reading it.

  20. #45
    MrG
    MrG is offline
    Thailand Expat MrG's Avatar
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    Anybody had any success with a language learning system called Rosetta Stone? Supposed to be what all the diplomats and govt. workers use to learn foreign languages fast. It's not bad...total immersion, but it would have been useless to me were it not for my wife translating the words/phrases from pictures and recordings. After a few months of daily at it I started to develop a decent vocabulary, then stopped after we visited Thailand.

    I also hear (and now believe) that learning the alphabet and language at the same time is the only way to go.

  21. #46
    punk douche bag
    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyTits
    Then how would you know what sounds the Thai letters make ?
    i said all the letters.

    there's no need.

    if you can speak it then you can start to decipher it.

    you know that a hotel is a hotel because it looks like one.
    you will also know the Thai word for a hotel is Rong rem.
    from there you can work out the consonants used and so on and so forth.

    gives you something to do when you are walking around town or stuck at traffic lights and really doesn't take very long at all.

  22. #47
    I am in Jail
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    ^ agree, but learning the alphabet won't hurt and isn't that difficult.

    I used index cards with Thai character on one side and the English pronunciation on the other. Ran through them once or twice a night until I could get them all. Once I knew a character without fail, I removed it from the deck. Took a few weeks. Then, when you start to read things, you realize many of the characters aren't used much.

    I look at Thai letters as musical sounds that are bent, like a guitar note, by modifying with emphasis from the right, left, above and below. It's far less straightforward than English.

    Once you can look at a sign and recognize the consonants, you begin to realize how the vowels bend the sound to make the word.

  23. #48
    punk douche bag
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texpat
    agree, but learning the alphabet won't hurt and isn't that difficult.
    maybe not.

    for me though after giving up on learning vowel sounds in isolation it was a lot easier to learn in context, especially since a large number of consonants are rarely used anyway.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrG View Post
    Anybody had any success with a language learning system called Rosetta Stone? Supposed to be what all the diplomats and govt. workers use to learn foreign languages fast. It's not bad...total immersion, but it would have been useless to me were it not for my wife translating the words/phrases from pictures and recordings. After a few months of daily at it I started to develop a decent vocabulary, then stopped after we visited Thailand.

    I also hear (and now believe) that learning the alphabet and language at the same time is the only way to go.
    Years ago, when I knew I would move full time to Thailand but was still outside the country, I bought the Rosetta Stone course, studied every day and thought I was the dogs bollocks. After moving to Thailand it turned out to be relatively useless. Same problem as a lot of static language courses - useless phrases, etc..

    But it at least is a start. Nothing can beat living in Thailand and using the language slowly building up.

  25. #50
    Member Silent Ninja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrG View Post
    Anybody had any success with a language learning system called Rosetta Stone? Supposed to be what all the diplomats and govt. workers use to learn foreign languages fast. It's not bad...total immersion, but it would have been useless to me were it not for my wife translating the words/phrases from pictures and recordings. After a few months of daily at it I started to develop a decent vocabulary, then stopped after we visited Thailand.

    I also hear (and now believe) that learning the alphabet and language at the same time is the only way to go.
    I used Rosetta Stone at one point and found it quite useful. You can guess what everything means if you start from the very beginning and slowly make your way through it all.

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