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  1. #76
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    Did a few classes, after which it was listening to radio and TV. Watched a few films I know well, but with Thai soundtrack. In the past year or so it has been from listening to the locals speak and asking questions when I hear something I'm not sure about.

    Usually add something new to my vocab every second day. It also helps if you can read the language, which isn't as difficult as it may seem.
    I see fish. They are everywhere. They don't know they are fish.

  2. #77
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    I've been staying in Thailand for approximatively a year, working for a french company. I don't speak any Thai and i can still survive. However, it looks like if you can actually speak Thai, people accept you more and are less reluctant to communicate. Moreover, it brings much more opportunities in terms of work.

    Also, i can't exactly see how some people manage to learn Thai by themselves, without a private tutor or a school support.
    I study Japanese before and looks like as for Thai, it is important to "crack" the grammar and learn as much vocabulary as possible. Regarding pronunciation, just one solution: talk to Thai as much as you can (same for Japanese), whatever your mistakes are.

    So i've decided to join a Thai School.

    ps: Thormaturge, nice picture. Bryan Ferry forever.

  3. #78
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    Also doing a lacguage course can be useful.

    Is he doing car resprays or what - lacguage - something to do with the final finish

  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Property
    Sure, I might now be able to ask the way to the train station, or where the tourist information office is
    That should be plenty, you really do not need to know an extensive amount of thai to get by.

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by friscofrankie View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Property
    why should I waste my time talking to people who are clearly less intelligent than me.
    Could say the same of any language
    If you're gonna live here learn the language. We speak Thai in the home about 80% of the time. When the ol lady pisses me off or I get frustrated I'll slip into English, but, I'm learning; it's only been a few years . Lose the cassettes & flash cards or leave 'em at home. You learn the language by using it.

    BINGO! Frisco nails it on the head. learning a language requires speaking it everyday in a cultural context. language and culture go hand in hand. you can spend hours in a practice room practicing the piano, guitar, what have you. but until you're in a real situation with other musicians, you'll never understand how your instrument really works. same goes for learning to speak any foreign language. just gotta get out there and do it.

    Bourbon.

  6. #81
    splendid and tremendous
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    Live in the sticks for 6 months if its practical. If u meet a lass in one of the tourist hotspots take a sabatical in her village. Unless u wanna sit in silence then u have to get out that and chat with the natives, drink the local brew with them and help with the farming. You will be fluent in the language of Thai cuisine within weeks.

  7. #82
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    How good does one's Thai need to be?

    I couldn't imagine living here without getting up to speed with Thai to at least survival/low-level conversational ability, but given the investment in time and effort involved, I am not sure that it is really necessary for most farangs to become really fluent- in fact, I am not even sure that there is much payoff in terms of quality of life, unless a strong knowledge of Thai is useful in one's profession. Of course one should be able to order food, ask directions, barter prices, say the right things to the cops, and tell the ambulance attendant where it hurts, but while it is enjoyable to engage in chit-chat with taxi drivers, masseuses, and the full spectrum of waitresses, do I really need to be able to explain my political views or investment strategy in detail in Thai? Or more importantly, is it worth it to attempt to bring my Thai to that level when the majority of people with a degree of education allowing them to understand my take on topics ranging from the Cambodia border crisis to the collected works of David Foster Wallace will by and large already speak English better than a farang learner in his 40's can ever hope to speak Thai?

    Moreover, I find that a lot of Thais with even a modicum of English study look forward to the opportunity to speak English with farangs; in fact, for some Thais their ability to speak English is a part of their job description, and the farang who insists on speaking Thai with them is liable to be resented as one treading on their usefulness at their job. As to reading, while it is useful to be able decipher Thai script so as to read a road sign, the kind of diligent study required to get to the level of reading a daily newspaper does not strike me as worth the effort unless it really brings one joy, Thailand not having produced too many hard-hitting investigative journalists, let alone Dostoevskys or Kawabatas, so far as I know. Just by way of pointing out that my position is not based on my being a lazy git, I speak, read and write two of the "hard" languages fluently- Russian and Japanese. A major difference between Thai and those languages is that the rewards of attaining fluency are demonstrably greater; in my case, Russian because it opens the door to one of the world's great literatures and cultures, and Japanese largely because the professional opportunities it avails. I do know some guys here fluent in Thai and making a lot of money, but there is a grain of truth in this amusing Not the Nation article: "Scientists Discover Inverse Relationship Between Expatsí Income and Thai Fluency" Not The Nation.Com :: The Website you can trust ::

    I don't intend to disparage the achievements of those farangs who have mastered Thai (although I do find amusing the delusionary pride some guys seem to have in their ability to engage in broad Thai conversation with bar girls), but for most of us I think that in learning Thai the law of diminishing returns kicks in at a certain point. Curious to know what others think.

  8. #83
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    I learned some Thai my first year here. Tuned in, and tuned right back out.

    Self-sufficiency Thai for urban living shouldn't take more than a book, a CD, and about 4-6 weeks.

    Living in the sticks or going bamboo takes a bit more effort (maybe).

    For the fully incorporated entrepreneur types with Thai employees / suppliers etc you probably want to learn as much as you can.

    Don't go to a school to learn days of the week, numbers, etc. You can learn that at home with a laptop and headphones.

    Be aware that your ability to tune out junk will gradually disappear.

  9. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by robuzo View Post
    the majority of people with a degree of education allowing them to understand my take on topics ranging from the Cambodia border crisis to the collected works of David Foster Wallace will by and large already speak English
    Spot on. A friend who completed a 6-month intensive course (20 hours of class time a week) commented that for most purposes taking your Thai to a stratospheric level is basically useless. You'll be having those convos in English, if you have them at all.

  10. #85
    ding ding ding
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    Quote Originally Posted by robuzo
    Curious to know what others think.
    Aside from your post being the best I've read on teakdoor for many moons I cound'nt possibly agree any more on everything you said.

  11. #86
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    I am glad to here i am not the only one finding it hard to speak and understand thai.

  12. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by crocadile View Post
    I am glad to here i am not the only one finding it hard to speak and understand thai.
    Don't feel bad- according to this website Language Learning Difficulty for¬[at]English Speakers , the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State classifies Thai in "Category II: Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English" in which 44 weeks (1100 class hours) are required on average to reach "General Professional Proficiency" in speaking and reading. The website notes the following:

    "It must be kept in mind that that students at FSI are almost 40 years old, are native speakers of English. and have a good aptitude for formal language study, plus knowledge of several other foreign languages. They study in small classes of no more than 6. Their schedule calls for 25 hours of class per week with 3-4 hours per day of directed self-study."

    That is some hard-core intensive study- I have done such courses in Japanese and Russian, and in both cases the attrition rate was high for merely a 3-month course; in the Japanese course I took at the Monterey Institute nearly half the students dropped out. I can't imagine trying to do it for 44 weeks!

    One odd thing I noticed on the list of languages at that page is that Japanese is listed as a Category 3 language, twice again as difficult as Thai (or Russian) in terms of gaining general proficiency. This is misleading- Japanese is much easier than Thai when it comes to reaching survival/basic conversation proficiency, because Thai is a tonal language. I was able to engage effectively in conversation in Japanese after the 3-month intensive, but studied/worked (in Japanese companies) another 7 years in Japan before I could read well enough to pass Level 1 of the Japanese Proficiency Test (permitting university matriculation). As to conversational Thai, after living here for three years my passive understanding is pretty good, but effective language production requires some, shall we say, flexibility and imagination on the part of the listener.

    And by the way, flexibility and imagination seem to be in fairly short supply around here, I'm afraid; it's funny how some Thais seem to understand me (and when they can't are often at least try to help), some just can't get around the accent and/or are unable to piece things together in context (which is my problem, not theirs!), while some don't seem to want to. . .it never ceases to amaze me when a I hear a farang say something in perfectly reasonable Thai, and I understand them while the Thai listener doesn't- or one of the Thais listening does while another doesn't, etc. This could be due to a number of factors- not being able to deal with hearing Thai come out of a farang's mouth, passive/aggressive attempts to get the farang to speak English, or general obtuseness. I dealt with such things so long in Japan that it really doesn't phase me here, but I have seen a some of my Thai-speaking farang mates get quite put out in such cases. If it is any consolation, the Japanese are a lot less receptive to fluent non-native speakers than Thais, at least when it comes to your average Thai; don't even bother trying to speak Thai to the kind of "hi-so" (the descriptor itself makes me cringe) apt to spead English amongst themselves, unless you want the cold shoulder. I don't really see the point of trying to force the locals to speak Thai if they don't want to, because if their English is sufficient the conversation proceeds without obstacle, while if they need to slip into Thai and I am able to fill in the gaps I get brownie points of a sort. I'm perfectly willing to let Thais think I don't understand anything- there are advantages to that, actually, as Thais aren't the only ones who can benefit from playing dumb.

    There are a lot of systems that claim to have shortcuts to language learning, but in the end the Russians are correct: Повторение- мать учения (repetition is the mother of learning). This doesn't mean it has to be dull, in fact some of the better "revolutionary" methods are really just ways of livening up the repetition. Most importantly, new vocabulary and phrases must be used in order to commit them to long-term memory. You really must go out of your way to use whatever new vocab you pick up- one of my old Russian profs had a theory that if you actually use a word six times in conversation you have a good chance of remembering it. I reckon that's a good start.

  13. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by robuzo
    it never ceases to amaze me when a I hear a farang say something in perfectly reasonable Thai, and I understand them while the Thai listener doesn't
    Had the same the other day with some girls I know. 2 were from Udon and one from Kanchanaburi. I could understand what the two Udonites were saying but the Kan girl couldn't. She was embarrassed that I could, too.

  14. #89
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    Or a Bangkok bargirl that can live and work with Issan women for years and still claim to not understand very basic Lao.

    It's merely unwillingness to listen and learn.

  15. #90
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    ^ I fink we're talking about the same peeps mate.

  16. #91
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    ROBUZO - thats an interesting take and though it would generally fit to most here, there are of course as always a few exceptions. For me Written language is an art form, English when written is one of the most mundane maybe because of its familiarity to me, but other more exotic scripts are indeed spell bounding and hold the secret to their function in my life!!!!!!! (A SHORT INFILL)

    I would add that if you speak english, french, spanish, then a large proportion of people in the western world will be able to communicate to you and you back (including australia, africa, america and europe) which is important in its own right. Many english speakers find french a difficult language to comprehend and use, however forgetting that the two are pretty much indistinguishable, and that if you have french you are in part half of the way into spanish! not so far away at all it would seem and I would say this is important of course to those that speak english rely heavily on the greater community of the world to also speak english by way of being understood.

    This to me is what makes me cringe, when something so important as language and the understanding of what is being said and of how to reply to the most everyday same casual topics, are lost because of the dependency and unimportance placed on this very taboo itself! I agree that when i speak thai (in my limited ability) some people are turned off, they are muted by disbelieving i can actually mutter a few words strung together! But all the same i would still rather use such a device to allow me the opportunity to make use as and when i please. To fish out what others might think of me, whats going on day to day and here is why? At the moment i am very aware that because i am largely integrated into a thai only family, i feel somewhat left out and isolated. i cannot watch tv together with my family for the not knowing of whats going on, i cannot partake in a discussion with my family because i havent got a clue what's going on, i cannot help the concerns of my family because i cannot infer to a situation that might take place in thai that they to i would not otherwise heed. so in just a few instances of day to day living to understand is important (maybe not so in the list you mentioned and that being the reason of their own unimportance to you) so i would say under those situations it is my need and benefit that i should learn thai for my ease into the country i will probably die in, and hopefully long before that become a much greater integrated figure in all things because of learning thai.

    (RIGHT BACK TO MY POINT)
    Arabic, japanese (kanji, hirigana, katakana) Thai and chinese present challenges to me that are my own personal hurdles in life to master. This is two fold, for instance as an art form they give me greater knowledge and skill, and for learning they influence my ability to think and understand to conceive of different and conceptual ideas for both art and language!

    If you take arabic calligraphs they represent some of the most outstanding poetic art ive ever seen, both aesthetic in beauty and meaning. Japanese calligraphy in its many forms also inherits this but with a somewhat greater ideology in a more pragmatic form. I find japanese in speaking easier, (as you had mentioned) than thai because i have great problems with tone, which is not the case with japanese speaking. i find that i can adjust my self to japanese easier then to thai for this very reason, my ear is more intone to hearing japanese than thai and so my comprehension greater there-in (although in both it is still very poor). The one thing that pulls me threw all of this is that there is a reward at the end of it, which ever language you get to learn and how ever far along you get. A world of more knowledge and greater understanding is better then one of naive frustration or misunderstanding!

    I hope one day to be a master of many languages for the purpose of socializing and engrossing myself in others and for my own inherent need to become a better artist, i hope that this goal is realized and that this would make me in myself feel an accomplishment!

    Sorry i think ive had too much 7 up!!!!!!!!
    im hot its so hot today.......milk was a bad choice!

  17. #92
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    years of exposure and interaction

  18. #93
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    I'm a relatively new forummer here, but please allow me to share my 2-cents worth, or 2-baht worth. For those farangs in the Bangkok megalopolis or in south Thailand, you should notice, a large number of foreigners, usually ethnic Chinese from Malaysia or Singapore, who seems to pick up speaking Thai like fish takes to water.

    The trick is in the tones. Get the tones right. Chinese also have a tonal tongue, and even more strictly tonal and monosyllabic than Thai cause there's no Pali or Sanskrit direct loanwords in Chinese. They get the idea and the rhythm very quickly and naturally. For Japanese and farangs, take some effort, I'm afraid, but it's manageable.

  19. #94
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    I want to learn thai as well. I started learn Korean recently and all went pretty good, but i'm thinking switch to thai

  20. #95
    Thailand Expat aging one's Avatar
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    Boone congrats for you. But did you have to drag up an 8 year old thread to announce that?

  21. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by aging one
    But did you have to drag up an 8 year old thread to announce that?
    I think Boone's on a mission to resurrect the past.

  22. #97
    Thailand Expat Mr Earl's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    This is actually a pretty good thread with some excellent tips and advice.
    Good bump me thinks.

  23. #98
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    Quite amusing to read a Texpat post that was helpful and intelligently written by a person then thoroughly grounded in sound common sense.
    When did he have his psychotic episode?

  24. #99
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    ^The Thai word for "Brittle" is "khrop" (เปราะ)

  25. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmart View Post
    ^The Thai word for "Brittle" is "khrop" (เปราะ)
    Appreciated the twisted play on words - literally - breakable, fragile, delicate [in Thai]. Heh....

    Though, I don't believe the content in which Texxy uses the American derogatory slangish term, Brittle, [one that comes from Britain] can be properly translated into non-English languages.


    A Texpatism - sort to speak.


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