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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat
    Scottish Gary's Avatar
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    Anyone Here Speak Fluent Thai

    If so how long did it take you to learn it and what method did you use?

  2. #2
    I am in Jail
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    Took several years of study and having a gf who did not speak english

  3. #3
    My kind of town
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim1176 View Post
    having a gf who did not speak english
    Seems to be a benefit to learning the language. Mrs. Chi speaks fluent English and often handles things that I would be forced to learn Thai if she did not.
    Last edited by chitown; 13-10-2009 at 11:04 AM.

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    Anyone who tells you they're fluent is talking out their ass.

    I speak Thai fairly well and am finally trying to learn to read and write the language.

    7 years.
    Last edited by Ghandi; 12-10-2009 at 11:16 PM.

  5. #5
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    ^Some of us have been here a hell of a lot longer than you.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog View Post
    ^Some of us have been here a hell of a lot longer than you.

    And some of those people can't speak a lick of Thai , mainly becuase they never try.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog View Post
    ^Some of us have been here a hell of a lot longer than you.
    Oh no, he's an expert. So back off short timer.

  8. #8
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    I meet a danish guy once he spoke thai and laos like a native took him well over 10 years

  9. #9
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    I never formally studied the language so picked it up from speaking with Thai people working in a "manufacturing" environment .

    So I hear and use the language daily, if I were to start all over then I'd consider learning via a proper school where you build from the foundations of reading and writing as it will make it easier later on.

  10. #10
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    i speak reasonable thai.
    only farang i ever met who i would consider to be totally fluent in the language was texpat.
    ask him to translate ANY bloody thing you like, and he will say it correctly, write itin thai, translate into japanese and write it in bloody japanese, too!
    i took a bet with him once, the first time i ever met him, accused him of bullshitting me, and checked him out: ended up with egg on my face and a slap from the thai waitress!!
    brrrzzzzt, brrrzzzt!
    beep!. ting, ting
    redirecting, please be patient..........:

    hello, insect!
    brrrzzzt, brrrzzzt..................

  11. #11
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    Scottish Gary's Avatar
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    The problem with any language is trying to adapt the stuff you learn in the classroom into the lingo that is spoken on the street.
    Ive a load of books,CDs, etc and i thought i could speak basic Thai reasonably well. My Thai wife thought i was okay give or take the wrong tone yet when i try to speak to her family up north none of them seem to have a clue what im talking about.
    Its the same when my wife meets my Scottish mates. She once asked me why they were not speaking English.

  12. #12
    On a walkabout
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    We employed a farang who could read, write and speak Thai fluently and before he even visited Thailand.

    2 years at Uni in Melbourne and a lot of study still left him not being able to communicate with Isarn people though.

    I have been told you will not become fluent in Thai until you learn to read and write the language but having said that I know a lot of Thais that cannot read or write Thai.

    I have also met one farang who claimed he could speak the language within 3 months but in that time he learned to read and write it as well. After speaking to a few Thais they agreed that his pronunciation was perfect so I guess it is possible and if you are serious about the language.

  13. #13
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    One of the long term Thai language schools in Bangkok claims to be able to push you through the Thai Government language proficiency exams in 6 months. 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, but they also expect at least 4 hours homework a day ... mainly getting out and talking to people.

    Would love to do it if I ever got rich or when I retire in 30 years.

  14. #14
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    I've lived here for 11 years and my conversational Thai is not too bad. I still make mistakes but am understood and can make myself understood. I have a reasonably good vocabulary. I regret never having learned to read and write. I think that is the most important component. Also, Thais construct their utterances differently than we do in English so you will never be able to transliterate from English. You have to think and speak like a Thai to be understood, IMO.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Kerr View Post
    One of the long term Thai language schools in Bangkok claims to be able to push you through the Thai Government language proficiency exams in 6 months. 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, but they also expect at least 4 hours homework a day ... mainly getting out and talking to people.

    Would love to do it if I ever got rich or when I retire in 30 years.
    Intensives can work, but the good ones are really. . .intense. I've done two, in Russian and Japanese (making up for lost time as a somewhat older student), and while both were worthwhile the attrition rate in both courses was above 50%. You have time for nothing else- so you are spot on with your comment. I will say that 6 months strikes me as too long to maintain the pace and workload of a real intensive- three months or a little less is about right, so maybe the one at the Thai school is semi-intensive (nothing intrinsically wrong with that especially if the student is living in-country).
    “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.” Dorothy Parker

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    I have been here on and off for 7 years, I would say my language is lower intermediate. My advice would be to take an active interest in learning, I don't believe at an older age it would come naturally, as it would a child. Not to become fluent.

    The reason I stopped is through sheer laziness, I studied for a couple of years and gave in. I can hold conversations on a number of topics now but not really in-deph with a greater vocabulary. I know the alphabet, consonants and the vowels and my reading is child-like at best. My grammar and structure is just about there (according to my missus who is a teacher) but like I said, I'm too lazy to learn any more.

    Good luck in learning!

  17. #17
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    GF speaks enough English to ask for money. I will not discuss the matter in any other language. This is her incentive. When I wish to communicate with her, I force myself to learn the probable conversation before I attempt anything. Also I listen very carefully to the conversations around me, unfortunately they tend to be held in Laotian.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsicar
    only farang i ever met who i would consider to be totally fluent in the language was texpat. ask him to translate ANY bloody thing you like, and he will say it correctly, write itin thai, translate into japanese and write it in bloody japanese, too!
    But, he doesn't understand all of what he is saying or writing.

  19. #19
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    Learning alphabet seems to be key, seen it with 2 foreigners handling language quite well...

    So read and write is the way to go if you intend to be fluent...

  20. #20
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    ^^ No better than me, then!! And I only speak English!

  21. #21
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forreachingme
    Learning alphabet seems to be key
    To attain a relatively high level of fluency it is the only way to go. Will also get the "tonals" sorted.

    Will still take a lot of practice and learning to understand what you can now read.

    We all have encountered Thais who can read and pronounce English well but don't have a clue what they have just said or read.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

  22. #22
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    Fluency in thai?
    Never met anyone. But they are definitely out there. Jay Stuart for one
    I don`t live in Thailand, but I can read and write. Learnt it from text books albeit not to an advanced level.
    The linguaphone course initiated my learning.
    I can hold my conversation to a decent level, but if the thai speaker dwells upon specific terms regarding for instance religion/politics etc. I am generally lost.
    Not that they ever do that

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Gary View Post
    If so how long did it take you to learn it and what method did you use?
    I bought some textbooks and dictionaries during my first stay in Thailand and sat down and studied tham in my spare time in my home in Copenhagen for a couple of years.

    After a few months I started corresponding with my Thai girl friend in Thai. She sent me a few copies of Thai Rath newspaper which I gradually managed to decipher.

    When I came to Thailand again I was able to speak with the Thais although I had some difficulty understanding them. The difficulties disappeared after a few months.

    I got employed at a translation agncy owned by a Thai prince (Morm Ratchawong), worked there for several years and translated all kinds of texts, from death sentences on heroin traffickers to contracts for building ships for the Thai navy. It was most interesting and challenging.

    I was probably the first person in Thailand who translated Thai documents directly into Danish. The first such document was a Thai divorce decree.

    The best textbook to learn Thai from is probably THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE THAI LANGUAGE by Campbell and Chaweewong. But you need one of the first versions that dont use phonetic script.

    You also need to learn Thai touch typing. You can do this from a training CD which you can buy at Pantip Plaza.

    On the internet you will find two Thai-English electronic online dictionaries.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBang View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Gary View Post
    If so how long did it take you to learn it and what method did you use?
    I bought some textbooks and dictionaries during my first stay in Thailand and sat down and studied tham in my spare time in my home in Copenhagen for a couple of years.

    After a few months I started corresponding with my Thai girl friend in Thai. She sent me a few copies of Thai Rath newspaper which I gradually managed to decipher.

    When I came to Thailand again I was able to speak with the Thais although I had some difficulty understanding them. The difficulties disappeared after a few months.

    I got employed at a translation agncy owned by a Thai prince (Morm Ratchawong), worked there for several years and translated all kinds of texts, from death sentences on heroin traffickers to contracts for building ships for the Thai navy. It was most interesting and challenging.

    I was probably the first person in Thailand who translated Thai documents directly into Danish. The first such document was a Thai divorce decree.

    The best textbook to learn Thai from is probably THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE THAI LANGUAGE by Campbell and Chaweewong. But you need one of the first versions that dont use phonetic script.

    You also need to learn Thai touch typing. You can do this from a training CD which you can buy at Pantip Plaza.

    On the internet you will find two Thai-English electronic online dictionaries.
    Impressive dedication.

  25. #25
    I am in Jail

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    'Fluent in Thai' is a really loose term, used mostly by those who wouldn't know fluent Thai if it bit them on the arse.

    When I hear that 'so and so' is 'fluent' in Thai, I take it as maybe intermediate level and am usually right.

    For me being 'fluent in Thai' means that you can adapt linguistically, instantly, to any situation or topic which comes up with no problem whatsoever. You can read and understand anything instantly. That is fluency.

    I know of only 2 non Thais who can do this. One is an Indian, the other a Brit whom has been here for the last 35 years.
    Last edited by Professorfart; 10-11-2009 at 12:14 AM.

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