Learning the Thai Language Update

Pro Language, PattayaWell, it’s been about a month and a half since I started classes at Pro Language in Pattaya  and overall my learning is progressing very well. My class schedule is Monday ( Wan Jan ), Wednesday ( Wan Phoot ) and Friday ( Wan Sook )and the class is split with one hour spent on Thai vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure with the following hour solely concentrating on writing Thai.

In this time my vocabulary has increased by about 500 Thai words, most of which I have remembered easily while some have given me problems and I need to work them into conversation more and actively commit them to memory. Making my own flash cards of all the words has been extremely helpful in this regard. On one side I have the Thai word written phonetically with the Thai script below it and on the reverse I have the English translation. This way I can look at either side and give the answer written on the opposite side.

The written Thai portion of the class is progressing very slowly and with good reason. We work with small sets of vowels and consonants and then build words and paragraphs using them. While it’s been fairly straight forward it’s now begging to get tougher with more vowels and consonants being added and new rules being introduced for their use. Even so I find myself walking home from class staring at all the signs and trying to decipher them in my mind, aside from almost being run over a few times while doing this I’m actually getting better and picking out words.

Another helpful asset in my Thai language learning arsenal has been Ying, aside from a few English words she speaks literally no English whatsoever. I may not always understand each word she is saying but I usually understand enough to get the gist of what she is saying. When I have no clue I just say “Chuay phuut ikk tii dai mai cha cha” which basically means could you say that again slowly, and sometimes I still don’t get it but I’m trying.

I think that’s the biggest hurdle for anyone picking up a new language. It’s not enough to just memorize words and phrases you have to put them to use on a daily bases if you are going to retain it.

Women Learning Thai ResourcesWith everything though study is the most important factor. You can go to all the classes you want but if you don’t crack the books at any other time then learning will be difficult. I’ve been setting aside 2 hours a day for studying and it’s really helped. Another thing I’ve found that really helps is to cut down on my sources of information. There are a tremendous amount of resources out there and you need to look no further than Women Learning Thai to see the overwhelming amount of material on offer for learning the Thai language.

At some point though “Overwhelming” becomes the key word and you can get lost in the different Thai language resources. I finally made the decision to cut back to what I know works for me. My main focus is on school and the lessons I am receiving with some back up from one or two other resources.

In other news I got my paperwork back this week from the Ministry of Education and I am all set to do my visa run to Laos to get my ED Visa which will give me 15 months in the Land of Smiles :)

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19 Comment(s)

  1. Put lots of effort into the Thai script. Once you memorize the letters, reading Thai is pretty phonetical. It opens a whole new world being able to read even the simplest of signs and you’ll be sure to pronounce words correctly when you can see the Thai script. I wish I had jumped into Thai script earlier. All I recommend friends is that they learn the very basics of everyday life in English phonetics and then dive into Thai script. 2 hours a day is what I do too. Good luck in your endeavor!

    Don | Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

  2. Garuna phuut iik krang le cha cha dai mai khrap.

    “please ….”

    Joe | Oct 16, 2010 | Reply

  3. Talen I’m glad your lessons are going well and learning to read and write the language has got to be a big step in making the breakthrough. Equally so, on your days off school you’re surrounded by the voices of your language books and course work. That’s got to be the biggest help of all.

    Martyn | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  4. Hi Talen, Great to read about your progress! Were you able to start class before your obtained your Ed Visa?…and please do post about the process of going to Laos, as I’ll be doing the same quite soon. Any information would be greatly appreciated. A Laos Ed Visa Run for Dummies, if you will ;)

    Snap | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  5. Two hours a day! Good grief, I have got to learn some self-discipline. Glad your classes are going well. :)

    Megan | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  6. I agree, two hours is megga fabulous. Way to go Talen! I can only concentrate for short spurts of time, having to drag myself back often.

    (thanks bunches for the mention :-)

    Catherine | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  7. Don, Thai script really does open up the language and lets you know exactly how the word is pronounced. Some of the rules are starting to get a little confusing but I am sure the further I progress they will be more clear.

    Talen | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  8. Joe, I have to get back to you on this as I’m not too certain as to one of the words lol…

    Talen | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  9. Martyn, Being surrounded and immersed in the language is the hugest of help. I may not know whats being said exactly but I find myself listening in on every conversation and picking out words and phrases…and it’s always a laugh when I chime in or answer someone back in Thai as it comes as a surprise to the Thai’s I’m speaking with…and they always smile.

    Talen | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  10. Snap,
    I’ll let you know exactly how the visa run goes. I may be going this coming week but I might also extend my tourist visa 30 days and then make the visa run next month…not sure yet.

    But I did start classes the beginning of September and the school got all the paper work together and sent it off to the Ministry of Education at that time.

    Talen | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  11. Megan, I am the worst procrastinator in the world. If I don’t force myself to study I will slack off.

    2 hours is easy though. I make breakfast and while eating study for an hour in the morning. In the evening I do the same thing after dinner.

    Talen | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  12. Cat, sometimes I can’t concentrate too well either and I cut it short but since I do an hour in the morning and another hour in the evening it’s usually not to bad.

    Talen | Oct 17, 2010 | Reply

  13. Hi Talen,

    The written Thai language is indeed the key to understanding the language. My days are too packed to study two hours a day, I keep telling myself ;-)

    The rules must be horrendous, all those exceptions etc, as Marlon Brando already said; The horror, the horror!

    Camille | Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

  14. Talen great stuff. I have a question regarding the visa too. Can you not get one in the USA, before you arrive?

    Mike | Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

  15. Camille, there are a lot of exceptions and they are getting tougher to remember.

    Talen | Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

  16. Mike, You can get the ED Visa before arriving but you won’t have an opportunity to check out the school first. I really wanted to make sure I chose the right school before committing the money.

    Talen | Oct 18, 2010 | Reply

  17. What you said about limiting your exposure to other sources makes sense. I have found that I get too sidetracked and end up remembering very little. It’s best to stick to one program, as you’re doing. I took 20 hours with PRO Language in BKK and find I depend on their workbook for review and recall. I took a lot of notes and did the exercises. I also had a tough teacher who chided me more than I care to admit.

    SiamRick | Oct 19, 2010 | Reply

  18. Talen, I am looking for a good course to learn Thai (spoken, written). Several of the books and CDs I’ve obtained require me to know a 3rd language, the IPA (not used in the USA), and this is something I wish to avoid. Does this course require knowledge of this 3rd language?

    Brent | Oct 21, 2010 | Reply

  19. Brent, no , this course doesn’t require the knowledge of a third language.

    Talen | Oct 23, 2010 | Reply

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