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Understanding Spoken Thai

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  • #16
    Some people say they can't find the time to practice.

    When I was learning ( in England back then ) l would go to see a Thai friend once a week. I would have her say into my cassette player the 25 words I wanted to learn that week. I would then have her say a very short sentence using that word. Once fairly slowly and then at normal speed.

    E.g. Rong pyabahn.
    Pom dtong py rong pyabahn wanee.

    During the week , whenever I was driving alone
    ( often as I was a courier ) I would stick in the tape and listen and repeat out loud. I got plenty of practice this way without having to set aside study time or inflict my pronunciation on anyone else.

    Worked really well for me since by practicing just short sentence you pick up the tones and ryhthm automatically.

    When it comes to listening you are then better equipped to understand what others are saying.

    Another technique for expanding your vocabulary is to write half a dozen words on a scrap of paper and carry it with you all day. Whenever you have a spare few seconds have a look at the list and try to remember the words by silently repeating them to yourself. You can do this all day while sitting on the toilet or washing the car or standing on a bus. Again....does not require an allocated study period.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Buadhai View Post
      But, that’s the problem. I don’t hear any words at all. Just an unintelligible buzz. How can I repeat what I hear when I can’t pick out individual words?
      Persistence.

      Admittedly, I used this method during my 30s and on a recent attempt to replicate it with Malay language in my late 40s it wasn't as easy, so it's probably a skill that's naturally lost with age. I suggest you start with basics. For example, I started Malay by copying the announcements on the KL MRT system, which are fairly short and repeated every couple of minutes. This helps to tune in to the various sounds of the language.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Bonglek View Post
        Another technique for expanding your vocabulary is to write half a dozen words on a scrap of paper and carry it with you all day. Whenever you have a spare few seconds have a look at the list and try to remember the words by silently repeating them to yourself. You can do this all day while sitting on the toilet or washing the car or standing on a bus. Again....does not require an allocated study period.
        Good idea. I target one new word every day - how to write it and pronounce it. Once done it's easy to spot them being used in sentences.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Bonglek View Post
          Some people say they can't find the time to practice.
          I've got nothing but time, but all the time I've spent seems to have come to naught.

          I started out with the Becker books and tapes back in the mid-1990s. I spent an hour a day listening to the tapes. From Becker I moved on to Rosetta Stone. RS taught me how to read, but, as I've said, the Thai you learn from RS is like nothing you'll actually hear. I also worked through Pimsleur, the Mani readers, the ALG courses on YouTube, High Speed Thai, Learn Thai from a White Guy, etc., etc.

          Lots of money. Lots of time. Zero result.
          mgnewman.com -|- Out and About Thailand - A Photo Blog

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          • #20
            Originally posted by lamphun View Post
            Not sure I agree with Pat regarding pronouncing รor ล. I notice that the television soapies speak with an ร but most people in Bangkok use ล. It appears to be a regional thing rather than class.

            Another passing thought which may help. I always speak better Thai after drinking. Very similar to my performance when playing darts. Loss of inhibition helps with tones.
            Agree with the drinking bit although I don't drink. Thais generally comment on how good my pronunciation is but it's simply because I've parroted the same lines. Quite often a taxi driver will try and strike a conversation after asking me how long I have lived here but they I try and explain I can listen but my conversation isn't good. Sometimes I'll feel pretty uncomfortable that I'll make a phone call just to avoid it!

            Bad really.

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            • #21
              There is one good thing about Thai TV - listening to them talk on Thai TV helps a lot.
              It doesnt help you speak or read the language, but it helps you 'hear' the different sounds.

              Also Thai movies - those with English subtitles are great.
              It sort of 'sinks' in slowly slowly.

              But IMO the Thai/Lao language is so 'alien' to English/German/Latin that most European languahe speakers have big trouble learning it.
              English/Latin etc are all written languages with a structure based on tense and subjective contexts with a short number of vowels and consenants.
              Thai/Lao is a spoken language built on a completely different structure - subtle sound variations play a big role i meaning and tense - many different words for each situation.
              I am happy to understand some of what is being said - but speaking it any more than broken 'pigeon Thai' aint gonna happen.
              And I am happy to let the wife be my translator (and other Thais not knowing I actually understand some of what they have said).
              If I dont respond it is because: A) Libtard; B) Blocked Libtard; C) Playing Golf

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              • #22
                If you want to learn a language (Thai or any other), you can learn it. If you don't want to, you won't. There's no great mystery to this, though for some reason, foreigners in Thailand seem to be endlessly surprised that their complete lack of interest in and engagement with the country in which they have made a home leads to an equally complete inability to communicate with most of its inhabitants.

                Anyway, how do you learn Thai? Engage with it. It doesn't really matter so much what you do as that you just do something, all (or at least most of) the time.
                Last edited by Dan; 06-11-2018, 05:06 PM.

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                • #23
                  But IMO the Thai/Lao language is so 'alien' to English/German/Latin that most European languahe speakers have big trouble learning it.
                  English/Latin etc are all written languages with a structure based on tense and subjective contexts with a short number of vowels and consenants.
                  Thai/Lao is a spoken language built on a completely different structure - subtle sound variations play a big role i meaning and tense - many different words for each situation.
                  By your own admission, you don't speak Thai, so it should (I hope) come as no surprise to hear that this is complete bollocks.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Pat
                    My Thai is far from perfect despite being a half breed in my early 40s
                    I wouldn't worry about it Pat; you seem to be equally ill-informed and incapable in all other areas of your life, so there is at least a pleasant symmetry to your life.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Smeg
                      I target one new word every day
                      Good idea. Getting to a solid C1 is likely to require knowing at least 5,000 words (your passive vocabulary is going be significantly larger than that, though), so that's only going to take you 13+ years. Great stuff. No wonder your TEFL career was such a resounding success.
                      Last edited by Dan; 06-11-2018, 06:08 PM.

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                      • #26
                        I'm in no hurry. I won't be retiring to Penang for another 3-4 years, and even then I won't need Malay language as English is widely understood. I'll leave the serious stuff to the language pros.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Dan View Post
                          I wouldn't worry about it Pat; you seem to be equally ill-informed and incapable in all other areas of your life, so there is at least a pleasant symmetry to your life.
                          Yep, that's me alright

                          How's the sex tourism going?

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                          • #28
                            That's a peculiar question to ask. You, after all, are the middle-aged man who comes to Thailand to chase after school girls, not me.

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                            • #29
                              Yep, and I do very well at it^

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                              • #30
                                Good. Then presumably, as far as you are concerned, the sex tourism is going well. I glad we got that sorted out.

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