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Thread: Understanding Spoken Thai

  1. #1

    Understanding Spoken Thai

    I've been trying to learn Thai for decades and have lived here since 2005. I've spent lots of money on courses, books, CDs, etc. After all that time and effort I still can't make heads or tails out of spoken Thai. I've never had any sort of conversation with anyone in Thai.

    If we're out and about and I hear something I don't understand (around 100% of the time), I ask my wife about it. She usually translates the Thai from standard spoken Thai in to what we call "Rosetta Stone Thai" which I readily understand. I'm sure you can see that this approach is impractical.

    Yesterday we were at lunch when one of the patrons asked for the bill. I only know he asked for the bill because soon after he spoke one of the waiters delivered the check to his table. I understood none of what he said. I could pick out no familiar words.

    I asked my wife to "tell me exactly what he said". I amended that by telling her to text it to me instead. This is what she sent:

    น้องครับ เช็คบิลด้วยครับ

    Of course, as soon as I read that I did indeed know exactly what he said.

    How can I persuade my ear/brain to do as well with spoken Thai as I do with written Thai?

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  2. #2
    Some of those courses only teach you one dimensional ways of speaking. Keep it up though. At least you're making the effort and the natives will appreciate it.

    My Thai is far from perfect despite being a half breed in my early 40s
    Last edited by Pat; 06-10-2018 at 11:45 AM.

  3. #3
    Bellend
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buadhai View Post
    How can I persuade my ear/brain to do as well with spoken Thai as I do with written Thai?
    Watch a lot of Thai tv, and repeat what you hear even if you don't understand it. It's the immersion way that children learn.

    A Hong kong friend of mine who grew up in England learned English that way in his infant years as his parents used no English at home.

  4. #4
    No offense but perhaps you need a hearing aid. Or possibly youíre doing the same thing as me which is filtering out the surrounding conversation as itís a distraction.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Exexpat View Post
    Watch a lot of Thai tv, and repeat what you hear even if you don't understand it. It's the immersion way that children learn.
    But, thatís the problem. I donít hear any words at all. Just an unintelligible buzz. How can I repeat what I hear when I canít pick out individual words?

    I watch quite a bit of Thai TV. News in the mornings and evenings with the occasional soap opera. During the news shows I can usually figure out whatís going on by reading the words on the screen. I donít pick up anything from the news readers.

    Quote Originally Posted by lamphun View Post
    No offense but perhaps you need a hearing aid. Or possibly youíre doing the same thing as me which is filtering out the surrounding conversation as itís a distraction.
    I bought a language course. When it didnít help at all, the author suggested a hearing test. I had one at Bangkok Hospital. The audiologist told me hat my hearing was better than expected for someone my age. Just a slight loss at higher frequencies.

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  6. #6
    I had some success, since lapsed, with a conversation class with about five others Everyone was ďforcedĒ to speak often in the form of asking questions and you had to reply. It made you speak slowly and in the approximatly correct tone and grammar as well as trying to make sense of what was being said.

    The following I do not recommend.

    Learning from your wife. Possible grounds for divorce.
    Learning from television. Works with small kids, grown ups need not apply.
    Learning conversation from a book. Been doing that for decades. I can read Thai almost perfectly but itís never helped with conversation.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by lamphun View Post
    The following I do not recommend.

    Learning from your wife. Possible grounds for divorce.
    Learning from television. Works with small kids, grown ups need not apply.
    Learning conversation from a book. Been doing that for decades. I can read Thai almost perfectly but itís never helped with conversation.
    Thatís pretty much my experience, as well.

    I think the Rosetta Stone method is good (if you buy into it), but the version of Thai it teaches is spoken only by people who learned Thai from Rosetta Stone. Iíd give Rosetta Stone another chance if it taught "real" ordinary Thai.

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  8. #8
    Been here long enough to be proficient in Thai but I can't say I am. For the last 12 years I listen and speak Lao/Isaan mostly so much better at it.
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

  9. #9
    Take into consideration different social classes and their way of speaking

    Example:


    ''You come my room?'' or ''farang''


    The high classes lean towards the 'R' sound a little bit more, and sometimes even roll their R's.... Listen to the newsreaders. Any farang who has mastered this obstacle deserves respect, it ain't easy, man.

    ''You come my loom?'' or ''falang''

    The lower classes lean towards the 'L' rather than an 'R' sound, as do many farang who talk Thai. In general it's the middle/lower classes who find it easier to understand a farangs version of their language, while the hisos will squint their eyes, pull a face and grunt 'what?'






    The lower class whores generally refuse to understand a farangs pidgen Thai as their motto is ''Not like falang can speak Thai''
    Last edited by Pat; 06-10-2018 at 09:29 PM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post

    The lower class whores generally refuse to understand a farangs pidgen Thai as their motto is ''Not like falang can speak Thai''
    Bloody hell Pat, canít beat your experience.

    Anyways love your photoshop efforts.

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