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Thread: Understanding Spoken Thai

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    Take into consideration different social classes and their way of speaking

    ''farang'' 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?'
    My listening skills have never progressed to the point where I could hear the difference between ฝรั่ง and ฝลั่ง.

    I suppose that if I were to try to speak (which rarely happens) I would use ฝรั่ง because I happen to know how it's spelled.

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  2. #12
    Thailand Lifer Jesus Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buadhai View Post
    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.



    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.
    I am in a similar boat! Lived here 15 years but I cannot strike up a conversation in Thai. I can get a taxi, go shopping and say a few commands but my Thai is very poor and I often ask my 5-year old daughter to help. My issue is I have been surrounded by English speaking Thais mainly.

    Embarrassing considering I learned to read and write Russian within a year yet Iíve to visit there.

  3. #13
    Staff a immigration or banks assume I am fluent when they know about my background. Many luuk kreung are indeed fluent and me telling them ''I grew up and studied in England and my mum died aged 11'' is really a piss poor excuse.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus Jones View Post
    I am in a similar boat! Lived here 15 years but I cannot strike up a conversation in Thai. I can get a taxi, go shopping and say a few commands but my Thai is very poor and I often ask my 5-year old daughter to help. My issue is I have been surrounded by English speaking Thais mainly.
    Yeah, pretty much my situation except that I don't have the five year old with whom to consult!

    To be perfectly honest, I feel horrible and embarassed about this failure to learn Thai.

    When I arrived here I was naively confident. I had studied for years and thought, erroneously, that I had made great progress in learning Thai. But, after a few months I realized that almost everything I'd done was a complete waste of time. I would have been better off had I not studied at all.

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  5. #15
    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.

  6. #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.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buadhai View Post
    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?
    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.

  8. #18
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    Quote 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.

  9. #19
    Quote 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.

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  10. #20
    Thailand Lifer Jesus Jones's Avatar
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    Quote 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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