Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Next Three Days Learning Thai

How to record progress

I have to be careful, I want to leave a reasonable record and reflection of what I did and what happened but I have to strike some kind of balance. Blogging takes time, family takes time, work takes time, and learning Chinese takes time this means that learning Thai is very much a part-time hobby. Alongside this I am reading an huge amount of language learning blog posts. By necessity my posts will be off-the-cuff and speed typed with many smelling and mistakes grammar (elegant writing is not so important as recording information and impressions).

Time on Job

The next three days learning Thai I am working, I have some chance to listen to Thai whilst at work. And some free time. For this period I am going to log 10 hours inattentive listening, 2 hours attentive listening, and 4 hours listening to various pod casts and lessons on Youtube or Itunes. Mostly I am letting the lessons wash over me but picking up a few things. All the various timings will be summarized at some point. Conversation 0mins. I can't log speaking in my head or thinking about Thai (that will happen a lot). Speaking to myself means out aloud, I don't do this much there is little point (imho) worrying about or practicing to pronounce a language I don't know the sound of yet (would I expect to be able to play blues guitar from a book and listening to a few riffs If I hadn't listened to and appreciated blues music?).
Most of the free lesson stuff won't help much in the long run, it will load me with some vocab. though, generally there is far too much English, the following youtube lessons from Bon suffer from far too much English however they are better than most and Bon's English ability shows that she at least understands about language learning from a personal perspective.

The web is littered with sites that say they have methods and courses to teach you perfect Mandarin etc. in the shortest possible time and yet have sound clips and articles from their teachers in poor English (why not use the same methods themselves). Go for it Bon...


Most of what I get from listening to real Thai is going to be sub-conscious but still very tangible to me. I also strongly suspect that thinking about it too much is counter-productive. Remember that a lot of this listening is in dead time where I couldn't have studied in any other way.
  • Still sounding a little Welsh or Norse (whatever that means). Mostly doesn't sound Cantonese at all now (so something has resolved in there).
  • Based on a few words I know I can hear a little variation and funkiness with some sounds b/p endings ch/t beginnings to words, similar to how I sometimes hear a little p in the ta of Mandarin, specially with some speakers.
  • I knew that sawatdee could be used for goodbye as well a hello and that krab/p or ka could be used for yes before anyone told me (the best way to find out).
  • looking for more easy to spot words, still don't know what roi means but my timmi  (closer to tini) means here or similar. The first time I heard it was said a little like the cry of "Timmmy" from the South Park character. Basically I suspect that every language has a bunch of words that are distinct enough to be picked out easily (I found gongzuo, pengyou .... in Mandarin).
  • Going out on a limb (and I know it is a perilous limb) I suspect that Thai speakers generally pronounce words relatively clearly (with a range of course) compared to other Asian languages I have heard. In a similar way that French speakers find it acceptable to slur their own language yet German is usually pronounced fairly clearly even when spoken fast. If true this is going to be a huge help :).

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