Monday, 3 May 2010

An accidental conversation in Thai


Conversation practice is about the only cause of stress and effort in learning Thai (apart from blogging) at the moment. So why bother?

Accidental conversation

Well conversation is pushing it somewhat, last Thursday I was wandering around at lunchtime I thought I would try one of the Thai restuarants I have targeted for potential conversation use in the future (they have lunchtime specials). The intention was simply to get the lay of the land, check they were actually Thai staff etc.

Problem was they greet everybody with sa-wat dee, on hearing that I kind of brain froze and the only response I could come it with was sa-wat dee krap. That went down ok I asked for a table (well seat) for one in Thai and the person I was talking with looked confused, and spluttered back a half English half Thai sentance that I had no chance of understanding, assuming I had been completely mis-understood I reverted to English and apologised, they apologised in English.
Apparently I had been understood fine, this place always greets everyone in Thai and they are used to some people learning how to greet back, so my continuing in Thai wasn't immediately registered.

Ok so no long real conversation but I had a few minor exchanges commented on the food, complimented a waitress on her English in Thai, said that Thai was fun and I like learning Thai in Thai. I was not set up for recording though (dang).

How am I going to make a more flowing conversation occur? Apart from just waiting to have another Thai naturally available to me.

Why make the effort?

That sounds rather defeatist, why make the effort? However only two things about learning Thai so far are an effort. The main effort is blogging about learning Thai, the next main effort is trying to work out how to have conversations and what I am going to be able to say. I could guess possible conversations and cram words for them, but right now I am not learning words, just aquiring the ones that come easily. I could do some research, find a better source of potential Thai conversation, but right now I don't feel comfortable having nothing to say. I could cram my short term memory with phrases prior to a conversation but that is hard and stressfull, the conversations I have enjoyed in Chinese are the ones where I just relax and clear my mind beforehand, relying on words and phrases that are deeply embedded.

Some people would say I was being negative, negative about finding good conversation. Looking at poor conversations with a "glass half full" mindset. The problem with this is that it is my language learning, if I order a pint of Guiness and I am given a half glass of orange juice then yes I am going to be quite negative about it actually.

Besides I am confident in my approach, I know it is not fear that is holding me back, I have had plenty of conversation in Chinese, and I know that the "positivity message" is far too blunt a tool to be applied in complicated circumstances, after all I can sit and listen to real Thai and enjoy getting tiny handholds into the language and understanding the occaisional word and phrase, this is more like "WOW I am so happy, there is a detectable trace of moisture on the bottom of the glass" ;)

I am going to pursue conversation, and attempt to get a better audio, for two reasons.

Firstly, I am experimenting with myself somewhat, putting my own personal language learning under the microscope I am intersted in seeing what will happen. If I have some audio I can refer back to it at a later date.Secondly, there may come a time when I will spend some time in a country with short notice if I wanted to get some ability in the language, could I start learning the same way? could I then use that as a springboard into speaking earlier than I normally would?

No comments:

Post a Comment