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Archive for the ‘De-Farang-ify’ Category

LTfaWG – Why study with me?

May 20, 2010 2 comments

I realize that while I have created a number of resources here, much of it isn’t very useful for a beginner that doesn’t know where to begin.  So I’m offering myself to you, dear readers.

Reading is ez!  It takes 1-2 weeks to go through the alphabet and all the tone rules, however, it will take a bit of regular practice before you are able to fully master/internalize everything.   From there we start reading the Wimpy kid books. We start easy with captions and go back and forth with that while drilling essential phrases until you can handle longer passages.  Then I keep feeding you useful language bits while you keep reading and working out the class/tone rules until you no longer need to think about them. I supply you with flashcards with audio for everything so you can review it.

Once you are ready for longer passages, we jump around in the Wimpy Kid books with you reading while I create flashcards for the more useful phrases and tell you what things mean. After you have a decent vocab and have begun to figure out how the language works, you can go off on your own or you can cut back your time spent with me and we can go through the whole book together.

It works slightly better in person because the internet in Thailand isn’t what I would call reliable, but via the magic of skype or google voice/vid chat distance really isn’t much of an obstacle.

Key Points/Strategies in my Method –

  • No Textbooks
  • No Phonetics/Transliteration
  • Only Authentic Material that is Interesting (Wimpy Kid books!)
  • SRS Flashcards (So you can’t forget)
  • No Word Lists
  • Fun Super-Useful Phrases (ie – 100 sentence project)
  • No Pressure
  • More Bang  for your Baht
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Blizzards and Breakdowns

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m in the US at the moment just in time for the snowstorm.  My first time back in many years.

Anyways, I did a couple more breakdowns for some of the more recent vids.  As before, if there is a request for a particular vid I can always do that first.

I’d say nearly everything in these 2 vids is worth SRS-ing.

http://learnthaifromawhiteguy.com/2009/09/10/i-cant-remember-transcript/

http://learnthaifromawhiteguy.com/2009/09/18/what’d-you-do-today-transcript/

Making Your Words Flow

September 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Getting used to the sounds in any language takes practice.  Getting used to them in a tonal language when you are coming from a non-tonal language is a bit tougher, but as with anything else, it is easily accomplished with a bit of time and effort.

One simple piece of advice that can make a big difference in your pronunciation is to emphasize the last tone of a sentence and to a lesser degree of a stop in a phrase.  Open your mouth a bit when you talk.  Pay attention to what native speakers are doing with their mouths now and then.

Know how to say 3 ?  Know how to say it correctly?  Your mouth should be opening wide at the sides in a big smile-like expression.

Look at the following sentence – พรุ่งนี้  ไม่ว่าง (tomorrow – not free)

There are 2 great opportunities to make your speech sound ชัด here.  Hold that high toned นี้ in พร่งนี้ and make it long and hold it for a moment.  Not too long, but long enough that its a clear high tone.  Then on the ว่าง of ไม่ว่าง…remember its a long vowel and its falling.  The sounds we hear right before a pause are more memorable than the ones that precede them and when you are still trying to climb up that slippery language ladder, little tricks like these will make you sound ชัด beyond your ability bringing the praise that motivates you to keep going.

Stop Sounding Like a Farang – Natural-ify Your Word-isms Tip #1

August 10, 2008 2 comments

Language learners have a tendency to build a protective bubble around themselves over time which can easily lead to number of bad habits.  This bubble grows as people tell you how amazing you are at their language.  In the beginning you know this is crap and you don’t know anything yet.  I mean, how could you?  You are just starting out, right?  As time passes and you begin to get your bearings, we sometimes find ourselves believing that we are really that good and in our vain-ness we become blind to anything resembling our actual ‘level’.

The point of this line of posts is to get rid of as many of those bad habits that so commonly occur when mr/s-farang-come-learn-speak-language-Thai.  You can’t necessarily rely on Thai people to correct your mistakes, because you’ll find that most of them won’t (even when you ask them to and they agree!).  And the logical conclusion we make when nobody corrects us is usually NOTHING IS WRONG.

Anyways, let us examine the following sentence –

ผม จะ ไป ที่ โรงเรียน

See anything wrong here?  Me neither.  Its grammatically correct.  You might even find this exact example in an phrase book or “Learn Thai + <CleverEasySoundingWord>” brought to you by <tokenwhiteguy>.  The problem is that its bulky.  Farang-sounding even.  Lets trim the fat off this sentence.

ผม จะ ไป ที่ โรงเรียน    Ok – first and most importantly, excessive usage of ที่ is the first bad habit I try to cut out of my students mouths.  When Thai people sit around making fun of their friends who supposedly speak Thai very well, this one always comes up.  Its not wrong and you can get as defensive as you’d like, but its just not natural.  I suspect it originates from the much stricter usage of prepositions in English, but less important than where it comes from is where its going – into the trash.

ผม จะ ไป โรงเรียน  Alright, we are on the right track now.  Things are lookin up.  Soundin good.  But we’re still feeling a bit bloated.  What should we cut next?  School?  Perhaps, but not yet.  Now we want to get get rid of YOU and what I mean by YOU is we need to get rid of ME ..erm .. “I”.

Pronouns folks.  Wrap them all up and put them in storage.  You can pull them out sometimes after you get a feel for when and how they are used.  But until then, it just makes us sound silly because at this point you are still thinking in English and its force of habit that brings all those pronouns along with it.

ผม จะ ไป ที่ โรงเรียน

Now we are on the right track.  Yet there are still more things we could do here.

For example, if somebody asks you where you are going and you are going to class at school you can just respond as follows:

Somchai:         ไป ไหน

TokenFarang: (จะ) ไป เรียน

C’mon team – Tie bee eazee!

Remember, while we can translate the exact sentence in many cases, the ultimate goal is to speak like a native, is it not?  So try not to make logical rules in your head because those rules are based on the logic of how your native language(s) works and unless you are from Laos, you are just making the journey into fluency more difficult than it needs to be.