a sample of my Thai studies

Saturday morning I spoke with a few of my friends in Canada over Skype and they were curious about what my language studies looked like. So I thought I’d show all of you.

Currently, I can only read and write in phonetics, using English script. The phonetics include all the proper Thai consonants and vowel sounds (both short and long vowels) and the 5 different tones. Although the script is in English, the sounds are not. For example, C’s are pronounced as j’s and k’s are pronounced as g’s, except if there’s a h following the k (kh) and then it sounds like a k in English.

Next month I’ll learn to read and write in Thai, which will be a huge help. I remember when I first started to recognize even just a few words – the world opened up to me. Reading and writing will be very liberating. Mind you, I’ve heard that the stories that we get to practice our reading with are… a little odd, and a little gruesome for a child’s story (a deer was shot by a hunter and then fought over by a bear and a lion, but who ended up being eaten by a fox – how the fox managed to drag away the deer is a mystery). When I get there, I’ll let you know about the thrilling plot lines.

[Note: I thought I should add a few things about my language learning. Each week I have classes from Tuesday until Saturday, with two 50 minute classes on each of those days. 99% of the time those classes are private, although occasionally on Saturdays I have a private class and then a group lesson. My language book is divided up into days (so far it’s been 19 days per module). On each day, there will be a list of new vocab, and then sentences helping me use those new words, and demonstrating new sentence structures. There are tapes and cds available so I can listen to a Thai speaker go through the vocab and sentences for each day of each module.

At the end of each module, I have a “language check” or a “module check.” This is not a pass or fail examination but rather a session in which I converse with one of the other language helpers at the school (not my usual language helper). One of the directors of the language school sits in as well but only to observe. Both the language helper and the director take notes regarding my tones, vowel and consonant pronunciation, comprehension, sentence structure, as well as a few other things. At the end of the session, they go over each of my mistakes (the big picture of them) to let me know what areas I need to work on. So it’s really a constructive criticism time. They really want to see you do well and progress in your language learning, and so it’s wise to take note of what they have to say.

This is just a small glimpse into my world of learning Thai, but I hope that gives you a bigger and better picture of some of the things that fill my days. Please keep praying for me as I study Thai.]

3 thoughts on “a sample of my Thai studies

  1. une amie says:

    As a language lover I too am fascinated by the process of learning a new way to communicate. When I think of all the languages out there it just fills me with awe to think of our God whose wisdom and imagination created them all! I’ve never learned a tonal language before, though…do you find that is your greatest challenge in learning Thai?

  2. Beth says:

    I wouldn’t say that the tones are my greatest challenge, although I had thought that they would be. Probably one of my greatest challenges is remembering vocabulary. πŸ™‚ Often I can hear the tone, but then I try to repeat the word and rack my brain to figure out what the word is. This is getting easier as I find I’m remembering more. Other challenges include hearing and reproducing the long or short vowels, and the d and t sounds and the b and p sounds (each set of those sound very similar – to me at least)…. ( And also the ending consonant – depending what it is (like if it ends in a k or t or p) I have a hard time hearing it because although it’s said, it’s not a strong sound….. Anyway, I obviously have a lot to learn. It’s good to be learning it in an environment where Thai is constantly around me. πŸ™‚

  3. Amanda Mooney says:

    beth!! it’s so amazing how when i see you again you’ll probably be fluent in thai! i wanted to let you know i did get your letter! i was so excited when i saw it..the envelope was so pretty! and i wanted to tell you i’m writing back so except one πŸ™‚love, amanda <3

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