A common frustration that I experience with my Thai language learning is the huge inconsistency with how well I can use the language. Honestly, there are some days where I feel great and can read signs easily, and even form some sentences in Thai without too many problems. However, there are other days when I seem to suffer from amnesia and forget all my Thai, and the language once again simply becomes the unintelligible noise when I first heard the language for 2 and a half years ago.
So what happens?
Well, the language certainly doesn’t change, it’s just my perception of it does. This is a really important part of any language learning process, or even any learning process in general. The attitude that you have towards something determines if you will see it as a challenge or a chore.
Look at this picture of a glass of water. Is the glass half full or half empty?
This classic pop psychology question determines whether you are an optimist who is positive and sees the good in everything or a pessimist who is just looking for ways to feel negative and see the bad in everything.
Recently I was hanging out with another foreigner here who has had a Thai girlfriend for about 6 years and I found out that I am at around the same level of Thai language as him. He’s been coming to Thailand a lot over the past 5 years. I’ve been here for 10 months. So it was a fantastic confidence boost and I felt great! The next day in my neighbourhood I was stringing sentences together with the street seller who I buy my food from and even making some small jokes in Thai. It was fantastic and I had a lot of fun.
Yesterday I was hanging out in a restaurant with a group of Thai friends who have known each other for many years, and I simply could not keep up with listening to their conversation, let alone join in and contribute.
After the restaurant we went to a bar, where I literally couldn’t understand a single word of what was being said for pretty much the rest of the night. At first I felt bad, but then I started to focus on what was good about the situation – that I had even been invited along, there was a good live band, that there were some cute girls around and also more importantly that I have a new goal to work towards with my Thai language learning.