So a couple of weeks ago, a friend took me to a language exchange meetup here in Bangkok. It was a really fun experience!
The event was hosted in the upstairs rooms of a bar, and there was a turnout of about 100 people! It was a very busy place, with lively conversation and music. At the door, you need to write your name and languages that you speak. I chose to put down English and Thai.
…Although I ended up speaking Thai, French, Chinese (mandarin) and of course, my mother tongue – English! But when I say “speaking”, I literally mean that I said a few words in that language and they were understood by another person. I haven’t practiced any mandarin for two years, and to my horror I found out that in the room, I couldn’t really get past the “hi! how are you?” stage of a conversation. The same also applies to my French language ‘skills’. So it was basically a Thai practise session.
I realised that actually, having a conversation in a real party environment is kind of hard. The first thing that I found difficult was adjusting to the general volume in the room of other people speaking and loud music. I had to speak Thai incredibly slowly… and listening became an exercise in lip reading and sometimes taking wild guesses at what was just said to me!
The second thing I found difficult was finding a topic that people want to talk about. This is where you find out that maybe asking someone about their brothers and sisters isn’t really the hot topic that stimulates a flowing and amazing natural conversation. Talking about food was a success. Everyone eats food! And talking about movies was fun as well.
Generally though, it was really fun to mingle and try out new things. It’s given me some ideas on how I can work on my Thai language to help things be a bit more natural, and given me some motivation to revive some of my older language skills in the future.