This weekend, my girlfriend and I went to a huge Thai commmunity gathering here in Copenhagen. I always enjoy going to these cultural events as I really enjoy being immersed in Thai language and culture.
Usually, if someone has more language learning experience then they also gain transferable knowledge along with it. A clear example of this is if you are learning a new language which is in the same language family as one you are familiar with – so if you are fluent in Spanish, you have lots of transferable knowledge which will help you learn Italian. Typically, you will be able to use similar vocabulary and/or grammar from the language that you are familiar with. So when I found some unexpected similarities between Thai and Danish pronunciation, I was extremely surprised!
Despite the languages being from completely different parts of the world, they actually both share sounds that English doesn’t. Continue reading
One of my favourite polyglots, Moses McCormick, often records videos of himself “levelling up”(practising and improving in a language) on his youtube channel. Moses frequently says that you don’t need to travel to a country in order to practise a language: you just need to seek out native speakers of your target language, seize the moment and get some practice in. So when I was on a bus earlier this week, and I overheard some Thai people talking, I was delighted to practise some Thai with them.
Today is Songkran, a traditional festival to celebrate the Thai new year (incidentally, according to their calendar, it is now the year 2557, not 2014!). I went to the Buddhapapida Temple in South London to celebrate.
I really enjoyed the celebrations, but I also relished in the fact that I got to practise some of my Thai language. Continue reading
Now that I’m back in the UK, I’m finding it hard to maintain my Thai language skills. However, I found a really good website for learning Thai through songs. The website, ‘DeungdutJai’, has lyrics in Thai script, alongside the English translations.
A lot of Thai music is acoustic, easy listening and chilled. Even before I learnt the Thai language, I enjoyed the sound of Thai music purely from the instrumental compositions alone. And now, I can listen to Thai music and begin to understand it Continue reading
I met my Thai University friends recently and we all went to restaurant and bar. There were about 10 of us all drinking and chilling out.
I’ve known these friends for 3 years now, and they are a large part of the reason why I decided to learn Thai and other languages too.
I see them every month or so, and it’s really cool to help gauge my progress with the language. They are all completely fluent in English, but now when they switch to speaking Thai I can still get the gist of what they are talking about!
In the bar, the lights got darker and the music got louder, and then people were getting into the party mood and started dancing.
A few weeks ago I was very frustrated with my Thai learning progress in general. But I am now delighted to report that things are really beginning to turn round for me.
Feelings of inadequacy
Things really began to change a lot when I questioned why I felt inadequate and managed to ‘cut myself some slack’.
This has been on my mind for a few weeks, and I thought I’d just finally write about it. Recently I’ve ‘fallen out of love’ with Thai language.
There was a time when I really loved studying it; I’d be on the London Underground with a Thai textbook and I’d actually miss my stop because I was so engrossed!
In the early days, when I was learning Thai I felt really smart. I had a private tutor who I’d meet up with once a week in a North London cafe and we’d speak Thai for an hour. That was actually the highlight of my week.
Fast-forward to how things are now and I don’t even have the motivation to open a text book. In the past few language classes, I’ve understood about 40% of what was being said, and when put on the spot to explain my opinion I get a complete and utter mental blank.
And this is the gritty, unsavoury part of my Thai language journey: the problem is not with the language, it’s with me. I get nervous. I forget things. No textbook or language class can fix that.
I had such high hopes for learning about a culture and making new friends and stuff, but after being here more than a year my Thai is more or less at the same level as when I came to this country.
So, I guess I can be classed in the category of Thailand expats who consider Thai an “impossible” language.
My Thai language learning challenge has definitely had its fair share of ups and downs. It is so important to maintain motivation when you are learning a foreign language, and I personally think this is the main reason why people give up. The past week or so has had some significant positive and negative experiences for me. I’ll classify them as ‘ups’ and ‘downs’. Let me share them with you…