Tips, Tricks and Tools Archives - LTfaWG

How to Practice Tones

I’ve been making lots of new videos lately.  If you haven’t subscribed to my youtube channel or liked my facebook page then consider doing so.  It’ll take me a while to post everything I’ve filmed in the past few weeks, but much of it is already up there.  I won’t ever post anything spam-y so when I put something up, I assume it will be useful to you, or particularly funny (in a Thai way).

Here’s an explanation of how I have my beginner students practice tones:

Learn to Read Thai in 2 Weeks

Want to learn to read Thai in about 2 weeks?*

Here’s what you will be able to do after mastering the script:

  • You will be able to read nearly any word you come across in Thai
  • You will be able to figure out what tone the word is supposed to be.
  • You will know the correct pronunciation of all of the vowels/consonants and suddenly realize that everything you and your friends have been saying all along was wrong and you will begin to understand why.
  • You will be able to tell all your friends that they are actually saying the Thai word for coffee wrong.  (then we can laugh at them together)
  • You will be able to cook Thai food (it may not taste very good).
Here is what you will not be able to do after completing the course:
  • You will not be able to read Harry Potter in Thai and understand much if anything (although if you already speak Thai you’ll catch on much faster than someone who is fob)
  • You probably will not be able to pronounce the vowels/consonants and tones perfectly just yet (but you’ll know how they are supposed to sound and just like when you exercise the bigger muscles in your body the little ones in your mouth will get better with practice)
  • You will not yet be able to understand much more than you did beforehand.  Listening is its own skill and takes time.  (this happens super fast once you get used to the sounds)
  • Your skin will not change color and you won’t look any more or less Asian than you did before you started studying with me.  (maybe after a solid year of practice you may have a shot at someone asking you if you are a ลูกครึ่ง – even if you are as non-asian-looking as I am.)
  • You will still suck at Muay Thai.

Sign up for the free lesson now and start reading right away and you’ll be reading the Thai alphabet in no time!

  • Don’t wanna study online?
  • Can’t afford private lessons?
  • Are sick of schools not teaching you how to read?

 

Check out my step by step course to learning how to read Thai in 2 weeks*.

Click here to learn more.

*Individual results may vary, but if you spend about 30 minutes a day on the lessons, you shouldn’t have any problem completing the course in about 2 weeks.

 

Hear me talking in fluent English on Bangkok Podcast if you still aren’t convinced.

Where to Start?

I often feel that the greatest weakness of the blog format is that old content tends to be forgotten and needs to be repeated. Regular readers rarely access old materials for whatever reason.  I am not much different.  On sites in my rss feeds, there are a handful of posts that contain information that I want to go back to and I will usually email them to myself, but aside from that I only go back to most sites when there is new content to read.  While I hope to continue creating good content, I feel that I’m nearly always asked the same questions.  People learning their first 2nd language tend to ask the same questions.  They don’t really know what to do and simply telling them isn’t enough for them to believe it and find the discipline to actually do it.  I completely understand this as I often feel that I spread myself far too thin by always dabbling in a too many languages and could always be spending more time than I actually do.  So in order to streamline the process for newer readers, I’m going to provide links below to older posts that should anticipate and hopefully answer some of those questions that come up while you are climbing the language mountain.

Sometimes people seem to want me to tell them exactly what to do.  I then expend a lot of time and energy creating routines and flashcards for them, but then they don’t do it.  While this can be frustrating, it doesn’t really matter as long as you are doing something.  Chances are there will always be ways to improve on what you are currently doing so it doesn’t hurt to experiment.  If one way up the mountain seems impassable, go back down and find another way.  Master the basics, don’t fly through them.  Don’t just learn them.  Absorb them, conquer them.  Be able to run circles around the bottom of the mountain with ease before trying to make it all the way to the top.  This isn’t a race.

Don’t let anyone discourage you.  They will try.  This is normal as people tend to be pretty lame and rarely actually know what they are talking about.

Basic Tips/Concepts

The Rules of the Game

Be a Cheater

Consistency

Don’t Stop

Remembering Stuff

Spaced Repetition System

Stages of Learning

Thai Tips

Rhythm

De-Farang-ify

Tools to Get You There –

Tone Drills by Class

Anki – So ya don’t forget

Reading Stuff –

How to Start

News

SRS Tweakage

While I was in Korea I started doing something a little bit different and it seems to be working really well.  First, I take a piece of audio.  Usually from a short conversation from a podcast or whatever.  Than I put the whole clip on the front of an Anki card.  I put the text on the other side.  No English, so it’s stuff I kinda know, but might not catch because I’ve never really heard anybody say it before.  Then I break the clip into a bunch of pieces.  Usually an entire sentence, sometimes more if the context calls for it.  I make cards for all the individual pieces.  Then I take all the little audio clips and I throw them on my ipod and I loop it.  If a sentence pops up that I don’t really understand, I make a note to pay more attention to the card next time I see it.  This almost never happens though.  I kinda get the gist of it when making all the audio clips and typing up the conversation.  Then the repeated audio makes sure I can’t forget it.  After the audio has been floating around in my head for a while – the sentences just pop up in my head and I can say them.

LTfaWG – Why study with me?

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 most people about 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.

*Individual results may vary. My system was developed over a period of about 10 years and in the last 5 years or so of teaching Thai privately, it generally took 6 hours of 1 on 1 lessons to cover all the material that you can now find in my online course. The time it takes someone to complete the 50 or so lessons in the online course will likely take you somewhere in the vicinity of 10-20 hours including review time.

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

Get Your Spike On

Some genius has created something that has loads of potential.

Basically, I am completely sold on the fact that audio SRS cards are soooo much more effective than reading alone. The problem has been getting audio for the sentences you want. Our native speaker friends don’t always want to sit around recording loads of sentences for us. I usually cut up things using Audacity and have the text on the back of the card.

Anyways, Rhinospike is a site where users can submit text to be recorded and others in the community record it. I’ve put up the 2 pages form the Wimpy Kid book that I typed up and broke down in the hopes that I’d get a good reading of it. I was a bit disappointed with the results, but that doesn’t stop me from realizing the potential of this tool. As the recordings are made by error-prone humans, quality will vary, but it is still worth looking into.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately about people wanting to study with me. I am not in CM at the moment. I have come to Korea for 6 weeks to improve my Korean. It’s slow going, but I think a video of my busted Korean will be happening very soon.

The Middle Class Story

The Middle Class Story

I came up with the middle class story is a quick hook to help total beginners quickly learn to recognize the 7 important Thai middle class consonants.  Although I had been teaching Thai for a few years at this point, it was the first time that I taught a large group and also the first time that I had to adapt my system for people who didn’t know any Thai at all.  It was definitely a catalyst for ramping up the effectiveness of my methodology.  If I could teach a bunch of American exchange students to read Thai, I could teach anybody.

ก็อักษรกลาง อักษรกลางภาษาไทยจะมีทั้งหมด 9 ตัว ก็จะมี  จ ด ต ฎ ฏ บ ป อ ซึ่งการจะจำแบบนี้ มันจะเป็นเรื่องที่ยาก Brett ก็เลยแนะนำวิธีการจำเป็นเรื่องเป็นราวให้ง่ายๆ ดังต่อไปนี้ ก็คือ มีเด็กอยู่ 1 คน เค้าชอบเลี้ยงสัตว์ซึ่งสัตว์ที่เค้าเลี้ยงจะมีอยู่ 3 ชนิดก็คือ มีลา มีเต่า แล้วก็มีไก่ ซึ่งทั้ง 3 ชนิดเนี่ย เด็กคนนี้ก็เลยต้องเลี้ยงให้มันสามารถดำรงชีวิตอยู่ได้ ก็เลยเอาไปใส่ไว้ในอ่าง ซึ่งเป็นอ่างน้ำที่ใหญ่ๆ แล้วก็จะต้องเลี้ยงอาหารให้กับมันเพราะว่าไม่งั้นมันก็จะไม่มีชีวิตรอด ซึ่งอาหารที่เค้าจะให้ก็คือ ใไม้ แล้วถ้าเกิดว่าเราเลี้ยงมันแล้วเราไม่ ไม่ปิดมันเงี่ย มันก็จะทำให้มันสามารถหนีออกไปได้ใช่ไหม หลบหนีออกไปได้ ฉะนั้นเราต้องหาอะไรสักสิ่งหนึ่งมาปิด ซึ่งฝามันก็หายไปแล้ว ก็เลยใช้านที่มีอยู่ที่บ้านมาปิด ก็จะทำให้มันสามารถที่จะดำรงชีวิตอยู่ในบ้านเรา ที่เราเลี้ยงได้ก็ จบ ก็จะมีครบหมดเลยทั้ง 9 ตัวลองไปหาดูในเรื่องราวเมื่อกี้ (อืม…)

หมายเหตุ….ตัว ฎ ฏ จะไม่มีเพราะมันออกเสียงเหมือน ด ต ตามลำดับอยู่แล้วเลยไม่มีในเรื่อง

 

Sentence Breakdown

ก็อักษรกลาง – So, these middle class consonants…

อักษรกลางภาษาไทยจะมีทั้งหมด 9 ตัว Thai has 9 middle class consonants.

ก็จะมี – They are..ก จ ด ต ฎ ฏ บ ป อ

ซึ่งการจะจำแบบนี้ – and so remembering them like this

มันจะเป็นเรื่องที่ยาก – can be difficult

Brett ก็เลยแนะนำวิธีการจำเป็นเรื่องเป็นราว – So Brett came up with a story

ให้ง่ายๆ – to make it easier.

ดังต่อไปนี้ – As follows…

ก็คือ มีเด็กอยู่ 1 คน – So there is this kid…

เค้าชอบเลี้ยงสัตว์ – and he likes keeping pets.

ซึ่งสัตว์ที่เค้าเลี้ยงจะมีอยู่ 3 ชนิด and he has 3 different pets (kinds).

ก็คือ มีลา He’s got a fish.

มีเต่า a turtle

แล้วก็มีไก่ and a chicken

ซึ่งทั้ง 3 ชนิดเนี่ย and so all 3 of these animals

เด็กคนนี้ – so this kid

ก็เลยต้องเลี้ยงให้มันสามารถดำรงชีวิตอยู่ได้ – takes care of all of these animals

ก็เลยเอาไปใส่ไว้ในอ่าง and keeps them in a basin (that shower bucket thing)

ซึ่งเป็นอ่างน้ำที่ใหญ่ๆ a big bucket/basin

แล้วก็จะต้องเลี้ยงอาหารให้กับมัน – and of course he needs to feed them

เพราะว่าไม่งั้นมันก็จะไม่มีชีวิตรอด because if he didn’t how would they survive?

ซึ่งอาหารที่เค้าจะให้ก็คือ and he feeds them

ไม้ leaves

แล้วถ้าเกิดว่าเราเลี้ยงมันแล้วเราไม่ so if we have these animals

ไม่ปิดมันเงี่ย and we don’t close/cover (up the basin)

มันก็จะทำให้มันสามารถหนีออกไปได้ใช่ไหม they’d be able to get out (of the basin where they are kept) right?

หลบหนีออกไปได้  they’d be able to escape

ฉะนั้นเราต้องหาอะไรสักสิ่งหนึ่งมาปิด – so we need to have something to cover the basin with

ซึ่งฝามันก็หายไปแล้ว – but we lost the lid

ก็เลยใช้าน – so we use a plate

ที่มีอยู่ที่บ้านมาปิด from the house to close it up

ก็จะทำให้มันสามารถที่จะดำรงชีวิตอยู่ในบ้านเรา which allows them to stay in the house

ที่เราเลี้ยงได้ก็ จบ so we can take care of them.  That’s it.

ก็จะมีครบหมดเลยทั้ง 9 ตัว Oh, and there are actually 9 letters in all.

ลองไปหาดูในเรื่องราวเมื่อกี้ (อืม…) But if you check the story I just told…

หมายเหตุ….ตัว ฎ ฏ the reason the othe other 2 letters ฎ ฏ

จะไม่มี are left out

เพราะมันออกเสียงเหมือน ด ต  because they sound the same as ด and ต

Remembering the Middle Class Consonants

I came up with this story the other day while making flashcards for one of my students.  Mnemonics are great.

In order for this mnemonic to work properly, you should try to imagine the story in your mind.  Pictures you make in your head are easier to remember than actual images.

To reinforce it you might make SRS cards to quiz you on the story.   Ex – Q – What pets does the middle class kid keep?  A ปลา ไก่ เต่า

There is a middle class kid (เด็ก) who likes to keep pets.

He has a fish (ปลา), a turtle (เต่า) and a chicken (ไก่).

Where does he keep these pets?  In his basin (อ่าง) of course.  (Actually try to imagine a big bucket with a chicken, a turtle and a fish swimming around inside it always bumping into each other)

He needs to feed the pets.  They eat leaves (ใบ ไม้).

Also, he needs to make sure they don’t get out so he keeps a big plate (จาน) on top of the อ่าง.

Yes, I left out the other 2 as they aren’t vital when you first start reading.  If you are solid on this story its easy to add in the other ones.

Dune + Reading Skillz

So in a recent post I posted a brief excerpt from a book I’m reading at the moment.  I was hoping somebody had read the book or seen the movie and remembered one of the more famous lines, but perhaps not.

Getting the book was a bit of a hassle.  Not for me, but for my student, Boo, who is often roped into being my speaker for the Language Space vids.  You can hear about some of the adventure in this vid.  As it turns out, there were only 2 sets (sold as a trilogy) left in Thailand.  Now there is only 1.

Anyways, I often look through the wikis of stuff that I like or used to like so I thought I’d break down the really short wiki on Dune in Thai because there is some great SRS stuff inside if you ever end up digging into this kind of stuff.

Remember, it is only hard because you have no experience doing it.  You can study for 10 years and it will still be hard.  The only way it will get easier is if you actually start doing it.  I’m not just referring to language here.  You only suck at something because you haven’t put in enough time yet.   Don’t let the nonsense that comes out of other people’s mouths affect how you think about yourself and what you are (in)capable of.  Everything gets easier with practice.  Don’t wait for the right time or the right setup.  Just get started now.  Figure out how to make it better along the way.  Just do something and stop whining.   You certainly can’t get worse by doing it.

I expect it to take me at least a year to finish the Dune trilogy in Thai.  Thai is pretty low-priority for me these days, but I keep plugging away to keep the new words coming in.  I’ll sit down 2-4 times a week and set a min time limit.  Usually 15 minutes.  Then I just read.  There are always words I don’t know, but I know whats going on in the story.  It tends to be the more artsy descriptive language that I end up guessing with.  I allow myself to write down 1-2 words/page that I may want to look up later, but only if a word really jumps out at me.    After 15 min is up, if I feel bored, tired or whatever I stop then and move on to something else.  If I am into what is going on in the story and want to keep going, I give myself another 15 min.  Its rare that I get past 30 min in one sitting.  The Thai version is nearly 700 pages and I think I’m in the 70s at the moment.   The thing that keeps me going is that I want to read the story and my Thai reading ability is passable enough that I can do this.  But I also know that by the time I am halfway through the book, I will be used to the style of writing, have a better idea what a lot of those funny descriptive words mean making the whole process worth it.  It will get easier and more fun.  The first book will take the longest for sure.

http://th.wikipedia.org/wiki/ดูน_(นวนิยาย)

ดูน (อังกฤษDune) เป็นนิยายวิทยาศาสตร์โดยแฟรงค์ เฮอร์เบิร์ต ตีพิมพ์ครั้งแรกเมื่อ ค.ศ. 1965 จำหน่ายได้มากกว่า 12 ล้านเล่มทั่วโลก [1] ได้รับรางวัลเนบิวลาประจำปี ค.ศ. 1965

ดูนมีเนื้อหาเกี่ยวกับโลกอนาคต กล่าวถึงการดำรงอยู่ของมนุษย์ วิวัฒนาการ สังคมวิทยา นิเวศน์วิทยา โดยอ้างอิงถึงเรื่องศาสนา การเมือง และอำนาจ ได้รับการยกย่องให้เป็นหนึ่งในสองวรรณกรรมวิทยาศาสตร์ที่ดีที่สุดในโลก เทียบเท่ากับ เดอะลอร์ดออฟเดอะริงส์ ของเจ. อาร์. อาร์. โทลคีน [2] (จากการสำรวจเมื่อปี 1975)

นิยายวิทยาศาสตร์ Sci-Fi

ตีพิมพ์ครั้งแรกเมื่อ ค.ศ. 1965 – first printed in 1965

จำหน่ายได้มากกว่า 12 ล้านเล่ม sold more than 12 million copies

ทั่วโลก worldwide

ได้รับรางวัลเนบิวลาประจำปี ค.ศ. 1965 –  received the annual Nebula award in 1965

เนื้อหา –  content

เกี่ยวกับ – about; concerning

โลกอนาคต – a future  world

กล่าวถึง – telling of; talking about

การดำรงอยู่ของ – the exsistence of..

มนุษย์ – human

วิวัฒนาการ – evolution

สังคมวิทยา – sociology

นิเวศน์วิทยา – ecology

ศาสนา – religion

การเมือง – politics

อำนาจ – power

ได้รับการยกย่อง – received praise..

หนึ่งในสอง – 1 of 2

วรรณกรรมวิทยาศาสตร์ – sci-fi

ที่ดีที่สุดในโลก – best in the world

เทียบเท่ากับ – compared with

Ramblings and/or Advice

I’m always complaining about lack of resources,  access to native speakers and other obstacles that I meet while studying all of these languages.  This is why I am making these videos.  I can’t wait around for somebody else to do it.

The other day at Burmese session, a person mentioned that they had told a friend about Language Space and they were planning on going until someone else told them something like “Don’t bother, you won’t understand anything because you are still a beginner.”    This is a huge problem for many people. People have a tendency to hear silliness like that and then internalize it.   Because these ideas have been internalized, these same people are likely to be defensive about it so I’ve learned that there isn’t any point in arguing with them, however I like to at least ask them to elaborate on where they got the idea, if they actually have any personal experience with it and generally just try and get them to think a bit more about it.  Its better if they discover the silliness on their own.

Why is it that people think that they need to study up to a certain level before they do things in a language?  The only way to be able to read a newspaper, watch movies or read books in another language is to read the newspapaer, watch movies and read books in that language!

The only way to get better at listening, is to listen.  Sure it helps loads of the material is at least partially comprehensible and I’d always recommend trying to find material that you are already interested in, but what it comes down to is that you need to hear thousands of hours of the language before you can begin to achieve a real level of competence so starting immediately isn’t a bad idea.  As you get better it will be easier to find material that is suitable (enjoyable!) for you.  Don’t just go study for 2 or 10 years and complain that you studied for x years and still suck – go and do something about it!  Stop measuring learning in terms of years.   The years you spend thinking about studying something are irrelavant.  What matters is the hours you put into it and how you spend that time.  Do a daily log for a month of all time spent studying/listening/reading and at the end of the month it will become very clear why you aren’t getting any better.