Tips, Tricks and Tools Archives - Page 2 of 2 - LTfaWG

My New Puppy

Alright, its not new nor is it a puppy, but I’m playing with it a lot at the moment and I am liking it so far. The site is lang-8 and it is good stuff.  Its a site where you can go and write whatever nonsense you want in whatever language and people will come and check it for you.  Depending on the language, they may come very quickly.  

It is great because you can go in there and start slinging all those sentences you have in your head that are probably wrong and you can get ém checked without talking to anybody.  

The only thing I’d be wary of is the fact that native speakers aren’t always the best resource when it comes to correction.  They have a tendency to tell you how you are supposed to say something when they don’t even say it that way themselves.  Google stuff before you SRS it.  Make sure it exists and is used.

Tone Up

Being able to say the correct tone is great and all, but ultimately if you want to speak ชัด-ly, it all comes down to rhythm.  Reading stuff out loud helps.  Having a native speaker correct you is good also.  If this isn’t convienent, then just having the original audio for a body of text is fine as well.   Start easy.  Look for interesting content.   Listen to it a lot.  If you need help finding interesting content, just ask.  

Here are some easy common examples:  

ไป ไหน มา      common-rising-common

ว่า จะ ใด         falling-low-common

ไม่ ว่าง             f – f

ไ ม่ ได้ ไป     f – f- c

วัน นี้  เหรอ   c-high-r

Learning to Read – Again

Reading in a new language can seem rather daunting, even painful at times. Some people preach that there are ways around this, but after a year and a half of trying to become fluent in Japanese by reading stuff that would be considered difficult, I haven’t found it yet. The truth is that I don’t read much these days. Getting new English books here always seems to be too much of a hassle. And here I’ve been trying to read whatever Japanese books I could get my hands on. Manga, language learning theories, fiction, old literature, etc. What I’ve discovered is that it was a mistake to read manga or old literature or whatever solely because it was manga (or something) and it was in Japanese. I just wasn’t getting into it. So, what the hell can I read?

Because of the enormous amount of time and exposure required, the last thing we want to spend as little time as possible being bored, frustrated, angry or what not.

I started by asking myself a very important question – “What did I used to read back in the day?”
Lots of Stephen King. So, I went to and and started to read about Stephen King books that I’ve read in the past and know pretty well. Reviews, summaries, character descriptions, etc. And its been great. Even though every single page has plenty of words that I don’t know, I know enough that can skip as many of those words as I want. I mine everything for sentences of things that I want to see again in my SRS. But the two most important things going on here are that I’m enjoying reading, and I am READING. I only read as long as it stays interesting. If I start spacing out or getting bored or frustrated…I do something else, or go look for something else to read. I can always come back to the current one if I feel like it.

So anyways, I’ve devoured a lot of Stephen King stuff in the past few days and tonight I’m poking around summaries of Star Wars and Robocop. I also really wanna get my hands on some of the Jp translations of SK’s books.

Anyways, how does this help you? Well, I’d say Thai is more limited than Japanese as far as I know in regards to translations from English when it comes to books. However, there are loads of movies and tv series to work with. So as I’m writing this, Lost is on tv so I figured that was good enough to start with. If you watch that, or Prison Break, Heroes or what not, we might have some material to work with.

So again, how do we go about reading this stuff when we still suck? And don’t forget we are mining SRS material as we go. Let’s do some a couple quick lines…

First sentence from the Prison Break Wiki
Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์แอ็กชัน ดราม่า ทางโทรทัศน์ ออกอากาศครั้งแรกทางช่องฟ็อกซ์
This one is full of SRS goodness. What have we got?

Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์  – PB is a series

Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์แอ็กชัน PB is an action series

Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์ดราม่า PB is a drama series

Prison Break เป็นซีรีส์ ทางโทรทัศน์  PB is a tv series

PB เป็นซีรีส์ออกอากาศครั้งแรกทางช่องฟ็อกซ์ – PB is a tv series that was first broadcast on/by Fox.  

Get the idea yet?  Let’s look at the the first line from the Lost Wiki.  A bit longer you may notice.  

Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ที่อเมริกา ที่มีเนื้อหากล่าวถึงผู้รอดชีวิตจากอุบัติเหตุเครื่องบินตก บนเกาะลึกลับ 

See anything from the Prison Break sentence in this one?

Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ – Lost is a drama series

Lost เป็นดราม่าซีรีส์ที่อเมริกา – Lost is a drama series in America

Lost เป็นซีรีส์ ที่มีผู้รอดชีวิตจากอุบัติเหตุเครื่องบินตก = Lost is a series about survivors of a plane crash

Lost เป็นซีรีส์ ที่มีผู้รอด เครื่องบินตก บนเกาะ – Lost is a series of plane crash survivors on an island

บนเกาะลึกลับ – on a mysterious island 

Tear apart the sentence until its only got 1 thing it in you don’t know.  And if you are still trying to practice reading at a basic level then keep the phrases really short, but don’t waste time with single words.  Words out of context are forgotten too easily.   There isn’t anything wrong with having a few of the same sentence with only one word changed.

Now, go try and skim through a few of those.  Set goals.  Mine 3-5 flashcards/day.  You don’t need to SRS everything and there isn’t much point to try to do too much at once anyways.  Just SRS stuff that you see a lot of and want to remember or anything that jumps out at you. Its always ok to delete sentences later.  And when you get up into the thousands – you will, often.

Just Because

Thai has a whole mess of particles which are best learned in context as they are a bit difficult to translate and by having them explained to us we tend to overthink them.  So I’d be careful using these until you see how others do it.   

ไง – this word thrown on the end of a phrase can be used to imply that something is obvious already.   Think about the following:  

  Why didn’t you go?       ทำไมถึงไม่ได้ไป

  ::shrugs:: Didn’t feel like it.   ไม่อยากไปไง

It doesn’t need to mean ‘because,’ but it often does.  It can also come across as being a bit cheeky depending on the situation and how you say it.  

Q: How can you eat that stuff?  

A: ชอบไง – Well, um, I like it.

กัน – Making Connections

When and why do things stick in our minds?  When they have something to stick to of course!  

Making associations helps.  The easiest way to assure that new information will stay is by connecting it to old information.  Old information is already grounded, you just need to hook the new info to it.  

Faithful readers – you are probably most familiar with this word กัน in sentences such as ไปด้วยกัน or เจอกัน.  Useful as they may be, they are not related to the กัน of which I’d like to talk about today.

If you’ve ever rented a room, a house, a bike, or just about anything in Thailand, you may have come across the word ‘ประกัน.’  It can mean a few things, but in the cases I just mentioned, lets call it a ‘deposit.’  So you better know the following sentence anytime you are planning to rent anything. 

  • ค่าประกันเท่าไร

At some point after years of words popping up with related meanings, a connection formed in my head.  Well, the words were most likely connected long before they entered my head, but things that are connected in your head are easier to remember.  

I associate กัน with a meaning similar to defend or protect.  Here are some words that have led me to that thought:

  • ยากันยุง   mosquito repellant (medicine-defend-mosq)
  • กันน้ำ        waterproof (protect-water)
  • กันฝน       rainproof  (protect – rain)
  • เสื้อกันหนาว sweater (clothes – protect cold)
  • ป้องกัน   defend
  • ผ้ากันเปื้อน apron (cloth – protect- stain)

See what I mean?  

How do you say life insurance or health insurance in Thai? 

Don’t know?  Well ask someone.  You remember things you look for yourself better than lists of words.  

**Useful Homework – 

  • ปลอดภัย = safe

Safe has 2 parts.  ปลอด + ภัย – Look them up seperately.  After you have found the individual meanings, look for examples of other words containing that suf/af-fix.  No need to memorize anything.  I’m just trying to make you aware that while you are learning these pairs/phrases/sentences as a whole, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the pieces as they will eventually be a great help to you.  Don’t break down every word.  When you start seeing the same thing over and over again – look for a connection.  Don’t always expect native speakers to know the answer – they rarely do.


What do these words have in common?




Making Your Words Flow

Getting used to the sounds in any language takes practice.  Getting used to them in a tonal language when you are coming from a non-tonal language is a bit tougher, but as with anything else, it is easily accomplished with a bit of time and effort.

One simple piece of advice that can make a big difference in your pronunciation is to emphasize the last tone of a sentence and to a lesser degree of a stop in a phrase.  Open your mouth a bit when you talk.  Pay attention to what native speakers are doing with their mouths now and then.

Know how to say 3 ?  Know how to say it correctly?  Your mouth should be opening wide at the sides in a big smile-like expression.

Look at the following sentence – พรุ่งนี้  ไม่ว่าง (tomorrow – not free)

There are 2 great opportunities to make your speech sound ชัด here.  Hold that high toned นี้ in พร่งนี้ and make it long and hold it for a moment.  Not too long, but long enough that its a clear high tone.  Then on the ว่าง of ไม่ว่าง…remember its a long vowel and its falling.  The sounds we hear right before a pause are more memorable than the ones that precede them and when you are still trying to climb up that slippery language ladder, little tricks like these will make you sound ชัด beyond your ability bringing the praise that motivates you to keep going.