Housecleaning: Apologies for the Mess

You have my apologies… Over a month ago I started housecleaning on WLT and I thought I’d be done by now. Apologies. I should have...

Housecleaning: Apologies for the Mess

Successful Thai Language Learner: Ruth Curtis

Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners… Name: Ruth Curtis Nationality: American Age range: 62 Sex: Female Location: Bangkok...

Successful Thai Language Learner: Ruth Curtis

Thai Style: The Rhythm of Thai Language

Sound like a native Thai speaker.. “You sound like you’re from London!” Well, I wish someone said that to me! As a native Thai speaker...

Thai Style: The Rhythm of Thai Language
Housecleaning: Apologies for the Mess

Housecleaning: Apologies for the Mess

You have my apologies… Over a month ago I started housecleaning on WLT and I thought I’d be done by now. Apologies. I should have warned you sooner. The site is over six years old and there’s 600 plus posts to make right. This is my to-do list so far: Dead links. Links that go […]

Please Help STOP the Grand Palace SCAMS

Please Help STOP the Grand Palace SCAMS

Please help STOP the Grand Palace SCAMS… The Grand Palace complex in Bangkok is stunning. For most tourists to Thailand, it’s a must on their list of places to see in this country. But because of the scams, too many go home without experiencing the inspiring beauty of the glorious Thai buildings decked out in […]

Successful Thai Language Learner: Ruth Curtis

Successful Thai Language Learner: Ruth Curtis

Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners… Name: Ruth Curtis Nationality: American Age range: 62 Sex: Female Location: Bangkok Thailand Profession: Missionary [church planter] currently work together with my husband in personnel management for Thailand field member care of OMF Intl. What is your Thai level? Fluent nearly native: speaking, reading, writing, typing, teaching. Do you speak […]

Successful Thai Language Learner: Michel Boismard

Successful Thai Language Learner: Michel Boismard

Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners… Name: Michel Boismard Nationality: French Age range: 67 Sex: Male Location: Thailand What is your Thai level? My Thai level is advanced. I learnt some rudiments on my 2nd visit in 1983 (1st in 1979) but really took off in 1987 where I was lucky to stay in a Thai […]

Thai Style: The Rhythm of Thai Language

Thai Style: The Rhythm of Thai Language

Sound like a native Thai speaker.. “You sound like you’re from London!” Well, I wish someone said that to me! As a native Thai speaker with English as a second language, it would be my definition of being a native English speaker. The journey to sound like a native speaker is not an easy journey. It […]

Memorize Thai Tones With Five Simple Rules

Memorize Thai Tones With Five Simple Rules

Memorize Thai Tones With Five Simple Rules… I just made big strides with reading tones/ tone markers and would like to share my findings with anyone interested. I’ve been a successful Piano and Music teacher and pride myself on finding how humans learn, and unveiling easier ways to understand concepts. The parallels of learning music […]

A Quest to Fluency: Thai and Italian. Italian?

A Quest to Fluency: Thai and Italian. Italian?

Paul’s Quest to Fluency… A little over a month ago Paul Garrigan launched his quest to become fluent in the Thai language. Impressed with the obvious dedication shown, Stu Jay Raj (jcademy.com) took Paul under his wing: 6 Months to Thai Fluency – Paul Garrigan Week One – Thai Bites. From day one I was […]

Taking Private Lessons? Who Should Your Teacher Be?

Taking Private Lessons? Who Should Your Teacher Be?

Taking Private Lessons? Who Should Your Teacher Be?… After noticing a survey that declared that Swedes are the best learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Catherine asked me for my perspective on why Swedes are so successful. Though there are many points to consider, one aspect of EFL in Sweden and other countries […]

Book Review: ๕,๐๐๐ สำนวนไทย (5000 Thai Idioms)

Book Review: ๕,๐๐๐ สำนวนไทย (5000 Thai Idioms)

Review: 5000 Thai Idioms… Title: ๕,๐๐๐ สำนวนไทย (นับแต่อดีตจวบจนปัจุบัน) 5000 Thai idioms; from the past right on up to now! [paraphrased] Author: เอกรัตน์ อุดมพร ISBN: 978-974521855-0 First off I wanna say that “5000 Thai Idioms” was recommended by David Rubin who is DavidandBui from the Thai Language dot com dictionary/forum website. They have a great website! […]

Top 100 Language Lovers Competition: 2014 Results

Top 100 Language Lovers Competition: 2014 Results

The Top 100 Language Lovers Competition for 2014 has ended… Here’s a huge THANK YOU from me, to everyone who voted this year. I also want to thank guest writers Hugh Leong and Tod Daniels, who balance out the articles on WLT (sorely needed). I also want to thank the teams at bab.la and Lexiophiles […]

Housecleaning: Apologies for the Mess

Housecleaning: Apologies for the Mess

You have my apologies… Over a month ago I started housecleaning on WLT and I thought I’d be done by now. Apologies. I should have warned you sooner. The site is over six years old and there’s 600 plus posts to make right. This is my to-do list so far: Dead links. Links that go […]

Please Help STOP the Grand Palace SCAMS

Please Help STOP the Grand Palace SCAMS

Please help STOP the Grand Palace SCAMS… The Grand Palace complex in Bangkok is stunning. For most tourists to Thailand, it’s a must on their list of places to see in this country. But because of the scams, too many go home without experiencing the inspiring beauty of the glorious Thai buildings decked out in […]

Housecleaning: Apologies for the Mess

Housecleaning: Apologies for the Mess

You have my apologies…

Over a month ago I started housecleaning on WLT and I thought I’d be done by now. Apologies. I should have warned you sooner. The site is over six years old and there’s 600 plus posts to make right. This is my to-do list so far:

  • Dead links.
  • Links that go to smut sites.
  • Links that go to parked pages.
  • And that darn audio player needing updating.

The Broken Link Checker WP plugin was a huge help with dead links. WHY I waited so long to add it, I’ll never know. Fixing six years of broken links all at once was a pain.

Broken Link Checker isn’t a miracle worker as it doesn’t tell me about links that no longer go where they are supposed to. The sneaky buggers are going to smut sites, parked sites, and China. Unless someone here knows some magic, errant links can only be discovered by clicking on link after link.

The main problem you might experience personally is the editing of audio players. My previous plugin didn’t work with iStuff so I stripped off the code and went with the new WordPress player. Problem is, it’s butt ugly (if you poke around today, that’s mostly what you’ll see).

For weeks I played around with audio players and finally settled on one. But, after recoding a part of the site, iOS 8 came out today and it no longer works. Back to the beginning. Again!

I’m now recoding the audio links using the Haiku minimalist audio player. When you have as many audio files per page as WLT has, the design for Haiku is overwhelming. CSS tweaks will need to be made (and hopefully you won’t notice).

Anyway, as there are other fixes in the wings, I don’t know how long it’ll take to make everything right. Apologies. I’ll get it done as fast as I can.

Oh. And if you come across links acting badly, please do drop me a line. Thanks in advance!

Do you have questions about the quirks of the Thai language?
Send them over and we’ll do our best.

Successful Thai Language Learner: Ruth Curtis

Successful Thai Language Learner: Ruth Curtis

Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners…

Name: Ruth Curtis
Nationality: American
Age range: 62
Sex: Female
Location: Bangkok Thailand
Profession: Missionary [church planter] currently work together with my husband in personnel management for Thailand field member care of OMF Intl.

What is your Thai level?

Fluent nearly native: speaking, reading, writing, typing, teaching.

Do you speak more street Thai, Issan Thai, or professional Thai?

Both street and professional.

What were your reasons for learning Thai?

I came as a missionary with OMF International, and after only 1yr (10 modules) of Thai studies was immersed in a small country town to do church planting [our co-workers were the only other foreigners around]. There was no church within 40-50 kilometers, and 5 scattered believers that we knew of to follow up. I quickly learned Thai out of necessity to cope and to bond with people around me, and be able to speak their heart language so that I could do the job of helping, teaching them and bringing them to Christ.

Successful Thai Language Learner: Ruth Curtis FamilyDo you live in Thailand? If so, when did you arrive?

I currently live in Bangkok Thailand suburbs [a little over 1yr.] I spent 30+years before that -1980-2012 – up country in Central Thailand; this was in either small towns or smaller cities… Lamnarai 6yrs, Angthong 3yrs, Lopburi 1.5yrs, Koksamrong 3yrs and Saraburi 13yrs.

How long have you been a student of the Thai language?

August 1980 – till currently. I’m always learning and finding new ways of saying things. The first 4yrs had formal language studies completing the OMF 3yrs of 10 modules each year, with comprehensive exams at the end of 2nd and 3rd years.

Did you learn Thai right away, or was it a many-pronged approach?

I learned Thai right away in OMFs language learning program which was based in Bangkok, Bangrak area at the time. This language course was meant to be comprehensive covering comprehension, pronunciation in, speaking, listening, reading, writing. When we moved up-country after the 1st year, it was jump right in; I was definitely immersed!! We had no senior missionaries, we were it. I learned Thai to a deep level because had so many Thai people in and out of our home all the time.

Did you stick to a regular study schedule?

My 1st year of study I could keep a morning schedule of teacher hours and study hours on my own, because there was child-care. Then had the afternoons to take care of my toddler, or be out to practice speaking with people. 2nd and 3rd yrs I stuck to a schedule of trying to complete 1 module per month [just 10 per year], but the hours were hit and miss because I was giving my time to people more and more and the bonding and interacting with them made me learn more and more Thai anyway. By my 3rd year I was learning it mostly by relationship and experiences, instead of formal book learning, but I completed each module check, making sure I understood all content and vocab. of the module book before each time.

What Thai language learning methods did you try?

I tried LAMP, and “barefoot” short memorized dialogs to accomplish some specific task. The books I used were the OMF language school module books many of which were developed by Herb Purnell.

Did one method stand out over all others?

Out of the above named methods, the OMF language school modules probably stand out more than the others. They provided the actual language needed for daily life, and allowed for diversifying following actual interests. It’s very hard to remember words that one has not much interest in actually communicating. I believe language is a matter of the heart, not academics; the heart needs to be engaged for language to stick.

How soon did you tackle reading and writing Thai?

In the 4th month.

Did you find learning to read and write Thai difficult?

No, it was a relief to finally be able to read words on signs around me instead of depending on phonetics. I loved it.

What was your first ‘ah hah!’ moment?

The first time I used a few words I’d learned to try to buy something in the market and found that it worked! Also when I “sang” the sentences of my bare-foot dialogue to myself and found I could remember the sentences and tones that way. Learning language tones actually uses the side of our brain that sings or remembers music.

How do you learn languages?

I’m not sure how language learning “styles” are labeled, but I would say I learn the best in relationships with actual communication and not just from books or formal lessons. I also learn from reading in Thai, as I put myself into the story.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I would say my strengths are in getting to know people at the heart level, thus comprehension and pronunciation go along with this. I do read/write/type in Thai, but would be weaker in writing and typing than in reading, speaking or comprehension.

What is the biggest misconception for students learning Thai?

That it can be learned from a lot of time pouring over books. To be learned the best, it must be learned in relationships with people.

Can you make your way around any other languages?

Maybe a little Spanish. I learned it in high-school and university, and lived in southern California for many years.

Were you learning another language at the same time as Thai?

No, other than that we lived in an area where the locals spoke the NE Thai dialect, so we had to learn to understand that dialect as well as we studied Central Thai.

What advice would you give to students of the Thai language?

Find Thai friends to bond with, learning to communicate with them as well as having lesson books to guide you. Natural experiences of communicating from your own heart to someone else’s is one of the most effective things to learning a language well.

regards,
Ruth Curtis

The Series: Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners…

My personal thanks for this series goes to: Ruth Curtis , Michel Boismard, Bettina Friedrich, Daniel Whitehouse, Luke Bauer, Ruedi Seiler, David Fahey, Harlan Wolff, Philip Lattimore, Antonio Graceffo, Mark Kent, Dr. Larry Dinkins, Don Sena, Scott Earle, John Boegehold, Justin Travis Mair, Stephen Thomas, James (Jim) Higbie, Mark Hollow, Marc Spiegel, Daniel B Fraser, Rick Bradford, Adam Bradshaw, Fabian Blandford, Luke Cassady-Dorion, Nils Bastedo, Grace Robinson, Aaron Le Boutillier, Ryan Zander, Joe Cummings, Hamish Chalmers, Andrew Biggs, Ian Fereday, Doug, Gareth Marshall, Martin Clutterbuck, Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj, Herb Purnell, Celia Chessin-Yudin, Stickman, Thomas Lamosse, Vern Lovic, Colin Cotterill, Jonathan Thames, Hardie Karges, Peter Montalbano, Jonas Anderson and Christy Gibson, Paul Garrigan, Marcel Barang, Larry Daks, Chris Baker, Hugh Leong, Terry Fredrickson, Glenn Slayden, Rikker Dockum, David Smyth, Tom Parker, David Long, Aaron Handel, and Chris Pirazzi.

If you are a successful Thai language learner and would like to share your experiences, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Do you have questions about the quirks of the Thai language?
Send them over and we’ll do our best.

Thai Style: The Rhythm of Thai Language

Thai Style

Sound like a native Thai speaker..

“You sound like you’re from London!” Well, I wish someone said that to me! As a native Thai speaker with English as a second language, it would be my definition of being a native English speaker.

The journey to sound like a native speaker is not an easy journey. It can take years and years of exposure and for most people they may never speak like a native. I think my journey to sound British will take me a lifetime!

When learning a second language, you can be fluent but in order to sound like a native speaker, it is not just about the pronunciation and grammar but it is also about understanding the rhythm of the language. Like me, I consider myself fluent in English. My pronunciation is pretty good but I need to practise the rhythm of speaking like a native English speaker.

The rhythm of languages are different depending on many factors; culture, personality, attitude, mood etc.

Let me explain more about the rhythm of Thai language.

Sound and Tones…

First of all, let me explain about sound. Sound is a vibration that propagates as mechanical wave of pressure and displacement, through a medium such as air or water. The frequency of the vibration creates different pitches. When the pitch of the sound moves it creates ‘Tones’ which is the combination of pitch, strength and the quality of sound.

Object(s) > Vibration > Medium > Sound > Frequency/Pitch > Tone (Movements of pitch)

There are many ways to communicate with each other, such as; sounds, facial expressions, symbols, etc. The sounds that we create in our mouth is the main method we use to communicate. The combination of sounds create words which we understand the meaning off.

As you know, to make sounds, we use different parts of our mouth to create vibrations and we use the hollow space in our mouth, including our sinuses, as an echo chamber and the sound is carried out from our mouth. Our mouth is just like a musical instrument.

Eighty percent of Thai sounds are created from the the back of the palate and the back of the tongue. Thais speak with their nose. We have many sounds that create nasal sounds (the air passing through the nose) unlike in English, where sounds are made from the front of the mouth and do not have many nasal sounds.

Watch my video about Thai sounds to help you understand in more detail:

Learn Thai Style tone graph As explained above, all sound has a pitch and a tone. To make a tone it is all about the movements in our mouth to change the pitch of the sound. The part that we use to control the frequency of the sounds is the root of our tongue.

If the root of our tongue is in natural position, it creates natural tone or in other words, a mid tone. A high position creates a high tone and a low position creates low tone.

As you probably know, there are five tones in Thai language; mid, low, falling, high and rising.

When making each tone in Thai it is not just about making one pitch or using one position of the root of your tongue. Each tone in Thai language has movement.

Watch my video about Thai tones to help you understand in more detail:

 

Take my Thai Tone Quiz here.

What are ‘Tones’ used for in Thai language?…

In Thai, tones are used for 2 purposes:

1. Indicating the meanings of sounds in which we call ‘words’.

Watch my video about Comparing Thai Tones to help you understand in more detail:

2. Indicating the forms and moods of exclamations or particles.

(Note: Particles are untranslatable words used at the end of speech to indicate moods or feelings of a speaker)

Watch my video about Tones in Particles & Exclamations to help you understand in more detail:

Note: Elisions and Contractions (Short informal words) are also part of the rhythm of Thai language. When speaking with different moods and feelings, the words we use should compliment each other as one rhythm, mood and feeling.

The Quality & Strength Of Tones…

The quality and strength of the tones depend on the air we produce. As you know, men have a deeper voice than women but it doesn’t mean a women can’t produce a deep voice like men.

The quality and strength of tones in Thai language varies in speech depending on the mood or feeling of the speakers, such as exaggeration, emphasising, etc.

In English language, the quality and strength of tones (stress) is one of many factors in creating different accents. Tones and stress are also used to indicate the rhythm of different types of sentences and the mood or feeling of the speaker. However in Thai language the ways we use tones are slightly different, which creates a different rhythm to English.

Watch my video on Quality & Strength of Tones to help you understand in more detail:

Types Of Sounds…

The rhythm of Thai language is not just about how we pronounce the tones, it is also about the sounds themselves. If you learn to read and write Thai scripts, you probably know that we have live syllables and dead syllables. Do you ever wonder, why do we call them live and dead sounds? Basically, we differentiate sounds from their characters into two types:

LIVE SOUNDS are nice to the ears, soft and gentle.

DEAD SOUNDS are harsh to the ears, hard and abrupt.

Basically, we are able to control the airflow in our mouth for soft and gentle (live) sounds. We cannot control the airflow of hard and abrupt (dead) sounds.

For example, the vowel sound -า / aa is a long sound. If you pronounce this sound, you will find that you can control the air better than the short vowel sound -ะ / a which is a dead sound. The sound is dead because we make a quick movement and stop the sound suddenly before you control it further.

Another example is the consonant sound น /n which is a nasal sound. If you pronounce this sound, you will find that you can control the air through the nose better than the hard and abrupt consonant sound ด / d, which is a dead sound. Again, it is dead because the sound is made from a quick movement and stops suddenly.

How do we use different types of sounds in speaking?…

Different types of sounds can create different feelings in words, for example:

ทาน / taan = to eat (polite word) the two soft sounds า / aa and น / n create a nicer sound than กิน / gin = to eat, to consume (common & informal) which has the hard sound ิ / i. However, กิน / gin (common and informal) sounds nicer than แดก / dàek = to eat, to devour (impolite) because of the combination of two hards sounds ด and ก.

In Thai grammar จ is a hard sound but จ้ะ / jâ or จ๊ะ / já (informal polite particle used by female) produce a slightly more gentle sound than ค่ะ/คะ (formal polite particle used by female). Therefore, จ้ะ / jâ or จ๊ะ / já are used to indicate that one speaks in a soft, gentle and sweet manner other than ค่ะ / kâ or คะ / ká which used to indicate that one is being firm and formal.

When creating a rhyme in music, this is a very important factor that we need to consider. For example, we tend to use the word เธอ / ter (used to mainly address or refer to a woman) as it sounds nicer to the ears than คุณ / kun (formal and polite addressing used to address a person one is talking to). The expressions we use for this are:

รื่นหู / Rûen~Hŏo
= feel refreshing + ear
= pleasant (sound)

ไม่รื่นหู / Mâi Rûen~Hŏo
= no/not + feel refreshing + ear
= unpleasant (sound)

Different people may use different types of words and/or make different quality and strength of a tone to indicate their personality.

This, among others, are some of the factors you need to understand in order to let your speech flow. Listen out and mimic or adapt your speech, the quality of your sounds and tones, in order to suit your own personality and sound like native speaker.

What do you think? Do you sound like you are from Bangkok? Do you sound like your Thai friends? Who do you want to sound like?

To develop fluency you need to find your own personal rhythm. It’s your identity.

โชคดีค่ะ / chôhk dee = Good Luck!

By ครูเจี๊ยบ: Kru Jiab
(Thai Style Language’s head teacher)

Do you have questions about the quirks of the Thai language?
Send them over and we’ll do our best.

Memorize Thai Tones With Five Simple Rules

Memorize Tones With Five Simple Rules

Memorize Thai Tones With Five Simple Rules…

I just made big strides with reading tones/ tone markers and would like to share my findings with anyone interested. I’ve been a successful Piano and Music teacher and pride myself on finding how humans learn, and unveiling easier ways to understand concepts. The parallels of learning music and languages are staggering, so I’ve been reworking my approach of learning Thai from my musical practices.

I would first like to say that, initially, I tried to just memorize tone rules from the gate. I found that it got me nowhere fast. What works for me is reading Manee books (which thanks to Kruu Mia – Learn2SpeakThai – she has provided them WITH slow and fast audio… yes, amazing) and just jumped right in. After a few times recognizing a certain consonant with a tone marker (or lacking), it starts becoming ingrained without having to “memorize” any rules. It just becomes intuitive (which seems more along the natural path of how Thais learn it, and quite frankly, being a Piano teacher, is how most students of all ages learn).

So now that I’m revisiting “memorizing” a few of the rules, something really obvious stands out to me. I’m having flashbacks of resentment that I had when I grew up classically trained playing piano, and then found Jazz and Jazz theory. “Why were these extremely simple concepts left out of classical curriculum?” In other words, now that I see tone rules are easy, I am wondering why no one has explained it in any simple manner in all the teachings I find. So here is my attempt at making it easy!

Out of 15 possible scenarios of tone rules, you really only need to memorize only a handful.

High and Rising tone markers will always produce high and rising tones, respectively. So you do NOT need to worry about them, or memorize anything. If you see them, you know the tone no matter what.

So now that leaves only Low and Falling tone markers to worry about. Low and Falling tone markers will always create Low and Falling tones respectively, except when they appear with… LOW CLASS.

I will count this as the first two tone rules you have to memorize, even though you only need to memorize only low class consonants.

[So Low Class with Low Tone Marker creates Falling tone, and Low Class with Falling Marker creates High tone]

Now that we’ve covered the tone markers, it leaves us with what to do in the absence of tone markers.

Live Syllables and Dead Syllables are easy to distinguish. If you assume all dead syllables with no tone markers create a low tone, you then only need to worry about dead syllables with short or long vowels when they’re….You guessed it: LOW CLASS.

[Low Class Dead Short Vowel is high and Low Class Long Vowel is Falling]

So now, with only memorizing LOW CLASS consonants, you have already learned 12 of the 15 tone scenarios.

That leaves us with only Live Syllables with no tone markers. If you assume all Live Syllables with no tone markers create a Mid tone, you’ll probably be correct most of the time. The only rule you need to remember is that High Class Live Syllables create a rising tone.

So with only memorizing Low Class Consonants, and realizing their rules change with Low Tone and Falling Tone Markers, you’ve almost mastered all the rules. Then you just realize that a High Class Live Syllable creates a rising tone, you’ve finished all the rules.

It’s worthy to point out that you never need to memorize Mid Class consonants, as when live, they’re mid, when dead, they’re low and with markers, follow the rules of the names of tone markers.

And you only need to memorize High Class for the purpose of the absence of tone markers.
It’s really the Low Class you need to memorize as Low Tone Marker changes it’s sound to Falling, and Falling Tone Marker changes it to High Tone. And of course with no Tone Marker, Dead Short Vowels are High Tones and Dead Long Vowels are Falling Tones. That’s a total of what? Five rules you need!?

That’s basically only memorizing five things, and (providing you can create the correct tones, with the correct vowel/consonant sounds) you’re on your way to mastering reading/speaking Thai!

With all that said, I encourage reading (especially the Manee books with audio method) and just trying to assimilate these “rules” in actual situations. Then use these simple five rules for reminders and verification.

As you can see, I’m very encouraged and inspired and hope that anything I provided can give you similar inspiration.

Note: My five tone rules were introduced and refined at the Farang Can Learn Thai Facebook Group.

โชคดี,
Ryan Hickey
Ryan Hickey Live Music

Do you have questions about the quirks of the Thai language?
Send them over and we’ll do our best.