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Thai Language School Review: Payap University: Thai Level Two

Payap University

AUA: Payap University…

Website: Payap University
Tele: (+66) 53 241 255

Address: Super-highway Chiang Mai – Lumpang Road, Amphur Muang Chiang Mai, 50000

Payap University Language Enhancement Center is located at the Mae Khao campus, which is the one further away from the city. I live near Chiang Mai hospital and it took me 20 minutes to get there on a motorbike every morning.

You’re being taught at a university and either because of that or regardless of that, the facilities were basic. There were a few small shops and cafes there, but for example, there wasn’t a water dispenser in the building (which I have come across of in other schools) nor was there toilet paper, which I regard as a necessity.

This is the most expensive Thai school in Chiang Mai; sixty hours costs 8000 baht. Classes are Monday-Thursday 9am-12pm, with half an hour break after the first 1.5 hours.

There were 12 people in the class and since everyone had paid a lot of money to study there, most of us turned up every day. The majority of us were farang, contrary to the scene at AUA.

What really surprised me though, was that all reviews and articles I had read about Payap said that this is the place to learn to speak Thai, the best school in Chiang Mai, with really fast pace, a lot of pressure to study and lots of homework. I was unfortunately disappointed with it. I loved our teacher, who was super energetic, bubbly and explained everything really well, but already after the 2nd day I realised that I preferred AUA. I can’t say it’s the teacher’s fault, I think this was Payap in general and their teaching style.

At Payap, the pace of presenting new material was as fast as at AUA (new topic approximately every 2nd -3rd day), however, the pace at which we went through the material was slower because we were side-tracked often and a lot more English was spoken than one would expect and in my case, prefer. I asked around how Level Two was at AUA and apparently, they were expected to only speak Thai and the teacher only spoke Thai to them and quite fast in fact. At Payap, the teacher doesn’t try to get people to stop using English. The speed at which our teacher spoke with us in Thai was the same as at AUA Level One, plus she also spoke a lot of English herself. A bit too slow for Level Two at the allegedly, strongest Thai school in town.

The level of students was also very varied, some were still at the complete beginner’s level, while some felt that they were in a sixty hour Thai review class. This made group work difficult, that and the fact that usually very little Thai was spoken in groups, so at times when we had to practice dialogues and new words with each other, we just had a chat in English about something very different.

Grammar wise they teach you really well, we covered a new topic every 2-3 days, and there was a lot to take in and that’s the part I cannot fault. But I often felt that progress would have been faster, if we didn’t get off topic so much, and we would have cemented everything better.

We didn’t have a book, only handouts. Each handout covered a topic and started with 1-2 pages of words, question words relevant to the topic and dialogues we had to translate and speak out. Much too often our time was consumed by writing down lots of additional words and phrases (not always on topic), which people asked the teacher to translate. But since we didn’t practice dialogues with these words enough, I feel that I didn’t cement neither all the new words nor the grammar. But I have a huge stack of papers with all the information and can always refer to it.

Homework was very light. I remember four times when we had homework, and a couple of times it wasn’t checked or not everyone’s was checked, so I wonder whether some people felt a bit unhappy with that, putting in the effort and not getting feedback.

I can’t say that I didn’t learn anything, I had an interview at AUA to go back and they put me on Level Three, which means I’ve developed at least to their next level. But I really expected to learn a lot more and speak a lot better Thai by now. And while one’s personal ability and motivation are important factors, studying 60 hours over five weeks at a top school, and paying a lot of money for that, should leave a much bigger mark than it did.

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Thai Language School Review: AUA Chiang mai

AUA Chiang mai

AUA: Chiang mai…

Website: AUA Chiang mai
Tele: 053 214 120, 053 211 377, 082 036 7840, 095 452 7840

Address: 24 Rajadamnern Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50200.

AUA is located on a main through road in Chiang Mai Old Town, yet the setting is quiet and the buildings remind me much of old Thai-style houses. 

They currently have seven six-week modules available: Speaking 1-4 and Reading/Writing 1-3, at THB5300 per course. The lessons are two hours a day, Monday-Friday, with a 15-20 minute break after the first hour. 

This school definitely seems to be good value for money. I found the teachers at AUA very experienced and invested in their students’ progress. The teachers drill words into you, and correct you until you pronounce them the right way, and you’d better do it with a smile on your face.

AUA is definitely not a school just to get the ED visa. AUA requires attendance and participation in classes and that’s a positive because the students participating are motivated and make progress. Plus, the school expects you to study and practice outside the classroom as well. 

What struck me as a bit odd at first was the lack of desks in the classroom. Everyone sits in a semicircle and writes with their notepads balanced on their knees. But at the same time the arrangement makes the exercises requiring speaking to everyone that much easier. You just stand up and walk across the room without having to move desks around or trying to navigate between them. This open system also encourages switching conversation partners and getting used to different accents.

Conversation Level One…

In the Conversation Level One course I attended, all my fellow students were super friendly and motivated; everyone was there to learn Thai. Not one of the 12 students had an ED visa, and on the quietest day attendance was seven. There were only three farang (non-Asians) in my class, which seemed a common theme at AUA. Missing a few lessons is enough to fall behind and AUA gives the impression that if you do miss too many lessons, you’d be politely asked to rethink whether you should continue with the class. This reinforced the idea that Digital Nomads do not often enroll at AUA (could be because avid attendance and participation is expected).

However, the level among students was very different, making it hard at times for lessons to flow at a steady speed. I also found having a dialogue with others in Thai a bit tricky for the same reason. But it does make you concentrate on listening more. At the same time, our teacher made sure to get everyone to understand and follow, so no one was purposefully left behind. In saying that, there was no excessive hand-holding for anyone. 

In the beginner’s course, for the first two weeks we focused on practicing tones and vowels for 30 minutes. We played ‘guess the tone’ games quite a bit and while it was frustrating at first, eventually we all started to agree on the correct tone. 

The teaching was built around repetition. There was a great deal of repeating of words and phrases out loud every day. The teacher expected us to use all new words taught, plus find new words to use on our own. And to make us understand the thinking behind the language our teacher illustrated ‘weird’ words and expressions using her own life experiences and situations.

For this class we didn’t have a book, just handouts and a whiteboard with notes. Not following a set curriculum allowed our teacher to focus on what she felt was relevant, in a way what also suited her, thus making the classes fun and interesting for us. The only wish I have is that they taught more everyday Thai; things you need to say to the street vendor or the taxi driver. What we ended up learning was a bit more sophisticated and didn’t help me when ordering food. But this could very well be my European thinking since I have had to forget every single European language I speak and start from a blank piece of paper. 

While I feel that we could have spoken a bit more in class, thanks to their repetition teaching method, most of what we practiced did stick. We covered a great deal of ground, with everyone managing to follow along. 

I’ve now finished Level One Speaking and have decided to try out Payap. I went for an interview and they said I was ok for Level Two. So stay tuned :)

Conversation Level Three…

AUA Level Three included a small group of nice students from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, China and Europe. In this course the speed and level increased significantly. The teacher spoke at a relatively normal speed, but used words and sentence construction that everyone could understand. This way of teaching has you recognising normal spoken Thai and responding actively.

Again, the time flew by and the lessons were great fun. Everyone was pushed to learn and to try to explain stories and compound sentences. English was not used in class but any new vocabulary was given in Thai / English / phonetic handouts. I found that many of the students could already read and write quite well and took their notes in Thai script only, although there are still a few, including me, who could read but struggled to write.

Despite the fast spoken language and assumption that certain things should be inherently understood, there was surprisingly little homework in this course. In saying that, to be ready for the next lesson all of us appeared to recap at home to some extent.

Same as with the previous course, it’s an untraditional classroom with all pupils sitting in a semicircle around the room, with no desks, taking notes on notebooks balanced on their knees. There’s a lot of work in pairs though, and you’re forced to work with different people every day, which apart from making new friends helps you to hear other people’s pronunciation and see in detail what level they’re at.

Private Lessons…

I went for an intake assessment at AUA in Chiang Mai and was told that while I had a good vocabulary my grammar was messy and unstructured, so was advised to take private lessons before joining the second level. Cost per hour was THB340. This consisted of one hour, two or three times a week, speaking with a teacher who would simply kick off the discussion by asking questions. Each of the lessons actually covered different grammar elements, although it was never presented like this, so I only became aware at the end of the month. The hour flew by, with discussions ranging from immigration and unemployment, to baggy trousers and the Russian mafia.

Because it’s a private session, and you’re one-on-one with the teacher, you simply can’t hide and pretend that you know what’s being discussed, so you learn a lot. It was quite hard work but I enjoyed it and it paid off. At the end of the month the teacher put me not into the second, but the third level.

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Thai Language School Review: PRO Language Chiang mai

Thai Language School Review: PRO Language Chiang mai

PRO Language: Chiang mai…

School: PRO Language
Website: PRO Language Chiang mai
Telephone Number: 053-400-980 , 086-431-0377

Address: 6/4-5 Nimmanhemin Rd. Suthep, Mueng, Chiang Mai.

PRO Language School in Chiang mai is located on the northern end of the trendy Nimman Heimman street where a lot of the Digital Nomads live, but the building itself is a bit older. Classes are two times a week: 2h at a time, with a 15min break in between.

From my experience with PRO Chiang mai, the biggest motivation for people to choose this school is the location, the price, plus the flexible attendance rules.

In my opinion, Pro Chiang mai is a great school if you want to attain the student visa and speak basic Thai. But, if you really want to learn Thai, then you’ll need to do a lot of work yourself on your own, take supplementary private classes, and/or enroll somewhere else as well.

Beginner level…

At the beginners’ level, the first class covered the tones and the vowels in an hour and then moved on to greetings and basic phrases. The pace was fast and each class or each 1.5 classes covered a different subject. And while they did follow a book (written by the school itself I believe) they also used a lot of handouts and had simple homework once a week. Considering the class was twice a week and 2h/day with a 15min break, that’s a good amount of homework (and we always checked it the following lesson). 

There didn’t seem to be much focus on making sure that every student could follow along. But, as many students were lax in their motivation, I cannot blame the teachers. If the teachers tried to get everyone up to speed all the time, they’d never get anywhere with the students who are motivated to learn. 

We spoke in pairs a lot, read out aloud from the book, and our teacher asked us a lot of questions. Our teacher was young, energetic, and happily took the time to explain. She generously went off-topic to answer our questions about how to say this and that in Thai so we’d often ask her about everyday Thai things (such as how to speak to the taxi drivers and market sellers, what foods in restaurants are called, etc). And after answering our questions, she always got us back on topic again. 

Intermediate level…

I was in an intermediate class at Pro Language for about six weeks. Officially, there were 15-18 students in my class.

The teaching was divided into speaking for the first hour, often following photocopied texts brought by the teacher, and then a reading and writing section after the break. The teaching was actually OK, albeit based on continual repetition.

I did learn to read basic Thai as well, so something must have worked.

The level was generally very easy and it was obvious that many students had absolutely no understanding of the Thai language at all. I genuinely liked the teacher, who tried hard to motivate students and get them to take part, but it must have been a thankless task.

I could have asked to move to a different class but as I was effectively getting private lessons at Pro Language I was more than happy to stay there. However, due to the low numbers of students showing up, the group was finally cancelled. I’ve just been moved to the next level where I’m hoping that it’ll be a bit more challenging.

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Review: The Language Habit Toolkit by Fluent Language

Language Habit Toolkit

The Language Habit Toolkit: For when your language habits suck swampwater…

Immediately after commiserating with a friend about how abysmal our language studies were going, I happened across a post by Chiara from Runaway Daydreamer: How I created my ideal language learning routine with the Language Habit Toolkit.

The Language Habit Toolkit is all about getting organized and creating a language routine. It is designed to track your progress and it includes five wonderfully designed worksheets to evaluate and plan.

Talk about my good luck! I was not only looking for a way to get my study habits under control but I just happen to love making lists and filling out stuff.

And as I’ve long been a fan of the author of the Language Habit Toolkit, Kerstin Cable (language coach at Fluent Language), I already trust her advice.

In addition to the Language Habit Toolkit, Kerstin wrote the popular Fluency Made Achievable: The Fluent Guide to Core Language Skills and The Vocab Cookbook: The Fluent Guide to Building Foreign Language Vocabulary. Both are in my language learning bookcase.

Language Habit Toolkit

And I kid you not, Kerstin’s online course, Focus & Fluency, was written with me in mind (I suffer from having too much language learning stuff). Talk about back-to-back “ah hah’s!” All through the course I laughed, grinned, and nodded in agreement. The F&F was just what I needed pre getting stuck into the Language Habit Toolkit.

Before I get started into my review, here’s a few tips from Kerstin to help you with toolkit (paraphrasing):

Ultimately the main goal is to create a language learning habit. It starts with a question: Where do you want to be and what do you want to achieve?

Goals are snapshot of where you are right now. They are also a clear and measurable roadmap. But goals are not set in stone; they are flexible. They will serve you as you change and as you grow. Don’t beat yourself up if a goal changes or becomes irrelevant.

Goals are not a way to compare yourself to others. Your goals don’t have to live up to anybody else’s. Instead, look inwards in order to create the best goals for you.

Focus on the process instead of the outcome. Trust yourself. Don’t feel discouraged if your outcome doesn’t quite match what you thought it would, as long as you did the work. Celebrate the effort you are making because that is where you are growing.

REVIEW: Language Habit Toolkit…

Right away I was impressed at how beautifully designed the toolkit is (blame the designer in me). And after going through each item (book, guide, worksheets and video), it’s clear to see how Kerstin’s expertise on the subject makes the toolkit what it is: A practical and highly useful resource for planning a workable route to serious language study.

This is what comes with the toolkit:

The Language Habit Handbook PDF.pdf
The Language Habit Handbook epub.epub
Language Habit Toolkit Quick Start Guide.png
Video Goal Setting Guide.m4v

1 – Vision Goals Worksheet.pdf
1 – Vision Goals Worksheet (for on-screen edits).pdf
2 – Language Goals Worksheet.pdf
2 – Language Goals Worksheet (for on-screen edits).pdf
3 – Language Habit Tracker.pdf
4 – Study Tracker.pdf
5 – Your Month in Review Worksheet.pdf
5 – Your Month in Review Worksheet (for on-screen edits).pdf

So with the Language Habit Handbook you are given a choice of reading it either via epub or pdf. The Vision Goals Worksheet, Language Goals Worksheet and Your Month in Review Worksheet can either be printed out and filled in by hand, or filled in on your computer (pretty nifty if you ask me).

TIP: If you are going the computer route and don’t intend on printing out your results, either first make copies of the three pdfs (Vision Goals, Language Goals and Your Month in Review) or make copies at the end of the month (but be prepared to tweak/delete). At the beginning of the new month my Vision Goals stayed the same, Language Goals needed a tweak (not a total rewrite), and Month in Review was given a clean slate.

How to use the Language Habit Toolkit…

When I started the Language Habit Toolkit I had ten days left in the month so I decided to use those days to get my head around the program. Below is a quick rundown of how I see using the materials.

1) First read the The Language Habit Handbook (pdf or epub), print out the Language Habit Toolkit Quick Start Guide (png), and watch the Video Goal Setting Guide (m4v).

I found all three inspiring. I haven’t been fond of watching instructional videos but due to writing this review I sat it out. And I’m glad I took the time because Kerstin’s natural way of communicating her experience with language learning fired me up. I now plan on getting further advice by watching her videos on the Facebook group dedicated to the Language Habit Toolkit.

2) Next fill out the Vision Goals Worksheet (print or digital). This sheet has you select your current level (I love that ‘it’s been awhile’ is included along with A1-C2), list resources that inspire you, include where you dream of ending up (comfortable to fluid, whatever) and how you’ll feel once you reach that level. In addition to the above, you also jot down three goals to keep you motivated.

Now, if you fill this section out as intended, you just might feel an emotional high like I did. At one point I even found myself giggling.

And a bonus, when filling out ‘My Sources of Inspiration’ I decided that needed another local musician so I asked my StudyBuddy for suggestions. I’m now a fan of yet another impressive talent (only female this time). Win. Win.

3) Then up comes the Language Goals Worksheet (print or digital). The This Month in Language section of the worksheet is for you to clarify where you are now and where you want to be by the end of the month. And the Path Goals section is to decide what you plan to do to practice your core skills (reading, listening, speaking and writing).

Tip from Kerstin: “the whole idea behind your Path Goals is to move you gradually towards your Vision Goals”.

What I especially enjoyed about this section is knowing that at the end of each month I check this sheet to evaluate what has worked (or not) and make adjustments for the following month. So if it isn’t fun, turf it out! Sweet.

4) The Language Habit Tracker (print only) is a language learning log. Print out enough copies for the month to jot down daily Study Sessions (big or small), daily Practice Sentences and Things to Look Up (and review at the end of the month).

5) The Study Tracker (print only) is a study log where you document the basics: The date, what you did, core skills studied, tools you used, how much time you’ve spent on your studies, and what you learned.

I wanted to add more detail so in Pages (Mac doc software) I created a custom version of the Study Tracker. In the doc I added movies and Youtube videos watched, chapters read, lessons rewritten to suit my interests, lessons completed, words and phrases to study, etc. Later I merged it with the Language Habit Tracker after the modified tracker gave me ideas for a new direction in my studies.

6) In the This Month in Review sheet (print or digital) you look back through the other sheets to fill in the goals you accomplished for the month, what went well, what didn’t go so hot, how much time you spent on each of the core skills (writing, reading, listening and speaking), etc. This is where you can get an understanding of what wasn’t working, what might need to be shuffled around, and/or what else can be added.

Note to self: I can see how I’d benefit from a This Week in Review sheet as well as a monthly review. It’s a thought anyway (we’ll have to see).

Fluent Language and the Language Habit Toolkit…

If you are interested in trying it out the toolkit it can be purchased on FluentLanguage at Language Habit Toolkit.

Kerstin: The Language Habit Toolkit is a set of tools that focus on the two most important ingredients you need to develop persistence: setting helpful goals and keeping an eye on the time you spend studying a language. Use these tracking tools every day, and soon you will have built a language learning habit that’s difficult to quit.

Website: Fluent Language
Blog: Fluent Language Blog
Podcast: Fluent Language Podcast
Facebook: Fluent Language
Facebook: Fluent Language Learners
twitter: @fluentlanguage

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Review: 5000 Thai Phrases – Seriously Addictive iOS + Android Apps

FunEasyLearn

5000 Thai Phrases: Learn the Thai Language for FREE…

Last week I reviewed FunEasyLearn’s 6000 Thai Words App. As the 5000 Thai Phrases app is similar (and to stop you from having to bounce between the two reviews) I’ve duplicated parts of the post.

Earlier I mentioned that the 6000 Thai Words app is “a seriously addictive smartphone app!” and the same is true for this one as well. When playing with FunEasyLearn’s apps, Albert Einstein’s advice to his son comes to mind:

“That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes”.

Motivation really is as simple as that. Find a language learning method you love and you won’t need to force-feed vocabulary and phrases – studying should come naturally!

And now, on to the review…

Tutorial from FunEasyLearn…

Here’s the quick tutorial from the gang at FunEasyLearn:

Our apps help you to learn most common words and phrases. These words and phrases are useful when travelling, meeting new people, developing life-long friendships or simply in any daily conversation.

Easy Steps to Use our App:

  1. When you run the app you can find three rows: Topic, Subtopic and Game.
  2. Just choose the Topic you want to learn first (for example Topic: Shopping).
  3. Then choose Subtopic (for example Subtopic: supermarket).
  4. After this choose the game you want to play (we recommend to start with Vocabulary game).
  5. Tap “Play” button and that’s it!

Besides the fact that you learn many useful words and phrases, these games help you to improve your writing, reading and pronunciation.

Tips for you:

  1. Spin Categories – allows the app to choose a random topic, subtopic and game for you.
  2. Review Manager – helps you to review your wrong answers, right answers, or even all the phrases.
  3. Favourite words or phrases – permits you to choose your difficult words/phrases, set as favourite and revise them later. After you selected your favorite words/phrases just go to Main Menu, choose Review words/phrases and tap Review Words/Favorite Phrases button.

TIP: When going to the next level (say, from beginner to intermediate), to see the new vocabulary, under ‘Level’ in xxx, make sure ‘Learn words from previous level’ is turned off.

Walk-through of the Beginner level: 500 Words…

As in the previous review of the sister app, 6000 Thai Words, I’ve mapped out the Beginner Level for you. Intermediate, Advanced and Expert aren’t out yet – I’ll announce them when they arrive.

FunEasyLearn

Across the top of the main screen there are three icons: 1) Manage App, 2) Search Phrase, and 3) to the far right, a Flower.

Manage App (circle icon):

FunEasyLearn

  1. Level: Select level (Beginner 500 phrases, Intermediate 1000 phrases, Advanced 1500 phrases, Expert 2000 phrases), turn on/off learn words from previous levels. Unlike in the Vocab app, there is no way to turn on/off Thai script and transliteration.
  2. Statistics: Scores, overall stats, current streak, streak targets, levels completed, words reviewed, your skills, learned word target.
  3. Store: This is where you can get more levels by paying to get rid of ads. The Intermediate, Advanced and Expert levels are coming soon (I’ll be sure to let you know).
  4. Restore purchases: Just as it says.
  5. Support: FAQs and making contact (plus reporting any mistakes you find).
  6. Settings: Native language, sounds, reset tutorials (the animated walk through), one word a day notification (haven’t figured it out yet), review word notification (haven’t figured it out yet).
  7. App: Rate the app, more language apps, about this app. Icons across the bottom go to Facebook, twitter, Google+, and YouTube.

Search Phrase (search bar):

FunEasyLearnWhen you click on the phrase search bar the vocabulary for the Topic you are studying appears (you can see Basic Phrases and Saying hello & goodbye highlighted to the right).

There are two ways to scroll up and down the phrase lists: 1) via the phrase list on the left, or the Topic and SubTopic list on the right. To select a different topic scroll to the left or right then click on a Topic. To select a SubTopic scroll down and click on each graphic. Either way, the phrase list switches to that lesson. At the end of each Subtopic are totals of the phrases found in other levels.

In the left column each phrase first shows the English and the Thai script. To the right is a Favourites star. Below that are four bars that denote which level the word comes from (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert).

Click inside a box and it expands while saying the phrase using a real Thai voice (not machine generated). The transliteration now appears below the Thai. I just noticed they are using Google Translate for their transliteration. Ouch. But, all the better to get people interested in learning how to read Thai script!

At the bottom of the expanded box are three icons: 1) audio (repeats the phrase), 2) book (takes you to the phrase’s dedicated Phrase page – clicking the left arrow takes you back), and 3) the Favourites star again.

Flowers (flower icon): As you play the game, you earn flowers that you can then redeem inside the app. Flowers are what makes the app free. For now there aren’t any levels after beginner but there will be.

The main guts of the app…

FunEasyLearnThe app operates around three main nav sections: 1) Topic, 2) Subtopic, and 3) Games.

In the graphic to the right the selected Topic is Basic Phrases, the Subtopic is Saying hello & goodbye, and the Game is Vocabulary.

To work the app you slide each nav section to the left or right to line up different choices. When working your way through a section, reaching the end automatically moves you to the next one.

Tip 1: Unless you freewheel it, the beginning of the app starts with Basic Phrases and each section automatically leads you into the next, and the next, and the next, until you make it to the end of the course. But that’s only if you follow a set route.

Tip 2: Also important to know is that clicking on a Topic/Subtopic/Game running down the middle either selects or deselects that item. You need to have one icon from each section selected (Topic/Subtopic/Game) before the bottom arrow allows you to play a game. If three are not selected and you double click on the arrow, it will select for you.

So now, on to the guts of the app…

Below is the route to take if you plan on working from the beginning of the app to the very end.

1) Topic (top nav slider): Basic phrases, Making friends, Conversation, Travel, Plane, Car, Other transport, Hotel, Places to stay, Bar and Cafe, Restaurant, Food, Shopping, Health, Work, Services, Education, Leisure time, Communications, Reference, Review phrases,

2) Subtopic (middle nav slider): Same as the app above, the middle nav swings around so I decided to create a map of the subjects here.

Subtopic – Basic phrases: Saying hello and goodbye, Well-wishing, Languages, Thanks, Apologising, Common questions, Expressing feelings, Instructions, Emergencies, More expressions, Congratulations, Basic phrases Review Favourites, Basic phrases Review Wrong, Review Basic Phrases >> Introductions…

Subtopic – Making friends: Introductions, Ages & birthdays, Nationality, Place of residence, Family, Preferences, Dislikes, Describing people, Dating, Romance, Making friends Review Favourite, Making friends Review Wrong, Review Making friends >> Starting a conversation…

Subtopic – Conversation: Starting a conversation, Ending a conversation, Making an invitation, Accepting an invitation, Declining an invitation, Agreeing and disagreeing, Asking for information, Giving your opinion, Asking for help & advice, Permission, Suggestion, Conversation Review Favourite, Conversation Review Wrong, Review Conversation >> Asking directions…

Subtopic – Travel: Asking directions, Giving directions, Tickets, On tour, Signs, Travel Review Favourite, Travel Review Wrong, Review travel >> Airport…

Subtopic – Plane: Airport, Checking in, On the plane, Passport control, Airport signs, Plane Review Favourite, Plane Review Wrong, Review Plane >> Driving…

Subtopic – Car: Driving, Car hire, Problems, Road signs, Car Review Favourite, Car Review Wrong, Review Car >> Train…

Subtopic – Other transport: Train, Bus, Taxi, Bicycle and motorbike, Ship, Signs, Other transport Review Favourite, Other transport Review Wrong, Review Other transport >> Making a booking…

Subtopic – Hotel: Making a booking, Room, Checking in, During your stay, Checking out, Problems, Signs, Hotel Review Favourite, Hotel Review Wrong, Review Hotel >> At home…

Subtopic – Places to stay: At home, Renting, Going camping, Hostel, House, Estate agent, Places to stay Review Favourite, Places to stay Review Wrong, Review Places to stay >> Ordering drinks…

Subtopic – Bar and Cafe: Ordering drinks, Drinks, Ordering snacks, Bar & cafe Review Favourite, Bar and cafe Review Wrong, Review Bar and cafe >> Where to eat…

Subtopic – Restaurant: Where to eat, Booking a table, Ordering a meal, During the meal, Complaining, Paying, Fast food, Restaurant Review Favourite, Restaurant Review Wrong, Review Restaurant >> Breakfast…

Subtopic – Food: Breakfast, Soup, Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Staples, Fruit, Dessert, Herbs and spices, Food Review Favourite, Food Review Wrong, Review Food >> Department store…

Subtopic – Shopping: Department store, Shopping for clothes, Finding the right size, Buying goods, Supermarket, Payment & returns, Perfumery & cosmetics, Florist’s, Bookshop, Signs, Shopping Review Favourite, Shopping Review Wrong, Review Shopping >> Pharmacy…

Subtopic – Health: Pharmacy, Symptoms, Doctor, Dentist, Optician, Human body, Health Review Favourite, Health Review Wrong, Review Health >> Professions…

Subtopic – Work: Professions, Employee, Alternatives, Workplace, Interview, CV, Work Review Favourite, Work Review Wrong, Review Work >> Bank…

Subtopic – Services: Bank, Cash machine, Hairdresser’s, Repair, Other services, Police, Agriculture, Services Review Favourite, Services Review Wrong, Review Services >> School…

Subtopic – Education: University, Student, Exams, Library, Conference, Science, Education Review Favourite, Education Review Wrong, Review Education >> Cinema…

Subtopic – Leisure time: Cinema, Film, Theatre, Museum & gallery, Nightclub, Concert, Music, Sport, Holidays, Woods, Leisure time Review Favourite, Leisure time Review Wrong, Review Leisure time >> Phone…

Subtopic – Communications: Phone, Talking on the phone, Making the connection, Problems, Internet, Radio & TV, Newspapers, Post office, Communications Review Favourite, Communications Review Wrong, Review Communications >> Telling the time…

Subtopic – Reference: Telling the time, Time expressions, Calendar, Numbers, Colours, Weather, Writing letters, Reference Review Favourite, Reference Review Wrong, Review Reference >> Review all wrong answers…

Subtopic – Review Phrases: Review All Wrong Answers, Review All Phrases, Review All Right Answers, Review All Favourite Phrases >> Saying hello and goodbye…

3) Games (bottom slider nav): Vocabulary, Choose Phrase, Listen and Choose, Match Phrases, Translate & Listen, Complete Phrases, Listen & write, Find the Mistake, Translate Phrases, Fill in the Blank, Make Phrases.

FunEasyLearn

FunEasyLearn

FunEasyLearnGames – Vocabulary (dictionary icon): Here you study the information, record your voice to see how close you can get to the Thai (and OMG I love this! – the app converts your voice into Thai script!), create favourites, then move onto the next phrase in the series. This section introduces each phrase with a graphic, Thai script, transliteration, and audio recorded by real people.

Note: Although there are particles (polite and otherwise) used throughout the games there’s no explanation (that I came across) about the male/female polite particles. For instance, in the Vocabulary game the polite (ending) particles are female. Not a biggie but it’s worthwhile to take note of as you work through the app.

FunEasyLearnGames – Choose Phrase (two rectangles icon): This is a simple listening exercise where you match the English phrase to one of the two Thai phrases. Clicking on the right phrase gives you the audio and advances you to the next screen. Clicking the wrong phrase and the box turns red. You can’t advance until you make the correct selection.

FunEasyLearnGames – Listen and Choose (four squares icon): This is a listening exercise where you hear the phrase spoken in Thai and match it to one of the four English phrases. Get it right and the box turns light turquoise and you advance. Get it wrong and the box turns red with an X in the middle. There is a cheat icon on the bottom right that gives you Thai transliteration from Google Translate.

FunEasyLearnGames – Match Phrases (horizontal rectangle icon): This is a reading exercise. You match one of the four Thai phrases to its English translation. Get it right and the boxes turn light turquoise and disappear. Get it wrong and the boxes briefly flash light red then go back to white. Click on the ? in the middle of the two sections to cheat one set at a time.

FunEasyLearnGames – Translate & Listen (audio icon): This is a listening exercise. Your job is to match one of the three spoken Thai phrases with the single English phrase. The audio for each Thai phrase can be repeated and slowed down. Get it right and the circle turns light turquoise and you advance to the next screen. Get it wrong and a red circle replaces the green. There are not cheats (unless you call repeating the phrases cheating).

FunEasyLearnGames – Complete Phrases (vertical rectangle icon): This is a reading exercise (no audio). You are given four Thai written phrases that have been cut in half. Your job is to put the halves back together by selecting the boxes. When you get it right the phrase joins and turns light turquoise then disappears. Get it wrong and the boxes flash light red then go back to white. Same as with Match Phrases, you click on the ? in the middle of the two sections to cheat one set at a time.

FunEasyLearnGames – Listen & write (sound and pencil icon): This is a listening, reading, spelling exercise. Your job is to fill in the missing letters in the Thai phrase. You first hear the phrase spoken in Thai then select what’s missing from the white boxes below. If your spelling is poor (like mine is) you are just going to love the challenge! You can repeat the audio at the same speed or slower. Get it right and it changes to light turquoise and goes onto the next section. Get it wrong and the box flashes light red then goes back to white. The cheat is a ? on the bottom right of the screen.

FunEasyLearnGames – Find the Mistake (multi-boxes icon): This is a reading exercise. You are presented with several boxes filled with Thai script and one English phrase. The challenge is to choose which one of the boxes with Thai is incorrect. Select the incorrect box and you are given a range of boxes to choose the correct replacement from. Pick the right replacement and it changes to light turquoise and goes onto the next section. Pick the wrong replacement and the box flashes light red then goes back to white. As usual, you can cheat by clicking on the ? symbol.

FunEasyLearnGames – Translate Phrases (box, circles, arrow icon): This is another reading exercise. You are faced with a blank box to fill in (scary). The English sentence you need to translate is underneath, and underneath that are boxes of Thai words to select, one by one. Same as before, click the wrong box and it briefly flashes red. Click the right box and it goes light green then advances to the next screen. The ? cheat gives you the correct words one by one.

FunEasyLearnGames – Fill in the Blanks (sardine can icon): This is a reading, listening, spelling exercise where you fill in blanks by clicking on the correct boxes. Select the wrong box and it briefly flashes red. Select the right box and it goes light green and then you go on to the next screen. The ? cheat gives you the correct letter one by one.

FunEasyLearnGames – Make Phrases (pencil in papers icon): This is a reading/writing exercise where you find out why you were supposed to be paying attention to the graphics all along. At the top there’s a large graphic depicting a scene. The challenge is to create a phrase matching the graphic by clicking on different words. After you get it right, the phrase is spoken. The ? cheat gives you the correct words one by one. Ditto on the flashing red for wrong and green for right.

FunEasyLearnBasic navigation inside each game: When you start playing a game, across the top there’s an arrow on the left that takes you back to the home screen. There’s also a round icon on the right that tells your game progress, game score, and what Topic and Subtopic you are in (see the graphic to the right). Depending on the game, across the bottom the icons change.

FunEasyLearn

Game Wheel: You only get the screen that has all of the game icons (shown above) when you’ve completed a game. The circular icon with the arrow on the end replaces the icon of the game you just completed – click to repeat the game. The home icon takes you back to the main screen. The centre icon takes you to the next game on the list. And I just noticed that you can flip the wheel to make it spin. So fun!

Learn 6000 Thai Words on iOS, Android and Windows 10…

This app has it all. Listening, reading, writing, spelling, and taking a stab at translating.

As I mentioned before, this app is brilliant for those who can read Thai or are learning how to read Thai and want improve their spelling using Thai script. It’s fun. It’s addictive. What more could you ask for? Ok, besides Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert levels – but all three are on the way.

Here’s the Thai phrase app on iTunes and Google Play:

iOS: 5000 Phrases – Learn Thai Language for Free
Android: 5000 Phrases – Learn Thai Language for Free

And here’s the Thai vocabulary app:

iOS: 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free
Android: 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free
Windows 10 (mobile, tablet, PC): 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free

NOTE: You can report mistakes from inside the app (Manage App >> support >> contact us) or send them to support@funeasylearn.com

FunEasyLearn around and about:

Twitter: @FunEasyLearn
Facebook: Fun Easy Learn
YouTube: Fun Easy Learn
Website: FunEasyLearn

If I find anything new I’ll add it to this review. And if you find anything please let me know either by leaving comments below or via my contact form.

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Review: 6000 Thai Words – Seriously Addictive iOS + Android + Windows 10 Apps

FunEasyLearn

6000 Words: Learn the Thai Language for FREE…

If your motivation to study Thai is wavering, you really should try FunEasyLearn – it’s a seriously addictive smartphone app! It’s free (except for removing ads – up to you) so all you have to lose is your time.

But before you start wading through this lengthy review … if Thai-English vrs English-Thai vocabulary lists matters to you, go no further. The vocabulary in this app comes from an English database so there’s a chunk of Thai specific vocabulary missing.

So sure, you won’t come across vocabulary for coke in a bag, sticky rice with mango, tuk-tuks, sanuk, etc.

BUT! There is a LOT of vocabulary! If I could learn how to spell a chunk of the 6000 words in this app I’d be chuffed to bits. Seriously. My spelling is sucky.

A quick tutorial from FunEasyLearn…

They do have a video (below) plus an animated walk-through inside the app but I wanted more so contacted the gang at FunEasyLearn for tips:

Our apps help you to learn most common words and phrases. These words and phrases are useful when travelling, meeting new people, developing life-long friendships or simply in any daily conversation.

Easy Steps to Use our App:

  1. When you run the app you can find three rows: Topic, Subtopic and Game.
  2. Just choose the Topic you want to learn first (for example Topic: Shopping).
  3. Then choose Subtopic (for example Subtopic: supermarket).
  4. After this choose the game you want to play (we recommend to start with Vocabulary game).
  5. Tap “Play” button and that’s it!

Besides the fact that you learn many useful words and phrases, these games help you to improve your writing, reading and pronunciation.

Tips for you:

  1. Spin Categories – allows the app to choose a random topic, subtopic and game for you.
  2. Review Manager – helps you to review your wrong answers, right answers, or even all the phrases.
  3. Favourite words or phrases – permits you to choose your difficult words/phrases, set as favourite and revise them later. After you selected your favorite words/phrases just go to Main Menu, choose Review words/phrases and tap Review Words/Favorite Phrases button.

TIP: When going to the next level (say, from beginner to intermediate), to see the new vocabulary, under ‘Level’ in xxx, make sure ‘Learn words from previous level’ is turned off.

Now that you’ve read the quick explanation and watched the video, I have two suggestions: Either 1) Go have fun with the app, or 2) keep reading for a detailed overview.

Walk-through of the Beginner level: 1000 Words…

This is quite a big app so I mapped it out with only the Beginner’s level turned on. There are three levels (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced) and they all suck into the Topics shown here – keeping to one level to start helped to make it manageable.

The top nav…

FunEasyLearn

On the main screen there are three icons across the top: 1) Manage App, 2) Search bar, and 3) to the far right, a Flower.

Manage App (circle icon):

FunEasyLearn

  1. Level: Select level (beginner-intermediate-advanced), turn on/off learn words from previous levels, turn on/off Thai script.
  2. Statistics: Scores, overall stats, current streak, streak targets, levels completed, words reviewed, your skills, learned word target.
  3. Store: This is where you can get more levels by paying to get rid of ads. Beginner is £2.99 and Intermediate £8.99. Via the mysterious Flowers section I received 60% off the Advanced level (£6.99).
  4. Restore purchases: Just as it says.
  5. Support: FAQs and making contact (plus reporting any mistakes you find).
  6. Settings: Native language, sounds, reset tutorials (the animated walk through), one word a day notification (haven’t figured it out yet), review word notification (haven’t figured it out yet).
  7. App: Rate the app, more apps, about this app. Icons across the bottom go to Facebook, twitter, Google+, and YouTube.

Search (search bar):

FunEasyLearnI love this search. It’s beautifully designed (as is the entire app). When you click on the search bar (without typing in anything) the vocabulary for the Topic you are studying appears. Scroll up and down to see all of the vocabulary for the different Subtopics under Topic. At the end of each Subtopic you’ll see how many words for that Subtopic are in other levels.

Each word first shows the English and the Thai script, with a Favourites star on the right (to put the word into a Favourites list). The three bars denote which level the word comes from (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced).

Click inside a box and it expands while saying the word using a real Thai voice, not machine generated (T2S). The transliteration now appears below the Thai.

At the bottom of the expanded box are three icons: 1) audio (repeats the word), 2) book (takes you to the word’s dedicated Vocabulary page – clicking the left arrow takes you back), and 3) the Favourites star again.

Flowers (flower icon): As you play the game, you earn flowers that you can then redeem inside the app. Flowers are what makes the app free. Earn flowers, get new levels for free. I was only on the app a short while when I was offered 60% off the Advanced course so it’s worth paying attention to.

The main guts of the app…

FunEasyLearnAs mentioned in FunEasyLearn’s tutorial above, the app operates around three main nav sections: 1) Topic, 2) Subtopic, and 3) Games.

In the graphic to the right the selected Topic is People, the Subtopic is Body, and the Game is Vocabulary.

To work the app you slide each nav section to the left or right to line up different choices. When working your way through a section, reaching the end automatically moves you to the next one.

Tip 1: As you go through the app don’t think of it as linear. Think of it as peeling an apple all in one go. You start at the top (People), with each section leading you into the next, and the next, and the next, until you reach the bottom, the end of the course. But that’s only if you follow a set route – you can also wiz around willy-nilly. I started by bouncing all over the place but got dizzy so went in search of a logical way to attack the app.

Tip 2:Also important to know is that clicking on a Topic/Subtopic/Game running down the middle either selects or deselects that item. Just remember that you need to have one from each section selected (Topic/Subtopic/Game) before the bottom arrow allows you to play a game. If three are not selected and you double click on the arrow, it will select for you. Surprise!

So now, on to the guts of the app…

As per my confession, when I first started playing with the app I was twirling all over the place so I backed off, started from the beginning, and then worked my way to the end, taking notes as I went. And that’s what you’ll read below.

1) Topic (top nav slider): People, Appearance, Health, Home, Services, Shopping, Food, Eating out, Study, Work, Transport, Sport, Leisure, Environment, Reference, Review words.

2) Subtopic (middle nav slider): Each of the top nav subjects (shown above) break down into mini-subjects (Subtopics) within the middle nav. Tip: The course starts with People but when you open the app most any Topic could be in place.

Subtopic – People: Body, Face, Hand, Foot, Muscles, Skeleton, Internal organs, Family, Relationships, Emotions, Life events, People review favourites, People review wrong, Review. Then >> Children’s clothing, and the Subtopic bounces to the next in line, Appearance…

Subtopic – Appearance: Children’s clothing, Men’s clothing, Women’s clothing, Accessories, Hair, Beauty, Appearance Review Favourite, Appearance Review Wrong, Review appearance. Then it goes into >> Illness…

Subtopic – Health: Illness, Doctor, Injury, First aid, Hospital, Dentist, Optician, Alternative therapy, Health Review Favourite, Health Review Wrong, Review Health, and then >> House…

Subtopic – Home: House, Internal systems, Living room, Dining room, Kitchen, Kitchenware, Bedroom, Bathroom, Nursery, Utility room, Workshop, Toolbox, Decorating, Garden, Garden plants, Garden tools, Gardening, House Review Favourite, House Review Wrong, Review Home >> Emergency services…

Subtopic – Services: Emergency services, Communications, Hotel, Services Review Favourite, Service Review Wrong, Review Services >> Shopping centre…

Subtopic – Shopping: Shopping centre, Supermarket, Chemist, Florist, Newsagent, Confectioner, Other shops, Shopping Review Favourite, Shopping Review Wrong, Review Shopping >> Meat…

Subtopic – Food: Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Fruit, Grains and pulses, Herbs and spices, Bottled foods, Dairy products, Breads and flours, Cakes and desserts, Delicacies, Drinks, Food Review Favourite, Food Review Wrong, Review Food >> Cafe…

Subtopic – Eating out: Cafe, Bar, Restaurant, Fast food, Breakfast, Dinner, Eating out Review Favourite, Eating out Review Wrong, Review Eating out >> School…

Subtopic – Study: School, Maths, Science, College, Study Review Favourite, Study Review Wrong, Review Study >> Office…

Subtopic – Work: Office, Computer, Media, Law, Farm, Construction, Professions, Work Review Favourite, Work Review Wrong, Review Work >> Roads…

Subtopic – Transport: Roads, Bus, Car, Motorbike, Bicycle, Train, Aircraft, Airport, Ship, Port, Transport Review Favourite, Transport Review Wrong, Review Transport >> American football…

Subtopic – Sport: American football, Rugby, Soccer, Hockey, Cricket, Basketball, Baseball, Tennis, Golf, Athletics, Combat sports, Swimming, Sailing, Horse riding, Fishing, Skiing, Other sports, Fitness, Sport Review Favourite, Sport Review Wrong, Review Sport >> Theatre…

Subtopic – Leisure: Theatre, Orchestra, Concert, Sightseeing, Outdoor activities, Beach, Camping, Home entertainment, Photography, Games, Arts and crafts, Leisure Review Favourite, Leisure Review Wrong, Review Leisure >> Space…

Subtopic – Environment: Space, Earth, Landscape, Weather, Rocks, Minerals, Animals, Plants, Town, Architecture, Environment Review Favourite, Environment Review Wrong, Review Environment >> Time…

Subtopic – Reference: Time, Calendar, Numbers, Weights and measures, World map, North and central America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania >> Reference Review Favourite, Reference Review Wrong, Review Reference >> Review All Wrong Answers…

Subtopic – Review words: Review All Wrong Answers, Review All words, Review All Right Answers, Review All Favourite Words >> Body… (where it goes back to the beginning which is People). Tip: If you only have a few words to review it will pull from the general list (words you might not have seen).

3) Games (bottom slider nav): Vocabulary, Choose word, Find image, Match words, Listen and choose, Write word, Listen and write.

FunEasyLearn

FunEasyLearnGames – Vocabulary (book icon): This section introduces each word with Thai script, transliteration, a graphic, and audio recorded by real people. Here you study the information, record your voice to see how close you can get to the Thai (it’s great – the app converts your voice into Thai script), create favourites, then move onto the next word.

There’s no way to turn off transliteration but it doesn’t last for long (unless you’ve selected the ‘transliteration only’ option via the settings). Vocabulary is the only game where you can click the star icon on the top right to make the word a favourite (otherwise use the dictionary search). The arrow on the top left takes you back to the main screen. The thick arrow on the right auto scrolls the screens. Turn off auto scrolling by clicking on the || icon that replaces the right arrow. Across the bottom left of the screen there are two audio controls. One repeats at a normal speed and the other at a slower speed. The icon to the right records your voice (you first need to let the app access your microphone). Speak into your phone and a Thai translation in Thai script appears. It’s pretty nifty for getting your pronunciation right, as well as enforcing spelling.

FunEasyLearnGames – Choose word (finger icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise with audio. There’s a single graphic across the top with the English word below. The two boxes across the bottom each have a word in Thai (default setting is script, no transliteration). If you select the correct Thai word the box turns green, the word is spoken, and you advance to the next selection. Select the wrong word and the box turns red with an X on it. You must select the right word to advance. There are no cheats (more about those below).

FunEasyLearnGames – Find Image (magnifying glass icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise with audio. There are four boxes, each with a word in English. Along the bottom there’s a Thai word in Thai script (no transliteration unless you’ve changed it in the settings). You need to select the correct word in English. If you select the right word, it’s spoken, the square goes green and then it flips to the correct graphic. If you get it wrong you get a box with a red X inside. You must get a correct answer before moving on.

FunEasyLearnGames – Match words (scale icon): This is a Thai script reading exercise but sans audio. There are two rows of boxes: the row on the left has Thai script (unless you’re studying with transliteration) and the row on the right has English. Click one of each to match the boxes. Get it correct and the two boxes go green and disappear. Get it wrong and the two boxes turn red and then back to white. There is a cheat: Click the ? symbol in the lower right corner and it’ll match boxes for you.

FunEasyLearnGames – Listen and choose (earphones icon): This is a listening exercise. On the screen are four squares with graphics inside. You have to match a graphic with the audio that you hear as soon as four boxes appear. Get it right and the box goes green and you advance to the next screen. Get it wrong and the box goes red with an X in the middle. There are two sound icons on the bottom left. One replays the audio at a normal rate and the other at a slower rate. The icon to the right is cheat for those in a Thai script setting; clicking the icon gives you Thai transliteration.

FunEasyLearnGames – Write word (paper/pencil icon): This is a spelling exercise. There’s a single graphic with word under it in English. Under that is a partially filled in word (unless it’s a two letter word), with dashes denoting missing letters. Below are boxes with a choice of letters in Thai script (unless you’ve chosen transliteration). You need to click the boxes to fill in what’s missing. When you get it right you’ll hear the word spoken and then move onto the next. There is a cheat: Clicking on the ? symbol fills in the missing items one by one.

FunEasyLearnGames – Listen and write (radio icon): This is a listening, spelling exercise. Similar to Write word, there’s a single graphic but in this one there’s no English. Instead of words, the audio plays automatically with dashes showing how many spaces you need to fill in. All of the letters are missing. Below are boxes with Thai script (unless of course, you are using transliteration). Click on boxes to fill in the spaces. To the left is an audio icon to hear the word once more. Again, the cheat is the ? symbol.

FunEasyLearnBasic navigation inside each game: When you start playing a game, across the top there’s an arrow on the left that takes you back to the home screen (logical). There’s also a round icon on the right that tells your game progress, game score, and what Topic and Subtopic you are in. Depending on the game, across the bottom the icons change.

FunEasyLearn

Game Wheel: You only get the screen that has all of the game icons (shown above) when you’ve completed a game. The circular icon with the arrow on the end replaces the icon of the game you just completed – click to repeat the game. The home icon takes you back to the main screen. The centre icon takes you to the next game on the list.

Here’s a breakdown of the icons again: Vocabulary (book icon), Choose word (finger icon), Find image (magnifying glass icon), Match words (scale icon), Listen and choose (earphones icon), Write word (paper/pencil icon), Listen and write (radio icon).

Learn 6000 Thai Words on iOS, Android and Windows 10…

This app has it all. Listening, reading, writing and spelling.

And if you haven’t figured it out (and before I forget to mention) this app is brilliant for those who can read Thai or are learning how to read Thai and want improve their spelling using Thai script. I haven’t seen anything like it.

If you are using transliteration (only) the spelling sections (Write word and Listen and write) might need a miss but the rest should keep you hopping. Let me know how you get on?

Here’s the app on iTunes and Google Play:

iOS: 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free
Android: 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free
Windows 10 (mobile, tablet, PC): 6000 Words – Learn Thai Language for Free

Eventually I’ll make my way over to the phrase version of the app. Love it.

iOS: 5000 Phrases – Learn Thai Language for Free
Android: 5000 Phrases – Learn Thai Language for Free

EDIT: You can report mistakes from inside the app (Manage App >> support >> contact us) or send them to support@funeasylearn.com

Here’s FunEasyLearn around and about:

Twitter: @FunEasyLearn
Facebook: Fun Easy Learn
YouTube: Fun Easy Learn
Website: FunEasyLearn

There’s still more I need to figure out but I can promise you that eventually, I’ll get to the bottom of the app. But, instead of delving further, I’m going to get back to having fun getting my spelling up to speed. If I find anything new I’ll add it to this review. If you find anything, please let me know either by leaving comments below or via my contact form.

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Interview Compilation: What is the Biggest Misconception for Learning Thai?

Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

What is the biggest misconception for students learning Thai?…

Out of the 50, 22 focused on tones and pronunciation. But there’s a mixed bag. Some said tones tones are not impossible to master while others bounced between tones being important and not as unimportant as feared. And 14 mentioned the misconception that the Thai language difficult to learn.

And now for the rest of the interview…

Aaron Handel

Aaron Handel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAaron: People tend to cling to what is familiar to them. They are most comfortable with the sounds of their native language. The tonal characteristics of Thai are seen as cumbersome, trivial, and alien. Some people actually convince themselves that tones are unnecessary. This is a great misconception.

I have met many foreigners who communicate quite well with their Thai girlfriends, but are not understood by others. Usually, this kind of “Thai” is spoken in a mono-tone or it may have an inflection that conveys the English speaker’s feelings. This is not Thai.

I once met a Chinese gentleman who spoke “Thai” at lighting speed. He had learned it in 6 months, from Chinese teachers. There was only one problem. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not understand him. His Chinese influenced tones didn’t make any sense to me. Some Chinese dialects have as many as 13 different tones. It seemed to me that he was using at least 13 and maybe more! It made my head spin. I felt a bit sorry for him. It will take him a long time to unlearn what he had learned incorrectly.

Speaking Thai is not just a matter of using tones, but using the correct Thai tone for each syllable. Fortunately there are only five tones in Thai. The tone of a word is an integral part of its meaning. Consider this. Suppose you go to a restaurant and want to order roasted chicken. You should ask for gài yâhng (literally, chicken roasted). Yâhng is the verb meaning to roast. It is pronounced with a falling tone. However, if you were to pronounce yahng with a middle tone, you would be requesting a rubber chicken!

Usually, Thais have a good laugh when a foreigner bungles the tone, but sometimes the wrong tone can lead to confusion. The tonal distinction between near (glâi, with a falling tone) and far (glai, with a middle tone) has caused many a foreigner to wander around aimlessly.

Aaron Le Boutillier

Aaron Le Boutillier: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAaron: That tones are not important. I have heard people say that you should not worry too much as the context of the sentence will be enough. I have never seen evidence of this. The best thing I was ever told that has helped me on my path is “find your Thai voice”.

Adam Bradshaw

Adam Bradshaw: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAdam: That the language barrier will never be broken haha. Patience is a virtue especially when it comes to learning Thai!

Andrew Biggs

Andrew Biggs: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersAndrew: That you can do it without reading and writing it.

Chris Pirazzi

Chris Pirazzi: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersChris Pirazzi: That any transliteration system shows them how to make the sounds of Thai.

Colin Cotterill

Colin Cotterill: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersColin: One is certainly the belief that you can get through life without tones. I’ve met a lot of foreigners who pump out their Thai in monotone and are bemused when they aren’t understood. This is particularly common in long-term expats. They get away with it in a relationship with a partner whose ear is attuned to farang-speak but then can’t get the simplest point across to the waitress or the petrol pump attendant. Thai’s a tonal language. Learning the tones is half the battle. And learning tone and vocab at the same time is the most sensible way to go about it. You can either do this by learning to read before you pick up vocabulary, or you can go the Cotterill route and learn vocab in tone groups. Again in mnemonics, one set of vocab that lives on top of a mountain for high tone, one set falling out of an airplane for falling tone, etc.

Daniel B Fraser

Daniel B Fraser: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDaniel: I think it is that you have to sound perfect before you can be accepted as a Thai speaker. But Thai has so many styles and accents, that one shouldn’t let the sounds and tones intimidate you. Just go out there and make an effort.

David Long

David Long: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDavid: That language learning is difficult. I believe that the thing that makes it difficult is mostly centered on how we try to do it! It seems to me that If a 2 year old can do it, then so can I and it doesn’t have to be hard!

David Smyth

David Smyth: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDavid Smyth: One misconception is that if you get a tone wrong, Thais will not understand you. Another is that if you can’t immediately ‘hear’ or distinguish tones, you might as well not waste any further time trying to learn the language. Some learners can hear and reproduce tones accurately almost from the outset, while others take longer … yet still get there.

Another misconception is that it is good enough just to speak and there is no need to write. Back in 1906 Basil Osborn Cartwright cautioned ‘those who imagine they can ‘pick up’ a smattering of the language in a few weeks by trying to learn words in a parrot-like fashion from romanized versions which are invariably misleading’ and which is an ‘absolute waste of time, money and frequently of temper also.’

Don Sena

Don Sena: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDon: It is possibly the greatest misconception concerning any foreign tongue: an unawareness of the phenomenon of polysemy – the array of related meanings associated with almost every vocabulary item in any language. Because of polysemy, there are no one-to-one correspondences between the meanings of a word in one language and the meanings of any one word in some other language.

Doug

Doug: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersDoug: That native orthography should be learned immediately (for those in more formal programs), and/or that informal methods work over the long run (for those studying informally).

Gareth Marshall

Gareth Marshall: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersGareth: That pronunciation is not important.

Glenn Slayden

Glenn Slayden: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersGlenn: A common response to this question is to “not sweat the tones.” Perhaps they are intimidating and if this is an excuse to not learn the language then maybe their importance can be minimized at first. However, in my experience, being a poor tone user, they are actually important. And the tone rules (determining the spoken tone from the spelling) are hard. I discussed this last week with my language-exchange student, a native Thai woman studying for the TOEFL here in Seattle. It was frustrating for me because she did not know what I was talking about: native Thai speakers have learned the tone system so innately as small children that they often aren’t even aware that there are rules that adult learners must master. While some Thais that you may communicate with in Thailand have the ability to imagine the different possibilities for your incorrect tones and chuckle but understand you, others seem to be hearing something like the difference between “cat” and “dog,” and are completely mystified by your utterance.

Grace Robinson

Grace Robinson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersGrace: Thinking it’s going to be particularly difficult.

Hamish Chalmers

Hamish Chalmers: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHamish: That westerners can neither hear nor replicate the tones.

Hardie Karges

Hardie Karges: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHardie: That tones are a huge obstacle to learning the language. Tones are a function of correct pronunciation, but so are many things, such as long and short vowels, which is scarcely mentioned. Once you can read, then you can ‘see’ the tones also, as they are written in.

Non-tonal Thai is still understandable, also, witness Lao which differs significantly in tone from Thai, but not an obstacle really. Many Cambodians can speak Thai, but non-tonally, though still understandable. Some of the words they share with Thai indeed ARE spoken the same way, though Khmer is technically a non-tonal language.

Herb Purnell

Herb Purnell: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHerb: People are really different in their learning styles, motivation for learning Thai, living situations, opportunities to get instruction (if they’re even interested in getting it), and willingness to use the language often and with many different people and, in so doing, become vulnerable. So it’s probably not possible to say anything that will fit everyone. But here are a few thoughts.

For people like me, a misconception would be that written Thai is the “real” language. The real language is oral language with its many styles and levels of speaking. The script is attractive, exotic, and challenging, and reading is very valuable at an intermediate level and beyond, but I consider it to be secondary to spoken Thai.

Another misconception is that the language is really easy, since it doesn’t have the complexity of all those suffixes and prefixes as in Russian. Or, conversely, that Thai is really hard, possibly inscrutable, and maybe unlearnable for non-Thais because of the tones and the looseness of singular/plural, lack of marked tenses, and the like. The first view can lead to overconfidence when the learner gets a quick spurt, especially toward the beginning. The second view can lead to discouragement and a decrease in motivation, then falling back on a mix of Thai and English, or to being content with broken Thai or in despair of ever improving. A middle or balanced way seems to work for most learners: some things are easy to grasp, others are difficult but eventually learnable; one just needs to stay positive, keep working hard, and enjoy the experience of interacting with people in their heart language.

For some people, perhaps for those taking a formal class, a misconception is that if I pay attention and do my homework, maybe looking/listening to snatches of the language on tape, on a CD, or on the Internet, that the language will come. Perhaps it will, but the real payoff in language learning, whether independent or classroom, is interacting with people, getting to know them, and sharing each other’s ideas. In my current work at a language school in Bangkok, revising the curriculum, I am writing very focused and doable assignments that enable students to use what they learned in class in interactions with Thai people outside of class, from very simple assignments at the start to more complex interviewing at the upper intermediate level. These assignments integrate learning in class and learning in the community and, if students are willing to follow them and use them, they can help students to become independent learners with skills they can use long after formal classes are done with.

Hugh Leong

Hugh Leong: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersHugh: The biggest mistake people have is not to stress the importance of Thai tones. In my opinion, if you get the tones wrong, no matter how much they are smiling at you, no matter how much vocabulary you know, no matter how well you read and write, no one will understand a word you say. Let me change that a bit. If you have someone you spend lots of time with, your partner, paramour, maid, golf caddie, they may be able to “decipher” incorrect tones and guess what you mean. That becomes more of an idiolect, your own personal language, which can be understood by only a few.

Here is why tones are so important. The sounds of English can be divided into 3 very important parts, consonants, vowels, and intonation. If you get any of these wrong then the person listening will have trouble understanding you. For instance, let’s say we have trouble with our consonants. You want to say “Your life is fine,” but you confuse the consonants and come out with “Your wife is mine”, only two small consonant changes. But if you say this to the wrong person you will quickly see how important consonants are in English. In this case we say that the change in consonants is “morphemic”, it changes the word’s meaning. I don’t think that anyone would say that it is unimportant to learn the English consonants and vowels. Then why do some people insist that Thai tones are not essential to being able to speak and be understood?

In Thai, tones are just as important as consonants and vowels. Changes in Thai tones cause “morphemic” changes in the words. They mean something different. If one speaks toneless Thai it is the same as saying all English words using only one consonant. “Your life is fine” becomes “Tour Tife is Tine”.

No wonder Thais look at us incomprehensibly at times. I’m not saying learning Thai tones is going to be easy. I still get those looks sometimes. And when I do, I don’t blame the listener for not understanding me. I know I just have to work a little harder at it. In one of my favorite books, Alice in Wonderland, Alice and Humpty Dumpty have a discussion as to whether “Saying what you mean” is the same as “Meaning what you say”. I never could figure out who was right. But I do know that if we don’t use the correct tones when speaking Thai we will always be meaning one thing and saying another.

Ian Fereday

Ian Fereday: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersIan: That it is any more difficult than any other language. Clearly, Europeans learning a language that uses the ABC alphabet is always going to be easier because they can already read it (mostly). That’s why I think learners should get reading out of the way first. Then it is not a hindrance to speaking and understanding.

James (Jim) Higbie

James (Jim) Higbie: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJim: Some people say the tones aren’t important but your Thai will sound pretty ragged if you don’t learn them.

Joe Cummings

Joe Cummings: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJoe: That you can learn the tones without learning to read. Children can learn by pure imitation, but not adults. Adult learners benefit immensely from both using the language communicatively (as in The Silent Way methodology) and by explicitly discussing the structure (grammar translation). You need to work at the language from both ends, structure and communication.

John Boegehold

John Boegehold: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJohn: That’s tough from my perspective because I had no conceptions at all when I started! I have noticed a fairly common one in other students has been thinking (or hoping, anyway) that tone is a secondary component in pronouncing a Thai word when in reality it’s as important as consonants and vowels in being understood clearly when speaking.

Jonathan Thames

Jonathan Thames: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJonathan: That it’s especially hard and/or impossible. I don’t know, lots of things. That’s what happens when you learn a language – hundreds of misconceptions are broken down over time. At least that’s been my experience.

Justin Travis Mair

Justin Travis Mair: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersJustin: That it is TOO hard. Learning any language is difficult and Thai can seem even harder since there is little in common with English. That said, It is very attainable and I don’t think it is beyond anyone who is willing to try to be able to become fluent in Thai.

Larry Daks

Larry Daks: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersLarry: I don’t know what the biggest misconception is, but this is one that leads people feel reluctant to speak. That if you mispronounce words the listener can’t understand you. That is the case in some situations, but if you use words within sentences, your listeners can often figure out the context.

Luke Cassady-Dorion

Luke Cassady-Dorion: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersLuke: That it’s impossible for foreigners to learn, that tones are a hurdle which can’t be surmounted (anyone who has been to a Karaoke parlor knows that this country is full of tone-deaf Thais who can speak their own language just fine) and that the writing system is an obstacle.

Marc Spiegel

Marc Spiegel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMarc: Thinking you can get by learning transliteration. Of course you can learn the language, and I do have friends who are fluent; however, their pronunciation is quite poor and there are many instances where Thai people do not understand what they are saying until they hear most of the conversation and can understand the topic they are trying to speak about. In order to truly master Thai I strongly believe you must learn to read Thai properly.

Marcel Barang

Marcel Barang: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMarcel: That learning to read and write is difficult: it takes time, certainly, but it’s hugely rewarding. If you settle down in Thailand for a number of years, it’s well worth investing in reading and writing. My only regret: I never learned to type Thai. It’d have come handy in my line of work, to consult dictionaries online or to Google things.

Mark Hollow

Mark Hollow: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMark: That learning to read/write is too difficult or not necessary. Yes, it takes a long time and regular practice but it’s not too difficult. The benefits from being able to read are immense.

Martin Clutterbuck

Martin Clutterbuck: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersMartin: That you can learn this language without learning the writing system.

Nils Bastedo

Nils Bastedo: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersNils: I think that every person is unique in this aspect. Since Thais tend to praise and don’t expect much from foreigners, one can gain a false sense of achievement. Remain humble. You will be advanced when you can watch Thai movies and newscasts with ease and read books and newspapers. If you cannot read a newspaper, you are intermediate at best.

Paul Garrigan

Paul Garrigan: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersPaul: I think that people expect things to happen quickly, but this is not the way for most of us. It is usually a case of believing that you are almost fluent one day to realising that you have a long way to go. It is easy to become disheartened because the prize always seems to be moving further away. Still if you stick with it you will get better. It might take a long time though; for some of us it will be a long long time.

Peter Montalbano

Peter Montalbano: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersPeter: I think different people have different misconceptions. Some think the tones aren’t important, and that’s about as wrong as could be. Some don’t notice the difference between long and short vowels. Some don’t get the difference between aspirated and unaspirated unvoiced stops (p, t, k, ph, th, kh).

And I’ve heard quite a few people claim fluency when they have only enough vocabulary for basic conversation. This may stem from the misconception I’ve heard from many speakers of Indo-European languages that this language is as easy to learn as another European language. At the basic spoken level, it may be as easy as those, or easier. But in the end, it comes from the other side of the world, and learning to speak it is like growing a second soul. There are almost no linguistic cognates, so the vocabulary you have to learn from scratch is immense. The grammar at first glance seems incredibly simple, but that’s deceptive. You will at almost every level of learning run into sentences that are nearly impossible to decipher without help. If you’re like me, the learning process is a lot of fun, but much harder than your third-year Spanish class, or whatever.

Rick Bradford

Rick Bradford: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRick: One common misconception is that Thai is too hard to learn. Another one, I think, among people who have begun to speak, is that mastering the tones is not of crucial importance.

Rikker Dockum

Rikker Dockum: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRikker: That learning Thai is anything other than fascinating, engaging, and rewarding. Also, the misconception that literacy is non-essential, or should be put off until later.

Ryan Zander

Ryan Zander: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersRyan: That the tones are the hardest part of speaking. When I hear people speaking Thai poorly, it’s almost always their getting consonant sounds wrong that sticks out to my ears.

Scott Earle

Scott Earle: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersScott: 1. That the tones are not important (they really are!)
2. That you need not bother to learn to read and write. It makes a difficult job a lot easier!

Stephen Thomas

Stephen Thomas: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersStephen: That you can get by using Romanisation. There are consonant and vowel sounds that appear in Thai that we simply don’t have in English. Plus the vowels we use pull double and triple duty. In Thai a vowel is that vowel sound only, with the exception of a few vowel combinations which are considered separate diphthongs in their own right. The letter A on its own is used to represent 4 different Thai vowels. In English I can substitute one A sound for another in a word and you recognise that it’s the same letter, but to a Thai person you’ve completely changed the spelling. Also some vowels in Thai are held longer than others but we don’t have a way of noting that in The Latin Alphabet which leads to putting the stress on the wrong syllable which again results in a completely different spelling.

Whenever I see a name or a place written in Roman letters I look for the Thai in order to see how it’s really pronounced. Some assistant directors have offered me “karaoke” scripts and I tell them no.

Thai is actually a remarkably easy language to get to a basic level and like all languages it takes practice, good teaching and a lot of drilling. I think one of the big problems is that Thais, despite being wonderful at many things, aren’t the world’s best teachers. So many just stand in a classroom and talk. Being engaging doesn’t seem to have much importance in Thailand when it comes to teaching technique.

Stickman

Stickman: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersStickman: That the language is difficult because of the tones. It isn’t!

Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj

Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersStu: Just because there are 40 odd consonants that it’s ‘hard to learn’. … oh, and that ‘tones are difficult’.

Tom Parker

Tom Parker: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersTom: That transliteration systems can be relied upon for correct pronunciation.

Thomas Lamosse

Thomas Lamosse: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersThomas: Taking short cuts. A focus on constantly trying to develop a large vocabulary before correct pronunciation of the words one can already speak. Learn to pronunciate every word in your vocabulary to perfection before adding new words.

My opinion is that it is better to speak 10 perfect than to have a huge vocabulary that is spoken incorrectly by mispronouncing characters, tones and vowels.

Tod Daniels

Tod Daniels: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersTod: That learning to read and understand what you’re reading in Thai is beyond them. It takes time, and countless hours of word memorization, review but for me, it’s far easier to read/understand things written in Thai than it is to speak clear Thai as a foreigner.

Also the old lame excuse, I can’t speak Thai because I’m tone deaf and can’t hear the differences in similar sounding yet differently toned words. In the beginning I couldn’t either and nearly gave up. Then I started learning the different tones in high frequency words I’d use: white, rice, shirt, mat, tiger, etc, (although I rarely talk about tigers as a rule!) Finally I actually began to hear the toning when Thais spoke to me. I also concentrated ONLY on the falling and rising tone as the other three can pretty much be blurred in colloquial speech with no loss in comprehension to a Thai.

I think ANYONE who puts their mind to it can learn to be at least conversational in Thai, get their point across and conduct their routine daily interactions in Thai.

Vern Lovic

Vern Lovic: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language LearnersVern: Maybe it’s that, “If I learn Thai – I know Thai.”

What I mean is, there are so many different dialects in Thai that you might know Thai and move 100km away and have a difficult time. When my wife moved from Isaan to the south – she was as dumbfounded as I was. That made me feel a lot better. Southern dialect is very different. Very little tonal expression and a whole lot of vowel sounds. I joke with the monks at the temple when they speak southern with me by repeating back what it sounds like to me that they just said… It goes something like, “Aweeooweeeweeee Oh Wa?”

The series: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation…

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TPR: Total Physical Response Explained

TPR

Total Physical Response (TPR) is a language teaching method developed by James Asher and has been in use for several decades. There’s a large amount of information, including sample curricula, on the web, and Asher and his colleagues have also published various books, available for instance from tpr-world.

The main idea of TPR is to teach comprehension through actions: the instructor gives commands, and the student carries them out. It is mostly used with beginners. Usually, the student doesn’t speak during TPR sessions, but speaking can be integrated later by having students take on the role of the instructor.

A typical first TPR session…

The instructor and the student sit on a chair. The instructor says “stand up” (in the target language) and stands up, then “sit down” and sits down. He repeats this one or two more times and then invites the student to do the action with him (for instance, using a hand gesture) – “stand up” – both stand up, “sit down” – both sit down. This is repeated a few times. Finally, the instructor stays on his chair and just says the commands, and the student performs the actions. This is again repeated a few times.

Now the instructor adds a new phrase, for instance “point to the door”. In order to introduce the new phrase, the instructor demonstrates it a couple of times alone and then does it together with the student a few more times before the student does it alone. Such a sequence could look as follows:

Instructor demonstrates the new phrase alone: stand up – point to the door – sit down – point to the door – stand up – sit down – point to the door – stand up – point to the door.

Instructor and student together: stand up – point to the door – sit down – point to the door – stand up – sit down – stand up – point to the door – sit down – point to the door – point to the door.

Student alone: (random mix of commands).

After “point to the door”, the instructor could introduce “point to the window”, “point to the table”, “point to the ceiling” one by one. After having introduced the verb “to point” and the nouns “door”, “window”, “table”, “ceiling”, the instructor could teach a new verb, ”to go”, with the same nouns: “go to the door”, “go to the window”, “go to the table”. Next, this could be expanded with “look at”, “run to”, and other objects available in that particular room.

In TPR, it should be avoided to “test” the student, the goal is always to have 100% success with any command. If the student can’t respond correctly, then the instructor has made a mistake. There are three basic rules for the instructor to make this fun and help the student learn:

  1. New phrases need to be introduced one by one.
  2. New and old phrases need to be mixed in an unpredictable, random way, and.
  3. Newly introduced phrases need to be practiced until the student is really confident before moving on.

Another important rule, especially in the beginning, is to keep the form of the command and the introduced phrases fixed. Even small changes to familiar phrases are likely to cause confusion, and with confusion learning breaks down.

Nothing is translated in TPR – students learn to understand the new language through actions. Associating sounds and actions is a powerful and efficient way of learning, and it can also be a lot of fun for both sides. TPR in its basic form can be used to teach a lot of concrete vocabulary by making creative use of the objects available in the house or class room. Advanced TPR phrases could be “put the red pen next to the book… now take the cup and hold it for a moment… now put the cup on the plate… now take the blue pen and put it in the cup…”, or you could even teach advanced sentence structures like “if the blue pen is in the cup, then take the bottle” or “shut the door after you’ve put the book on the table”.

My own experience with TPR…

Earlier last year I did a few TPR sessions with three different instructors as a beginner student of Khmer. I prepared my own curriculum, and instead of the instructor demonstrating a new action, I did it myself and had the instructor say the corresponding Khmer command. After a few rounds of eliciting the new command, we would do the normal sequence: the instructor giving commands, I performing the action. It was an interesting and fun experience, and I certainly would have continued if I had stayed in the area.

In the very beginning, I couldn’t distinguish individual words, but as soon as several commands of the same type were introduced (“go to the door”, “go to the window”, “go to the chair”), some words became clear (“go to”). Later more and more words became clear (“door”: “go to the door”, “point to the door”, “open the door”, “close the door”), until full phrases were transparent. I struggled when I went too quickly with new words, or sometimes with words that sounded similar (I remember mixing up table and cupboard), but otherwise it was surprisingly efficient. It was an amazing feeling to see myself respond correctly to that alien new language almost from the get-go.

At the end of this post, I would like to suggest two TPR-inspired techniques which can be used with a (trained) native speaker friend: Dirty Dozen, and TPR with objects. Similar to TPR, these two techniques are based on the idea that comprehension comes first, speaking later. One night’s sleep before activating the new vocabulary seems to be a good general guidance.

Dirty Dozen…

Dirty Dozen is a stripped down version of TPR aimed at learning a set of new words (a dozen seems to be a good number, not too few and not too many). These words can be names of objects, but also verbs or other words shown in pictures. Instead of doing some action, the learner (and the instructor during the training phase) just points to the correct object or part of a picture. As in TPR, one starts with two or three words and then adds one after the other. Supporting phrases in Dirty Dozen are usually “This is X” – “Where is X?” or “Show me X!”. 

As an example, you could go with your instructor to a motorbike parked on the street and start learning the parts it’s made of.

TPR with objects…

This works with almost any object – chopsticks, a jar, your purse, a notepad etc. Take the object and start manipulating it Dirty Dozen style. There’s an amazing amount of language which can be practiced with simple objects. For example, with a paper cup you could learn: take, give, turn upside down, push, drop, fill, empty, drink, sip, hold, crush, perforate, put in, take out, stack (if you have more than one), spin, roll, balance on two fingers, etc etc. For a buck or two, you can buy bits and pieces to practice colors, comparisons, shapes etc. There are many, many possibilities.

The process is always the same: the instructor says the new phrase and demonstrates it a few times, and then lets you do it. New phrases are introduced one by one, and new and old phrases are mixed randomly. In the initial session, the student just does the action and doesn’t speak, but student and instructor can switch roles the next day if the student wants to activate the new vocabulary.

NOTE: The post, Total Physical Response 500+ Thai Word List Translated (pdf download included) is live. Sound files will come later (after I get suggestions).

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Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Review and Free Draw

Cracking Thai Fundamentals

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Review and Free Draw…

For an extra holiday treat Stu Jay Raj (author of Cracking Thai Fundamentals) has gifted a book to giveaway to the lucky winner. As with previous draws, the rules are simple:

NOTE: Each relevant comment gets counted, so leave as many as you like.

The draw will run from this moment until 31st December (New Years Eve), 6am Thai time. As soon I’m awake(ish) I (or someone else) will throw the numbers into random.org, and then announce the winner.

Good luck all and ho ho ho!

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Review…

The Cracking Thai Fundamentals course by Stu Jay Raj was put together in 2000 to help members of the FCC (Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand) understand the Thai language. When researching the characteristic problems expats have with learning Thai as a second language, Stu developed an interactive system to kickstart students into learning the Thai language along with Thai culture (they go hand-in-hand).

Stu has since gone on to teach other expats, and has even taught the course in Thai to Thai teachers. I lucked out in my first year in Thailand when I came across CTF in Bangkok. It was such an entertaining eyeopener, I took it twice (as did many others in my class).

As there’s only so much of Stu to go around, to enable a wider audience to take advantage of CTF he created an interactive, online version at stujay.com, a membership site.

So there’s Cracking Thai Fundamentals the on-the-ground course, Cracking Thai Fundamentals the online course, and now Cracking Thai Fundamentals the book. When I asked Stu “why the book” he came back with:

Stu Jay Raj: Yes … I am getting older. The problem with the live course is that I have to choose between giving a brain overload or giving a watered down version. The book gets to go into more detail and can be used over the longterm. The online course was developed for a similar reason.

No matter which flavour you go with, the on-the-ground course, the online course, the course in book form, or even a combo, all are suitable for students of Thai sporting various backgrounds. Those brand spanking new to Thai will benefit by avoiding the many traps students often fall into, and those already deep into studying Thai will notice more than a few “ah ha’s” along their CTF journey.

Before I go any further, I want to point you to the most complete review out there for CTF, the book. It’s by Josh Sager at Let’s Talk Thai: Product Review: Cracking Thai Fundamentals by Stuart Jay Raj.

Josh Sager: An Operating System for the Mind: It’s important to mention right off the bat that this is not a Thai language learning “system” as you are perhaps accustomed to using. Stu himself is adamant in making this point clear. The book does not give you vocabulary lists to memorize, lessons on sentence structure, or quick phrases you can use while visiting Thailand as a tourist. Cracking Thai Fundamentals is a suite of tools designed to ultimately provide you with a deeper understanding of the Thai language; it’s a way to take what you already know, what you are currently learning, and smooth out the rough edges. Think of it like expanding your paint palette from 8 to 128 colors to help you paint more vivid pictures.

Review: Cracking Thai Fundamentals…

As Josh has done a fabulous job reviewing the book I’m going to focus on linking the chapters in the book with Stu’s online course at stujay.com.

For those of you who want to sample the online course before you buy, I’ve marked the FREE sections.

Stu Jay Raj: At a bare minimum I would encourage everyone reading the book to use the free online initial Preparing to Crack section along with the Consonant Compass… both interactive and downloadable versions. Laminate an A3 version of the Constant Compass and have it beside you as you learn.

Section One: Preparing to Crack the Fundamentals (page 30)
Preparing to Crack the Thai Fundamentals – Part 1 (FREE)

Section One is chockfull of tips to help prepare yourself for your Thai journey. It goes from changing your mindset (plenty of “ah ha’s”) to rearranging your actual life on the ground (paper dictionaries to computers).

Section Two: Thinking in Meanings (page 68)
CTF Thinking in Meanings
Thinking in Meanings Part 1
Thinking in Meanings Part 2 – Quizzes and Drills

Section Two is a full body, interactive chapter, where, with a few choice words, you are shown how feel their meanings before learning how to create actual sentences. For beginners, this is a brilliant intro into understanding how the Thai language works.

Section Three: Cracking Indic Based Scripts (page 181)
Cracking Indic Based Scripts – Main Lesson
Indic Consonant Compass (FREE)

Section Three covers the Thai sound system, the Thai writing system, and the system behind the system. Taking you back in time, this is where Stu opens up the magic of Indic based scripts to lay a foundation for reading, writing, and speaking Thai.

Section Four: Cracking the Thai Vowels (page 249)
Cracking the Thai Vowels – Main Lesson

Section Four uses hand signals and dimensions to get the Thai vowels into your head and out your mouth.

Section Five: Cracking the Thai Consonants (page 287)
Cracking Thai Consonants – Main Lesson

Section Five is understandably a large chunk of the book as it takes you through the Thai consonants. To assist your understanding, it goes through Stu’s pronunciation glyphs, the five cardinal points of articulation, and then over to each consonant in turn.

Section Six: Cracking Thai Tones (page 484)
Mastering Tones in Thai Chinese and other Tonal Languages
Conquering Thai Tones – Webinar

Section Six covers the bane of most language learners of Thai, tones. By this section you will already have constants and vowels down, along with an understanding of the map of the human mouth, so with a bit more work you will be able to slot in the tones.

Final: How to Make the Cracking Thai Fundamentals Vision a Reality (page 545)

Stu Jay Raj: Lastly, don’t forget that Thai Cracking Fundamentals is not a complete system to teach you Thai; that it is a system to help lay a new physical and mental operating system that will work hand in hand with all the other methods that you are using to learn Thai.

The final part of the book is a general “where do you go from here” section filled with advice on how to use what you’ve learned.

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Draw reminder…

As if you’d forget … the draw will run from this moment until 31st December (New Years Eve), 6am Thai time.

Good luck!

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Duke Thai Language School: Materials Review

Duke Language School

Duke Thai Language School’s updated materials…

When I first wrote the review for Duke Thai Language School I mentioned they were a Union Clone version 2.0 type of school. By that I meant they used the Union methodology and format albeit with new re-vamped, re-written text books. That has changed.

After more than a year in the making, Duke Language School’s new conversational Thai material is done and currently being taught. These were the books that Bingo (Arthit Juyaso) poured his blood, sweat and tears into writing from scratch. They are IMHO, the best, most comprehensive and information filled books on Thai conversation I’ve ever seen being taught in any school! They’re broken into three books (modules).

Journey 1: Survival “Practical Thai for everyday life”…

Duke Language School

The essential tools you need to survive in this country and go about your business independently. This coursebook covers the following topics:

  • Understanding the sound system and the numbers of the Thai language.
  • Introducing yourself, greeting and saying goodbye.
  • Getting a taxi and giving simple directions.
  • Buying street food.
  • Asking for directions inside a building.
  • Using public transportation and talking about locations.
  • Ordering food and solving difficult situations at a restaurant.
  • Buying clothes and describing colours, shapes and sizes.
  • Telling time and making appointments.
  • Getting a haircut and expressing degrees.
  • Buying things and using services at convenience stores.
  • Buying medicines and describing symptoms.
  • Solving communication breakdowns.
  • Talking about personal life.
  • Starting and holding a casual chit-chat in Thai.

Total number of unique words: 764
Core vocabulary (essential words): 584

As you can see these first 15 lessons teach you the survival Thai you’ll need. It provides a great foundation vocabulary which you will build on in the subsequent modules. In many ways learning a language is like building a house. IF you don’t start with a good foundation your house will be rickety and unstable. It’s the same with learning Thai, a good solid foundation is needed to build on.

Journey 2: Conversational “The basics of communicative Thai”…

Duke Language School

Develop your understanding of the Thai language and learn to say exactly what you want to say. This coursebook covers the following topics:

  • Expressing frequency, quantity, and number-related concepts.
  • Describing things using adjectives and expressing degrees.
  • Expressing similarities, differences, and comparing things.
  • Understanding the concept of Thai time expression.
  • Talking about people’s appearance and personality.
  • Describing directions of movements and changes of things.
  • Expressing perceptions, emotions, and feelings.
  • Talking about your skills and abilities, and the limit of them.
  • Giving instruction, expressing order or events, and describing purpose of things.
  • Making requests and commands.
  • Offering suggestions and expressing opinions.
  • Describing actions and consequences, causes and effects.
  • Making guesses and talking about probability.
  • Expressing likes and dislikes.
  • Talking about future plans, expectations and hopes.

Total number of unique words: 602
Core vocabulary (essential words): 497

This book is where you take the survival Thai from the previous module and start the building process from basic to more advanced structure. You learn to construct more complex sentences as well as how to sound more like a Thai when you say things. This last point is critical when trying to get Thais to understand you. The more you can say things which Thais are used to hearing, the better their comprehension of what you’re saying is.

Journey 3: Fluency “Real Thai in cultural context”…

Duke Language School

Learn about different aspects of Thai culture to help you speak Thai in a natural way with confidence. This coursebook covers the following topics:

  • Extended family and kinship terms.
  • Social status and its impact on Thai pronouns.
  • Understanding “face” and “greeng jai”.
  • Regions of Thailand and Thai dialects.
  • Thai food and table etiquette.
  • Buddhism in Thailand.
  • Ghosts, spirits, and superstitions.
  • Thai ceremonies and rituals.
  • Thai festivals and national holidays.
  • Thai entertainment, arts, and pop culture.
  • Formal Thai in formal situations.
  • Understanding “sabaai-sabaai” attitude.
  • Thai slangs, idioms, and proverbs.
  • Thai pride, and an introduction to Thai history.
  • Cross-cultural topics and discussions.

Total number of unique words: 607
Core vocabulary (essential words): 402

In reviewing the material in this book I was taken aback at just how many “fox-paws” (faux pas) I’ve made here in regards to the way I speak Thai (which I call “Todz-Thai”). I was shocked at how little I let Thai cultural restrictions during interactions affect how I speak Thai. I almost felt sad (for a second), for some of the Thai people I’ve interacted with over the years. Reading this book certainly gave me a much deeper understanding of language’s cultural aspects. It made me see that in order to really understand how the language works you need to invest a good portion of time understanding Thai culture which impacts how the language is used.

Duke Language School: Journey 1-3…

The books are character and situation driven, which is a trend we’re starting to see by more and more thai language schools. What sets this material apart from the rest is the supplemental material which is interspersed within each lesson. They touch on everything from culture, fun facts and interesting tidbits of how the language goes together. In all the years I’ve been touring Thai language schools, this is some of the best material I’ve ever seen.

It also seems that they’re not resting on their laurels with just these books and have plans for more – Explore 2, 3, and Discover. Explore 3 in particular, is all about learning Thai through media, e.g. Facebook, blogs, ads, emails, letters, articles, songs, video clips, movies, etc. It’s contemporary and shows how Thai is used in a multi-media context today. As far as I know, no other Thai language school has such a course. Explore 3 will be the link that connects the Journey series (speaking) with Explore (reading & writing) before moving on to Discover (the advanced levels).

I’m behind this paradigm shift in how Thai is taught to foreigner 100%. Gone are the pages and pages of straight text and in its place are interesting, relevant, contemporary presentations of the Thai language to non-native learners.

Three thumbs up!

Tod Daniels | toddaniels at gmail dot com
Reviewing Thai Language Schools in Bangkok
(BTW: Tod is NOT affiliated with any Thai language school)

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