Watching educational Thai TV on YouTube…
The many ways to learn Thai thrills me. On top of course books and online Thai lessons, there is YouTube, iTunes and all the iProducts (iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, iPad, etc), recording devices, video software, and… what else?
As I no longer have a teenager in the house my technology skills are flaffing around at halfmast. Sure, I can find my way around a computer, but I draw a blank when it comes to anything to do with a TV. Don’t ask me why… For instance, last week a new MacBook Pro joined my family and I still can’t figure out why my channel changer has the ability to turn the screen on and off.
Regardless of my TV wrestling capabilities, I still like to get an earful about the available technology. And in the discussion on HandBreaking Thai Language Videos for the iPhone, Iñaki came out of lurking mode to do just that when leaving a fabulous first comment:
I have a TV Tuner card in my computer that allows me to record live TV programs to the harddisk. I watch almost exclusively TVThai (also known as ThaiPBS or ITV) because they have many documentaries and educational programs, most of them with Thai subs, which is a bonus for Thai learners.
I have already accumulated almost 30GB (roughly 100 hours) of my favourite programs, which I intend to upload to my youtube channel. Check it out, maybe you’ll find something that interests you.
TV Tuner cards? You got it, I just had to know more. And as I also liked what I saw on his YouTube channel, I fired off a short list of questions:
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in the Thai language.
My name is Iñaki, I’m a 45 years old Spaniard living in Bangkok. I came to Thailand in the year 2000 as a tourist. I was planning to backpack around South-East Asia for six months but I spend most of that time in Thailand.
I started learning the language from the very first day I set foot in Don Meuang. I fell in love with Thailand, the people, the culture and the language and when I went back home, I decided to come back to stay.
Do you follow the TV method? If not, what method are you using to learn Thai?
I think all “methods” are good as long as you are constant. Whatever you do, if you do it in your target language, it will make you improve. The worst approach is to spend too much time arguing (in your own language) on forums about what method is best. Having said that, the TV method is an artificial way of crippling your abilities. Why on earth would you refrain from using a dictionary or reading? The ALG method is similar but makes much more sense, because there are two teachers explaining new vocabulary with gestures and drawings and trying to keep the students focused. If you start watching TV 5 hours a day in a language that you don’t understand, 99% of the time your brain will simply disconnect and ignore the sound as background noise.
The best method, with 100% guaranteed success rate is the “swim or sink immersion” method (I’ve just made that up) which consists of putting yourself in an environment where your target language is the only language. All media (TV, radio, films, podcasts, internet forums, social media, newspapers, magazines, comic books, wikipedia, etc) has to be in Thai or dubbed in Thai; avoid your English speaking friends, colleagues and lovers and replace them with Thais who can’t speak English, and choose Thai whenever you have a choice of languages (mobile phone, computer, DVDs, etc.). With this method, anyone, regardless of intellectual abilities can get to a level that some (Irish) polyglots would refer to as “fluency”in three months, and to an intermediate level in about one year. This SOSI™ method is also know by some as the AJATT method, but it existed before Kazumoto was even born. Kazumoto is an amazing language learning guru; he is half my age but has double the insight.
Roughly how many hours of Thai TV do you watch each week?
I have hated television since I was a teenager. I saw it destroying family life, children’s games and songs, literacy, and lowering the general IQ level. I saw people being hypnotized, brainwashed and addicted to it. I’ve always tried to avoid watching TV, and in my first six years in Thailand I practically watched no TV at all. Now I watch around five hours a week. I prefer listening to the radio, my favourite stations being Chulalongkorn University 101.5FM and witayu sueksa the Ministry of Education radio station. I listen to them all the time, while working, doing the laundry, commuting, etc.
Which TV Tuner card do you have?
I bought a no-name tv tuner for 1000 baht two years ago. It works fine in windows, but it’s a pain to make it work in Linux. The system says:
saa7134: Congratulations! Your TV card vendor saved a few
saa7134: cents for a eeprom, thus your pci board has no
saa7134: subsystem ID and I can’t identify it automatically
What software do you use to convert the recordings for YouTube?
I record using the software that came with the card in MPG2 format and then extract the audio with TMPGEnc and convert it to AAC with foobar2000. I crop, resize and convert the video to xvid avi with VirtualDub and then mux the video and the audio into a mp4 container with YAMB. It’s not as easy as using some other programs, but it gives me total control of all the parameters, and I get the best compromise between size and quality in a format that plays fine in both my phone and my computer.
What advice can you give to those aiming to record TV shows via their computers?
If you intend to use the card in Linux or Macs, do a bit of research first to see if the card you want to buy works with your system. Any question about formats, quality and the video conversion process, just ask Google.
What type of programs can we look forward to seeing on your YouTube channel in the future?
I have some documentaries, a Japanese series dubbed in Thai with Thai subtitles, some educational programs for children and many reality shows about normal people or families and their everyday lives.
YouTube channel: krungthepkaki
TV Tuner card resources…
You already know that I have no background on this subject… yet – I’m still at the amusement stage of controlling my computer from across the room with that darn channel changer – but I do have a mean Google finger.
- Wikipedia: TV tuner card
- eHOW: How to buy a TV tuner for your computer
- YouTube: How to install a TV tuner card
- Review of the best USB Digital TV Tuners for the Mac
- Freevo: Open source HTPC media centre software