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Interviewing Thai Teacher: Yuki Tachaya – PickUp Thai

Interviewing Thai Teacher

What Makes a Good Thai Teacher?…

Welcome to the first post in the series! So just how did this series came about? Well, my foreign friends kept asking me to refer Thai teachers who’s skills looked good, so I scanned social media to find possible candidates for consideration.

Soon enough I realised that my friends needed additional help so I came up with questions to put to the teachers. Of course there’s more to it but that’s the series in a nutshell.

Note: At the end of each interview you can download the interview questions to ask Thai teachers of your own choosing. Good luck and happy hunting!

Interviewing Thai Teacher: Yuki Tachaya from PickUp Thai Podcasts…

Teacher: Yuki Tachaya
Age range: 30-35
Sex: Female
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Website: PickUpThai
Facebook: PickUpThai
YouTube: Yuki Tachaya
Twitter: @pickupthai
Products: PickupThai Podcasts (Learn real Thai the super fun way)
E-book for learning Thai The Unforgettable Day of Forgetful Tamago
PickUpThai merchandise for learning Thai (T-shirts, mugs, phone cases & more).

How long have you been teaching Thai to foreigners?

Exactly 10 years. I’ve been teaching since 2008.

What made you want to teach Thai?

I started from teaching English to Thai people. After doing that for a few years, I tried doing the opposite, teaching Thai to English-speaking people. And after having given a few classes, I discovered that I was pretty good at explaining things to people and helping them to understand, especially things that most Thai people know how to use but can’t explain. And while my students enjoyed studying with me, I also enjoyed teaching them. I then realized this is what I want to continue doing for a long time!

What motivates you to continue teaching Thai?

I myself am also a language learner. I picked up English and Japanese quite fast without living abroad. I know how to be successful at learning foreign languages and I want to use my experience and expertise to help people to be successful at learning Thai with the methods I used to learn foreign languages. I don’t just offer private lessons to individual students, but I also constantly post free and fun lessons on my website as well as videos on Youtube in order to share my knowledge with Thai learners. Most importantly, my sister and partner, Miki Chidchaya, and I have also developed our own Thai teaching/learning method through our self-made Thai learning materials PickupThai Podcast in order to reach out to a larger group of students and help more people to be successful by learning realistic, authentic, practical Thai the fun way. I don’t want to keep the knowledge to myself and waste my skills, so I want to keep teaching Thai in many different forms for as long as I can.

What qualifications do you have to teach the Thai language?

I’m a native speaker of the language and I have a liberal arts degree, with an English major from Chulalongkorn University. I’ve also completed a research student course in Second Language Acquisition at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. And I have first-hand experiences learning foreign languages so I understand what a learner has to go through (all the difficulties and obstacles). I’ve been in their shoes and I know what they have to do in order to be successful.

What student age brackets do you teach?

The youngest student I’ve taught was 15 years old, and the oldest 67.

What nationalities have you taught?

More than 70% of the students I have had are from the United States and Japan but I’ve also had students from other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Holland, Germany, Sweden, China, Taiwan, and Bolivia.

What percentage of your students are beginner, intermediate, advanced?

50% beginner, 30% intermediate, 20% advanced.

Apart from Thai, what other languages do you use to teach Thai?

English and Japanese.

What is your level of proficiency in those languages?

Fluent.

Have you studied and/or lived abroad before?

I lived in Japan for two years (I passed the highest level of Japanese proficiency test and was awarded the Japanese Government scholarship before I had been there). I’ve also lived in United States for about five years. Currently, I spend half of my time in Thailand and half in the United Kingdom. (I could speak English fluently before I had left Thailand for the first time.)

Is your teaching approach more teacher centered or student centered?

Student centered. This is what I care about the most when it comes to teaching private lessons. Classes will only work when tailored to each student’s goals and needs.

What are some of your favorite teaching methods?

For students who already understand and speak some Thai, I love to do a free conversation with them on the topics of the their interest. I try to let my students talk as much as they can. I mostly ask questions to encourage them to speak. And I generally correct their mistakes made during the conversation at the end of the class so they know what’s the correct and natural-sounding way to say and pronounce things. I always focus on helping my students to sound natural like native speakers rather than textbooks.

What is your philosophy regarding the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing?

Learning a foreign language is all about imitating native speakers. So, it’s important to listen a lot before learning to speak and read a lot before learning to write. That way, you will be confident in what you put out. Never stop practicing listening and reading. It’s so important in helping you to become a fluent speaker and a good writer as well. On the other hand, you also should not wait until the day your Thai is perfect to start speaking or writing. It’s OK to try and make some mistakes. After a few times, you will learn the correct things and won’t repeat them.

If you do not use course books, what do you use?

PickupThai Podcast, the materials my partner and I developed ourselves because we couldn’t find any textbook that teaches Thai the way we think is the most effective – teaching the real unaltered Thai, the exact language that we Thai people speak and use, from fun stories and entertaining resources. We learn the best from what we’re interested in or enjoy. Most people give up too soon, because they lack or lost interest in their learning. We believe that it’s very important to create a fun learning process in order to help students achieve the most effective results and become successful.

What system of transliteration do you use?

The Paiboon system, just because we think it’s the one that Thai learners are most familiar with.

In your experience what, if any, are the shortcomings of that system?

The system includes some uncommon characters that aren’t in the English alphabet, although they’re pretty common in IPA (international pronunciation alphabet), so quite a few people don’t know how to read or pronounce them. For certain vowels, short and long vowels are also not differentiated so the pronunciation could be inaccurate.

What are your thoughts about the use of transliteration in teaching Thai?

It works for those who want to come to Thailand for a short period of time and only want to know how to say basic phrases to get by on their trip. For people who want to take Thai studies seriously and really want to come live in Thailand long-term, knowing how to read Thai script is a must.

In your opinion, how important is reading and writing Thai in helping foreigners learn the language?

Since there are many different transliteration systems, every time they start using a new book, they’ll have to relearn how to read. This could be confusing and unnecessarily time-consuming. Knowing how to read Thai script could help you to pronounce words more accurately. But the thing that makes the biggest difference is the fact that every single thing apart from Thai language textbooks is written in Thai script. So a person who knows how to read Thai can learn and practice Thai from any resources they could find. This gives them a huge advantage and helps them to progress much faster.

Ideally, when should foreigners start to learn how to read and write Thai?

It all depends on your goal. If you plan to live in Thailand, you should start learning how to read and write as soon as possible. But if you’re just learning Thai to be able to connect with the locals on your vacation, then there might not be a need to know how to read at all, especially if you have a short amount of time to learn to speak, you definitely should spend your time learning conversation instead. But even if you decide to learn Thai script, you can do that while also learning conversation. There’s no need to wait until you can read to start learning to speak. This is what I usually do with my students. We do both simultaneously and transition from transliteration to Thai script whenever the student is ready.

What do you believe is the hardest subject matter to teach in the Thai language?

Ending particles because they don’t exist in English, yet they are such an important characteristic of the Thai language. Thai people use them all the time, at the end of most sentences. There’s no way to ignore them. And explaining how to use each one is quite challenging.

What is your philosophy in respect of teaching vocabulary?

I only teach vocabulary from context. That way, learners will know how to apply the words in real conversation. And I don’t believe in rote-memorization. I also don’t think that it’s important to remember all the vocabulary words you learn the first or second time you look at them. In real life, when you hear the words you have learned over and over again, you will naturally remember them without using things like flashcards. And just by memorizing words without applying, you will soon forget them anyway. If you learn a word once, next time you see or hear it, you may not remember it yet and that’s completely fine and totally normal. After you have heard it ten or fifteen times, you will naturally remember it. Language learning is all about repetition, not memorization.

How do you assess whether or not your students understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

My classes are very interactive and engaging. I always ask my students to produce sentences using the vocabulary words, phrases or grammar structures that they’ve learned, and not just listen to me. So it’s quite clear and easy to know if they understand something or not from their output.

What do you do when it is obvious that your students do not understand what you are saying and/or teaching?

I always make sure that my students truly understand the information before moving on to the next lesson. I won’t be satisfied and let them move on until I make sure they know how to apply their knowledge in real usage. I don’t mind repeating things over and over at all. It’s very important that they learn, even if it takes time or even if we have to go slowly or go back to the previous lesson. Because there’s no point in reaching the last lesson and finishing a book if the student can’t really use what they have learned.

Ideally, when should an absolute beginner begin to speak Thai?

As soon as day one! There’s no reason to delay speaking Thai. You don’t need to wait until you’re fully confident and certain you won’t make mistakes. In fact, learning from mistakes is an excellent way to progress. But always keep listening to native speakers to learn the right information because after a while, you should know how to speak correctly and stop making the same old mistakes.

How do you get your students to use Thai?

I always encourage my students to practice composing sentences using words and grammar structures that they’ve learned and focus on letting my students talk as much as they can during the class, instead of me talking. On top of that, I usually let students who can speak Thai to speak as much as they can, even though they’re not fluent. And outside of the class, I also encourage them to find every opportunity to talk to any Thai friends they have, whether in real life or online.

How strict are you in respect of tones and/or vowel length?

Generally, I’m quite strict. I always correct my students’ tones and vowel length if they mispronounce, especially the words of which the meaning would change if pronounced incorrectly. Some words are more acceptable to let slide, but the pronunciation of some can be crucial to understanding.

What are your thoughts about beginners learning and using colloquialisms, slang and/or swear words when they speak Thai?

For colloquialisms and slang words, they should understand all of the words we use and know how to speak like we do. If Thai people use certain words, there’s no reason for them not to use them. For swear words, it’s different. Because not everyone swears. Some people swear less than others. Some don’t swear at all. So if they don’t swear in their language, they shouldn’t do it in Thai either. With that being said, I encourage them to learn the meanings of the words so that they understand what the words mean when they hear them but they don’t need to use them.

What are your thoughts about beginners using ภาษาวิบัติ or ‘social media Thai’?

It comes and goes with time. It doesn’t last forever. Although a lot of words don’t sound very proper and rather annoying, they do add some fun to the conversation and help people express feelings.

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

Practice listening and reading as much as you can. The more information you gain, the more you will be able to put out. There’s no shortcut to success. Learning a language takes time. But you won’t be discouraged if you enjoy your journey. Try to do everything you like in the language you’re learning if possible. If you like cooking, instead of watching a video teaching how to cook in English, watch ones in Thai. If you’re a movie lover, instead of watching Hollywood movies, watch Thai ones. If you like novels, find ones in Thai that you enjoy. Basically, do everything you like in Thai whenever possible. You learn the best when you’re not learning. Last but not least, if you find learning from real-life materials too difficult, PickupThai Podcast can be a good start. It’s the next best thing. Try free samples on our website and you’ll know that learning a language can be so much fun!

Yuki Tachaya
PickUpThai Podcasts

Thai teacher interview questions…

The download has additional questions for you to pick and choose from – enough for everyone’s liking.

Download: Questions for potential Thai teachers

Watch this space for more Thai teacher interviews.

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PickupThai Podcast’s Songkran Sale 2018

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More on PickupThai Podcast.

Customer reviews…

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Cat Cartoons Episode 127: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน ประเจิดประเจ้อ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’.

เก่ง: แต่งตัวโป๊จังเลย ว๊า ทำตัวประเจิดประเจ้อจัง ไม่น่าดูเลยน้า(นะ)
Geng: She’s dressed too provocatively! Sheesh! She’s acting ‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’. I can’t bear to look!

ก้อย: ครูที่โรงเรียนบอกว่า เดี่ยว(เดี๋ยว)นี้สังคมเราเปลี่ยนไปมาก คนชอบทำตัวประเจิดประเจ้อในที่สาธารณะ เป็นสิ่งที่ไม่ดี
Goi: My school teachers said that nowadays, society has changed so much. People like to act ‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’ in public. This is not good.

วิเชียรมาศ: ปะเจิดปะเจ้อ เนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ) เป็นยังไง(อย่างไร)น้า(นะ) โป๊หลอ(หรือ)
Wi-chian maat: So what would be considered ‘Bpa-jert-bpa-jer’? Wearing something that is too revealing?

สีสวาด: ก็ทำนองนั้นแหละ แต่ว่าคำเนี๊ยะ(นี้อ่ะ)เค้า(เขา)ใช้ว่า ประเจิดประเจ้อ ไม่ใช่ ปะเจิดปะเจ้อ
Si Sawat: Something along those lines but the word that people use is ‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’, not ‘Bpa-jert-bpa-jer’.

วิเชียรมาศ: แล้วในโทรทัศน์เนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ) เค้า(เขา)เดินกอดกัน นี่ก็ปะเจิด เอ๊ย ไม่ใช่
ประเจิดประเจ้อ ใช่มั้ย(ไหม) เห็นพี่เก่งพูดเมื่อกี๊ (เมื่อกี้)
Wi-chian maat: So what about those (couples) who walk with their arms around each other on TV? This would be considered ‘Bpa-jert’… Oops! That’s not it. It should be ‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’, right? I heard Pee Geng pronounce it that way just a moment ago.

สีสวาด: ใช่จ้ะ
Si Sawat: That’s correct!

วิเชียรมาศ: เมื่อวันก่อน เดินไปหาเก้าแต้ม เห็นผู้ชายคนนึง(หนึ่ง)ยืนฉี่อยู่ริมถนน หยั่งเงี้ยะ(อย่างนี้อ่ะ)เรียก ประเจิดประเจ้อ ได้รึเปล่า
Wi-chian maat: The other day, while I was on my way to look for Kao Taem, I saw a man peeing on the side of the road. Would this be considered acting ‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’?

สีสวาด: นี่แหละ ประเจิดประเจ้อ ทีเดียวหละ
Si Sawat: This (act) is exactly would be considered ‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’!

ผู้บรรยาย: ประเจิดประเจ้อ คือ การกระทำสิ่งที่ควรทำในที่มิดชิดเป็นการส่วนตัว แต่ไปทำในที่สาธารณะ
Narrator: ‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’ are acts that should only be carried out in completely private places but are instead carried out in public.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

Comments…

‘Bpra-jert-bpra-jer’ (ประเจิดประเจ้อ), used as an adverb, basically means ‘indecently’ (used loosely i.e. in a very general way, without recourse to specific meanings).

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Cat Cartoons Episode 127: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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65 Useful Thai Phrases You Won’t Find in a Travel Phrasebook: Part Five

Learn Thai With Porn

Here’s part FIVE of 65 Useful Phrases You Won’t Find in a Travel Phrasebook.

Note: To help those learning to read Thai script, the below phrases have Thai only, no transliteration. A pdf combo of transliteration/Thai/English can be downloaded at the end of this post.

261. บอกแล้วไม่เชื่อ! 

I told you so!
(Literally: tell already not believe) 

262. สมน้ำหน้า 


Serves you right!

263. จะพูดว่าไงดี


How shall I put it?

264. ติดอยู่ที่ปลายลิ้นเนี่ย 


It’s on the tip of my tongue.

265. พูดเล่นใช่ป่ะ 


You must be joking. / You can’t be serious.

266. เอาจริงเหรอ / พูดจริงเหรอ 

Are you serious?!

267. ลืมสนิทเลย 

I have completely forgotten.

268. ฉันคิดยังไงของฉันนะ 


What was I thinking?!

269. เผ่นเหอะ / เผ่นดีกว่า 

Let’s get outta here! / We’d better get outta here! 

(Used with friends, when you see trouble coming your way)

270. ไปให้พ้นหูพ้นตาทีได้ไหม 


Get out of my sight, would you?

271. รออะไรอยู่ 


What are you waiting for?

272. ค่อยยังชั่ว! 

What a relief!

273. ถามผิดคนแล้ว 
You’re asking the wrong person.

274. ผมผิดเอง 

It’s my fault.

275. อย่าโกรธผมเลย 

Please don’t be mad at me.

276. ไปได้ยินมาจากไหน 

Where did you hear that from?

277. เท่าที่ผมจำได้ …
As far as I can remember, …

278. ถ้าจำไม่ผิด …
If I remember correctly, … / If I am not mistaken, …

279. ไปสนใจเรื่องของตัวเองเหอะ 
Mind your own business.

280. ห่วงตัวเองเหอะ ไม่ต้องมาห่วงผม 

Worry about yourself, don’t worry about me.

281. ไม่รู้ซักเรื่องได้ไหม

Can you not know this one thing?

282. ไม่รู้ซักเรื่องจะตายไหม

Will it kill you not knowing this one thing?


Note that 281 and 282 are used when someone keeps questioning you / asking you about personal stuff and you do not want to tell them anything. It is VERY RUDE.

283. ห้องเดี่ยวไม่มี ก็เลยจองห้องคู่แทน

There were no single rooms available, so I booked a double room instead.

284. ถ้าสตีฟไป ประชุมไม่ได้ ผมไปแทนก็ได้

If Steve can’t attend the meeting, I could go in his place.


285. ขอเป็นส้มตำแทนได้ไหม
Can I have somtum instead?


286. ถ้าผมไม่ไป เขาก็จะส่งคนอื่นไปแทน
If I do not go, they’ll send someone else in my place.


287. พฤหัสไม่ได้อะ วันศุกร์แทนได้ไหม 

I can’t make Thursday. Can we make it Friday instead?


288. กาแฟไม่มี เอาชาแทนไหม

There’s no coffee. Would you like a cup of tea instead?


289. สูตรนี้ใช้มาการีนแทนเนยได้

You can substitute margarine for butter in this recipe.


290. ถ้าพลัมหายาก ใช้ฟิกแทนก็ได้

If plums are difficult to find, they can be substituted for figs.


291 to 300 are things you can say to make someone’s day.

291. ไม่ต้องทอน
mâi
Keep the change.


292. วันนี้ดูดีเป็นพิเศษนะ
You look extra nice today.
 


293. ผอมลงปะเนี่ย

Have you lost weight?


294. สีนี้เหมาะกับคุณมากเลย

This color really suits you. / This color is perfect on you.


295. ตัวหอมจัง

You smell really nice. 

296. อยู่ใกล้ๆคุณแล้วอะไรๆก็ดีไปหมด
Being around you makes everything better!


297. ไม่แปลกใจเลยที่ทำไมมีแต่คนรักผู้หญิงคนนี้

It’s no surprise that everyone loves this woman! / Why am I not surprised that everyone loves this woman!

298. คืนนี้เจอกันนะ

See you tonight.

299. แต่งงานกับผมนะ 

Will you marry me?

300. ฉันท้อง

I’m pregnant.
 


301 to 311 are things you can say to get a rise out of someone.

301. อ้วนขึ้นปะเนี่ย

Have you put on weight?


302. ไปทำอะไรมา ดูโทรมๆนะ

You look terrible, what have you been doing? 


303. แปรงฟันบ้างหรือเปล่า
Have you been brushing your teeth?


304. นั่นผมหรือรังนก
Is that your hair or a bird’s nest?


To a very tall person:

305. อากาศข้างบนเป็นไงมั่ง

How’s the weather up there?


To a fat person:

306. คุณไม่อ้วนหรอก
You’re not fat.


To a single person:

307. เมื่อไหร่จะมีแฟนสักที

When are you going to get a boyfriend/girlfriend?


308. คลอดเมื่อไหร่

When is your baby due?

(If you imply that a woman is pregnant when she isn’t)

309. ทำกับข้าวหมาไม่แดก
Your cooking sucks!
(Literally: even dogs won’t eat the food you’ve cooked)


At a bar while everyone is having a good time.


310. กลับบ้านเหอะ

Let’s go home.


311. ยืมตังหน่อยสิ

Can I borrow some money?


312. นอนซะ จะได้หายเร็วๆ
Get some rest, so you can recover fast.


313. จะกินปะเนี่ย ไม่กินจะได้เก็บ

Are you gonna eat this? If not, I’m gonna clear it.


314. บอกมาเหอะ จะได้รู้ว่าควรจะทำยังไงต่อ

Just tell me, so I’ll know what to do next. 


315. เราจะได้เจอกันอีกไหม / ผมจะได้เจอคุณอีกไหม

Will I see you again?

316. ตามปกติ คนไข้ที่อยู่ในประเภทรีบด่วนที่สุด ประเภท 1 – รีบด่วน จะได้รับการผ่าตัดก่อนคนไข้อื่นๆ 

Under normal circumstances, patients with the highest / urgency classification Category 1- urgent will be scheduled for surgery ahead of other patients.

317. กินน้ำเยอะๆ ท้องจะได้ไม่ผูก

Drink lots of water so you won’t get constipated.


318. ไม่รักกันแล้วก็บอกมาจะได้หาแฟนใหม่

If you don’t love me anymore, just tell me so I can find a new boyfriend / girlfriend.

319. อย่ามาพูดเลย / ไม่ต้องมาพูดเลย
Don’t give me that! / Spare me your bull!
(Used to say that you do not believe someone’s excuse or explanation)

320. ใครๆก็ทำผิดได้ทั้งนั้น / ใครๆก็พลาดได้ทั้งนั้น
Anyone can make a mistake.

321. เค้าไม่ยอมช่วยผม แล้วผมจะไปช่วยเค้าทำไม
He won’t help me, so why should I help him?

322. จะว่าฉันอ้วนใช่ไหม
Are you saying I’m fat?

323. เขาพยายามเปลี่ยนเรื่อง
He tried to change the subject.

324. เวลาโกรธ นับหนึ่งถึงสิบก่อนจะพูด
When you’re angry, count to ten before speaking.

325. ทำไมจะไม่ได้ล่ะ
I don’t see why not.
(Used to say ‘yes’ in response to a request)

Downloads…

The pdf below has Thai script, transliteration, and English. The zip has numbered audio files.

PDF (2.2kb): 65 Useful Thai Phrases You Won’t Find in a Phrasebook: Part Five
ZIP (2.7mb): Audio: 65 Useful Thai Phrases: Part Five

Even more phrases are being created on Wannaporn’s FB at Learn Thai with พร.

65 Useful Thai Phrases
: The Series…

Please help support Baan Gerda…

Before I end this post I’d like to share a charity close to my heart, Baan Gerda. Baan Gerda is a project of the Children’s Rights Foundation, Bangkok. The charity supports children who have been orphaned by AIDS; some are HIV positive.

Baan Gerda is located in Lopburi, the province I come from. When I visited the children they reminded me how fortunate we all are. They gave me the hope to live happily so I want to help them live happy lives in return.

I would be overjoyed if you could reach out and help the children with a donation, no matter how small. You can find information on this link: Sponsorship and Support for BaanGerda. Many thanks.

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Cat Cartoons Episode 126: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน สาธารณะ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Saa-taa-ra-na’

วิเชียรมาศ: สวนสาธารณะ สีสวาด เราเข้าไปเดินเล่นในสวนกันมั้ย(ไหม)
Wi-chian maat: ‘Suan saa-taa-ra-na’. Si Sawat, shall we take a walk in the park?

สีสวาด: ไปซี่(สิ)
Si Sawat: Let’s go!

วิเชียรมาศ: มีคนมาออกกำลังกาย มาพักผ่อนเยอะเหมือนกันนะ
Wi-chian maat: There are lots of people here who’ve come to exercise, and to relax.

สีสวาด: ก็สวนสาธารณะเนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ) ใคร ๆ ก็มาใช้บริการได้
Si Sawat: Well, this is a ‘Suan saa-taa-ra-na’ after all. Anyone can come and use the facilities herein.

วิเชียรมาศ: นี่ก็โทรศัพท์สาธารณะ คำว่า สาธารณะ เนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ) ทำไมมีหลายอย่างจังเลย สาธารณะ แปลว่าอะไรหลอ(หรือ)
Wi-chian maat: This here is a ‘Toh-ra-sap saa-taa-ra-na’. Where are there so many (places and) things that are ‘Saa-taa-ra-na’? What does ‘Saa-taa-ra-na’ mean?

สีสวาด: สาธารณะ ก็แปลว่า ทั่ว ๆ ไป ใคร ๆ ก็สามารถใช้บริการได้ อย่างเช่น สวนสาธารณะ โทรศัพท์สาธารณะ สุขาสาธารณะ นี่ไง
Si Sawat: ‘Saa-taa-ra-na’ basically means (that the) general (public i.e.) anyone can use it, for example ‘Suan saa-taa-ra-na’, ‘Toh-ra-sap saa-taa-ra-na’, and ‘Su-kaa saa-taa-ra-na’.

วิเชียรมาศ: อ๋อ อะไรที่มีชื่อว่า สาธารณะ ก็หมายถึง ใครใช้ก็ได้ใช่มั้ย(ไหม)
Wi-chian maat: Oh, I see! Any place or thing that is called ‘Saa-taa-ra-na’ means that anyone can use the same, right?

สีสวาด: ใช่แล้ว
Si Sawat: That’s right!

ผู้บรรยาย: สาธารณะ หมายถึง สิ่งที่คนทั่วไปใช้ร่วมกันได้ ไม่มีใครเป็นเจ้าของโดยเฉพาะ ดังนั้น ถ้าจะใช้สถานที่หรือสิ่งของสาธารณะ ก็ต้องช่วยกันรักษาไว้ให้คนอื่นใช้ด้วย
Narrator: ‘Saa-taa-ra-na’ means a (place or) thing that (the) general (public) can be used communally and is not owned by any specific person(s). So when you use a ‘Saa-taa-ra-na’ place or thing, you should help look after it so that other people can use it too.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

Comments…

‘Saa-taa-ra-na’ (สาธารณะ) basically means ‘public’ and ‘Suan saa-taa-ra-na’ (สวนสาธารณะ), ‘Toh-ra-sap saa-taa-ra-na’ (โทรศัพท์สาธารณะ), and ‘Su-kaa saa-taa-ra-na’ (สุขาสาธารณะ) mean ‘public parks’, ‘public telephones’, and ‘public toilets’.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Cat Cartoons Episode 126: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Cat Cartoons Episode 125: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน กรรม – กำ
Narrator: Episode – ‘Gam’ – ‘Gam’.

เก้าแต้ม: หืม ฟุดฟิด ๆ ฮืม อะไรหอม ๆ อยู่แถวนี้น้า ฟุดฟิด ๆ (ดมกลิ่น) อืม เอ๊ย เจอแล้ว ปลาทูนี่เอง ไม่มีฝาปิดแสดงว่าแมวกินได้ ขอบคุณนะคร้าบ(ครับ)เจ้านาย อุ๊ย อู๊ย โอโหย เจ็บ
Kao Taem: Hmm. Sniff, sniff. Hmm, what’s smelling so good around here? Hmm. Aha! Found it! Why, it’s a mackerel! It’s not covered by a food cover so it looks like a cat is allowed to eat it. Thanks, chief! Ouch! Ouch! Oww! That hurts!

สีสวาด: เก้าแต้ม จะเอาปลาไปกินเหรอ(หรือ)เนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ) พี่ก้อยเค้า(เขา)ใส่จานไว้ จะคลุกให้พวกเรา เธอจะเอาไปกินคนเดียวหรอ(หรือ) กรรมตามทันเห็นมั้ย(ไหม) จานตกลงหัวเลย
Si Sawat: Kao Taem! You were going to take the fish away to eat it, weren’t you?! Pee Goi put it on a plate because he’s going to mix it (with rice) for us to eat. You were going to have it all to yourself, weren’t you?! See? What goes around comes around: the plate fell on your head.

เก้าแต้ม: โอ๊ย กำ ๆ แบ ๆ อะไรอ่ะ ไม่เห็นรู้เรื่องเลย
Kao Taem: Sheesh! What’s with all this ‘Gam gam’, ‘Bae bae’? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

สีสวาด: ไม่ใช่ กำ ๆ แบ ๆ หยั่งนั้น(อย่างนั้น) กรรม ที่ชั้นพูดเขียน ก ไก่ ร หัน ม ม้า หมายถึง การกระทำที่ส่งผล เมื่อทำไม่ดีก็ต้องได้รับผลที่ไม่ดี แต่ถ้าทำดีก็ได้ผลดี
Si Sawat: It’s not ‘Gam gam’, ‘Bae bae’ in that sense. The ‘Gam’ that I’m talking about is written ‘Gor gai, ror han, mor maa’, meaning ‘one’s actions or behavior will eventually have consequences for one’. When you do something bad, then bad things will happen to you. But if you do something good, then good things will happen to you.

ผู้บรรยาย: คำว่า กรรม เขียน ก ไก่ ร หัน ม ม้า หมายถึง การกระทำที่ส่งผลให้ตามที่ทำ ส่วน กำ เขียน ก ไก่ สระอำ หมายถึง อาการที่งอนิ้วทั้งหมดจดอุ้งมือ
Narrator: The word ‘Gam’, written ‘Gor gai, ror han, mor maa’, means ‘what goes around comes around’ whereas ‘Gam’, written ‘‘Gor gai, sara am’, means the state where your fingers are curled, and the finger tips are clenched into your palm.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Cat Cartoons Episode 125: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Cat Cartoons Episode 124: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน เกม
Narrator: Episode – ‘Gaym’.

วิเชียรมาศ: วันนี้พี่เก่งบอกว่าจะไปเล่นเกม
Wi-chian maat: Today, Pee Geng said that he was going to go out to play some ‘Gaym’-s.

สีสวาด: ร้านเกมส์สุดโปรดข้างบ้านเราน่ะหลอ(หรือ)
Si Sawat: Out to the ‘Raan Gayms Sut Bproht’ shop beside our house, right?

วิเชียรมาศ: ใช่ ๆ พี่เก่งชอบไปเล่นที่ร้านนี้เพราะมีเพื่อน ๆ พี่เก่งมาเล่นด้วย เราตามไปดูกันเถอะ
Wi-chian maat: That’s right! Pee Geng likes to play at this shop because his friends go there to play too. Let’s go there and take a peep.

สีสวาด: ชื่อร้านเค้า(เขา)เขียน เกมส์สุดโปรด ดูสิ คำว่า เกมส์ มี ส เสือ การันต์ ด้วยหละ(ล่ะ)
Si Sawat: The name of the shop is written as ‘Raan Gayms Sut Bproht’. Will you look at that! The word ‘Gayms’ has a ‘Sor seua ga-raan’ in it.

วิเชียรมาศ: ชั้น(ฉัน)เห็นร้านอื่น ๆ เค้า(เขา)ก็เขียนเหมือนร้านนี้นะ ผิดตรงไหนหลอ(หรือ)
Wi-chian maat: I’ve seen other shops where it’s written the same way as it is in this shop. How is it written wrongly?

สีสวาด: อ๋อ ก็คำว่า เกม ที่หมายถึง กีฬาและการเล่นทั่ว ๆ ไป ต้องเขียน สระเอ ก ไก่ ม ม้า ถึงจะถูกจ้ะ
Si Sawat: Right! Well, to correctly write the word ‘Gaym’, which means ‘sports and games in general’, it should be written ‘Sa-ra ay, Gor gai, Mor maa’.

เก้าแต้ม: แล้วทำไมถึงไม่มี ส เสือ การันต์ ล่ะ คำนี้ในภาษาอังกฤษเขียนมีตัวเอสด้วยไม่ใช่หลอ(หรือ)
Kao Taem: And why isn’t there a ‘Sor seua ga-raan’ in it? Isn’t this word written with an ‘s’ in English?

สีสวาด: ในภาษาไทยใช้เป็นสองคำคือ มี ส เสือ การันต์ และไม่มี ส เสือ การันต์
Si Sawat: In Thai, there are actually two separate words, one with a ‘Sor seua ga-raan’ in it and the other one without.

ผู้บรรยาย: คำว่า เกม ไม่มี ส เสือ การันต์ หมายถึง กีฬาและการเล่นทั่ว ๆ ไป เช่น เกมกีฬา เกมคอมพิวเตอร์ ถ้ามี ส เสือ การันต์ ใช้เป็นชื่อเฉพาะของการแข่งขันกีฬาหลาย ๆ ชนิด เช่น ซีเกมส์ เอเชียนเกมส์ ฝ้ายคำเกมส์
Narrator: The word ‘Gaym’, which does not have ‘Sor seua ga-raan’ in it, means ‘sports and games in general’, for example sports games or matches and computer games. With a ‘Sor seua ga-raan’ in it, it has the specific meaning of ‘(an organized) competition consisting of different sporting events’, for example the SEA Games, the Asian Games and the ‘Faai-kam’ Games.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Cat Cartoons Episode 124: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Successful Thai Language Learner: Frank Smith

Frank Smith

Name: Frank Smith
Nationality: US
Age range: 50-60
Sex: Male
Location: US
Profession: University language lecturer (Khmer)
Websites: Study Khmer and Study Lao

What is your Thai level?

Speaking: low-mid advanced
Listening: high advanced
Reading and Writing: low advanced

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

Mostly colloquial/informal, but I can speak polite/formal when needed; I also speak Issan (Lao) at pretty much the same level as I speak Thai.

What were your reasons for learning Thai?

General interest in Southeast Asia, but my ability greatly increased when I moved to Thailand…then I learned it to function as a member of society on a daily basis.

Do you live in Thailand? If so, when did you arrive?

I lived in Bangkok from 2002-2008; visited once a year starting in 1999, visited 3x a year from 2009-2013, now back to once a year. I’ll eventually retire to Thailand.

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

1999-2018

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

I started learning from an informal Thai tutor in Seattle in 1999 once I knew I was going to visit, both speaking and reading/writing. From the moment I first landed in Thailand I tried to speak only in Thai to all Thais I interacted with, a strategy I maintain to this day. The only exception was a group of Thais educated in the US (mostly artists and musicians) I interacted with in my first few years of speaking Thai–I spoke English with them then, but speak only Thai with them now.

Did you stick to a regular study schedule?

Not really, since I was pretty much always working on improving my Thai from the moment that I moved there.

What Thai language learning methods did you try?

Learning vocabulary and grammar from an old (1950s or 60s?) textbook (I no longer have it and can’t remember the name or author), constantly practicing with native speakers in a wide range of social situations, reading signs, newspapers, magazines, watching karaoke videos, reading songbooks.

How soon did you tackle reading and writing Thai?

Immediately.

Did you find learning to read and write Thai difficult?

Not difficult at all, because I was already fluent in [spoken and written] Khmer when I began to study Thai.

What was your first ‘ah hah!’ moment?

After living in Thailand about 1.5 years and using it daily, there was a moment when I had finally figured out all the proper spoken uses of ก็ (and distinguishing those uses from how it’s used in Khmer) and was able to use it confidently in my own speech; that was a significant moment that I remember clearly. Other, related, ‘a-hah!’ moments like that came when I was able to start using the final particles นะ and เลย correctly in my speech.

How do you learn languages? (learning styles)

I learn languages by using them as much as I can for communication, with periodic study of vocabulary and grammar to fill in gaps in my communicative ability. When I decide to learn a language, I will refuse to speak anything but that language to native speakers, no matter how good their English is and no matter how much they protest.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: Pronunciation, speed/fluidity, use of colloquial vocabulary, domestic issues/relationship discussions, pop culture, expression of personal feelings/opinions.

Weaknesses: political vocabulary/discussions on issues such as politics, the economy, etc.; tones.

What is the biggest misconception for students learning Thai?

Probably the same misconception that all students of a language that differs radically (grammar, etc.) from their native language share: the belief that every word in the target language (in this case, Thai) must have an exact equivalent in their native language. Once one accepts that the “semantic range” of many Thai words is way, way broader than any one English (or whatever) word, learning gets a lot easier. “Translation” and “word lists” are very inefficient and often frustrating ways to try to learn a new language.

Can you make your way around any other languages?

Khmer (fluent), Lao (probably the same level of proficiency that I have in Thai, including reading and writing), Vietnamese (knew it well years ago, but I can only speak it now when I’m physically in Vietnam), Spanish.

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

No…and as a language teacher, I highly recommend NOT trying to learn two or more languages at the same time.

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

Speak as much Thai as you can, to native speakers, as often as you can…resist the urge to resort to English, despite how much more comfortable it might be. Have as your goal “thinking in Thai,” and get away from the notion that learning Thai means translating from English words or grammar into Thai. Also, learn to read and write as soon as you start to learn to speak, and do not use any sort of phonetic transcription or transliteration.

regards,
Frank Smith
Study Khmer and Study Lao

The Series: Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners…

If you’d like to read more interviews the entire series is here: Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners.

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

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Cat Cartoons Episode 123: Learn and Love the Thai Language

รู้รักภาษาไทย: Cat Cartoons…

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

ผู้บรรยาย: ตอน เพชร
Narrator: Episode – ‘Pet’.

วิเชียรมาศ: วันก่อนชั้น(ฉัน)เห็นคุณแม่ของพี่เก่งแต่งตัวไปงานอะไรก็ไม่รู้ ส๊วย สวย ที่คอมีแสงวูบวาบเชียว
Wi-chian maat: The other day, I saw Pee Geng’s mum dressing up to go to some kind of shindig. She looked so lovely! There were glittering lights on her neck too.

สีสวาด: ก็สร้อยเพชรไง
Si Sawat: Well, that’s a ‘Pet’ necklace.

วิเชียรมาศ: ชั้น(ฉัน)อยากได้จัง เอามาผูกคอเราคงโก้ดีนะ
Wi-chian maat: I want one so bad! Wear it around my neck and I’ll look very chic!

สีสวาด: ไม่ได้หลอก(หรอก) เพชรเป็นของมีค่าราคาแพง อย่างเรา ๆ เนี่ยะ(นี่อ่ะ)ก็ต้องใช้เพชรเก๊หรือเพชรปลอม
Si Sawat: No way that’s gonna happen! ‘Pet’-s are valuable and very expensive. For those like us, we must settle on using synthetic or fake ‘Pet’-s.

วิเชียรมาศ: ซ๊าธุ(สาธุ) ชาติหน้าขอเกิดเป็นคนมีเงินเถิ๊ด(เถิด) จะได้ใส่สร้อยเพชร
Wi-chian maat: I pray that in my next life, I’m born a rich person so I’ll be able to afford to wear a ‘Pet’ necklace. Amen!

สีสวาด: วันก่อนชั้น(ฉัน)ยังได้ยินพี่ก้อยถามการบ้านพี่เก่งว่า เพชร เขียนอย่างไร และต้องมี ไม้ไต่คู้ มั้ย(ไหม)
Si Sawat: The other day, I heard Pee Goi, when doing her homework, asking Pee Geng how ‘Pet’ is written and whether or not it must have a ‘Mai dtai koo’.

วิเชียรมาศ: พี่เก่งบอกว่า เพชร เขียน สระเอ พ พาน ช ช้าง ร เรือ ไม่มี ไม้ไต่คู้ จ้ะ
Wi-chian maat: Pee Geng said that ‘Pet’ is written ‘Sara ay, Por paan, Chor chaang, Ror reua’ and without a ‘Mai dtai koo’.

สีสวาด: พี่เก่งนี่เค้า(เขา)เก่งสมชื่อจริง ๆ เลยนะ
Si Sawat: Pee Geng is brilliant! Brilliant like his name, right?!

ผู้บรรยาย: คำว่า เพชร ไม่มี ไม้ไต่คู้ ออกเสียง สระเอะ หมายถึง แก้วที่แข็งที่สุดและมีลักษณะแวววาวมาก
Narrator: The word ‘Pet’ does not have a ‘Mai dtai koo’ and is pronounced with a ‘Sara e’ sound. It means a stone which is the hardest (naturally occurring) substance and has the characteristic of being very sparkly.

แมวทั้งสามตัว: แล้วพบกันใหม่นะครับบบ (ครับ)
All Three Cats: See you again next time!

เสียงเด็ก ๆ ร้องเพลง: รู้รักภาษาไทย
Sound of children singing: Learn and Love the Thai Language.

Comments…

‘Pet’ (เพชร) means ‘diamond’.

PDF Downloads…

Below is a pdf download (created by Catherine) to help with your studies. It has Thai script, transliteration, and English.

Cat Cartoons Episode 123: Conversation

The Cat Cartoon Series…

Original transcript and translation provided by Sean Harley. Transliterations via T2E (thai2english.com).

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Thai Time: Using Pronouns Like a Pro (Part 3: To ‘He/She’ or Not to ‘He/She’, That is the Question)

Bingo Lingo

Using pronouns like a pro…

I lied. I promised I wouldn’t take a year to write my next post but I did. Life has been hectic and I have been beyond busy. Deepest apologies. Well, my apologies won’t help you learn Thai so without further ado, let’s get into the 3rd person pronouns. They’re a lot less complex than what we’ve learnt so far.

เค้า /káo/
Person: 3rd
Sex: Both
Formality: –
Respectful: –
Polite: –
Familiar: –

This pronoun is as neutral as a pronoun can get. Apart from referring to a third party, this word doesn’t mark ANYTHING. So the good news is when you want to say he, she, or they in Thai, this word’s already got 90-95% of it covered. What’s that? Something in Thai that isn’t complicated? Oh my!

Just on one note (of course, an exception!), when talking about people of high prestige (such as what we discussed in Part 2), you should call them by their title instead and keep the use of เค้า /káo/ to a minimum.

When to use: With practically anyone.

When not to use: Probably not with people of high prestige.

ท่าน /tâan/
Person: 3rd
Sex: –
Formality: VERY
Respectful: VERY
Polite: VERY
Familiar: HELL NO
*SEMI-FROZEN REGISTER*

This pronoun is the same pronoun as the 2nd-person ท่าน /tâan/. It is used mostly by service providers when speaking to valued customers, by subordinates when speaking to a person of a significantly higher level of authority, to people of the utmost prestige, by public speakers addressing the audience, or in written language. Please refer to ท่าน /tâan/ in Part 2.

When to use: With VIPs or in formal settings.

When not to use: most of the time, unless you want to be sarcastic.

มัน /man/
Person: 3rd
Sex: –
Formality: No
Respectful: No
Polite: No
Familiar: VERY
*VULGAR*

This word literally means ‘it’ but it can be used like ‘he’ or ‘she’, but in a vulgar way. To put it simply, มัน /man/ is used in the same context as กู /guu/ and มึง /mueng/, although it is slightly less offensive than those two. Still, only use with very close friends. Do not use with strangers as it will provoke them. You mustn’t use it in the presence of a respected audience. Some people might think calling some ‘it’ is degrading, but within the context of Thai language, it’s fine, so long as you know when and with whom to use it.

When to use: Limited use. With close friends who have equal social status.

When not to use: With people who are of a higher status. Also, not in formal settings.

แก /gae/
Person: 3rd
Sex: –
Formality: No
Respectful: Somewhat
Polite: –
Familiar: Yes

Now, แก /gae/ is quite a bizarre pronoun: when used as a 2nd person pronoun (i.e. “you”) it’s rude and not suitable to call older people, but as a 3rd person pronoun, it’s fine! 3rd person แก /gae/ is predominantly used to refer to mature adults and the elderly in a somewhat respectful manner. When talking about your older relatives and professors (warning: ABOUT them, not TO them), you can refer to them as แก /gae/ with no problem (but NEVER to them as a 2nd person!), although you have to actually be somewhat familiar with them. Referring to strangers with this word is not cool.

When to use: Referring to older people whom you are somewhat close to.

When not to use: With everyone else.

หล่อน /lòrn/
Person: 3rd
Sex: Female
Formality: No
Respectful: No
Polite: No
Familiar: Yes

This word is a popular direct translation of the word ‘she’ in English—textbooks just love it and usually pair it with เขา /káo/ and state that หล่อน /lòrn/ means ‘she’ and เขา /káo/ means ‘he’ (and we now know that not to be true because เขา /káo/ is gender-neutral!). However, no one takes this word seriously and the Thais only use it facetiously. When used, for whatever reason, it is to refer to your female friends or female individuals whom you’re close to. In reality, though, just know it exists, you don’t need to use it.

When to use: Don’t.

When not to use: Always.

‘Zero pronoun’—you say it best, when you say nothing at all

We have already covered most well-known Thai pronouns—21 to be exact—and at this point you can start to appreciate how many things Thai people need to take into consideration before they can even start talking to someone.

This can be a minefield in the early stage of acquaintance with the individual you’re speaking to or of: “Is he older?”, “Has she got a good job?”, “Does he mind casual speech?”, “If she’s older, does she want to be treated with respect or as a friend?”, etc. This, as some linguists have posited, may partially contribute to why Thais ask some intrusive questions such as “How much money do you make?” or “How old are you?”—to establish the relative standings in society between you and them.

They do however have a hidden strategy up their sleeves to tackle this convolution. If pronouns are such a nuisance, let’s just not use them at all!
Thais drop personal pronouns all the time in conversations—in fact, NOT using any pronouns is sometimes probably more natural than using any at all. This has at least 2 benefits: #1—to save you a few superfluous words in Thai. Let’s set up a situation: you and a friend are in a room. You ask your friend where your phone is. He said it’s on the table. You can’t be bothered to get up and get it yourself so you’re asking your friend to do it. A complete sentence might look like this:

เธอไปเอามันมาให้ฉันหน่อยได้มั้ย?
ter bpai ao man maa hâi chán nòi dâi mái?
“Can you go get it for me?”

But if it’s already established to whom you’re talking to and regarding what you’re talking about, do you know how Thais would normally phrase it?

ไปเอามาให้หน่อยได้มั้ย?
bpai ao maa hâi nòi dâi mái?
“Can (you) go get (it) for (me)?”

The context (in this case, the previous conversation you had with your friend) would provide all the information that you need to fill in the pronoun gaps. Words said, job done, no pronouns, no problem.

Benefit #2, though, is our main point in this article: to avoid the whole pronoun shenanigans altogether. If you don’t use any pronouns, you don’t need to consider age, gender, social status, etc, right? Let’s have another situation: you are a flight attendant on duty. You walk up and down the aisle while serving refreshments to passengers. They are of different ages, different backgrounds, some are casual and some are uptight, some may even identify as a gender not assigned at birth. It’s impossible to acquire all that information for 100+ people while you’re serving drinks, not that you’d want to anyway! So, instead, just drop it:

รับชาหรือกาแฟคะ?
ráp chaa rŭe gaafae ká?
“Would (you) like tea or coffee?”

Problem solved. No need to even make eye contact. You can talk to a kindergarten pupil or to a prime minister using the same sentence. At this point, you may now have a question: then why don’t you do without the pronouns? Well, because there are situations you will need to use them to avoid ambiguity. Suppose there is no context or previous dialogues whatsoever, you suddenly say to your friend:

จะมาใช่มั้ย?
jà maa châi mái?
“??? is coming, right?”

Nobody will be able to decipher that. You are going to need a pronoun there for clarification. What you can take away from this is that Thai people generally omit pronouns when they think (“THEY think” are the operative words) it’s abundantly clear what the referents are. Otherwise, keep the pronouns there for succinct and effective communication.

And thus concludes this topic: “Using pronouns like a pro”! I hope you have learnt something interesting from this whole series. I will try to come up with a new topic to write again when time permits and when the muse comes to me. See you next post!

Part 1: How to Say ‘I’ in Thai
Part 2: What Should I Call ‘You’

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