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Searching for a Thai Language Learning Style: SRS and More

Language Experience

So let the language learning games begin…

I ended My Thai Language Experience with…

I know there has to be an easier way to learn Thai. I just have to find it. Or, design a program to suit how I learn.

No. I’m not ignoring the amount of hard work it will take to learn a language as difficult as Thai. I’m just suggesting that it doesn’t have to be mind-numbingly dull OR painful.

So I guess I need to source out how

Learning a new language is tough. And sourcing a learning method that is not dull or painful? Oh my. But, after digging around the internet, I did manage to discover a genuine possibility.

Lessons that are not mind-numbingly dull…

I started out by researching tips, tricks and methods for learning languages. Specifically, Thai languages. I read language forums, books, and online articles.

Within reason, I purchased the top advised books, Thai language courses (with or without CD’s), and language tools.

The idea? To collect a multitude of Thai language learning resources and see what clicked.

The Michel Thomas Method…

At the inspiring How-to-learn-any-language.com I came across an old favourite, the Michel Thomas Method.

Backing up… When I lived in Pau, France, I went through the Michel Thomas Method for learning French. Except for the end, I found the course effortless and enjoyable.

Problem is, Michel Thomas does not offer a Thai version. And poking around, I discovered that the company has no future Thai plans. An additional problem? Michel Thomas is no longer with us.

Not ready to give up just yet, I took a close look at his method in order to source the next best thing.

In a nutshell, Michel Thomas breaks a language into its component parts to enable learners to reconstruct the language and form their own sentences.

So it was simple really. I now needed to find a method that builds on vocabulary and grammatically correct sentences.

Sounds like all foreign language lessons everywhere, right? Perhaps. But think about it. Are they effortless and enjoyable? Or mind-numbingly dull and painful?

SRS and 10,000 Sentences…

How-to-learn-any-language.com led me to All Japanese All The Time Dot Com which led me to Input and 10,000 Sentences and SRS.

The 10000 Sentences method of language learning is similar to an assimilation-based learning program — armed with enough Comprehensible Input you get the feel for what is “correct.” You assimilate enough sentence patterns and vocabulary to be able to produce new, original content.

SRS is short for “spaced repetition system”. Generally speaking, it’s a piece of electronic flashcard-like software that helps you to long-term-memorize large quantities of information by effectively working on only a small subset of the information each day, using spaced repetitions.

Pimsleur uses spaced repetition, but SRS goes further by handing total control to the learner. And that’s exactly how I prefer to learn a language. In control. With toys. And SRS has toys.

Finally, the Grand Plan minus mind-numbingly dull and painful

  1. Extract sentences from dictionaries, books and Thai course materials.
  2. Record, then input into a SLR of choice.

So for starters, I could theoretically grab sentences from Pimsleurs course to put into an SRS. Sentences that suit me.

And for good measure, I could add the Thai vocabulary and sentences created from The Quick and Dirty Guide to Learning Languages Fast.

And to make sure I had the basics covered, I could also add pertinent sentences from the two top Thai grammar books, Thai: An Essential Grammar and Thai Reference Grammar.

And all in all, I’d have the beginnings of a useful learning tool tailor-made just for me. Not too shabby, right?

I can hear the doubts and questions from here. Like, is that ALL you are going to do to learn the Thai language? Listen to sentences?

Well, not quite. But I’ll reserve that for another post…

SRS Products:

  • Anki: A program designed to help you remember words and phrases (Mac, Windows, Linux and Debian).
  • ProVoc: Easy-to-use vocabulary trainer (Mac).
  • SuperMemo: A learning method that makes it possible to learn fast and retain memories for years (Windows).
  • The Mnemosyne Project: A flash-card program to help you memorise question/answer pairs, but with an important twist: it uses a sophisticated algorithm to schedule the best time for a card to come up for review (Mac, Linux and Windows).
  • Women Learning Thai Resources: A growing list, so check back often.

SRS Resources:

10000 Sentences Resources:

Success Story: Tried Many Methods Before AJATT.

And the Holy Grail of 10,000 Sentences and SRS, (insert Thai for Japanese): How To Learn Japanese, On Your Own, Having Fun and To Fluency.

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

10 Comments

  1. I actually just got a Michell Thomas sample in the mail the other day and I went through it already. Its similar in many regards to Pimsleur. While I feel both are a great start in a language, they don’t encompass enough of what you need to have anything resembling a real conversation. Based on the sample, I’d say Thomas is probably more effective than Pimsleur as the focus seemed more on functional phrases/sentences rather than your typical self-introduction nonsense. The problem is that the Thomas program is rather expensive. As for his private classes, they claim to “allow you to attain a level of good conversational proficiency in three to four days.”

    You mentioned SRG Clean Archives – I can’t actually upload plugins as my host is the free wordpress not the byoh. I’m open to suggestions for other formats.

  2. I also found Michel Thomas better than Pimsleur. But there’s the problem of them not having plans for a Thai version.

    Btw – I found the standard script for the Michel Thomas courses if you are interested…

    Pity you are using the free WP. Have you considered hosting your own WP? It’s not expensive at all.

    Your blog is, by far, one of the best out there for learning Thai. With that in mind, self-hosting might be the way to go as it’d give you more control.

  3. While I won’t say the money isn’t a factor, its more about time than anything else. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to spend on the site. I’m studying in a uni in CM and I also work 6-7 days a week on top of that teaching Eng and Thai. Do you think it would be a lot of work to transfer all the data to my own host?

    Thanks for the comments btw.

    Bretts last blog post..Sentence Project – 50

  4. Time. I do know that one. But what you have on your plate is over what I have to deal with at the moment (I’ve recently taken steps to uncomplicate my time/life).

    It won’t be that much work at all. It’s when there’s a lot (with tons of special tweaks) that it’s a pain. You could even cut and paste the code right into a new blog (if you didn’t want to mess with the fussy details).

    cats last blog post..The Expat Women’s Guide to Bangkok

  5. I was hoping that someday they would apply Michel Thomas method to Thai. Honestly I studied several different programs for Learning French. At times the Michel Thomas tapes annoyed me, but I got through it and learned so much.

    My wife is Thai and I desperately want to learn the language. Two years ago I was told that they were working on the Michel Thomas Method for Thai.

    I did a search for Michel Thomas Method Thai and your web-site came up.

    Maybe someday they will make it, but until then I’ll just study Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone.

  6. The French MT course annoyed me too (where he’s snotty to the students) but I know now that it’s one of the best (effortless) ways for me to learn a language.

    Glad to hear they are working on a Thai version. The last I read, they had no plans for Thai (one of their representatives posted on a language forum). But it’ll still be too late for me unless it comes out real soon.

    How good is your wife’s English? If you take the transcripts of the MT Method (they are online), with a bit of fiddling you can recreate it in Thai. But only for your own use as the method is patented (I’m not really sure how that works).

    Btw – I’m a big fan of learning via a SRS method and I finally tried out Byki for Thai (by Transparent Language). It’s fantastic and dirt cheap.

    I’ve been spending months recording lessons to put into a SRS (more recording and typing in Thai than learning I’m afraid). Byki has it all ready for you. Then you just add what else you want to learn after you go through their program.

    You can even put in your Pimsleur if you like (if you can get it into text). So basically, all of the work I’ve done won’t go to waste.

    Another plus, it’s on your computer, not online. So you can take it anywhere your computer can go. I’ll do a post about it later as it does much more than that.

  7. Hi,

    I liked this article and didn’t know of Michel Thomas but will look into this further, I am familiar with Pimsleur though.

    I know a little Thai but more Japanese.

    Thanks a lot!

  8. The Michel Thomas company doesn’t have Thai lessons, but I do believe they are working on Japanese (lucky for Japanese learners).

    I have the Michel Thomas scripts, but I’m not sure how to go about creating my own in Thai from there as his method tends to build in a different way than Thai is structured.

    Thanks for stopping by :-)

  9. Heather Adrian

    May 9, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I’ve always wanted to learn Thai.. it’s on my list of languages to learn right behind getting a better grasp on medical Spanish and picking up some Danish.

    I love your blog, you have some excellent language learning resources here that can be applied to any language if people think a little outside of the box.
    Heather Adrian AKA RedGringo

  10. Medical Spanish seems quite tough. Does it have any English spattered around? While English seems to be the international language for some professions, I’m not sure which ones they are.

    When I lived in France I’d go to Spain nearly every weekend because the weather was better. And while I never did study Spanish, I could get away with a lot by adding an o to my French. I say that I got away with ‘a lot’, but I held pity for both the French and the Spanish on the receiving end of communication with me.

    Thanks for the kind words. When I started researching to learn Thai, I wanted somewhere to put all my Thai language resources and a blog seemed to be the best bet. The idea expanded from there.

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