Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners…
Name: Adam Bradshaw
Profession: English Teacher, entrepreneur
Web: YouTube: jadambrad and winkwinkenglish | Twitter: @AjarnAdam | Facebook: ajarnadam
What is your Thai level?
I guess it depends on the day lol, but usually fluent.
Do you speak more street Thai, Issan Thai, or professional Thai?
I can speak Bangkok Thai the best, but I enjoy learning Isaan Thai as well. There’s something about Isaan Thai that’s just fun and charming.
What were your reasons for learning Thai?
Originally I learned Thai because I had to as a volunteer missionary, but I found myself falling in love with the Thai language.
Do you live in Thailand? If so, when did you arrive?
I just barely returned to Thailand for the fourth time in the last 5 years. This time I plan on staying for at least a couple years. I first came to Thailand in January 2006 and kept finding reasons to come back!
How long have you been a student of the Thai language?
Ever since I arrived in January 2006.
Did you learn Thai right away, or was it a many-pronged approach?
Did you stick to a regular study schedule?
2 hours every morning and then throughout the day I would try to avoid speaking English as much as I could.
What Thai language learning methods did you try?
I started with Smyth’s, Thai: An Essential Grammar, which I found to be an excellent guide to basic Thai. After learning the basics, I found the best method to move to the next level was simply carrying a little notebook around and writing down words, phrases, and sentences that I heard come out of natives’ mouths. Also, if you ask any of my Thai friends they won’t hesitate to tell you that I would sit and ask them questions about the Thai language for hours sometimes. Having patient Thai friends was of great help to me in progressing my Thai.
How soon did you tackle reading and writing Thai?
Right from the get go.
Did you find learning to read and write Thai difficult?
Not particularly considering Thai is a phonetic language and 95 percent of Thai words are read as written.
What was your first ah hah! moment?
After being in the country for about a year, I remember sitting in a Taxi that had a news radio station blaring. Usually I would listen to the radio and be able to pick up a good 60 percent of what was being said, but I remember listening on this particular occasion and thinking, “wow I can understand almost everything being said!”
How do you learn languages?
Directly from the natives.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My strength is my ability to have a conversation with anybody about anything. My weakness is sometimes saying something in say 5 words that could have been said in 3 words.
What is the biggest misconception for students learning Thai?
That the language barrier will never be broken haha. Patience is a virtue especially when it comes to learning Thai!
Can you make your way around any other languages?
Hola. Como estas? Bien. That’s about the extent of my knowledge in any other language lol.
Were you learning another language at the same time as Thai?
No way. I focused solely on Thai.
What advice would you give to students of the Thai language?
Make as many Thai friends as possible and be willing to teach them English in exchange for them helping you with your Thai.
The Series: 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.