A Woman Learning Thai...and some men too ;)

Learn Thai Language & Thai Culture

Tag: book reviews (page 2 of 2)

New Years Thai Language Resolution With the NOW Habit

New Years Resolution

I’m not much of a New Years Resolution type of gal. But, as WLT posts generally go midweek (usually on a Wednesday)… and as this Wednesday is New Years Eve… no real excuse not to.

To get a jump on this post, I created two to-do lists.

My New Years Resolution…

  • Study Thai first thing (before answering emails even).
  • Grab a Thai laden iPod when heading out.
  • Practice writing Thai script a minimum of 20 minutes a day.
  • Review new/old words 3 times a day, minimum ten minutes each.
  • Read Thai a minimum of 20 minutes per day.
  • Speak more to Thais (in Thai, not English).
  • Arrange to spend time with a Thai host family.

Tools for keeping a New Years Resolution…

The NOW Habit

And then The Now Habit arrived. When reading, I just KNEW I had to start all over again because without a doubt, I am a THAI LANGUAGE LEARNING PROCRASTINATOR! Groan…

The NOW Habit: The procrastination habit catches people in a vicious cycle: get overwhelmed, feel pressured, fear failure, try harder, work longer, feel resentful, lose motivation, and then procrastinate.

That’s me. Totally. The more I should study my Thai lessons, the more I dig myself into a hole of work, work and more work. I get everything done BUT learn Thai. Like this blog…

The NOW Habit: People don’t procrastinate just to be ornery or because they are irrational. They procrastinate because it makes sense, given how vulnerable they feel to criticism, failure, and their own perfectionism… there is one main reason why we procrastinate: it rewards us with temporary relief from stress.

This is good because I’m not lazy, I’m the total opposite. I’m a workaholic. And due to a misguided aim at perfectionism, I use any excuse to avoid what I fear the most. Failure. So I’ll grab what I know I’m good at, and dance around learning Thai.

My new to-do list re: The NOW Habit…

  1. Procrastinate as usual for a week.
  2. Record my day in sections: morning, mid-morning, afternoon, evening.
  3. Set priorities: low, medium, high + urgent.
  4. Keep a procrastination log: activity, thoughts, justification, solution, results.
  5. Make changes suggested by The Now Habit.
  6. Listen to free mp3s from Neil.

There’s (obviously) much more to the process, so if you are a Thai language learning procrastinator too, be sure to purchase The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play.

A bit about Neil Foire and The Now Habit…

First published in 1989 then updated in 2007 by psychologist, author and executive coach Neil Foire, The Now Habit is the result of 30 years plus hands-on experience with procrastinators, like me. In his portfolio are companies such as Bechtel, AT&T, and Levi Strauss. Neil’s articles can be found at The New England Journal of Medicine, Psychology Today, Fitness, Entrepreneur and more. And you can catch more of Neil Foire at fiore.com.

Btw – this post was inspired by several posts at All Japanese All The Time Dot Com: Why Do People Who Have All the Time in the World Get Nothing Done? which sent me to The Now Habit: Language Acquisition as a Long-Term Project where I found The Now Habit.

Happy New Years one and all. Enjoy…

Share Button

Top Books on Thailand and Thai Culture

A Cultural Xmas

Booking a cultural Christmas…

With exactly one week to go before Xmas, there is just enough time to shop for the Thai language learner in your life.

And while these books are not about learning Thai, they are about Thailand. Equally important.

About the list… I asked friends and forums for their favourite books on Thailand and Thai culture. I received 50 over. Out of those, I chose what I believe are the top of the lot.

About the books… after procuring my list, I contacted Danny at DCO books to fill in the holes. From personal experience, it’s cheaper to have DCO send via motorcycle taxi, then waste time and taxi money fighting BKK traffic (sometimes for days at a time).

About the photo… In a Mon (มอญ) settlement in Bangkok, children still wear their hair in the old-fashioned topknot (จุก – jòok) from centuries ago.

Thai language. Thai history. Thai culture. There is so much to learn.

Understanding Thailand and Thai culture…

Bangkok Inside Out
By Daniel Ziv and Guy Sharett

Do’s and Don’ts in Thailand
By Kenny Yee and Catherine Gordon

Inside Thai Society
By Niels Mulder

Spiritual Abodes of Thailand
By Barry Broman and William Warren

Thai Fever
By Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant

Thailand, a Short History
By David Wyatt

Thai Ways
By Denis Segaller

The Spirit Houses of Thailand
By Peter Reichart and Pathawee Khongkhunthian

Very Thai, Everyday Popular Culture
By Philip Corawel-Smith (verythai.com)

Working with the Thais
By Henry Holmes

More Living Thai Ways
By Michael KellerClaxton and Alison Woo (Living Thai Ways is also good)

Agree? Disagree?

Share Button

Heart Talk (Say What You Feel in Thai) by Christopher G Moore

Heart Talk

Is there a Christopher G Moore in the house?…

I created Women Learn Thai not just to take on the language, but to study the history and culture of all things Thai.

For research (especially living in a city the size of Bangkok), the Internet is a jewel. But being old-fashioned, my first choice will always be books. And when I need to source a lot of books at once, I go for secondhand over new.

For my first trip for WLT, Dasa Book Cafe was it. Just inside the door beyond the tea tables, the Thai section. A mix of facts, personal experience and fiction.

On the drive over, my Canadian buddy Lynn admitted a firm fiction focus. Christopher G Moore. Famous, proliferate, Bangkok-based, Canadian. She drooled.

So while she headed for Spirit House and the Smile series, I detoured towards Reflections on Thai Culture (William J Knausner), Thailand, a Short History (David K Wyatt), and Bangkok (William Warren).

That was then. This is now. And now (saving Dasa for afters), it was quick-like into a taxi and over to Siam Paragon for a plastic wrapped copy of Heart Talk, by none other than Lynn’s Christopher G Moore.

Thai heart Thai identity…

When I first read the title, I thought “oh, no, not another book about the steamy side of Thailand!”. Which was soon followed by, “wait a second, I LIKE sex!”…

But Heart Talk is not pillow talk. That’s right. A jai does not sexy make.

In the Thai language the heart is the centre of thinking, feeling, shaping our moods, nurturing our spirit, bonding us to friends and family. The outline of what it is to move about in the home, office, and society can’t be detached from the idea of jai.

Another feature is the reversal of order in certain expressions. Thus jai dee (good heart) refers to the nature of a good-hearted person while dee jai (glad heart) refers to the emotional state of gladness. In a number of cases, the switch can turn a negative feeling into a good personality trait. For example, òn jai (worn-out heart) means weary-minded, while jai òn (soft heart) refers to someone who goes out of their way to help others.

A cause for Heart Talk…

When I decided to feature Heart Talk, I searched the web for available resources (and found more than a few). When I mentioned my mini-project to Christopher, he advised to take care.

Checking through my growing spreadsheet, I compared my finds with Heart Talk and I had to agree. Learning heart words without realising the nuances could get you into difficulties with the language. And difficulties, I can do without.

Some jai expressions are descriptive of the nature of a person. For example, a person with an impatient nature is jai rón (hot heart) and a person with a sensitive, touchy nature is nói jai (touchy heart).

Other times a phrase is connected with an emotional state and not necessarily the nature of the person experiencing the emotion. Thus a feeling of panic translates as jai túm túm dtòm dtòm (panic heart).

A similar mistake is to use our western mindset in a Thai world. For instance, look at เย็นใจ (yen jai). เย็น (yen) = cold, while ใจ (jai) = heart (or mind). As a westerner, I jumped to the conclusion that a cold heart is a negative and a hot heart is well, sexy. Wrong. In Thailand, a hot heart is a negative and a cold heart is a positive.

Comfortable Heart สบายใจ (sà-baai jai) เย็นใจ (yen jai): You have entered a state of feeling perfectly in tune with yourself emotionally or a state of comfort and pleasantness. You feel comfortable inside yourself and with those around you; there is an inner peace and sense of calm.

Another mistake beginners (as in myself) often make is to take on Thai words or word units without learning how they fit into a sentence.

Be a little careful about picking new words out of the vocabulary and using them. If they are nouns you can’t go far wrong as in most cases any one noun can be substituted for another but adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and verbs are very often used in certain contexts only and if you use them wrongly you will not be understood.

And that’s an additional plus of Heart Talk. Each heart word is clarified as being either adverb, adjective, verb, or noun. Tricky stuff. So the heart of this advice? Be free with nouns, but check before using others.

The nouns of Heart Talk…

In Heart Talk there are 60+ nouns. With Christopher’s permission I’ve recorded around half that number. The descriptions are inspired (and at times direct) from HT the book. The voice is all น้ำใจ Niwat.


Inspiration Heart (p28)
raang ban-daan jai
Inspirational. Includes emotional support, guidance, insight and knowledge conveyed to others.


Water Heart (p67)
náam jai
Someone who is considerate.


Broad Heart (p77)
náam jai an gwâang-kwăang
A generous and unselfish person.


True Essence of the Heart (p84)
náam săi jai jing
A person who helps without expecting a return.


Egocentric Heart (p94)
chôp tam dtaam am-per jai
A self-centred or egocentric person.


Devil in One’s Heart (p121)
maan hŭa-jai
Someone who destroys the love existing between people.


Emotional State of the Heart (p131)
hŭa-òk hŭa-jai
Uncaring person (lack of compassion or sensitivity).

Heart (p132)
jai kor
In the context of a person’s personality or natural disposition. Or the emotional reaction to a person or event.


Mind and Spirit Heart (p157)
jìt jai
A mental state inside your head or heart.

Life, Mind and Spirit Heart (p157)
chee-wít jìt jai
This is my favourite. The idea is that people have value and are entitled to be treated with respect and regard.

Understanding Heart (p158)
jai kăo jai rao
Understand another as you understand yourself.


Thoughts inside the Heart (p165)
kwaam nai jai
Thoughts you keep to yourself.


Beloved Heart (p168)
săai jai
The bonds of love between mother and child.

Eye of the Heart (p169)
duang dtaa duang jai
The object of your love and affection (husband, wife, sometimes child).

Star of the Heart (p169)
A child is the star of the parents.

Star of the Heart (p169)
yôt duang-jai
Ditto, the child is the centre (star) of a parent’s heart.


Power of the Heart (p190)
plang jai
The feeling that comes from communal sharing.

Confederate Heart (p191)
pôo rûam jai
A strong, intimate bond between people intune to each other.


Seduction Machine of the Heart (p193)
krêuang lôr jai
Describes the drive some people have for material things.


Power of the Heart (p194)
gam-lang jai
The sense of spirit or encouragement to complete a task, to accomplish something.


Good Friend Heart (p198)
pêuan rûam jai
A close friend (soulmate).

Refuge of the Heart (p200)
têe pêung taang jai
Where you find refuge (amulets, religion, politics, people).


Centre Heart (p208)
ใจ กลาง
jai glaang
The object at the centre of something. For location, it could be a street or building. For people, parents or children could apply.

Geographic Centre Heart (p208)
jai meuang
The centre of a country is jai meuang.

Geographic Centre Heart (p208)
jai glaang meuang
The centre of a city is jai glaang meuang.


Truth in the Heart (p246)
kwaam jing jai
Someone sincere in words and actions.


The Heart of the Matter (p248)
jai kwaam
The meaning, substance or gist of the matter in question.

The Heart of the Matter (p248)
kôr yài jai kwaam
Ditto in being the substance or gist of the matter in question.

Where to buy Heart Talk…

If you live in Thailand, you can pick up Heart Talk at most bookstores with English on offer (in BKK, Asia Books and the lovely Kinokuniya Bookstore come to mind). If not, the amazon is a sure bet.

Where to find Christopher G Moore…

Christopher G Moore official website
Christopher G Moore’s blog
Christopher G Moore on WordPress
Christopher G Moore on Facebook

Heart talk heart word resources…

Benjawan Poomsan Becker’s Speak Like a Thai Volume 4: Heart Words

learningthai.com (offline for now): The Heart Words, also from the book Hearts (possibly out of print).

thai2english.com: ใจ – jai – Thai / English Dictionary

thai-language.com: ใจ jai

YouTube: Bebe son kam waa rak Teaches words about love (English Sub)

Note: The Thai transliteration has been adjusted for consistency.

A special thanks goes to: Christopher for giving permission and advice, to Niwat for his voice, and to Jessi for sending over more heart words (coming in a later post).

Share Button
Newer posts