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Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Thai Challenge 2014

Cracking Thai Fundamentals

Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Thai Challenge 2014…

I’ve reviewed scads of learning Thai projects since starting WLT and Polyglot Stu Jay Raj’s Cracking Thai Fundamentals Thai Challenge is one of the most exciting ever.

To give you a bit of background: Stu’s original Cracking Thai Fundamentals started in Bangkok in 2000. Wanting to learn about the Thai language, I attended a CTF course shortly after arriving in Thailand. Like other students I met in class, I loved it so much that I signed up for second round.

If you are interested in what people are saying about CTF, below are several Cracking Thai Fundamentals interviews:

Stu Jay Raj is Back in Bangkok with Cracking Thai Fundamentals
Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Interview with Claudio Sennhauser
Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Interview with Scott Eddy
Cracking Thai Fundamentals: Interview with Peter Lo

In order to reach more students, six months ago Stu started working his butt off to create an online learning experience: Jcademy. That’s right. You no longer have to physically attend one of Stu’s courses to reap the benefits.

To add to the thrill, this week he launched the Jcademy Cracking Thai Fundamentals Challenge.

I’ll say it again. Stu’s CTF Challenge is one the most promising projects I’ve come across. And to help make it even more powerful, please do join in!

For the next few months you can follow Polyglot Stuart Jay Raj as he guides two expats through the CTF course. To do that, Stu created four ways to experience the challenge:

  1. Watch the sessions live via Jcademy’s CTF Challenge section.
  2. Afterwards ask questions of Stu, Andrew, and Richard on Google Hangouts.
  3. Watch the session videos on Jcademy and Stu’s YouTube channel stujaystujay.
  4. Join the CTF Challenge (how can you resist?)

Note: The first CTF Challenge Google Hangout starts at 4pm, Wednesday, January 22.

Be sure to keep up with Jcademy news via:

Web: Jcademy
Facebook: Jcademy
YouTube: stujaystujay
Twitter: @JcademyOnline

And a reminder. This is not a paid ad – I don’t do those – the opinions in this post are unencumbered by personal gain.

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Polyglot, a Google Chrome Extension


Polyglot, a Google Chrome Extension…

One of the keys to learning a language is exposure. It stands to reason that the more opportunities you create for exposure to the language you are learning the more effective, and ultimately more rewarding, the learning process will be for you.

In Thailand there are loads of ways to do this. You’ve got your local walk to the dtaam sang shop for lunch, chewing the fat with the guys in the win motor-sai at the end of your soi, ploughing your way through headlines in the tabloids, and even enduring the god-awful soap operas.

However, it’s not always the case that you want to turn the additional language sensors up to eleven and embark on a full-on linguistic workout. Sometimes you just feel like a gentle stroll through the language garden.

It’s on occasions like this that Polyglot might be just the ticket.


Polyglot is a neat little add-on for Google’s Chrome Internet browser that peppers your page with words and phrases in Thai, allowing you to get a light dose of language practice as you go about your daily surf.

The extension randomly takes words from the webpage you are browsing and converts them into Thai (or indeed any one of the 56 languages on offer). You can specify the likelihood that a word will be translated, you can ask it to ignore words below a letter count of your choosing (allowing it to skip common vocab like simple connectives and pronouns), as well as a few other little customisations like the colour of the translated words.

Here’s an example of a typical translated page using Polyglot.


As you can see from the screen shot, it’s not overwhelming and every few sentences you get to stop and think for a second before moving on in English. You can see too that you can mouse over translated words to see the original text.

As is also clear from the example, the translations are not always correct. This is inevitable with words having numerous meanings or shades of meaning. Often you can see where the confusion has happened, and it’s my opinion that spotting mistakes and working out why they are mistakes is just another good way to strengthen your knowledge of a language. If you’re lucky they can be pretty funny too, as in the example below.


Nice to see that Google Translate is up on its American slang!

There is a good set of discussions about the effectiveness of Google translate in these very pages, here and here that go into some depth about the effectiveness of the tool.

Shortcomings aside, Polyglot is a nice little distraction which learners of Thai might find helps to keep the language exposure up and the learning moving forward.

You can download the extension here: Polyglot

Hamish Chalmers
Tweet Yourself Thai | Twitter: @AjarnPasa
Successful Thai Language Learner: Hamish Chalmers

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