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YouTube Thai Lessons: Ajarn Adam is Teaching Thai

Ajarn Adam Teaches Thai

Adam Bradshaw is teaching Thai too

Adam Bradshaw is well-known amongst Thais and intermediate Thai language students for his insightful English language videos on YouTube. And now Adam is now teaching Thai. Excellent.

Most Thai learners know me as an English teacher because most of my material on the Internet is made for Thais learning English. However, many intermediate/advanced Thai learners have been learning more Thai in a backwards fashion by listening to me teach English in Thai.

Beginners obviously won’t benefit as much from doing this because they won’t understand much of what is being said.

Therefore, as I continue to receive more and more requests to post more Thai learning material, I have decided to start making some clips about learning Thai.

So far the material is rather basic, yet numerous intermediate/advanced speakers have commented that these clips actually are quite useful for them as well because it helps them touch up on their basics and solidify their Thai language knowledge.

How to Read Thai: Middle Class Consonants…

As a westerner fluent in Thai, Adam has a natural insight into how westerners learn a tonal language. His first video, where he carefully enunciates each letter, is a taste of more to come.

Where to find Adam…

Ajarn Adam: Learn Thai
Twitter: @AjarnAdam
Facebook: ajarnadam
YouTube: jadambrad and winkwinkenglish

In 2011 Adam was interviewed for the Successful Thai Language Learner series. Thanks Adam!

Note: For a couple of months (or so) I’ll post updates from Adam’s YouTube in the comments below. But please don’t depend on me – subscribe to jadambrad on YouTube. Pssst… Subscribing is also a great way to show support. What I mean is, decent Thai language videos don’t just magic out of thin air, ya know?

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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.

31 Comments

  1. Absolutely great find Cat. This video is excellent for someone starting out to get the sounds and pops right. I wasn’t able to get it until I started taking classes. I look forward to more from Adam I think I could learn a lot from him.

  2. Thanks Talen. I love his stuff so I hope everyone supports his Thai lessons. Adam has a lot to share with all levels of Thai students.

  3. The winkwinkenglish Golf character is really funny :) Although the English words written in Thai script are meant for Thai speakers learning English, I find them quite helpful in learning the contemporary simplified Thai font.

    Adam has a brother, Ben, who is good in Malay. The Bradshaws are really quite talented. They show us struggling students – westerners and Asians alike – that speaking a foreign language well, is possible. อดัมพูดภาษาไทยเก่ง whilst بن ڤنداي چاكڤ بهاس ملايو. Why not us?

  4. This is really awesome! I knew about Ajarn Adam but couldn’t follow along with his videos since he spoke Thai too fast. For him to reveal his secrets to us will be quite welcome!

  5. Sany, I didn’t realise that Adam’s brother is also a gifted language learner. Excellent. Then they are both on hand to share the insides of learning a language.

    Amy, I agree, Adam’s new videos are indeed welcome :-)

  6. I am a native speaker of Thai and a linguist.
    “baa” & “bpaa” do not contrast in terms of “lips popping.”
    Actually, they contrast in terms of voicing.
    Simply put, in “b” your vocal folds (in your glottis) starts to vibrate (or to voice) while your lips are still closed. But, in “bp” and “p”, your vocal folds start to vibrate after the explosion of the “p.” “paa” is different from “bpaa” in that “paa” starts to voice a few hundred milliseconds following the explosion letting out a lot of air (the voicing (of the “aa”) doesn’t immediately follow the explosion like in “bpaa”).
    I just want to help learners of Thai to get the right idea. No offence.

  7. You are right A Thai, in บ and ป the lips are doing the same movement, the only difference is in the throat. I have also been puzzled by this strange “lip popping” thing in a serious site like WLT !
    For English native speakers this voiced/unvoiced unaspirated consonant problem is desperately difficult to grasp, this thing has been discussed a billion times here…
    Have you noticed that ก has been chosen in วิกิพีเดีย ?
    Look in Chinese, it’s the same mix-up : is it taoism or daoism ?

  8. Ah. Darn. And I’ve been brought up properly by Rikker and all. So yeah, I… well… yeah. And yeah, early on I too fought with the concept of ก. I mean, is it a G? Or a K? I know better now so… yeah. Forgive?

  9. I’m not a native Thai speaker nor am I linguist, although I did minor in linguistics. Anyway, I won’t argue with those that know more than me on the subject of linguistics and I appreciate constructive criticism. However, I don’t think that trying to teach complex linguistics to Thai learners is effective because it only discourages them and makes them think that learning how to speak Thai is more difficult than it really is. That being said, I decided to explain how to read in layman’s terms as opposed to confusing everybody with overly complex linguistics terms. Being able to compare Thai consonants with familiar English consonants is much easier for Thai learners because in reality, even the best of the best still have accents when they speak their second language.

  10. Adam, I agree – the majority of students learning Thai don’t have a clue about linguistics and don’t want to know. I didn’t. I find linguistics interesting now (and invaluable even) but that’s because I discovered a love for language learning methods. I’m not a linguist though (not by a long shot) I’m just curious is all.

    I liken teaching languages to teaching Contract Bridge. You start out with the bare basics and IF they don’t quit, the heavier details follow … But, if you are teaching Bridge to seasoned card players then of course you can leapfrog over the simple concepts.

    Btw: One of the best charts I’ve seen on Thai pronunciation can be downloaded for free at Stu’s site: Thai Tones, Consonants and Vowels in One Simple Post

  11. I totally agree. I find myself becoming more and more interested in linguistics as my Thai language learning adventure continues every day. Nevertheless, when I first learned Thai, I learned how to speak similar to a native speaker but not exactly like a native speaker. As time went on, I found that I naturally improved my accent just by surrounding myself by native speakers and trying to mimic their accents as much as I could. I would even record them reading long excerpts from books and then listen to the recordings over and over again, which is now paying its dividends.

    Anyway, I took a look at StuJay’s download and it looks great. I’ve never seen such a detailed outline of the Thai alphabet before.

  12. I like Adam’s vdo but also enjoy goining deeper in the matter thanks to A Thai and other linguists! Thanks to them all!

  13. Adam, I totally admire how you learned how to speak Thai. Going direct to the source, Thais, certainly is a great way to go. So many of us take the long (and nowhere near as scenic route) which is peppered with loads of flaffing off (and excuses :-)

    Michel, “Thanks to them all!” indeed!

  14. I still stand by my lip popping explanation though. The popping is caused by the voicing in the ป ปลา. A Thai used the term “explosion,” which I think is a more dramatic way of just saying that your lips pop.
    As far as the ก ไก่ is concerned, although it’s not exactly the same sound a g, it’s still much closer to a g sound than a k sound. I understand that people write it as a k to represent the k sound in a word such as “sky” but this sound is much more similar to a g sound than a real k sound as in the word “kangaroo.” Someone who has never set foot in Thailand before and reads a sign that says “Kuay Jab” will end up saying something rather dirty. Whereas, if the sign read “Guay Jab,” then they would produce a sound much more similar to ก๋วยจั๊บ.

    The same goes for the จ จาน sound, which in reality isn’t the exact same sound as a j sound, yet the sound produced is much more similar to a j sound than a ch sound. If you say the จ จาน as a ch sound, then people will interpret as a ช ช้าง a ฉ ฉิ่ง. Whereas, if you say it with a j sound, they will understand what you are saying despite the fact that it’s not the exact same sound. For example, if you said the word “จริง” as ching, then it would be understood as ชิง which doesn’t mean “true” but means to compete for something. On the other hand, if you said it with a j sound, then people would understand what you were saying.

  15. Hum…after 4 months ? A bee in your bonnet ? I can also be obstinate :

    first of all about the 2 last paragraphs : do you realise that all your “someone who has never”, “they would pronounce” apply only to English native speakers ? A Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Romanian… reading “kouay jab” with the “k” from their mother tongue would do quite good !

    And then sorry again but there are no popping caused by the voicing. The vibration of your vocal cords certainly doesn’t make your lips move ! When you eat something good you say mmmmmh and your lips don’t pop (that’s how you say “five” in Cantonese, the second most beautiful language in earth, after Cambodian of course)

  16. And by the way ป is not voiced … that’s บ the voiced one …

  17. Like it or not, English is the universal language and is the reference language used to teach Thai, therefore your arguments concerning how someone reads Kuay Jab are irrelevant. Thai signs are not written in IPA, Spanish, Italian, French, etc. They are written in English. Writing a ก ไก่ as a k only caused confusion. The g sound, although it’s not the exact same sound as the ก ไก่, still sounds much closer to ก ไก่ then a k sound.

    Yes, I was mistaken with the voiced part in my last post. Nevertheless, your lips do “pop.” Just because would rather explain how to pronounce something based on what you memorized from your linguistics book doesn’t make my explanation incorrect. In fact, my explanation is easier to understand than A Thai lengthy and confusing explanation. If you agree that the ป ปลา sound is the same sound as the p sound in the word “spy” or “supple” then the lips do “pop.” A Thai used the word “explosion,” which is, like I said above, just a more dramatic way of saying “pop.”

  18. Maybe you should post a video explaining your side of things Suanoy. I think we could all benefit from that.

  19. From Rikker: Thai 101 Learners Series: Finding Your Voice

    One sound not found in Thai is the English sound “g”. Many phrasebooks use g to spell Thai words, but this is one of those misleading downsides of Romanized Thai.

    The first letter of the Thai alphabet is ก ไก่ (kor kài). It is a “voiceless” sound. In English, g is voiced. It’s a subtle distinction, but it is there.

    The correct sound of ก ไก่ is one of those non-contrasting sounds in English, only found in words such as sky and ski. In that context, our brain groups it with k. In Thai, since there is no English g sound, it’s tempting to just let g fill in that gap, rather than learning to say the ก sound properly.

    If you pronounce ก ไก่ like English g, it’ll sound wrong to Thais, even if they can’t explain why. Think of, say, Dracula. It’s like you’re saying, “I vant vun order of chicken fried rice.. mua ha ha”. Only no Dracula laugh.

  20. I’m in no way disputing the fact that ก ไก่ isn’t the same sound as a g. All I’m saying is that it’s much closer to a g sound than that of a k sound. In English, a k sound is the same sound as a ค ควาย but in Romanized Thai it’s written as a “kh” to differentiate it from a “k” which represents a ก ไก่. English and Romanized Thai are two different languages. Most foreigners who come to Thailand don’t care to learn the difference between a “k” and a “kh.”. If ก ไก่ were written as a g and all the คอ sounds were written as k’s and ก ไก่ was written as a g, then your average foreigner would be able to pronounce words off signs more closely to the real thing without having to comsult a linguist about what the difference between a k and a kh is.

  21. *consult a linguist
    Sorry, I’ve been typing from my phone.

  22. Ok, this is the last time I am answering because you seem to lose your temper. Seriously guy, what are those kind of comments
    “based on what you memorized from your linguistics book doesn’t make my explanation incorrect” ?
    Am I just a bookworm and only you know real spoken thai ?

    1) we all have tricks to learn how to pronounce sounds which are not part of our mother tongue, your lip popping is a trick that works for you, good for you, maybe it can apply to SOME English speaking people, but I don’t think it can apply to all English speaking people because you’re the first one I hear with this trick, and I have talked to billion of English speaking people trying to learn Thai.

    2)what we are trying to do here is to make Thai easier to learn, there are 2 ways :
    a)
    tricks like your lip popping (is it popping, bopping or phopping ??), you tell us “me english speaker I tell you how I have succeeded in uttering this letter, I am lib bopbink”. Ok then some of them will try, it will work, other won’t get any help
    b)
    explanation like “phonetics nitpicking”. Some people can get some help when they hear a bookworm explaining them that the difference beetween บ and ป comes only from the vocal cords. And for sure some won’t get the picture.

    I am not saying that tricks from a) are less important than explanations from b), but don’t pretend that your a) trick is a b) explanation which can apply to everyone. Some people are more sensitive to tricks, other to phonetics nitpicking (generally you tend to prefer tricks when you begin to learn your first foreign language, then afterwards you tend to give up tricks, especially if you learn several languages)

    As for your thought about the importance of English to teach Thai, I won’t comment…
    Some people who were not born in London or Seattle may want to learn Thai, sometimes they don’t even speak a word of English. There is no such thing as “average foreigner”…

    Phonetics can broaden your mind !!

    Bye.

  23. ปล. สวยน้อยขุดสำนวน a bee in your bonnet จากไหนครับ เป็นสำนวนที่เชยมากและไม่มีใครใช้ในปัจจุบันครับ ขอยกนิ้วให้ที่คุณรู้จักสำนวนนี้ด้วย แล้วการเขียนของคุณก็ใกล้เคียงฝรั่งเหมือนกัน เก่งๆ

  24. แสดงว่าคุณไม่เข้าใจคำว่า the average foreigner ครับ คำนี้หมายถึงฝรั่งธรรมดาทั่วไปที่มาประเทศไทยแล้วไม่สนใจเรื่องสัทศาสตร์ เขาอยากจะอ่านป้ายโดยที่ไม่ต้องไปทำความเข้าใจเกี่ยวกับว่า kh กับ k แตกต่างกันอย่างไรครับ การเขียน ก ไก่ เป็นตัว g ก็แก้ไขปัญหานี้ได้ครับ ส่วนเรื่อง ป กับ บ คุณไม่เคยต้องมาทำความใจเกี่ยวกับเรื่องนี้เพราะคุณเป็นเจ้าของภาษาไทยครับ คุณพูดได้อย่างถูกต้องโดยธรรมชาติ การท่องอะไรจากหนังสือภาษาศาสตร์มาพูดให้ฝรั่งฟังก็ไม่ได้ช่วยให้เขาเข้าใจนอกจากว่าเขาเป็นนักภาษาศาสตร์ซึ่งมีน้อยมาก สวยน้อยยังไม่เข้าใจคำว่า lips popping เลย จะมาเถียงได้ไง

  25. เจ้าของภาษาไทย ?? ไม่ใช่
    เสือน้อยเป็นเจ้าของป่าดง

  26. อ๋อ เข้าใจแล้ว ชื่อเสือน้อย ผมไม่เคยอวดอ้างว่าผมเป็นเจ้าของภาษาไทย จริงๆแล้วทุกสิ่งทุกอย่างที่ผมสอนมาจากคนไทยโดยตรงครับ ผมแค่พยายามอธิบายให้มันง่ายสำหรับฝรั่งคนอื่น คุณก็ไม่ใช่เจ้าของภาษาอังกฤษ ดังนั้นถ้าคุณไม่เข้าใจคำอธิบายของผมก็ไม่ได้หมายถึงว่าฝรั่งจะไม่เข้าใจครับ คุณอาจจะบอกว่าอย่าเหมารวมเพราะฝรั่งมีหลายชาติและมีหลายภาษาซึ่งก็จริง แต่ภาษาที่สองที่เมืองไทยคือภาษาอังกฤษนะครับ ใครๆก็ใช้ภาษาอังกฤษในการสอนฝรั่งพูดไทยไม่ว่าฝรั่งเป็นคนชาติไหนก็ตามครับ

  27. คุณเป็นเจ้าของทิฐิมานะ

  28. คุณอยากจะด่ายังไงก็เรื่องของคุณ ผมนึกว่าเราโต้วาทีกันเฉยๆ แต่คุณยอมรับความจริงไม่ได้ก็เลยมาด่าผมว่าเป็นเจ้าของทิฐิมานะ อิอิ

  29. I go back to my poor English, everybody has to know : I have eventually understood how you came to the lip popping story : as the p is unvoiced you hear your lips losing contact before the vowel begins, but with the voiced b your vocal cords are already vibrating so it covers the sound “pop” of your lips losing contact.
    Yeeaaaah !!!! Mystery solved !!! Yeah greash greash, let’s go drink a Guinness !!

  30. Your English is not poor at all! On the contrary, your English is very impressive! I’ve enjoyed our spirited debate and hope you have as well. :)

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