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Experiences learning Thai


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suMMit
On 2/5/2021 at 11:51 PM, StChris said:

when learning Thai

Just out of curiosity, what is your take on learning Thai vs. Mandarin? Was one easier? Do you prefer one or the other? Did learning a previous tonal language help you? influence you chinese tones in a weird way? Which did you achieve to a higher level? I don't know any Thai other than Singha and Chang.

 

Moderator note: This topic is split from here. Please do continue the discussion in this new thread.

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StChris
12 hours ago, suMMit said:

Just out of curiosity, what is your take on learning Thai vs. Mandarin? Was one easier? Do you prefer one or the other? Did learning a previous tonal language help you? influence you chinese tones in a weird way? Which did you achieve to a higher level? I don't know any Thai other than Singha and Chang.

 

Chinese was easier for me, for a variety of reasons:

- more learning materials available for Chinese (don't know how it is now, but you were pretty much on your own after finishing beginner materials when I was studying Thai)

- I was more confident and knew what worked for me after having already studied Thai

- when I first started learning Thai, I couldn't distinguish the tones at all (we had tests at school, which I always failed miserably at). By the time I started Chinese, I had no problems at all. No negative influence from having learnt Thai tones at all.

 

I was very fluent by the time I left Thailand (in the everyday topics I often engaged in), and had even started reading native books (ableit very slowly and with plenty of vocab lookups).

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abcdefg

I respect that you learned Thai. It's not an easy language to speak, and reading it presents even more challenges. 

 

About 20 years ago I studied Thai for most of one year. Would go there a month at a time and study with a tutor during those visits. Learned the main tourist vocab but never really passed beginner level with all the rest. That was my fault, not the fault of the teachers or the language. I didn't approach it with as much energy and initiative as I should have. Was lax about keeping up my studies after returning home to Texas, where I immediately got consumed by my work. Never learned to read beyond a kindergarden or first-grade level. Kept putting that off. (In retrospect, that was a mistake.) 

 

Ever since when I go there as a tourist, I may use a little Thai ordering in a restaurant or giving directions to a taxi driver, but it is so easy to use English or Chinese that my smattering of Thai continues to deteriorate instead of getting stronger. Chinese has become more and more common as a tourist language in much of Thailand. At least in the places which see a significant number of tourists. 

 

One visit to Chiang Mai was during Chinese New Year and I wound up helping young mainland tourists over and over. They had arrived not knowing Thai and only knowing very little English. They usually had a phrasebook, either paper or electronic, but they frequently got stuck. I enjoyed bailing them out. I was traveling alone that year and it turned out to be an easy way to meet people. 

 

Failing to learn Thai was a missed opportunity. Wish I had worked harder at it. 

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StChris

@abcdefg It's good that Chinese can now be used as a back-up tourist language. I think Chinese is easier for Thai people to grasp than English (although they do tend to have a very strong accent). I actually attended a Chinese language class in Bangkok. One of the exercises was translating Chinese to Thai - an interesting challenge for me!

 

I didn't use Thai at all for many years, but I've recently got in Thai series on Netflix, so I get around 2-3 hours of "listening practice" per week. I'm not studying it seriously, I'm just happy to flex my Thai muscles a little after so much time being dormant.

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