Week 23 of My Six Month Challenge to Become Fluent in Thai
I am now almost at the end of my six month challenge to become fluent in Thai, so it is a good time to evaluate the experience. I’m definitely pleased with my progress, and I don’t regret my decision to put so much effort into learning Thai, but I can also see that I made this more of a challenge than it needed to be.
Have I Achieved My Goal of Thai Fluency?
I like the idea of having ambitious goals because it gets me out of my comfort zone, and this is why I gave myself the target of fluency. Six months ago, I defined fluency as :
1. You can have a long conversation with a stranger on the phone without them realizing you are a foreigner
2. You are as comfortable reading a book in Thai as you are in English
3. You can talk in-depth about almost any subject you are interested in
I’m making good progress with number 3, and I’m well on my way to achieving number 2 (although I think reading Thai as comfortably as English might be unrealistic), but the pizza fiasco a couple of months ago shows I’m nowhere near achieving number 1. To be honest, I struggle speaking in English on the phone, and my hearing isn’t great due to years of listening to loud music with headphones, so maybe I’ll never achieve number 1.
Back in August, I redefined my goal of fluency as being able to make a video where I tell my life story in Thai. This is what I’ve been working on for the last few weeks, and I plan on releasing this video soon.
So, do I speak fluent Thai? I have made significant progress in recent months, but I wouldn’t class myself as fluent and maybe that’s a good thing – I love learning Thai now, a passion I’d lost before the beginning of this challenge, and I don’t want this journey to end.
Learning Thai Doesn’t Need to Be So Much of a Challenge
I developed the idea in childhood that if something comes too easily, it can’t be of much value. I enjoy the struggle, and this means I’m sometimes guilty of making things harder than they need to be.
My approach to learning Thai has been to see it as a challenge, and this has meant that I’ve needed to fight to make progress. I’ve pushed myself to study six hours a day, and I’ve bullied myself to keep going even when it is obvious I’m not absorbing information. The only thing I’ve been fighting has been myself, and it is an unnecessary and fruitless battle – I probably would have made the same amount of progress without pushing myself so hard. I need to stop seeing struggle as a good thing.
When I look at my progress over the last six months, I see that most of the improvements have happened despite me and not because of me. I remember the day when I walked out my door and effortlessly fell into a conversation with my neighbor – this was easy because I wasn’t trying to achieve anything at the time. There have also been so many occasions when I’ve been enjoying the process of learning and things have just clicked.
What Happens After the Challenge?
My six month challenge officially ends in a couple of weeks, but it is not really the end of anything. I will continue to devote a least an hour per day to learning Thai (mostly using the Glossika approach), and I plan to make a number of addiction videos in Thai. I’m also hoping to do the pratom six equivalency exam within the next few years.
I plan to post the video with my life story in Thai in about two/three weeks, and this will officially mark the end of my six month challenge.
Other posts in this series on learning Thai
Week 0- My Quest to Speak Fluent Thai in Six Months
Week 1 -Creating the Right Mental Conditions for Learning Thai
Week 2- Maybe Just Getting Out There and Speaking Thai is Not Enough
Week 3 – 5 Improvements in My Approach to Learning Thai
Week 4 – Generating Enough Passion to Learn Thai
Week 5 – Undoing the Damage from Speaking Thai Badly for Thirteen Years
Week 6 – Early Impressions of Glossika Thai Fluency Course
Week 7 – Introverts Can Learn Thai Too
Week 8 – Winning Strategy for Achieving Fluency in Thai
Week 9 – Thai Fluency in 10,000 Sentences
Week 10 – Problems with Staying Focused Prevent Me from Learning Thai
Week 11 – Importance of Cracking Thai Fundamentals
Week 12 – Painful Lessons while Ordering Pizza in Thai
Week 13- If I Can Become Fluent in Thai, So Can Anyone
Week 14 – How I Make Time to Study Thai
Week 15 – Redefining Fluency After Losing My Way While Learning Thai
Week 16 – My Learn Thai Fitness Challenge
Week 17 – Talking about Myself in Thai
Week 18 – No Need to Force Myself to Speak Thai
Week 19 – 5 Factors that Improve My Ability to Learn Thai
Week 21- Review of My Learning Thai Resources