Thai Fluency in 10,000 Sentences

Sign at Khao Khitchakut

Week 9 of My Six Month Attempt to Speak Fluent Thai

I had a couple of days last week where it felt as if my brain was rebelling against learning Thai. I expected there to be times like this, so I too wasn’t alarmed. I just gave my mind a bit of a rest by focusing more on revising rather than trying to cram more stuff in there. This approach worked and whatever was clogging up the system is now gone.

I keep making alternations to my study schedule in response to my progress. I devote a huge chunk of my time on the Glossika material, but I think this is time well spent. It feels like the right thing to be doing, and I continue to enjoy this course. Last week I was learning 30 new sentences per day, but I’ve cut this back down to 25. I’m now half-way through book 1 of the Glossika Thai fluency course.

10,000 Sentences for Thai Fluency

I heard about the 10,000 sentences approach a few years ago on the A Woman Learning Thai website. I no longer believe that just reading alone is enough to guarantee fluency, but I believe reading out loud can be – so long as I’m using proper pronunciation. By the time I’ve complete the Glossika course, I will have learned 3,000 sentences – and I’m also collecting more sentences to bring this up to 10,000.

My favorite place for mining useful Thai sentences is the Pantip Web Forum – I particularly like the ‘ปัญหาชีวิต’ (life problems) section. I think these posts are the nearest thing we can get to spoken Thai in the written form, and the content is stimulating enough to keep me fascinated (e.g. คุณ รีด กางเกงใน กัน ไหม ครับ ‘should I iron my underpants?). I’m collecting and sentences that interest me, and I add them to a spreadsheet. I then practice reading these sentences out loud – this is in addition to the Glossika material.

Falling Asleep to the Sweet Sound of Thai

I watch Thai TV or movies on my iPad in bed already, but I’ve decided to make more of this period just before sleep. I got the idea from Catherine over A Woman Learning Thai, she has been listening to the Glossika c-files last thing at night. Apparently providing the brain with this material just before going to sleep gives it something to digest for the rest of the night – it makes sense to me.

I’ve taken Catherine’s idea one step further by combining it with a technique I use to encourage lucid dreaming. It basically means putting the body asleep while staying alert through a process of targeted muscle relaxation. My hope is the change in consciousness associated with this state will make it easier for me to absorb some additional Thai – that’s the theory anyway. I’ve been doing this for about five days so far, and it does definitely feel as if the Thai words come easier to my tongue when I wake up – this morning my first thoughts were in Thai, so I take this as a good sign.

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 10 – Problems with Staying Focused Prevent Me from Learning Thai

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13 thoughts on “Thai Fluency in 10,000 Sentences

  1. Paul, sounds like you’re doing well. You might be happy to know, you’ve inspired me to start my own quest for thai fluency. Just finished my first week, not sure I did as much as I wanted but at least I’m using my free time mainly for thai study. Do you find your conversational skills have improved much? Do you find you have more to say? I feel a little bit sharper with my responses now. Before I would find myself stumped for a response and end up just smiling when someone said something to me. Anyways keep up the good work!

    1. Hi James, it’s nice to hear that you are joining in as well. It motivates me to know other people are also getting serious about learning Thai. My conversational skills are definitely improving, but they were pretty brutal before. The Glossika work has been a great help – it just feels like the words come to me easier now. A couple of weeks ago, I was in the garden, and I fell into a conversation with a neighbor – it felt so natural that I didn’t even consider the fact that I was speaking Thai. I’m still a long way from where I want to be, but at least now I know that it is going to be possible for me to get there.

  2. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the article, great read.

    I’m at a point where I can read slowly and trying to develop my vocabulary. As it’s for my own personal use (rather than a need for business for example) I’m most interested in “real” Thai as spoken in the street.

    Pantip is always a minefield for me, any way you could supply a link or two to the ปัญหาชีวิต section you use? My search comes up with many disparate pages.


    1. Hi Seb – here is the link to the ‘ปัญหาชีวิต‘. If you look on the sidebar there on Pantip, you can also choose other related sub-forums such as สุขภาพจิต, and ปัญหาสังคม. I think Pantip is the perfect place for learning real Thai – it’s also fun (much less aggressive than the English-speaking web forums). I find the Thai2English website is great for breaking down sentences I don’t know. I’ve bookmarked the ปัญหาชีวิต part of the website because this is where I always start my sentence mining expeditions 🙂

      I found the iPad app for Pantip to be a bit hard to use, so I prefer to use the browser on this device.

      1. That’s awesome thank you 🙂

        It seems like a lot of fun, I enjoy de-tangling my Thai friend’s Facebook Thai so hopefully this will be more of the same.

  3. I’m doing something similar to your sentence mining project, but my favorite source for sentences is movie subtitles. There are a few advantages in that I can pull Thai audio for the sentences off of a DVD, and I can view the translation for each sentence as well. Not all DVDs are good sources of material though as many of the Thai subtitles don’t follow the Thai audio track, and I like working from the audio track as it’s real spoken Thai. Instead of a spreadsheet I put my sentences along with their audio tracks on web pages. I wish I could share them, and maybe one day I will, but I don’t want to be violating any copyright laws.

    1. Hi Mike, I like the idea of using movie subtitles as well. It would be great if you could share your work, but I think you are right about copyright laws. I’m going to start recording my sentence collection in batches of 50. The easiest person to get to do this would be my wife, but I’d prefer a male voice, so I might pay somebody to do it.

  4. Hi Paul, I only recently discovered your site, thanks to your linking to mine (and was surprised by that…I think you’re the first — and only — person to link to my quirky low-traffic blog — thanks!!).

    I’ve been reading through this series on your push to achieve fluency in Thai in a half year’s time. It sounds like you’ve already gotten quite a lot of exposure to Thai during your considerable time in the country and have pretty good comprehension of the spoken (and written) language, and now you’re just trying to straighten out your speech?

    I admire your enthusiasm and energy. I think language is very complicated, and learning isn’t always so straightforward. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading more about your journey; โชคดี!

    1. Thanks Adam, I enjoy your website, there is a lot of great stuff on there, so I hope you get a lot more traffic – you deserve it.

      Yes – my main focus now is on getting my speech up to scratch. I used to believe Thais were just being too fussy, but I now understand that my pronunciation was way off. I do read Thai reasonably well, but there is not much point in knowing thousands of words when I pronounce most of them wrong 🙂

  5. Paul, thank you for yet another motivational article. It’s a great help.

    “Putting the body asleep while staying alert through a process of targeted muscle relaxation. My hope is the change in consciousness associated with this state will make it easier for me to absorb some additional Thai”

    I have an audio (speed sleep) that takes me through stretches when I’m having trouble getting to sleep – is that what you mean? The kind that starts at your toes then works up?

  6. I routinely read the Pantip, Dek-D and Sanook forums. They’re good to get a feel of what the thai youth of today is thinking and talking about.

    I dunno about the posters on Pantip being less aggressive than English speaking web forums. Those kidz routinely use profanity, sexual slang, double-entendre, spoonerisms and slam each other pretty hard just like we do on our forums.

    Still they are a good resource to read Thai more as it’s really spoken compared to the “spoon-fed” tripe we’re taught in Thai language schools the country over.

    I stumbled across a forum called ladyinter which isn’t that bad either.

    As far as reading, you’ll progress faster reading what you have an interest in period! Nothing can suck the life out of your motivation to learn quicker than reading “a day in the life of Somchai the rice farmer in Nakhon Nowhere”.

    That free newspaper M2F is another good resource to pick up and read. It covers the headlines of the day and it’s written in pretty low level of Thai.

    I buy the Thai versions of Playboy, Penthouse, Maxim, Mix, Rush, Stuff & Science Illustrated every month. I also buy the magazine I Get English, which is geared towards teaching Thaiz English but can be used in reverse to learn Thai just as easily. Those magazines are a gold mine of useful vocabulary you’re never gonna learn in a language school and they’re written for the masses so the thai ain’t that hard-core.

    Good Luck, stick with it..

    1. Thanks Tod, I’ll be sure to check out some of those resources you mentioned. In the past, I’ve tried to read proper books in Thai, but I always give up after a few chapters – maybe one day. I think the forum format suits me better at the moment, but I haven’t really looked at Dek-D or Sanook forums. I never heard about that M2f newspaper and that definitely sounds interesting.

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