Week 8 of My Six Month Attempt to Speak Fluent Thai
This is a great time to be learning Thai because there are now so many great resources out there. The only problem is I’m tempted to use all of it, but this wouldn’t be practical, and it could even get in the way of my progress. It’s also not necessary. I think the key to success is to pick just a few quality language learning resources and stick with them until they are no longer needed.
I feel like I’ve hit upon my winning strategy for achieving fluency in Thai – I say ‘mine’ not because I’ve invented anything new, but because this approach might not work for everyone. I read somewhere that the polyglot Adam Bradshaw became fluent by reading Thai out loud for an hour a day, and this seems to be the solution I’m moving towards.
I should have spent close to 1,000 hours studying Thai by the end of this six months. This period of intensive study is working for me. I do get days when I feel disheartened, but there is no doubt that I’m making significant progress. I no longer feel those previous 13 years of learning Thai the ‘wrong way’ were wasted. It is just that this period of intense learning was needed for it all to come together.
The Beauty of Reading Thai Out Loud
I see the work I’ve been doing with Stuart Jay Raj as similar to learning how to play chords on the guitar, and the pronunciation drills have been like trying to master different music scales. I’ve still more work to do in both of these areas, but I feel ready to move onto playing some actual songs, and I think this is what reading out loud is all about.
I know the texts in Thai for Advanced Readers by Benjawan Poomsan Becker well from using this book in the past. I used to record myself reading this content years ago but that was back when I thought enthusiasm could make up for lack of proper tones and pronunciation. I am now going back to these texts with a different attitude – I seem them as like songs I’m trying to add to my repertoire.
Reading the material in Thai for Advanced Readers is like revisiting old friends. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to read these texts and know I’m getting the tones and pronunciation right. It’s like playing a song and hitting all the right notes (not that I’ve much experience with this) – it just flows. As soon as I’m able to read a chapter all the way through while hitting all the right notes, I’m ready to move onto the next one.
I know it is possible to be able to read Thai to a fairly high level and still not be able to communicate, but this is not the same as reading out loud. It seems to me that reading aloud is the next best thing to going out there engaging in conversation. I suspect at some stages in our learning it may even be better to read aloud, so long as we are getting the tones and pronunciation right.
I see the work I’m doing during this six months as like a bridge to a more sustainable way of learning Thai. It’s all about making learning the language a natural part of my life, so that further progress doesn’t require so much effort. Some of the changes I’ve made are going to be permanent –it was crazy that I was living in Thailand but focused so much on English language media and entertainment. I also like the idea of reading out loud for an hour a day as my main technique for formal study – by then I’ll be ready for more natural content like newspaper stories.
My Study Routine for Week 8
I continue to love the Glossika approach to studying Thai. I’m learning 30 new sentences per day, and this feels like about the right pace for me (you can check out my exact routine in my last post ).
As part of my Glossika workout, I’m writing out the sentences really fast while listening to the audio and not pausing. One of the unexpected benefits of writing so rapidly is that it is making it easier for me to comprehend Thai handwriting. It’s like that by being forced to write so fast is moving me towards a more natural way of writing – although my own handwriting still looks like the scrawl of a seven year old with attention deficit disorder (a diagnosis I once earned).
I’ve been spending a bit less time on the ดรุณศึกษา pronunciation drills and more time on reading actual texts out loud – 90 minutes a day was starting to feel like a bit too much. I found other pronunciation drills on the Learn Thai from a White Guy website, and I might mix things up by using these as well. I’ll continue with these drills for at least another month, to make sure the tone rules, and proper pronunciation of consonants and vowels, is firmly imbedded in my mind.
I’m still using Cracking Thai Fundamentals to keep me on the straight and narrow – there is an awful lot to the CTF course, so I expect to keep on returning to it.
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 6 – Early Impressions of Glossika Thai Fluency Course
Week 7 – Introverts Can Learn Thai Too
Week- 9 – Thai Fluency in 10,000 Sentences