Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

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HHTel
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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by HHTel » Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:15 am

Yep. Definitely hit the 'funny bone'

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Jesse » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:11 am

I agree with the concept that some people seem to have an easier time "mastering" the Thai language. But I don't think one has to "master" the language to get a tremendous benefit while living in Thailand. Simply developing a low to mid-level of proficiency has really enhanced my experience living in Thailand. There are 4 distinct aspects or dimensions of learning a language (listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing). During the course of learning a language it is normal for a person's skill / proficiency level to be different in each of these dimensions at any given point of time. I realize that most things are easier in retrospect, but I'm convinced by my own studies that reading and writing Thai are fairly easy skills to acquire and actually lend themselves quite nicely to self-study (without formal instruction) using books and materials readily available at most bookstores. Having said that, I highly recommend enrolling in a formal course of study, in a classroom setting with a teacher, as this makes the experience faster and more enjoyable. After 3.5 years of formal classes at Sirada I would rate my skills on a scale of 1 - 10 as follows (listening comprehension - 4 or 5, speaking - 6, reading - 8 or 9 and writing - 7). I'm pretty proud of what I've learned so far and look forward to continuing my studies in the future as it's inexpensive, rewarding, not time consuming, a bit of a social activity and enhances my living in Thailand on a daily basis. The one thing I would change if I could do it all over again would be to insist on studying reading and writing first, instead of spending 3 months in the beginning speaking classes. It's much better to learn a new word and be able to mentally visualize it in the Thai script instead of in transliterated English alphabet because if you can "see" it in Thai then you know how to speak it using the correct tones, once you learn the tone rules. I can't say enough good things about the teachers, staff, facilities and course of study at Sirada, highly recommended ! Now that I think about it I realize there is a 5th dimension to language study, acquisition / expansion of vocabulary. This is probably harder to rate on a scale as I think it's a never ending thing.

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Name Taken » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:41 am

Homer wrote:Don't feed the troll.
:agree:

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by aragon » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:32 am

Jesse wrote:After 3.5 years of formal classes at Sirada I would rate my skills on a scale of 1 - 10 as follows (listening comprehension - 4 or 5, speaking - 6, reading - 8 or 9 and writing - 7).
I see that Sirada's Thai language courses are in 20 hour (10 x 2 hour lessons @ 2 lessons/week = 5 weeks of study) segments, so approximately how many courses have you enrolled in over the 3.5 years you have been studying to achieve your current level?

This is obviously purely a matter of idle interest, as what takes one person 10 courses to achieve, may take another 5 courses and another 20 courses. :cheers:
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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Jesse » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:47 am

aragon wrote:
I see that Sirada's Thai language courses are in 20 hour (10 x 2 hour lessons @ 2 lessons/week = 5 weeks of study) segments, so approximately how many courses have you enrolled in over the 3.5 years you have been studying
I was keeping accurate track of this until sometime last winter. I last documented having completed 31 "terms", each 5 weeks long with a 1 week break in between, so each term covers a 6 week period. I now have several more under my belt but I've lost count of exactly how many. I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Big Boy » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:50 am

My son has been attending Sirada (Hua Hin) for well over 4 years. He was fluent (speaking) within a year. Reading and writing took a little longer, but he finished the entirety of the set courses. He is now doing special customised courses like business Thai. However, he left many of his fellow students behind on the way.

Personally, I fall in to the too lazy/gave up bracket. Do I find it humiliating? Not at all. Would my quality of life living in Thailand be enhanced? Probably, but not enough to make me want to learn. However, I do have the greatest respect for those who have made the effort.

I was with a friend at a motorcycle rental shop a couple of weeks ago. He was with his Cambodian girlfriend. He is an expert linguist, and fluent in Thai. The lady at the shop would not listen to my friend, and insisted upon talking to his Thai looking Cambodian girlfriend, who knows less Thai than me (and that is saying something). It just made me think, what's the point? This Thai business woman, whose main task is renting bikes to Farangs, would not even attempt to speak to a fluent Thai speaker because of the colour of his skin.
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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Jesse » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:07 am

An added benefit of the formal classes is a much deeper understanding of cultural, travel, current news, and political events as well as timely notification of upcoming festivals, concerts and seasonal recreational opportunities as these often come up as classroom topics. Things like the recent bombings are covered much better in the Thai news sources than in the English language sources and it really helps to have a Thai teacher explain and answer questions about these type of things, as well as provide interesting study topics for the class. A minor example of a cultural issue is that many black cars have stickers (only in Thai) saying "this car is white", or red cars have stickers saying "this car is green" or some other color car having a Thai language sticker saying the color of that car is some color other than the true color. Once I learned to read Thai I see these stickers on many many cars. The explanation is very interesting and insightful in understanding the different cultural aspects of how Thais think and view things. This is a very minor example but a good one to show how learning to read opens up new avenues of understanding.

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Big Boy » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:30 am

There is also the aspect where Thais don't want people to know what they're saying. That doesn't only apply to us Farangs.

I've seen my wife and her friends from Isaan totally cut other Thais from the conversation by switching from Thai to Laos. I've also seen it done to my wife in various parts of Thailand where there is another dialect.

My son's girlfriend also speaks Khmer, and she often switches to that, especially when there are others around of the same ability.

Yes, it's a novelty to Thais when a Farang has mastered their language, but I see the dialects switch so frequently, it must be very frustrating to somebody who has bothered to learn Thai, but still can't participate in the conversation. Thai is the common language, they all speak it, so why not use it? The answer, they often don't want people to know what is being said. Very ignorant in my opinion.

I used to find it just as frustrating visiting friends in Wales, when the language would suddenly turn to Welsh.

I think I'm happier being the way I am. If I concentrate, I can usually follow a conversation without the speakers knowing that I know what they're saying. At least I'm not deliberately excluded that way.
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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Name Taken » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:31 am

Jesse wrote:An added benefit of the formal classes is a much deeper understanding of cultural, travel, current news, and political events as well as timely notification of upcoming festivals, concerts and seasonal recreational opportunities as these often come up as classroom topics. Things like the recent bombings are covered much better in the Thai news sources than in the English language sources and it really helps to have a Thai teacher explain and answer questions about these type of things, as well as provide interesting study topics for the class. A minor example of a cultural issue is that many black cars have stickers (only in Thai) saying "this car is white", or red cars have stickers saying "this car is green" or some other color car having a Thai language sticker saying the color of that car is some color other than the true color. Once I learned to read Thai I see these stickers on many many cars. The explanation is very interesting and insightful in understanding the different cultural aspects of how Thais think and view things. This is a very minor example but a good one to show how learning to read opens up new avenues of understanding.
So why do cars have stickers saying the color of that car is some color other than the true color?

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Jesse » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:55 am

Name Taken wrote: So why do cars have stickers saying the color of that car is some color other than the true color?
It's a superstition thing. Thais believe that some things bring good luck, some bring bad. For individual people, being born on a particular day of the week, or certain numbers bring good luck. Same with colors, maybe you got a good deal on a black car, or maybe you previously thought that black was your lucky color. But after having a fender bender you decide the current color isn't lucky after all, so you change your luck by putting on a sticker that proclaims the color to be something different. Thais also believe that all cars have what we would call a guardian angel, perhaps this belief is tied into the changing of the color, I'm not really sure.

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by sidthesloth » Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:28 am

Jesse wrote:I agree with the concept that some people seem to have an easier time "mastering" the Thai language. But I don't think one has to "master" the language to get a tremendous benefit while living in Thailand. Simply developing a low to mid-level of proficiency has really enhanced my experience living in Thailand. There are 4 distinct aspects or dimensions of learning a language (listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing). During the course of learning a language it is normal for a person's skill / proficiency level to be different in each of these dimensions at any given point of time. I realize that most things are easier in retrospect, but I'm convinced by my own studies that reading and writing Thai are fairly easy skills to acquire and actually lend themselves quite nicely to self-study (without formal instruction) using books and materials readily available at most bookstores. Having said that, I highly recommend enrolling in a formal course of study, in a classroom setting with a teacher, as this makes the experience faster and more enjoyable. After 3.5 years of formal classes at Sirada I would rate my skills on a scale of 1 - 10 as follows (listening comprehension - 4 or 5, speaking - 6, reading - 8 or 9 and writing - 7). I'm pretty proud of what I've learned so far and look forward to continuing my studies in the future as it's inexpensive, rewarding, not time consuming, a bit of a social activity and enhances my living in Thailand on a daily basis. The one thing I would change if I could do it all over again would be to insist on studying reading and writing first, instead of spending 3 months in the beginning speaking classes. It's much better to learn a new word and be able to mentally visualize it in the Thai script instead of in transliterated English alphabet because if you can "see" it in Thai then you know how to speak it using the correct tones, once you learn the tone rules. I can't say enough good things about the teachers, staff, facilities and course of study at Sirada, highly recommended ! Now that I think about it I realize there is a 5th dimension to language study, acquisition / expansion of vocabulary. This is probably harder to rate on a scale as I think it's a never ending thing.
:cheers:

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by migrant » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:29 pm

Big Boy wrote: It just made me think, what's the point? This Thai business woman, whose main task is renting bikes to Farangs, would not even attempt to speak to a fluent Thai speaker because of the colour of his skin.
I've also seen this happen, along with Thai's who simply ignore a falang. It is not often in my experience and I just chalk it off to another rude person, there is some in every country.
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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by sidthesloth » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:36 pm

migrant wrote:
Big Boy wrote: It just made me think, what's the point? This Thai business woman, whose main task is renting bikes to Farangs, would not even attempt to speak to a fluent Thai speaker because of the colour of his skin.
I've also seen this happen, along with Thai's who simply ignore a falang. It is not often in my experience and I just chalk it off to another rude person, there is some in every country.
If your Thai is good enough, you can call that person out on their bullshit.

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by RCer » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:06 pm

Written words still have sound, even if only heard in your head. In my case, I have severe tinnitus which prevents me from hearing the tones necessary to attach meaning or inflection.

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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Jesse » Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:04 pm

RCer wrote:Written words still have sound, even if only heard in your head. In my case, I have severe tinnitus which prevents me from hearing the tones necessary to attach meaning or inflection.
I think most, maybe all, farang struggle with the tones, both speaking them properly and hearing them properly. I know I do. You might find that your tinnitus isn't all that much of an issue since the odds are that most of your fellow students also struggle with the tones, maybe even more than you even though they might not have tinnitus. Like most things, improvement comes with practice and often mine comes slowly. I'm not sure but the tinnitus might not be an issue should you decide to take on reading and writing. Another thing I've noticed, when Thais speak their mouths are much more animated, more active than a native English speaker. My theory is that this is necessary to quickly move between the various sounds and combinations of sounds of their language that don't exist in English. Try observing this yourself sometime, focus on watching their mouths when 2 Thais talk. Since our mouths aren't as nimble and dexterous as their language has required theirs to become, I sometimes have more trouble understanding a farang speaking Thai than I do understanding my Thai teacher. Or maybe it's just the various dialects of the English speakers, I'm not really sure. But my theory is that a stiff upper lip is not a good thing when trying to speak Thai :)

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