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BANGKOK 19 August 2019 19:25
CALSinCM

Strategies for developing Thai listening skills

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I've been here long enough that I should be able to converse with Thais better.  My biggest problem is understanding what other people are saying.  I have a fairly broad vocabulary myself and can read and write at about a grade 3+ level - but - I can't understand what Thais are saying. 

So, a question to those who can converse in Thai.  How did you gain that level of proficiency? 

This is a real hump in my learning.  I know what I want to say and I can say it, but I fall flat because often I can only understand the basic gist of what the person I'm talking to is saying.  Immersion, like just conversing with Thais, isn't working for me.  I've been doing this for years and I'm going nowhere. 

So I'm looking for learning strategies to become much more proficient at understanding spoken Thai as my listening skills are really poor. 

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It is not likely your listening skills... I have the same issue, but to a lesser extent. My vocabulary is good enough to say near anything I want and be easily understood. However, there might be many ways to respond that have the same meaning. 

 

Since I speak well, they respond to me as if a native speaker and my comprehension can be lacking because I may not know the many many different possible responses. 

 

As to the comprehension, I might know all the words but have trouble putting them together quickly to make sense of them as a sentence. My mind will also stop on a word I do not know and then the rest of the words whizz by as I try and grasp the one I do not know...

 

I am not book learned, also been living in a small village/city and it just takes time. Be more aware of the many ways to convey the same meaning... good luck. I have been at it for 20 years now - it takes time or some schooling. You need a larger vocabulary. Good luck - I have really enjoyed learning and using the language. 

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I have the same problem.

Maybe try some Thai soap operas on Youtube which have English translations or Thai subtitles. By replaying the difficult sections, you should be able to work out the Thai.

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My guess is it is just a time issue

 

Meaning it still takes time for your listening to translate Thai to English

That causes you to fall behind the speaker because while your translating 10 more words flew by

But if you can grab the gist of the statement that is usually enough even if you didn't catch every word

 

I think eventually that gets better but in the meantime I always ask if they can speak slower for me

(not that it always cures the problem 🙂 )

Edited by mania

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I'm only at the beginner level in Thai, about to move to intermediate, but at the advanced level in Spanish and Portuguese. I had the same problem as the OP. I bought a bunch of audio CD's with short stories/children's stories/folklore and listened to them over and over until I was sick of them and they were wearing out. Then I listened some more. Some stories I took the time to translate to written English which required hitting the pause and rewind buttons a lot. Also bought movies and TV series and watched them over and over. I found that no matter how many times I listened, I always picked out just a few more words that I never was able to before. It really helped.

Edited by ColeBOzbourne
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It's all about practice. Do you have conversations (more complex than "hi" and "fried rice please") with Thai people every day?

I'm probably quite the opposite. I never studied at a school and i learned Thai in every day life. My vocabulary is limited to the topic in which i'm interested, but in these topics i don't have any problems to have a conversation with a Thai speaker.

For example with my girlfriend i speak nearly exclusively Thai, this does of course give me a lot of practice. You probably also have a Thai partner, do you speak Thai or English with her?

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For me it's irritating that native speakers can't/won't slow down their speech when requested.

Like all languages, rapid speech jumbles all the words into one long utterance, mixes in idioms, colloquial expressions and dialect variations, and, on enquiry, may actually be Lao rather than Thai.

Good luck to the OP and well done to those posters who persevered.

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