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JohnBarleycorn

After Age 60: Is it possible to learn to Read and Speak Thai? And, Is it Worth the Effort?

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I'm putting my daily effort into Italian. There is a little more art and culture in Italy (sarcasm warning), and that's where I would prefer to die (but not from Covid). However I do know enough Thai to tell the taxi driver to turn right or turn left.

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On 6/3/2020 at 5:25 AM, bkk6060 said:

No.

Waste of time especially if you travel around the country.  The dialects are different Thais lets say in the north, cannot understand everthing a Bangkok Thai says.

Soooo true . I have picked up some Thai and live in the north east of Thailand where there is a hybrid of Thai and Cambodian spoken . When I attempt to speak in my best Thai they often look at me with their mouths open and say mai kao-jai ( not understand ) and then giggle . Getting the words right is one thing but then there has to be the right tone as one word can have several meanings , kao-jai mai 🤔

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Go to youtube and find someone you like and understand; there are many free language courses there to experience. Then if you learn just one phrase a week within a short time you will be able to converse in everyday social language..  I would learn to speak conversational Thai first and then tackle the written word but that is just my opinion..

 

This group seems to do a good job and are funny to listen to

 

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6 hours ago, olfu said:

I speak universal language called money.

This actually is a totally fascinating subject... what people do with it, how they feel about it, savings vs spending, even being here and dealing w/exchange rates... is money for spending or for security? 

 

I was back in USA, maybe abt 2009 and a friend had been driving me around. I offered to fill his tank and was shocked when the bill came to $50... I guess I was expecting $20 from the last time I drove in USA many years prior... it was painful to pay this... 

 

Then I returned to Thailand and filled up my tank as usual w/no discomfort - then realized that at 1500 baht, it was the same $50... and no pain, no discomfort because I did it about once a week... 

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1 hour ago, cyril sneer said:

I learned the numbers to lesson the chance of getting screwed over every time I pay for something

My experience has been that Thais are honest (and always polite). They tell me when I accidentally pay ha roi instead of ha sip. Maybe dishonesty is more likely in the big smoke?

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On 6/3/2020 at 5:39 AM, JohnBarleycorn said:
On 6/3/2020 at 5:25 AM, bkk6060 said:

No.

Waste of time especially if you travel around the country.  The dialects are different Thais lets say in the north, cannot understand everthing a Bangkok Thai says.

Traveling around Thammasat, how many dialects do you think you might hear.  And yet, most students at Thammasat are from Thailand.

 

I doubt he's spending much time talking to the type of person who goes to Thammasat.  

 

Well done on learning Thai, I've been here 12 years and just haven't put any time into trying to learn. 
I can get by when I need to use Thai which is basically just taxis.  I have 7 Thai staff, 4 of who don't speak any English.  I sit in an office with the 3 who do speak English so of course we just speak English together.  

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1 hour ago, DUNROAMIN said:

For me no chance, at 67 have memory of a sieve and have problem with hearing certain tones, which is important in Thai language. Can remember the basics. 

Oh come on Dunroamin, you seem very intelligent, I sure if you really wanted to learn thai you could, many people say can't when they really mean 'don't want'

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On 6/3/2020 at 4:24 AM, JohnBarleycorn said:

If you are serious about learning the Thai language, then you should let your mother know.

If she is as wonderful as you say she is, then she will help you learn Thai.

There are very few people in Thailand who are not very willing to help others learn their language.

If you wish to let your mother know that you are serious about learning Thai, then please begin by learning 1000 basic Thai vocabulary words. If you can do this, then I guarantee that your mother will take your Thai-language learning project much more seriously.

When I first arrived in Thailand and was living with a lovely very well educated Thai Lady (whom I subsequently married), who speaks excellent English as well of course Thai.  One of her degrees is in Thai Language and Culture.  I felt that since we were going to make our life in Thailand, I should learn Thai, so that I could communicate with all her Family and Friends, many of who do not speak English.  I embarked on a couple of courses and was getting along quite well, and suggested to my Wife, to improve both my learning and retention skills of Thai, we should start speaking Thai at home.  No, no she says, I will forget my English.  Being the weak willed character I am, I stopped learning and now find that when my Wife is talking Thai to her Friends, I "tune out" because I can't follow the conversation.  I  keep telling myself to "buck up" and start learning again and to ignore my lovely Wife's advice about not speaking Thai at home, but something always seems to come up and disrups my plans........."hello Coronor Virus do you know you are distupting my desire to get back on the Thai learning Band Wagon again?'  And so it goes on.  I can speak a bit of Thai, but no where near as much as I should be able to speak, having lived in this lovey Country for 15 years.  So hopefully after isolation, I will pull up my socks and crack on with it...........I hope!

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I’ve been struggling with learning Thai for an embarrassingly long time. I can read simple Thai with the aid of a dictionary (I’m well into the Lemony Snickett children’s book series), and I can follow the plots and enjoy the books (as far as it’s possible to enjoy books written for children).

 

However, I find speaking and understanding spoken Thai to be hopelessly difficult. I don’t think it’s the tones, I can distinguish most of the individual words in a Thai news bulletin, it’s just that I find that the way the words are strung together is impossible to decode in real time, as Thai grammar’s so alien compared to English. Without exaggeration, I’d say that I’ve found Thai to be 20 times harder than French, which is the only other foreign language that I’ve attempted to learn.

 

I’m continuing to read Thai, as it’s an enjoyable mental challenge in my old age, but I’ve given up on any idea of being able to have anything other than the simplest of conversations.

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In the small town near here so expats from different countries would get together late afternoon sitting at table drinking a couple 

beers... when dusk everyone would home. 

 

There was elderly Thai lady that came and taught basic Thai to 

the Expats. Usually 3-6 people showed upon a regular basis. Her

English was good and really she wanted to sit around drink a beer

That someone buy for her... It was enjoyable for both.... 

 

One day she came by and said Locals told her not to Farang Thai...

unfortunate...  still see her around on bicycle for four years + now.

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Have not read all of the posts so might be repeating someone else. There are advantages in NOT learning Thai:

The wife is a talker and would drive me crazy if I had to listen to her all day.

Do not have to listen to any of the family and village gossip.

Do not have to try to understand when 2 or 3 drunk Thais are talking to you at the same time.

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arrived in retirement at age 64 1/2. Took the first e courses in Thai language at the YMCA befor hitting a wall. Met a Thai girl wanting to learn more English and ... that is about where I am after 8 years ....

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If I know that I am going to be in one place for a few months or longer I will make sure to learn the basics, ie How much is this ? how do I get to ? etc, but one very sad aspect of learning Thai (and I have not experienced this phenomenon in other languages) is that you will pick up many disparaging things they will say about you, thinking that you know not one word of Thai. Many Thais are taught at school from a very early age that they are the world,s superior race (honestly, not joking) and many of them actually believe it, even though the educational standard here is extremely poor. Yet an uneducated Thai will think nothing of calling you stupid because they can speak Thai and you cannot ! Also on many occasions a Farang will go into a shop and order something. The sales girl/waitress then calls the cashier and say "IT wants a cup of coffee" ! Using a term normally used for dogs ! Mun ow cafe ! Whenever this happens I just say change of mind and leave 🙂 I know many people who deliberately do not learn Thai because of this.

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