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Wan Or Van

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Thanks, chownah, for getting us back on track.  I understand you to be saying that you don't use Thai alphabet to teach English sounds.  You teach students to speak English by using their voice, mouth, lips, palate, tongue, lungs, etc., correctly.  I teach the 'th' sound by sticking my tongue out too far.  I don't teach the difference between the two 'th' sounds at basic or intermediate.  I teach most 'ph' sounds as a simple /f/ sound so they don't confuse it with a hard 'p'.  I teach that English vowels don't have tones, but English poly-syllabic words and English sentences do have tones of intensity (inflection) or ending (most questions).

The international phonetic alphabet (or your brother-in-laws latest version of it) is just one more incredibly complex alphabet that neither I nor my students have the time nor the desire to learn.

I do use Thai letters in a limited way. For example if a student keeps saying a word using an 'n' sound instead of an 'm' sound I first try to speak it clearly and have them repeat, and then if they still don't get it I'll say "mah ma, not nah noo" which is the Thai equivalent of "say 'm' not 'n'". This works really great but it is useful only for sounds that are the same or very nearly so in both languages and it is not really a necessary technique but it comes in handy occasionally.

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Richard -

at a guess you are American or Canadian.. therefore the word air you actually say the R in it. If you were from NZ, Aussie, England etc it would come across without the R sound.

Therefore, the word fairn; I would write it fairn, I know exactly how it sounds, and yes in that case it does sound and rhyme with fan, ban, man, but if later on I wrote ma, you would probably say that to rhyme with car, lah, fah; whereas in actuality using the fan system of transliteration, it should be said as the Thai word for mother, which I would have written as mair (which is a fairly standard transliteration of sara air)....it all gets far too complex and is a good reason why anyone who is even slightly serious about speaking Thai needs to learn to spell, or forever will get the vowel lengths, tones, and exact vowel pronounciation wrong from time to time. And of course get completely screwed up with dor dek and dtor dtao or bor baimai and bpor bplar...

Regarding teaching english using Thai transliteration; I see no more similarity between F sound and W sound to V... and a fair few europeans interchange the W and the V round the wrong way (e.g. is it vell icy in the walley)... better to instruct someone how to say it right by forcing them to manually construct the shape of their mouth to get it right first time.

Same for the ends of words; and especially plurals.

It is much the same for the butchering of Thai by westerners (including myself). Some words I know to use Dtor Dtao for instance, but I honestly cannot hear the difference when some people speak with the rhyming word using dor dek; nevertheless I know when to use which and I make my mouth form the shape right; out it comes and people say I am saying something right that I cannot hear any difference in. Mind you, I am tone deaf from too much drum and bass, so that is probably a lesson in itself.

Limited use of writing Thai helps get over a few humps probably; longer term, teaching the right way to say things is probably best.

And having volunteered to teach english for a few terms at a temple school... if you cannot speak Thai I think you'd have to be a gifted comedian or similar to teach well at a level below about beginner-intermediate, and especially for kids. To keep things interesting, in sport, or whatever, there have to be a few wins and fun along the way; doing phsysical comedy would be one way; learning a few jokes and translating them, or songs and explaining the meaning is another. But then again, I am not a good english teacher, I am sure of that much!

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I'm helping my wife learn English. It is much easier to teach her to use the "f" sound in place of the "v" sound than to try to get her to say the "v" sound the way an American would.

As you stated earlier, "dtor dtao" and "dor dek" are hard for you to hear when some Thai people use words with those consonants.

The difference between "v" and "f" are also difficult for some Thai people when they here some farangs speak as well.

Lets say your teaching a class and you want the children to spell what you say using Thai letters. You say the word "van". Would they spell it "แวน" or "แฟน"?

I think its easier to get early Thai learners of English close to the right way to say "V" than to confuse them by teaching its a "W" sound.

Even the older matayom students I run across still use "W" in place of the "V".

I'm not a great English teacher either but it is fun exploring the different aspects of the Thai and English languages. Good luck to you and your classes.

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Try getting her to make the F sound and hold it....which is just the air going through; then get her to hum at the sound time...there you have it V! That's the way I have taught people to speak english properlee, and that is also the way I know to say, as in your example, dor dek and dtor dtao correctly; just by physically getting it right.

I would write van as wairn in Thai, since that is the correct transliteration. But teaching someone correct english, well then I would not write it in Thai at all and write it in english - point taken though - I think there is no easy or right way early on.

FYI I tried the teaching thing as a chance to give something back to the community; taught for free for a year at a temple school as I was making considerable money working part time at the time, and thought I might as well fill in the rest of my day.

However, I can honestly say, that is a TOUGH job; I could not imagine doing it full time for a long time without coronary problems; I know I teach snowboarding and various sports well enough, and apparently I could teach english ok, but I know the amount of effort put in just was too much. maybe if I feel generous again in future, I might do it again though...it was nice to have a few kids learn some stuff and also to exchange some jokes with them :-) :o

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