Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

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

Post by Dannie Boy » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:34 am

oakdale160 wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:27 am
Foreigners find Vietnamese easier to master than Thai. VNese is written in roman letters. The Catholic church had Jesuit missionaries inVN even before it was colonized and the first VN bible was written in Roman script. When it was colonized, by the french, this became the official way of writing VN rather than the Chinese script that had been used previously. Thailand, of course, was never colonized, sorry about that Thailand,
the Japanese nearly did, so you could have been learning ひらがな instead of อักษรไทย

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

Post by handdrummer » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:46 pm

I think that Thailand was colonized by Thais and therein lies the problem.

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

Post by 404cameljockey » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:21 pm

handdrummer wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:46 pm
I think that Thailand was colonized by Thais and therein lies the problem.
Yes I said in another thread somewhere if the British had been here there would have been a money-making canal 200 years ago, a better legal system (not saying no corruption - look at India), and a more outward looking society (with an English speaking society that can see beyond borders). They would have been given their independence around 80 years ago and would not be relying on tourism and sex for their international trade.

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

Post by migrant » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:16 pm

Dannie Boy wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:34 am
oakdale160 wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:27 am
Foreigners find Vietnamese easier to master than Thai. VNese is written in roman letters. The Catholic church had Jesuit missionaries inVN even before it was colonized and the first VN bible was written in Roman script. When it was colonized, by the french, this became the official way of writing VN rather than the Chinese script that had been used previously. Thailand, of course, was never colonized, sorry about that Thailand,
the Japanese nearly did, so you could have been learning ひらがな instead of อักษรไทย
I was learning to read Korean (first wife) and knew the alphabet. Picked up a paper and came across some character I didn't recognize. The ex said "Oh, that's Chinese. We learn about 1,000 characters". I stopped then but still retain enough to make cute Korean waitresses laugh at restaurants. I picked up Korean much easier than any Thai I have learned but I was younger, it isn't a tonal language.
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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by Henry 14th » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:09 pm

There is a teaching school in Bangkok where students go to watch thai teachers ‘act’ out a scene with props, visuals and repetition of words relative to the theme they are teaching.

Students are advised not to try and speak thai but to take in all they see with the hope that after so many classroom hours (a serious number of hours) thai can be spoken and understood clearly by locals.

The theory behind this is that we learn language as babies in this way. At the age of around 2 we begin to understand what is being said and then follow with spoken communication.

It seems like a long winded affair with the learing of a new language but the hard sell at this school is that students who commit to the many many hours of class time do speak and understand the language as a local (written language not fluent but is also addressed during the classes).


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

Post by nil » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:03 pm

I beleive everyone is capable of learning Thai (even though I’m still struggling). Everyone knows “sa-wat-dee” instantly without thinking. So why can’t all words be recognised as easily as this? The words need to be embedded into memory and the neural pathways in your brain rewired so you can recall them without conscious thought. I think repetition and visualisation are key here. Keep listening to the words and associate them with something, the more bizarre the better. You then move from “hang on a second I’ve heard that one before” to instant recall.
It’s certainly easier now with websites and apps available to help learning.

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

Post by Ratsima » Fri Mar 09, 2018 5:54 am

Some people just don’t have what it takes.

In my life I’ve tried to learn five different languages.

I grew up in California and took Spanish in Junior and Senior High and at University. I did well in class, but I’ve never had a conversation with anyone in Spanish.

After university I went into the Peace Corps and had three months of intensive language training in Chuukese, the language spoken in Chuuk (formerly Truk) in Micronesia. I did OK in class, but never reached the point where I could converse with anyone.

I lived for 26 years on Saipan where the local language is Chamorro. I was exposed to Chamorro all the time. My wife was Chamorro. The people who came to my office spoke Chamorro. I never learned more than a few basic phrases.

While on Saipan I tried to learn Japanese because I traveled often to Japan and because there were so many Japanese tourists on Saipan. I can read the Kana alphabets (syllabaries) and ended up learning about 200 Kanji. I can deal with menus and signs, but never had a conversation with anyone in Japanese.

And then came Thai, which I’ve written about in this thread.

Some people just don’t have what it takes.

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

Post by migrant » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:44 am

For me I speak pretty fluent Spanish learned at a younger age when I lived with a Mexican family. At various points I didn't speak Spanish for years then would go to Mexico and it came back pretty quickly, then away again and back same thing.

The Korean I learned was rudimentary and I also retained what I know through periods of no use, even reading the writing.

I've taken some Thai classes and it is not clicking.

Probably not due to the extra gray hairs that have appeared.
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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by laphanphon » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:03 pm

When learning Thai, as new language, you obviously have to use it, quite a bit, or it's not going to stick.

Picking to live in HH, is a bit counter to that, unless forcing yourself to learning, script and conversational, as it simply isn't needed here, HH, or most tourist areas.

If just an occasional visitor, then I wouldn't think anyone would be very successful on learning.
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Re: Why do many expats not bother to learn to read?

Post by oakdale160 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:05 pm

I had a friend who worked for the Dip service of his country. His usual posting was 3-4 years at an embassy. During his career, he had become able to converse in 7 different languages. He was in BKK for 4 years, he feels that Thai was his weakest language.

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

Post by 404cameljockey » Sat Mar 10, 2018 7:49 am

laphanphon wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:03 pm
When learning Thai, as new language, you obviously have to use it, quite a bit, or it's not going to stick.

Picking to live in HH, is a bit counter to that, unless forcing yourself to learning, script and conversational, as it simply isn't needed here, HH, or most tourist areas.

If just an occasional visitor, then I wouldn't think anyone would be very successful on learning.
You definitely hit the nail on the head. People who say they can't learn an Asian language (myself included) probably just have no chance to exercise enough in live situations. Trying to talk about the weather to a shop assistant doesn't cut it. I guess if you have Thai friends that you meet regularly you must have a better chance.

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

Post by GroveHillWanderer » Sat Mar 10, 2018 5:53 pm

Henry 14th wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:09 pm
There is a teaching school in Bangkok where students go to watch thai teachers ‘act’ out a scene with props, visuals and repetition of words relative to the theme they are teaching.

Students are advised not to try and speak thai but to take in all they see with the hope that after so many classroom hours (a serious number of hours) thai can be spoken and understood clearly by locals.

The theory behind this is that we learn language as babies in this way. At the age of around 2 we begin to understand what is being said and then follow with spoken communication.

It seems like a long winded affair with the learing of a new language but the hard sell at this school is that students who commit to the many many hours of class time do speak and understand the language as a local (written language not fluent but is also addressed during the classes).
That's a quite well-known and fairly widely-used language teaching technique. I remember watching a TV programme many years ago that showed the technique being used both in the US to teach students Spanish and in Canada to teach French to English-speaking students. In both places it was claimed that it was proving highly successful and out-performing more traditional methods. Yes, you have to wait a little longer before you see the results but according to the schools that were using this method, it worked out better in the long run.

As well as being more akin to the 'natural way' babies learn language it also relies in the fact that memory is highly contextual. So learning something in conjunction with movements and objects in a physical environment for instance, helps you to remember it better than if you just tried to learn it in isolation. It's a kind of physical, spatial and object-oriented mnemonic, if you like.

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

Post by handdrummer » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:45 pm

I'm a visual learner and reading to learn is difficult. Give me a description of how to do something and I probably won't get it but show me how to do it and I'll learn quickly and remember it. Not a good method for learning languages. European languages are easier due to familiarity with alphabet and many similar words and sounds.

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

Post by nil » Sat Mar 10, 2018 10:20 pm

handdrummer wrote:
Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:45 pm
European languages are easier due to familiarity with alphabet and many similar words and sounds.
Unfortunately although the Thai’s have borrowed a lot of words the pronounciation can be quite different. Coke became ko because they leave the hard endings off words. “Would you like it microwaved?” in 7/11 is “way mai ka”.

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

Post by oakdale160 » Sat Mar 10, 2018 10:37 pm

I was interested to learn that some schools in the UK are starting to teach French in the very early years, to 5 yr olds rather than starting in secondary schools at 11. Anybody have any experience of that with their children or grandchildren.

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