With this post, I want to give Thai Learners some tips for learning Thai (or keeping up with Thai for that matter) OUTSIDE of the kingdom. We all know that learning Thai in Thailand is a lot easier and blah blah blah, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. Read on and keep the following pointers in mind:
1: Find Thai People Around You.
Probably the most self-explanatory of the bunch. Find Thai People around you to speak with. Practice makes perfect and while it is easy to find people around when you are in Thailand it might be a tad harder while living abroad. The good news is that there are always Thai people abroad. I met Thai people in France, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, they basically are everywhere. You can find them in Thai Restaurants, meet up with them in asian non-food stores and around Songkran or Loy Kratong (I don’t really care about transliteration I am sorry) there are huge parties organized by Thai people.
Thai People like it whenever you speak their language and that holds true abroad as well. Prepare to get invited to their homes for diner, make some new friends and start practicing the language with real native speakers. There are no drawbacks here, only advantages for you as a language learners.
What I found harder, personally, is the fact that I meet one Thai guy for every 9 women, so mostly I am talking with women while I also like to speak with guys. If you can find Thai guys abroad you get bonus points, especially if they are around your age.
2: Use the internet, social media and modern day technology
We all know those people who say Facebook is useless and people are just staring at their cellphone’s screen, wasting their time and whatnot. I will tell you right off the bat; it’s not. Facebook is one of the most incredibly useful inventions for language learners. There is absolutely no easier way to get in touch with Thai people than Facebook. While people tell you that you are just looking at a screen, wasting your time with Facebook (while carrying on with their conversation about tuning their car or whatever) you are actually learning a language. You -the language learner- are talking in Thai with Native speakers or reading in Thai. So, how do you set this up?
There are a lot of nice Thai Facebook pages that you can like per example. What this does for you is providing you daily feeds on your Facebook wall that you can read through. Here you will have your daily reading practice. Also you can add a lot of Thai buddies to your friendlist, start reading their feeds (and conversations) and talk with them online. You will probably need a Thai keyboard but that shouldn’t be a problem. For Android I am using the following:
There is a lot more to this. With Skype you can actually talk with native speakers and keep practicing. It is also possible to get guidance from online teachers. Our group has a couple of them and you might want to head over to the products & services to read reviews and to our teacher section for interviews.
Further on there is youtube so that you can watch videos over there. There is just a whole lot on the internet really and if you are not using it to your advantage you should start right now!
3: Find Thai Books or order them online
Reading is an important part of learning and keeping up with Thai. Finding books abroad could prove to be a hassle but I found finding magazines pretty easy. In non-food stores they usually sell newspapers or magazines from all over Asia and I found Thai magazines right there. Whenever I go to Thailand for holidays I’ll buy a huge bunch of books to read. There are 2 kind of books though; there are books for learning Thai (Thai for beginners comes to mind) and there are books for practicing Thai. The latter are basically novels, magazines or anything else that YOU personally find interesting to read.
There are no rules here but one piece of advice would be to read whatever you like reading in your own native language. To me personally that would be gaming magazines, cartoons, and novels (sci-fi). I remember that very special moment I actually found Super Mario magazines in Thailand and I purchased a whole collection of them without ever thinking about it. I also got a DOTA magazine that explains all the heroes and their powers and I never regret buying that either.
The lesson here is to read whatever you like to read in your native language and that brings me to the following:
4: Adjust your lifestyle
If you live abroad and you never read Thai, never listen to Thai, never speak Thai you are not going to learn Thai. You will need to adjust your lifestyle a little bit in order to improve or learn. This sounds like a really big step but to be honest it is not. No guy I know ever complained about having to talk with Thai women, watching movies, reading gaming or sport magazines or just having a nice time in general with the Thai language,
So the conclusion is: You are not bad in Thai because you don’t live in Thai. There are people who do live in Thailand but can hardly say anything. The reason people are not keeping up is because they don’t spend enough time with the Thai language. If you can’t speak Thai you are just not speaking enough. If you can’t understand Thai you are not listening enough. If you can’t read you are not reading enough and if you can’t write – well you can guess why already. Learning a language does never happen by itself.
5: Drop negative Thinking
Another – often overlooked – piece of advice would be the “I can never do it” mindset. It’s a tough one and I used to think like that, maybe I still do, but in a more fun positive way nowadays. I laugh at my mistakes and by doing that I learn from them. This is not a race or a contest. Always look at the established Thai learners like people you can learn from as opposed to people you can never be or who’s jedi skill levels you can never match. Further on, there are always excuses and I think I used them all – or at least a fair bit- in my life, over the course of time .
The problem I had with my negative thinking was the fact that I lost the fun in learning at one point. Never lose the fun! If it isn’t fun you aren’t learning. It is impossible to learn if you don’t have any fun. This goes with everything in life. People who are genuinly interested and have fun, will learn faster than people who find it a drag and a terrible experience. A kid who does not want to learn to play the Piano will not learn how to play the Piano unless you have a miracle talent but I am just a plain guy without any special talents and x-men superpowers.
The advice to find things that you like to do and convert this is one of the best things I learned over the years. If I read a Thai book about say; gardening then I am going to drop it. Why? Because to me it is not interesting at all. It will create negative thinking and associates Thai learning with boredom. I don’t want to be bored, I want to be entertained and learn in the process.
6: Many people did it so why can’t you?
No reason really. You can do it too! Keep going and just have fun. The world, wherever you are, is a playground and you should use it to your own benefit!
Tell me what you thought and if you agreed with the points. Thank you for reading!