Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Thai Language Achievement!

I finished my month long language course at the Thai Language Achievement (TLA) school yesterday.

We had an exam at the end of the course, 30 written questions in 50 minutes. The approach to marking seemed a bit lax and I was told I had got either 25 or 26 out of 30 correct. I am not going to complain with that score!

I've really enjoyed the course. I am by no means fluent (the school has 9 month long models for those that want to learn Thai seriously), I think I'm probably the equivalent of being two terms into learning French at school.

The best two things about learning Thai, compared to French and Spanish that I have studied before, is that there are no verb tables to learn and nouns don't have a gender. The absence of tenses means you don't have to learn endless regular and irregular verb tables of the past, present, future, imperfect etc... The tense is implied from the context and/or a fixed particle you may insert into the sentence.

With nouns not having a gender you don't have to worry about whether you need to put le or la before a word.

The two hardest things to learn have been the tones and the use of classifiers. As I mentioned in my previous post, Thai has five tones. Saying the same word with a different tone will mean something completely different. Once you get over how to pronounce the tones, it is difficult to remember the associated tone with each word and hearing them when native Thais speak quickly to you. Sometimes I swear they aren't using tones!

Also confusing is the presence of classifiers. Every noun has an associated classifier that must be used when talking about multiple items of the same object. There is no direct equivalent in the English language, as we normally just put an s on the end of the noun to indicate being plural. It would be like saying a gaggle or geese or a troop of monkeys, where gaggle and troop are the classifiers. However, rather than being the exception, in Thai every noun has a classifier. I have to admit I am not currently trying to seriously learn the classifiers and am just getting them wrong at the moment.....

I have found myself being able to understand more of what is going on around me and have basic conversations with people. I certainly can't understand everything being said, but I am beginning to pick out words and sometimes the meaning of what people are talking about. The key now is to practice!


  1. I expect now you know the basics you will learn a lot more just by sunning yourself on the beach or clubbing in Pattaya!

  2. You need a thai girlfriend - that'll do it.

  3. Learning a new language is really an achievement. The Thai language as an Asian language, for me, is a bit difficult than my native language.