Chiang Mai Thai

Ever wanted to learn Thai, in Chiang Mai? I did just that from November 2010, returning home in October 2011. If you don't want a headache, start HERE, it will explain the preceding posts. I'm Snap, Stray's other half. COOEE is our (other) travel blog.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Treading water - learning Thai on your lonesome

My Thai course finished weeks ago, I wagged the last two lessons and went to Vietnam. So what now? I did toss around the idea of enrolling in another course, but I want to travel around a bit before we leave, so don't want to waste money or class time.

It would be easy to find excuses and put the books/laptop away and call it quits, but that would be kind of like flushing a lot of hard work down the loo. So, if there are obstacles, just go around, over or under them, find a another way.
What's missing? Mainly structure and guidance. So what to do, what to do?

Before I discovered the post on WLT about the online free Thai Course at TCU (read the post/comments if you're thinking about enrolling), I got myself a Mee. Mee is a pen pal in Bangkok I found at Conversation Exchange. Like most of these kind of sites, it's a lucky dip of sorts. The first site I tried limited your communication couldn't contact anyone, instead had to wait for them to contact me first if you didn't pay a membership. Then once I found Conversation Exchange I was approached by several people, who eventually dwindled down to one very dedicated and professional conversation exchanger.
Mee is wonderful! He not only answers my questions, but corrects my Thai and gives me examples to explain differences, grammar order and particular word uses. And, he usually replies within 24 hours, to boot.
The main content for the structured part of my  learning, I downloaded from TCU, which Mhee recommended. It wasn't long before I realised that the online lessons were fraught with errors...which would be down right confusing and possibly dangerous for a complete newbie. However, so far, the associated PDF files, which include audio, have been far less tainted and are proving to be valuable to revise, to add new vocabulary and annoy the dickens out of Mee with more queries.
Who knows, this in conjunction with the other online and hard copies of language resources, might be enough to keep my head above Thai waters. And, when we return home, I might just get brave enough to Skype with my Mee, because I won't be able to just pop out and inflict my Thai on any of the local shop owners or restaurant staff.

I'll miss being surrounded by signs in the streets and on buildings, because it's an 'in my face' way to practice my reading...which is improving by the way. It's a great feeling to be able to read (on the odd occasion), even if the eureka moment is delayed by 30 or so metres down the road. Poor Stray, but I DO have to tell someone that you should 'please drive slowly' here, or that we should hurry up and move if we don't want to be 'fined 2,000 baht for smoking in this area'.
Thai language courses are non existent where I come from, except for one Wat where they hold an adult class once a week. Maybe. It's a bit of a distance from our home...and Sundays are hardly a day for motivation.

If you're not in the country, or in a classroom, how do you learn a language successfully?


See what else we're up to at Cooee!


  1. I'm so glad that you've found yourself a Mee - that way, it won't be so tough to continue with your Thai studies once you are back home.

  2. The conversation exchange sounds like a great idea for distance learning. Are you reciprocating the exchange and helping Mhee with English too?

    I have just started to learn to read thai, how long have you been learning?T

  3. @ Catherine - I hope so. It sounds good in theory ;)

    @ Colin, I started on my own, back home, around 1 year ago (using mainly Manee readers and online lessons), but ignored all the rules. Yes, I correct Mee's English also and try not to teach him any bad habits :)

  4. "It sounds good in theory"

    I understand that one. I have a lot of theories too :-D


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