Saturday, September 06, 2008

Thai Video Transcripts

In June, Ricker started a great service for Thai students with a wiki called Thai Video Transcripts (TVT). Here's his blog post about it.

This is the introduction to the wiki from the front page.

TVT is a learning tool for students of the Thai language. There are nearly endless Thai videos on sites like YouTube and KosanaThai. On TVT, users work together to transcribe the text of these videos. This process will help you to improve your understanding of Thai as actually used by native speakers, and makes it simple to copy-and-paste unfamiliar words into websites like,, or

This is a great resource for Thai language students.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


During my recent visit to Thailand, reading became more automatic as I read signs everywhere around me. One challenge with reading signs is that there are many fonts.

This logo that obviously reads "USA" actually reads "Breeze" (บรีส). It's the Thai brand for a laundry detergent called Omo in other parts of the world.

The "Wow" in this movie title is part of the transliteration of the English title "Surf's Up" (เซิร์ฟอัพ). In the official transliteration, the two "W"s are different Thai characters, but it doesn't matter from the standpoint of pronunciation. The second character in the subtitle is an M-shaped thing. My wife had to tell me that it's a ตอ เต่า.

English-looking Thai characters in logos are very common, and I'm sure they are intentionally designed in that way.

I find myself wondering whether, as a child, I had to figure out the differences between English fonts.


Technorati tags: , ,

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chulabook and Pocoyo

Prior to leaving Bangkok, we visited the Chulalongkorn University bookstore near Siam Square. They have a lot of materials that are useful to Thai language students. They also have a website that sells books, VCDs, and other materials:

In addition to a few Thai comic books and books for children, we bought Thai language VCDs of Pocoyo (โพโคโย). We bought them for my son, but they are good language acquisition tools for an adult at an intermediate level. Each episode uses and repeats a few words of core vocabulary in a natural way. They're amusing and creative enough that I can watch them without getting bored. I've practiced listening and acquired a few words and phrases this way.

(DVDs have region codes, and many DVDs from Thailand don't work on players for other regions. This is not an issue for VCDs.)


Technorati tags: , ,

Friday, August 22, 2008

ALG Level 1 Demonstration

Rikker recently mentioned that there's now an Automatic Language Growth (ALG) video from AUA Thai Level 1. I looked it up, and it's quite good. It illustrates how to teach a second language from the very beginning without translating to the student's native language.

Note that, when the instructors ask questions in Thai, the students reply either with signs or in their native language. This permits a long silent period, during which the students don't speak the new language. Research by Stephen Krashen and others suggests that an initial silent period facilitates better acquisition.

I didn't have a chance to study in the ALG program at AUA from Level 1. By the time I first attended AUA, I had already studied Thai at the University of Oregon and at home. If I were beginning Thai now, I would choose the ALG program.


Technorati tags: , ,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Leaving Bangkok

My study at AUA is finished for now. I'll return to my brother-in-law's house in Chachoensao this morning, and I'll leave for the U.S. tomorrow. The Automatic Language Growth (ALG) approach used at AUA works very well. It's better than "one way" listening, such as listening to radio broadcasts, since the comprehensibility of the classroom content is monitored and adjusted by a live instructor. As always, I have a long way to go, but I can see progress relative to where I was two weeks ago. My comprehension and speaking have improved effortlessly just by listening to interesting content in class.

I understood much more of the spoken content at the AUA classes than I did when I was here two years ago. There were some classes where I understood almost all of the spoken content, which never happened during my previous experience. There were other classes, like the News class at noon, where I had difficulty following the instructor. It was clear that the Level 5-10 classes are taught at different levels of difficulty, depending on the subject, the instructor, and the students in attendance. Last time, I didn't pick up on the varying difficulty. All the classes seemed to be at the same level, namely Hard.

It's unfortunate that the ALG approach isn't used in more language schools, but I think it requires an agreement on basic principles by the teachers and students, and it doesn't lend itself well to an institution where evaluation and examination are central. Still, I think motivated students in other language courses can add a type of ALG approach on their own just by listening to natural content as often as possible.


Technorati tags: , ,

Friday, August 08, 2008


Thai uses so-called linguistic particles to communicate secondary meanings in sentences. One such particle is klap. (The word is spelled ครับ -my transliteration is an approximation.) The particle klap is used at the end of sentences by men to convey politeness.

Recently, I've caught myself forgetting to use klap in some situations when it is called for. As a foreigner and visitor, I try to be polite -when I was here two years ago, a few people commented to my wife on how polite I was. I'd like to take this as a compliment on my behavior in general, but I think it was mainly a commentary on how often I would use the particle klap, which was basically after every sentence. My wife recently told me that I don't have to use it so often -it's not necessary to be extremely polite.

Unfortunately, I think I've now gone too far the other way. There have been several recent occasions where I was speaking with someone I didn't know well, and they were using politeness particles with me. Being more interested in the content of the conversation, I forgot to use them in return.

I suppose all this will sort itself out by being aware of it. On one hand, it's embarrassing to forget my manners on several occasions. On the other hand, I think it's a symptom of greater comfort and comprehension in Thai.

Technorati tags: , ,