Sunday, April 29, 2007

Galaxy 25

I think television is a good resource for language study. It combines natural audio input with images that aid comprehension. In the United States, many locations have a Spanish television channel. Here in Seattle, we even have a Chinese language channel. But there is no Thai channel.

My wife and I have talked off and on about buying a satellite receiver for Thai TV. Yesterday, we finally had one installed. Our dish is pointed at the Galaxy 25 satellite, which is apparently in geosynchronous orbit somewhere over Texas. Everything is free now that we have the dish; there's no monthly charge. We get several Thai channels and a Lao channel that sometimes broadcasts in Thai.

I haven't had a chance to watch much yet, but I watched the news last night, and I'm satisfied so far. This will be a good supplement to my listening and vocabulary practice. The time difference may be a bit of an inconvenience, since evening in Seattle is mid-morning in Thailand. But so far, so good.

Even if you don't live in Thailand or have a satellite receiver, you can watch Thai TV for free at the Mog Software website:

(By the way, if you're familiar with Thai satellite TV, the Galaxy 25 has been called Telstar 5 and Intelsat America's 5 at different times.)


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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Classifier Practice Page

This is a nice page. It's a list of common classifiers. The link labeled "choose a drill and practice these flashcards" navigates to online exercises for practice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Word List Generation

I wonder whether there is any software that can generate a frequency-ordered word list from a piece of Thai text. That is, I'd like a tool that would let me paste a few pages of text, obtaining a list of words in decreasing order of frequency.

There are a lot of those tools available for English and other languages which use space to delimit words, but a quick web search didn't turn anything up which can be used for Thai.

I would like to use such a tool for vocabulary practice, so that I can study the most frequent words in a transcript first. That seems more efficient than studying unknown words in the order they appear.

I do have a way to obtain a frequency-ordered word list from Thai text, but it involves several different applications and copy-paste operations, so it's not very easy or efficient. I'd like to be able to do it with the press of a button.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Last week, someone asked me, "How do you find time to study Thai?" I had never thought about it, but I am a software professional with a demanding job and a family, so it's a reasonable question.

I like to learn about second language acquisition theory. By reading and trying different ideas, I've picked up a few techniques that allow me to progress without a huge time investment. If I spent more time per week, my progress would be faster, but I'm satisfied with my current rate of acquisition.

These are some of the techniques that work for me.

1. Listening practice: Most days, I download the current mp3 from VOA Thai and listen in my car on the way to and from work. This gives me an easy 1/2 hour per day of listening practice.

I sometimes watch Thai DVDs and VCDs at home, and we're planning to get a satellite receiver soon so that we can watch Thai television.

2. Vocabulary: For efficiency, it's hard to beat JMemorize. It's like flash cards on steroids, and it's free. I learned about JMemorize from Edwin, and it has been a great addition to my toolkit.

3. Reading and Writing: For a Thai student at my level, text instant messaging is an excellent way to practice. I joined a few free language exchange sites like Mixxer. Through those sites, I met a number of Thai people who want to trade English and Thai practice, and I text chat with them on Windows Live Messenger or Skype. I learned to type, and my ability to read and write has improved by leaps and bounds.

4. Speaking: I don't practice speaking at all. I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't really help. The best way for me to improve speech is by listening to interesting and understandable material in Thai. I have greatly improved my pronunciation, grammar, and fluency just by listening to and understanding a lot of spoken Thai. Thai people often validate this improvement. Maybe, at some point in the future, I'll change this approach, but intensive listening on its own is really working for now.

Though I don't practice speaking, I do like to voice chat in Thai on Skype from time to time. I talk with my Thai family (by marriage) and with friends I've met through language exchange sites. It's a great way to check my progress, it's fun, and it's a great motivator.

What are your tips and tricks for efficient acquisition?


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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Happy New Year

This weekend is Songkran, the Thai Water Festival and New Year. Thai people get together with family and friends during Songkran, engaging in water fights and other traditions.

I was in Thailand for Songkran last year, so it's been about a year since I studied Thai at AUA. My short time there really changed my understanding of language study.

Here in Seattle, it's a little too cold for a water fight, but Happy New Year anyway!


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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Thai Core Vocabulary

There are a lot of good internet resources for Thai core vocabulary and phrases. The following sites teach months, days of the week, colors, numbers, telling time, and other essential vocabulary. All of them provide both audio clips and Thai script. They also have more advanced lessons.

If you know of another good site for Thai language students, please feel free to leave a link in the comments.


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Post Removed

Update 7.23.2010: I'm removing a few posts that are no longer interesting to me. You can reach the homepage here.

Thanks for your interest!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Thai Word of the Week: Subject

My Thai word for this week is วิชา, meaning "subject". entry for วิชา
VOA sound clip of a sentence using วิชา
Transcript of VOA clip

Note that the transcript can easily be copy-pasted to, obtaining a word-by-word translation.

Other interesting words in this clip are:

ฐานะ, meaning "position"
ภารกิจ, meaning "duty"
รับมอบหมาย, meaning "to be entrusted"
กำหนด, meaning "to specify"
มาโดยตลอด, meaning "always".

Corrections and clarifications are always appreciated.

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