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?


Technorati tags:

No comments: