KunMatt

What Level Of Speaking And Writing Thai Are You At?

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If I got 28 out of 30 correct on the Tone Self Test at http://www.seasite.niu.edu:85/thai/selfassessment/module1/tones_FS.htm, do you think we can definitively say that I am NOT tone deaf?

I'm in my second or third year of significant self study, and it seems that I may just be entering into a zone where I can recognize more tones than before. I am finally visiting Thailand again next week, and there will be a lot of self testing on the street. My sympathies, in advance, to all the innocent Thai citizens upon whom I am about to inflict myself.

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What I mean is, I can pass this test (which seemed to feature mostly falling versus rising tones, instead of the more-difficult-for me high/mid/low tones.) But I still feel like I"m tone deaf. I still feel like I can't distinguish tones.

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1.What level are you at?

I consider myself a beginner. I can write almost as fast as I can write in German, I can touch-type the common letters (rare letters take two or three attempts, but there are typing trainers in the internet that will help me to learn all letters and signs). I can read (i.e. voice even words I don’t know) slowly and make out the tones without much thinking about them. Speaking (and listening) is my weakest part, as I’m self-studying in Europe now I have nobody do correct me, so I focus on listening, reading and writing.

Currently I’m using books and material in the web for beginners and intermediate learners.

2. Can you read and write Thai? Yes, see 1.

3. How long have you been learning for? 4 month and a half.

4. How did you learn?

I started on 01.12.2010 with an 50h course Speaking and Listening (which in hindsight turned out to be pretty useless, as it used Romanization). Then took 8h of reading and writing and finally 20h intensive reading and writing (private tuition). Since 23.02. I’m back in Europe and now I learn alone at home, on average 2h per day, every day.

5. What other languages could you speak before Thai? German (native), English (fluent, 3 years in England), French (advanced, now in working in France hoping to become fluent), Russian (intermediate).

I am very satisfied with my progress. If time permits, I will post more about whow I am learning Thai to encourage others.

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ID: 34   Posted (edited)

If I got 28 out of 30 correct on the Tone Self Test at http://www.seasite.n...e1/tones_FS.htm, do you think we can definitively say that I am NOT tone deaf?

I'm in my second or third year of significant self study, and it seems that I may just be entering into a zone where I can recognize more tones than before. I am finally visiting Thailand again next week, and there will be a lot of self testing on the street. My sympathies, in advance, to all the innocent Thai citizens upon whom I am about to inflict myself.

I share your empathy with those subjected to my attempts at their language!

What I mean is, I can pass this test (which seemed to feature mostly falling versus rising tones, instead of the more-difficult-for me high/mid/low tones.) But I still feel like I"m tone deaf. I still feel like I can't distinguish tones.

I feel the same as you sometimes! I think it's because I'm self-studying away from Thailand so I'm not exposed to much of the language in it's natural habitat, if you like. :)

I also think that tones are relative to the speaker's natural 'mid' tone, so for instance, if someone's voice is naturally high, and, in short examples that may be heard whilst self-studying, they don't display the full range of words, it's hard to place where a low tone would be on the audible spectrum.

I know for a fact that my French improves exponentially when I'm in France, as my German does in Germany. If I try to construct correct French sentences whilst here in London, I struggle.

I'm sure you'll find that, once in Thailand, all you've learned will start to come to the fore. I certainly hope this is the case as I'm heading there next week too! I currently waver from being reasonably confident that I've made progress, to despair that I'll never get the hang of it at all! :lol:

I hope we both benefit from some 'immersion' :)

Edited by bifftastic

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ID: 35   Posted (edited)

While only slightly related to the title of the thread, this is related to discerning the tones.

I sat a class at a private Thai language school early last week, (in fact the school was kind enough to allow me to sit 3 different classes for almost 5 hours all told)..

The one class which sticks in my mind was allegedly an "intermediate reading-conversation" course. I say allegedly, because if the teachers or the school believed the students in that class were reading and conversing at an intermediate level IMHO they were sorely mistaken or possibly they ‘grade on a curve’. Using that system of ranking, I’d probably be rated an effluent, <sic> :whistling: errr fluent speaker, although the first word I used is probably closer to the truth, lol.. ..

Not a single student (and there were 8 in this class) could get thru a story about Manaa/Manee/Mali and their extended family or fill out the accompanying worksheet with the family member's names, ages, etc. Even when the teacher broke us down into groups, they struggled with it. In fact a lot of students were really frustrated and voiced this when we went on break. I think it was more a case of the school teaching material beyond the students’ current level of comprehension than the students not being motivated, because there were some REALLY motivated people in the class although to call it an intermediate level class was taking some creative license. :lol: ...

However, I digress, and that wasn't the point I was tryin to make. :o

At the end of the class they had a 'tone-test' of single syllable Thai words. There were 35 words in the test. The teacher handed out a sheet with the words written in Thai; then she pronounced them. In reality what she did was really OVER enunciate the pronunciation & toning of the words. She said the word three times and then used it in a sentence. From this the students had to write down the corresponding tone using; L, M, H, R, F in the blank following the word. Needless to say EVERY student did really well on this.

Sheesh even I did really well on this, yet I totally suck at differentiating tones in stand alone words; although I’m just slightly better with risng falling tones when I see or hear them in context. I thought the test was skewed in favor of the students and did them a disservice as I've never ever heard a Thai in casual conversation drag out the toning/pronunciation of words like that. Still, at least students ARE being exposed to tone differentiation in some schools. So that's a plus. :) ..

As an aside;

When I started learning Thai I just learned either the rising or falling tones of high frequency words I was likely to use in day to day conversation. FWIW; I still don't know consonant class or what mark means what tone for what class of consonant (other than ไม้จัตวา) 555+. I've tried over and over, but can't get them to 'stick' inside my thick skull. :blink:

Early on, before I could read Thai and learned to differentiate words by sight recognition, memorization and context alone; I taught myself some toning by just association.

Kinda sorta like this;

ขาว - clouds are white and they are in the sky so the thai word for white is a rising tone

ข้าว - rice grows outta the ground so the thai word for rice is a falling tone

เสือ - tigers jump at you when they attack so the thai word for tiger is a rising tone

เสื้อ - t-shirts are pulled down over your head so the thai word for shirt is a falling tone

เสื่อ -mats lie on the floor so the thai word for mat is a low tone.

ชี้ - pointing with your fingers is done with your arm outstretched so the thai word for point is a high tone.

ฉี่ - urine ends up on the ground so the thai word for urinate is a low tone

ขี่ -when riding motos, bikes, etc those things sit on the ground so the thai word for ride is a low tone

ขี้ - when you defecate it falls to the ground so the thai word for shit is falling

I know it's stupid, but stuff like that got me thru until I could actually memorize how a word looks when it's written in Thai. Then know the meaning and if it was a rising or falling tone. I still pretty much blur the L, M, H toned words when I speak, but for the most part the Thais seem okay with it :huh: . It's those rising falling tones that send you off script when you mix 'em up. ;)

Anyway sorry for the long post, keep at it! I’ll say it again; if I can learn to read Thai and speak something which resembles Thai, anyone out there can... :D

Edited by tod-daniels

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ID: 36   Posted (edited)

Nice suggestion Tod :) As always :P

What I did for memorizing tones was the following;

just make a recording on your phone of มา หม่า ม่า ม้า หมา

and repeat this every morning until you feel confident.

Then let somebody do the same with another word per example กา

so:

กา ก่า ก้า ก๊า ก๋า

do this with a different word at every time you feel confident.

Then switch to

มาๆ มาหม่า มาม่า มาม้า มาหมา

then

หม่ามา หม่าๆ หม่าม่า หม่าม้า หม่าหมา

etc etc

then go to another word until you feel confident again

You SHOULD be able to hear tones soon enough.. at least this worked for me. Everytime I went to my work or something I just stuck with my cellphone and repeat what I heard basically...

I hope you catch my drift. (let recordings be done by a native speaker :P )

Edited by FireInTheSky

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Thanks Tod and FITS :)

I think you (Tod) mentioned the 'mat shirt tiger' thing in another thread somewhere and it certainly stuck with me!

I'm hoping the whole consonant class concept ends up lodging in my brain at some point, although I'm not holding my breath :)

I'm encouraged by the way word shapes, as opposed to individual letters, are beginning to make themselves known to me and looking forward to immersing myself in the Thai language next week :D

Then I'll know for sure just how much, or how little progress I've actually made!

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I have c/d’s with literally hours of audio similar to that. The way Thai children ‘conjugate’ <-(I guess that’s the word ;) ) toning in words, like your examples. They didn’t provide me a good bang-4-the-baht. Most of the words you end up saying aren’t words at all just sounds which carry that particular tone. :(

I’ve got so much Thai vocab floating around in my head, I don’t need to clutter it up learning sounds that don’t have any meaning in Thai.. :D

I explained to my old Thai language teacher that my English vocab is kept in a “filing cabinet” in my head; all the words are alphabetized, in order and high usage ones are in the front. I went on to tell her my Thai vocab seems to be stored in a big “plastic bin”; where I hafta sort thru the words sometimes one by one to find the particular word I need, when I need to use it. :whistling: She got the analogy, but didn’t quite believe me, lol..

(My brain could possibly be running on an old AMD Athlon processor and outdated OS too. :lol: Although I am looking for an up-grade! :blink: )

Just as an aside;

I know there are more than a few words in Thai which can carry 3 of the 5 tones without changing the consonant/vowel order and each of those words has a different meaning.

Does anyone know if there is ANY Thai word “spelled the same” (except for tone marks) which carry 4 different meanings? I looked briefly last nite after “FireInTheSky” posted their suggestion but couldn’t find one.

Thanx for the suggestions, I’ll keep at it. B)

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I have c/d’s with literally hours of audio similar to that. The way Thai children ‘conjugate’ <-(I guess that’s the word ;) ) toning in words, like your examples. They didn’t provide me a good bang-4-the-baht. Most of the words you end up saying aren’t words at all just sounds which carry that particular tone. :(

I’ve got so much Thai vocab floating around in my head, I don’t need to clutter it up learning sounds that don’t have any meaning in Thai.. :D

I explained to my old Thai language teacher that my English vocab is kept in a “filing cabinet” in my head; all the words are alphabetized, in order and high usage ones are in the front. I went on to tell her my Thai vocab seems to be stored in a big “plastic bin”; where I hafta sort thru the words sometimes one by one to find the particular word I need, when I need to use it. :whistling: She got the analogy, but didn’t quite believe me, lol..

(My brain could possibly be running on an old AMD Athlon processor and outdated OS too. :lol: Although I am looking for an up-grade! :blink: )

Just as an aside;

I know there are more than a few words in Thai which can carry 3 of the 5 tones without changing the consonant/vowel order and each of those words has a different meaning.

Does anyone know if there is ANY Thai word “spelled the same” (except for tone marks) which carry 4 different meanings? I looked briefly last nite after “FireInTheSky” posted their suggestion but couldn’t find one.

Thanx for the suggestions, I’ll keep at it. B)

I like your analogy Todd, it gave me a wee giggle this afternoon.

I know what you mean about those non-words that are used for practicing the tones. I have previously bought kids books for practicing the short vowels, but i end up not using them cos there are so many non-words in them. I mean if i wanted to do it that way, i could just write my own book.

Same spelling + different meaning - ปา ป่า ป้า ป๋า

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<SNIP>

I like your analogy Todd, it gave me a wee giggle this afternoon.

I know what you mean about those non-words that are used for practicing the tones. I have previously bought kids books for practicing the short vowels, but i end up not using them cos there are so many non-words in them. I mean if i wanted to do it that way, i could just write my own book.

Same spelling + different meaning - ปา ป่า ป้า ป๋า

'bhoydy', glad I could make you giggle, if not guffaw ;) .

Also a good one on the Thai word which carries 4 of the tones. Didn't know that, but now I do! I'll toss those words into my plastic storage bin of Thai vocab in my head, lol.

Isn't the Thai idiom for 'in one ear out the other"; เข้าหูซ้ายทะลุหูขวา. At my advanced age I seem to experience it quite a lot. Hear a good word, and the next minute can't even come close to remembering it. :o

Okay, are there any Thai words which can carry ALL 5 possible tones with different meanings and the same spelling other than tone marks?

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I have c/d's with literally hours of audio similar to that. The way Thai children 'conjugate' <-(I guess that's the word ;) ) toning in words, like your examples. They didn't provide me a good bang-4-the-baht. Most of the words you end up saying aren't words at all just sounds which carry that particular tone. :(

I've got so much Thai vocab floating around in my head, I don't need to clutter it up learning sounds that don't have any meaning in Thai.. :D

I explained to my old Thai language teacher that my English vocab is kept in a "filing cabinet" in my head; all the words are alphabetized, in order and high usage ones are in the front. I went on to tell her my Thai vocab seems to be stored in a big "plastic bin"; where I hafta sort thru the words sometimes one by one to find the particular word I need, when I need to use it. :whistling: She got the analogy, but didn't quite believe me, lol..

(My brain could possibly be running on an old AMD Athlon processor and outdated OS too. :lol: Although I am looking for an up-grade! :blink: )

Just as an aside;

I know there are more than a few words in Thai which can carry 3 of the 5 tones without changing the consonant/vowel order and each of those words has a different meaning.

Does anyone know if there is ANY Thai word "spelled the same" (except for tone marks) which carry 4 different meanings? I looked briefly last nite after "FireInTheSky" posted their suggestion but couldn't find one.

Thanx for the suggestions, I'll keep at it. B)

Yeh well, you are right but the point of the drill was to "learn to hear tones" not to learn new vocab.

It worked for me, but yeh it doesnt mean it works for others ofcourse :) They are just some silly tonedrills, nothing more and nothing less :P

You don't really memorize the words (cuz they arent words really) but more the way tones sounds etc. I did this well before learning my loads of vocabulary so it didn't

cause me any trouble, thank god

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1.What level are you at?

I think I'm a beginner at speaking and listening. I can pick out a few words during a normal Thai-to-Thai conversation, but I can't really follow the conversation. I have a fairly good-sized vocabulary of Thai words, but I don't always get the tones right.

2. Can you read and write Thai?

I have the vowels and consonants down pretty good. I have learned the tone rules and tone marks. I can read words and some sentences without too much trouble.

3. How long have you been learning for?

Off and on about two years.

4. How did you learn?

First by listening to Thais and memoring the words. For about a year I have been studying "Teach Your Thai", by Smith (I think). I also have a Thai Dictionary software and have downloaded a "Voice Viewer". Together, I can select a Thai word and see the tone the dictionary uses and repeat the word myself, comparing my tone with the dictionary's tone. Very helpful, but also very discouraging.

5. What other languages could you speak before Thai?

A smattering of French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Korean, and basic converstation in Italian.

I spent over two hours trying to get the falling tone right for the Thai word "Wai" (the greeting). No matter how hard I listened and tried to emulate, I could not faithfully reproduce the tone correctly.

I guess I will never be able to speak Thai very well, but I hope to be able to read and write Thai fluidly some day.

Rick

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Early on, before I could read Thai and learned to differentiate words by sight recognition, memorization and context alone; I taught myself some toning by just association.

Kinda sorta like this; .......

ขาว - clouds are white and they are in the sky so the thai word for white is a rising tone

ข้าว - rice grows outta the ground so the thai word for rice is a falling tone

เสือ - tigers jump at you when they attack so the thai word for tiger is a rising tone

เสื้อ - t-shirts are pulled down over your head so the thai word for shirt is a falling tone

เสื่อ -mats lie on the floor so the thai word for mat is a low tone.

ชี้ - pointing with your fingers is done with your arm outstretched so the thai word for point is a high tone.

ฉี่ - urine ends up on the ground so the thai word for urinate is a low tone

ขี่ -when riding motos, bikes, etc those things sit on the ground so the thai word for ride is a low tone

ขี้ - when you defecate it falls to the ground so the thai word for shit is falling

That's a good personal method, Tod (especially ชี้ vs. ฉี่)

You neglected to mention ชี, which may or may not be important. But I recall once ringing up a friend over a crackling phone line, and thought I heard her say that she ปวดฉี่... It took a moment to realize that she had actually said บวชชี.

Quite different things, surely... biggrin.gif

Come to think of it, those two terms may be good pronunciation practice for some learners.

Also, just for fun, the colloquial term for "bananas in coconut milk" is กล้วยบวชชี

Cheers.

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ID: 44   Posted (edited)

Good one mangkorn! :D

I swear sometimes when Im out and about listening to Thais; the things I think I hear them say make me as "confused as a broken eyed chicken; งงเป็นไก่ตาแตก.:P While that may be the literal translation, I think the real meaning is "totally stupified". However a broken eyed chicken works for me too :)

Its only later on that I'm actually able work out what was really said. Many times I'm thankful I DIDN'T respond to what I'd mis-heard!! :whistling:

Edited by tod-daniels

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While off topic to some degree; interestingly enough when I taught myself to read thai I skipped anything to do with the toning or the consonant class of the characters :o . I taught myself like;

Thai has:

6-"T's"; ฐ, ฑ, ฒ, ท, ธ, ถ

5-"K's"; ข, ฃ, ค, ฅ, ฆ

4-"S's"; ซ, ศ, ษ, ส

3-"P's"; ผ, พ, ภ

3-"Ch's"; ฉ, ช, ฌ

And so on. ..

I did that until I had the 21 basic sounds 'mapped out' in my head when I saw the corresponding characters. Then I learned all the vowels. When I finally did get around to concentrating on the tones I only cared about either the Falling or Rising ones and then ONLY in high frequency words I might say in casual conversation. I can't look at a word and make out its tone, unless I know the word from memory. I either know how to say it or I don't.

All excellent advice. I did what you said and it helps what I had already learned a lot. It sounded quite daunting when I first found out there were 44 Thai consonants, but in reality there are only 21.

For anyone else wanting to do the same here are the 21 different consonants:

6x T ; ฐ, ฑ, ฒ, ท, ธ, ถ

5x K ; ข, ฃ, ค, ฅ, ฆ

4x S ; ซ, ศ, ษ, ส

3x P ; ผ, พ, ภ

3x Ch ; ฉ, ช, ฌ

2x D ; ฎ ด

2x Y ; ญ ย

2x N ; ฌ น

2x H ; ห ฮ

2x L ; ล ฬ

2x F ; ฟ ฝ

2x dt ; ต ฏ

1x G ; ก

1x ng ; ง

1x J ; จ

1x B ; บ

1x bp ; ป

1x M ; ม

1x R ; ร

1x W ;

1x Silent ; อ

I also found it easy to learn the consonant classes using the method someone else suggested here:

There are only 9 middle consonants; ก จ ด ฎ ต ฏ บ ป อ. These are very easy to remember as it's all of the G's, J's, D's, dt's, B's and P's, plus the silent consonant. I already had the relationships between the G and J, the D's and dt's, the B's and P's in my head so I only had to remember 4 important points to learn all 9 middle consonants.

The High consonants are these 11; ข ฃ ฉ ฐ ถ ผ ฝ ส ษ ศ ห. These are much trickier to learn but once you have done then by deduction you already know that whatever is left after this are the 24 low consonants.

I have to say that since starting this thread and using the advice given, especially since I started using Anki flash cards after someone's suggestion, my Thai vocab and reading has improved greatly, it really has come on in leaps and bounds after just a few weeks. In fact, based on my previous efforts I don't even consider that I started to learn Thai until I starting to use the methods advised in this thread.

Thanks to all for you help and suggestions. I'm sure a lot of other beginners are also finding it very useful. Please keep it coming!

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BANGKOK 25 July 2017 17:56
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