Sunday, 23 October 2011

Thai Floods

I'm sure readers will be keeping abreast of the serious flooding in Thailand, especially in central provinces.
I've found Twitter to be a great resource for finding out what's happening on the ground and get real-time information. Here's some people I recommend following: @RichardBarrow @WomenLearnThai @georgebkk and of course just searching the following hashtag: #ThaiFloodEng

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Learning Thai Through The Latest Technologies - Tablet Thai

A very interesting Bangkok Post article about how a firm plans to offer affordable slate technology to Thai pupils for language learning as part of the Thai governments 4 billion baht 1 tablet per child program. It's very interesting to see the progression and development of learning and using technology in this process, after all it was only a 100 years ago that pupils would have been using a chalk board to write down new vocabulary and learn grammar structures. Nowadays, with the increasing popularity of touch based devices, students will no longer have to resort to using a pen and paper to take notes in class and will find various language facilitating apps to help them gain better understanding of a language. Who knows what's next, maybe future generations will be implanted with chips that allows them to bring up any kind of information within an instant (powered by Google and Intel perhaps).

Anyway there's some quite good intermediate/advanced vocabulary at the end that I found useful and hopefully you will too, such as integrate or   รวมเข้าด้วยกัน (luam kow duay gun/ Rwm k̄hêā d̂wy kạn)

Let me know your thoughts on how technology is changing the way we learn.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Whats On the Menu Today? กินอะไรอร่อย

If you've dined out in Thailand, especially at the restaurants out of the Touristy areas you may have not had the luxury of having a bilingual menu. This can of course present its problems, and often people might end up with something a bit too hot to handle or worse still a somewhat less than palatable meat - I once heard a story who wanted to order a crispy pork dish with rice  -  ข้าวกับหมูทอด (Kow gab moo tort) but ended up with rice and frog - ข้าวกับกบ (Kow gab gorb)

Here are some of the more common Thai menu items for your delectation:

Tom Yam Kung  ต้มยำกุ้ง   Spicy Shrimp Soup
Tom Kha Guy ต้มข่าไก่ Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk
Pad Ka-Prao Moo/Guy ผัดกะเพราหมู/ไก่  Fried Rice with Basil and minced pork/chicken
Pad See-Ew Moo/Guy ผัดซีอิ๊วหมู/ผัดซีอิ๊วข้าวผัดหมู  "River Noodles" - Thick Noodles in Soy Sauce with pork/with chicken.
Pad Thai ผัดไทย Probably the best selling dish on Koh San Road - Fried noodles with egg, and usually a combination of tofu, chicken, shrimp, crushed peanuts, corriander and lime.

ข้าวต้ม - Kow Tom - A traditional Thai breakfast staple; rice soup (can be served with pork ข้าวต้มหมู)
ข้าวผัดหมู Kow Pad Moo - Fried rice with pork
ข้าวผัดไก่ Kow Pad Gai - Fried rice with chicken
ข้าวผัดเนื้อวัว Kow Pad Neua - Fried rice with beef
ข้าวผัดกุ้ง  - Fried rice with shrimp

ส้มตำ  Som Tam - Papaya Salad (usually very spicy) To ask for it not spicy - ไม่เผ็ดครับ/ค่ะ
แกงส้มไก่หวาน   Kaeng Som Kai Wan  Sweet and Sour Chicken Soup
กุ้งกุลาดำนึ่งซีอิ๊ว Kung Kuladam Neung Si Io Tiger Prawns Steamed with Soy Sauce

For more reading on Thai food you may find the following books useful:

Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes
Thai Food
Modern Thai Food: 100 Fabulous Thai Recipes for Contemporary Cooks

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Thai Signs

I was looking through my posts today, and noticed I've missed something very common and obvious, and Im a fool to have not have featured it earlier. It is of course Thai Road signs. Ever wondered what all that squiggly writing means. Well knows you're chance to swat up, so that when you're next wandering around Bangkok you can begin to read some Thai on the signs.

The most common ones you'll see:
Free = Pron. "Phree" (Its common in Thai to use English loan words and transliterate)  2nd. Image : 'Ham Tai  Loop'

Pron. 'Ham Supbari' = No Smoking

Pron. 'Hong Nam'

'Sukha' - Toilet. 'Ying' - Lady  

'Dtit Pom' - Cut Hair

'Yoot' - Stop

Friday, 17 June 2011

ฝรั่งสอนภาษาไทย (farang sorn pasa thai)

I used to think that learning from a non-native speaker, regardless of where you are and what language you're learning, was a futile exercise. But I have long ago changed my mind. Its a well known fact that many Westerners/foreigners have enormous difficulty when coming to Asia and trying to get their head around a tonal language and an alphabet that is completely different to anything they've grown up using. The only way to start getting a grip on such a weird and counter-intuitive language is to find a local Thai teacher and lay down a few thousands of baht and start learning - right? Whilst this approach is fine in principle, and a perfect way for beginners to start on the rudimentary aspects of the language, once you start developing vocab, confidence and proficiency you are soon going to develop questions such as 'well why is it like this, and why do Thais say it this way and not that way.' Start delving a little deeper into lexical structures, the history of Thai language and so forth and you'll so find that most qualified Thai teachers will start to draw a blank:

ฉัน/ผม/ไม่รู้คะ/ครับ - chan/pom mai roo ka/khrab

There are other ways to learn Thai......
Whilst I'm not dissing Thai teachers in any way, many do a fantastic job and let's be honest it's not easy teaching foreigners, I'm simply pointing out that consider other perhaps supplementary ways of progressing. One such way is to get on the ol' tinternet and seek out that strange breed of people, ฝรั่งสอนภาษาไทย

And it seems you don't have to go very far in cyberspace for all these largely male western guys (and a few western women if you search hard enough) bustin' out the Thai. And for people like me, who have been out of the country for a couple of years now, its a great way to keep up practice and I don't know there's something nice about hearing a non-native speaker speak with a near perfect Thai accent and has actually taken the time to seriously crack Thai.  Puts me to shame really.

Okay enough chitter chatter, here's some people I rate highly for learning Thai of:

The first is a recent stumble: an American guy that runs a TV show called: 'Farang Pok Pok'. Well recommended. Here's the first episode:

Polyglot, Stu-Jay Raj is probably one of the better known ลูกครึ่ง (mixed race) famous faces, following several TV programmes on Thai TV. And most recently his travel series programmesเหนือชั้น 1000แปล looks at him going to some very exotic places and documenting on the weird, wonderful and supernatural. This guy astounds me, not just in Thai but in so many other languages. But his Thai is also flawless.

In terms of blogs and reading resources, hopefully you can pick up a few tid-bits from this one, but there's so many more (and much better ones, no false modesty intended) out there. Here's some that I frequent:  - Not so much of a Thai language blog, but contains everything you need to know about Thailand and Thai culture.  - Regular on a great Thai language blog. Suited to more advanced readers of Thai.  - A great blog, with a well-needed women's perspective on learning Thai  - An essential forum to visit for posting questions and getting answers on Thai.

There are of course a lot more, but these are just a few of my picks. Ill post more later on perhaps. This post seems to have gone on for long enough, so Ill end it here. Let me know if this was useful in any way.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Back To Basics - Polite Articles & Phrases

So I realized there's probably not much in this blog for people just starting with Thai as yet, so in this post Ill look at some of the more fundamentals aspects of Thai in the form of polite articles and requests.Polite articles in Thai are fairly easy to grasp once you're acquainted with them and start listening out for in everyday conversation.

Most people when starting to learn thai will have picked up the different polite particle endings depending on whether you're a guy or girl -

ครับ - kráp (think less in terms of how we say 'crap' in English but more  hybrid between the b and p --> Krabp with a soft p)
ค่ะ - kâ (i often associate this word with the ford Ka advertising if you're from the UK you know the adverts im talking about - said with high then falling tone on the vowel)

Then, comes the most useful polite request phrase: kŏr-tôot (ขอโทษ) - use this when approaching someone you don't know or apologizing:

For males: ขอโทษครับ ---- kŏr-tôot kráp
For females: ขอโทษค่ะ ---- kŏr-tôo kâ

To put this into action a typical polite request would be:
ขอโทษครับอันนี้เท่าไหร่นะครับ - kŏr-tôot kráp an née thâu-rai kráp
Excuse me, how much is this one please?

Not the addition of another particle นะ to soften the sentence a lot. This is used a lot in spoken Thai together with other 'softner' particles such as:  จ้ะ - já, ละ or ล่ะ - la or สิ - si

Or for a girl/woman would be:
ขอโทษค่ะอันนี้เท่าไหร่นะค่ะ  kŏr-tôot kâ an née thâu-rai

Of course there are a variety of ways to frame the same question, and beginners may be tempted to over use the polite particles, but as long as you finish the sentence with a ครับ or ค่ะ most Thais will be appreciative of this!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Happy New Year to all Readers!

(And also a very late สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาส)