Read Thai in a Weekend - Testimonials

Here is some feedback from actual participants, with the bad and good bits left in. I take constructive criticism seriously. These will be addressed and improved upon in the next workshop.

Hi Gary

I wanted to thank you for an excellent weekend. I asked my Thai teacher today if she thought it possible that someone with no prior knowledge could learn to read Thai in two days. She said no. When I read some Thai to her she said, "It's a miracle!!"

This morning I was behind a minibus and was able to read that its route was Krungthep to Baan Beung!! I was still smiling when I arrived in Pattaya, so many thanks for the opportunity.

Simon Gunn, Managing Director, Hannah Thailand

Dear Gary,

First of all, I really enjoyed the weekend. Of course, there were moments of frustration when I couldn't remember, and I'm still having some trouble with the odd vowel combinations, and some of the absent vowel situations. It was hard work, but you added some elements of fun, too.

At the same time, I'm beginning to recognize some of the odd-ball modern fonts. I've had great fun reading signs, and trying to tackle product labels, etc. I've been having a ball with getting people's help in reading, and also being able to see signs and actually read them!

I'm not the least bit worried about not memorizing 200 Thai words over the weekend. Many of those are coming as I've continued to read.

Because I was able to work with the ebook for several hours prior to the workshop, I was pretty well versed in the basic consonants and the basic words that went with them. Repeating them in the workshop was good reinforcement, but as a result, the later material hasn't sunk in too well yet. I would have enjoyed spending more time with the last half of the worksheets.

This made the stories a bit too complicated for me, but good learning just the same. I think Winnie the Pooh was a good choice. I would have enjoyed something also in the form of a basic dialogue. I don't think word-for-word translations are all that helpful… the idiomatic stuff is important.

[...]T he hotel conference room setting was good, and lunches were excellent. On the reading exercises, it might be helpful to separate the words (even though Thai doesn't ordinarily do that) to facilitate word/syllable recognition. And perhaps some specific attention to some of the odd combinations (vowels and consonants both). Your picture illustrations, as silly as they might be, have really helped to embed in my mind most of the letters and their sounds. 

Perhaps learning how to write is more than necessary for most, but I've picked up a children's workbook for that purpose. Now learning the letters in order, with their names will be something I want to do. I think that will further embed things in my brain. Tones will surely come along in due order as I practice and get the rules in my head. Now if my poor monotone voice will just catch up!

[...] Your list of tips and other suggestions are excellent. Right on the mark.

I often have students, young and old, who ask how they can learn English better. I tell them to throw away the phoneticized and translated stuff. I recommend reading aloud for 30 minutes each day, listening to the news broadcast (on radio, not TV) for 30 minutes a day, and to carry in their pocket a list of ten new vocabulary words. I did this when I learned Korean, and it was helpful. I'd start the week with a list of ten words, then when I was on a bus or underground, just standing around, I'd take out my list and memorize the vocabulary. During the course of the week, if I finished all 10 words, then I'd make a new list.

All the best, Gary, and thanks so much.

Steve Shields

1. I have been practicing on signs and with my personal trainer, who likes to put a word under my face when I do push-ups or other floor exercises. The Thais laugh at the muttered "ladyboy thin dead, meditating", etc. but are excited when I read the words. Now I just need more vocabulary.

2. Suggestions for the course:

  • Do less words for each letter on the exercises. Pick 5 to do as students can practice later online. That way you could get to more letters. [...]
  • Do not put as many exceptions or weird ones in when students practice. maybe one or two common ones. Perhaps group more of them as exceptions and talk about them specifically as I topic. I would have preferred more everyday Thai words.
  • I thought the stories were a bit hard and found it a bit frustrating to keep flipping my paper over to see the vocab words. However other people did not seem to have the problem. I am not sure if you could find a simple story with common words most new beginner Thai speakers would know.
  • I would do one short story and then the newspaper article.
  • I think some of the rules were a bit rushed at the end, dating consonants and double rolling ladyboys for example. I feel cutting back on the words would give you more time to make sure all this is covered. The download is good, but I preferred the class.

 Just wanted to say thank you again for your patience in answering my questions. I think I have a better grasp of singing and dead sounds. And I seem to be getting my tones right. I just need to get my PT guy to print like he is in primary school.  :)

Next to paying my tax preparer, this has been the best 9000 baht I have spent this year!

Joelle Crouch

I enjoyed your workshop very much and felt that I got alot out of it.  I spent a few hours on the Friday before the class going through the materials, which I think was pretty essential to getting full benefit from the class.  On the whole I tended to focus more on the "reading" and much less on the meaning of the words, but there are limitations in learning so much in a short amount of time, so I will need to focus on that later.

The length of the word lists was about right for me. You mentioned in one of your materials that learning to read Thai is like solving a puzzle.  I enjoyed that aspect of it. The story translations were an important part of the process because it introduces the task of picking through words that are strung together.  The stories were a bit long, however, and I think there is a tendency to get bored with it.  Maybe spicier stories would help.  It's a bit of a let-down to go from depraved ladyboy stories to Winnie the Pooh.  I did however learn that Pooh is rather dumb; I never knew!

I like the format and consecutive days.  Your presentation and classroom skills are great, and you have a good personality for it.  In addition to the quality of your material, I think your personal qualities are also a big part of the reason people enjoy your workshop.

Needless to say I will recommend your seminar highly.

David Washenfelder