With more time on my hands there are a few things I'm keen to get cracking on:
- Get a tan - enough of being pasty already. I came back from a week in Italy dark brown last yer, 4 months in Thailand have yielded precious little - there' is always something more important to do which stops the sunbathing).
- Take on short-term work. Many teachers are not paid during the holidays the more seasoned will take holiday classes but I have a few non-teaching options to keep the bank manager happy.
- Learn more Thai!! Im in a tricky situation with the language, I've learnt the basics and I can get around fine but I want more so I'm going to tackle written Thai - the holy grail. I feel ashamed of foreigners who no effort to speak the language, I'm totally the opposite.
In the long run this method is the most practical way of learning Thai as it allows the learner to become self-sufficient, in so far as I will be able to read words and pick up their meaning without needing them translated into Roman script. Suddenly the signs
I'm not alone in my aim, many expats try to learn to write in Thai but few actually stick with it and see it through to any kind of fluency.
So why's that then?
It's no easy task, there is an entire alphabet to acquaint oneself with - that's 44 new consenants, 32 new vowels and a number of pronounciations which do not exist in the English language. The words bear no resemblance to anything English, in fact they may sound similar to words which have no relation. For example, the word "mei" is used in many sentances, often as the first word, which would lead one to believe it means "me" when in fact it means "no" or "not" depending on the context.
Then there are the tones. Thai is a tonal language with 5 different tones - low, medium, high, rising, falling - it's tricky for foreigners and can lead to considerable confusion. Take for example the word for 'snow' (hi ma) if mispronounced it can mean 'dog's private parts'...yes I found out this one out myself!
So to get me started I have a couple of language books, a podcast series on my iPod, a range of useful websites and a Thai family to help iron out my creases. There is option of language schools or teachers but I live with native speakers and have a number of Thai friends so it I can be flexible to my schedule with The Little One (and save a wad of cash) by hitting the books and testing myself on the locals.
A thorooughly comprehensive article on the frustrations and joys of learning can be found at Phil's Thailand Travel Guide. Catherine's excellent Women Learning Thai blog is also recommended reading and does cater for men despite the title.
[thank you, see you later]
*This one Thai sentance was by far and away the most time consuming part of this post