Introducing: 2 Week “Learn Thai” Challenge … In Bangkok!
by Olly Richards
For two weeks this summer, I'm going to take on a language challenge with a difference!
I've teamed up with my friend Jan Van Der Aa to learn Thai, and we're going head-to-head, using two very different methods…
I'll be taking lessons in a local Thai language school for 2 hours every morning. Meanwhile…
Jan will be studying by himself … also for 2 hours a day
Then we'll be heading out around Bangkok in the evening to put what we've learned into practice.
We'll be documenting our learning experiences on Instagram and YouTube, comparing notes, and having fun!
Thai In 2 Weeks: The Gameplan
So, although this might sound like a bit like a competition, it's not really.
Here's the deal…
The background to this challenge is that both Jan and I had a few weeks free this summer, and we fancied going to Thailand – a country we both know well and enjoy visiting.
As relatively experienced language learners, we both have established methods that we've used before to learn many languages. But this time, we decided to put ourselves in the position of a first-time learner…
“If someone wants to travel abroad, and learn a language for just a couple of weeks… what are their options?”
Most people's first choice is usually to sign up to a language school.
However, it's been our experience that studying independently on location can yield better results.
So we decided to take one method each, and compare notes at the end!
Olly: Language school
Jan: Independent study
If you've ever considered travelling abroad for a short time to learn a language, hopefully this will provide some inspiration and ideas!
Are We Really Beginners In Thai?
I'm a complete beginner in Thai.
Although I've been to Thailand many times, and eaten more Thai food than I can remember, I have zero knowledge of the language.
This week, before flying to Bangkok, I've spent a few hours going through Pimsleur Thai in order to get my ear used to the language, which has been a useful introduction.
Other than that, though, these two weeks really will be a “Thai for beginners” experience!
Jan, on the other hand, already knows some Thai. In his own words…
Last year I studied Thai almost every day for about two months. I learned the tones, the alphabet, and I took about 10 to 15 classes at Italki. I also went through the first 1300 entries of the Glossika Thai course. I probably reached an A2 level when I was at my best.
Now I can still recognise some words and basic structures but I’m not able to make proper sentences.
As you can see, Jan has a considerable head-start over me.
(To read Jan's blog post introducing this challenge, click here.)
To be honest, I'm kind of scared to give up control, and let a teacher tell me what to do!
However, it seems to make a lot of sense to do it this way right at the beginning of a new language, where there are lots of formulaic things to learn.
So, I'm up for it! And I'm looking forward to discussing the experience!
My plan-of-attack is simple, and is designed to be exactly what YOU would experience if you were to do something similar:
What: Tell the teacher my goals
How: Do what they say!
When: Monday-Friday, 10:30-12:30
After Hours: Evenings in Bangkok to practise speaking with locals!
As for Jan, here's what he's planning…
08:00 – wake up and go for breakfast
09:00 – work
11:00 – one hour speaking session Thai (online)
12:00 – lunch
13:00 – one hour self study
14:00 – work
19:00 – workout
20:30 – social activities and try to practice Thai.
01:00 – bedtime
One other thing… both of us will also working while we're there. So it won't be anything like a full-immersion experience.
However, we are both strong believers in the need to speak to people when learning a language. So, one thing we will definitely be doing is sampling the local nightlife in Bangkok, and practising our Thai with the locals.
To be honest, this is something I don't usually do when I'm a complete beginner. This is because communication is very hard when you don't know much of a language (obviously!), slipping into English becomes all too easy, and I end up feeling self-conscious and not really enjoying myself.
However, Jan is better at this than me, so I'm going to try my best, and learn from his example!
Follow Along At Home
So, there you go!
We're super excited about the project, and we're going to be documenting what we're up to every step of the way, so you can follow along at home.
You'll get daily video updates of our experiences, pictures of cool things we see and do, and any other random things that happen! (It is Bangkok, after all!)
Here's how to follow along at home – subscribe to each of the channels to get automatic updates!