Lets Talk Thai is the most revolutionary way of learning Thai yet developed.
The Key-Word Method
“The shortest distance between two cultures.”
“Fifty percent of all spoken language is composed of 100 key words” Tony Buzan
With Let’s Talk Thai you will learn to speak Thai using the easiest and most efficient program yet developed. The key-word method concentrates on just those words that make up most of normal conversation. The emphasis is on communication rather than fluency, so it is not necessary to learn long lists of words you may never hear or need (these word are mostly nouns).
Although the key word principle applies across languages, each language has particular key words that vary slightly from other languages. For example, “the” is a very common word in English, but non-existent in Thai and many other languages. Let’s Talk Thai gives over 200 key words, with the cut-off point determined by the exponential increase in the number of words required to achieve each higher percentage of language acquisition. The course has achieved a balance between ease of learning and attainment of a useful competence level for visitors to Thailand, whether for business or tourism.
Many words are introduced at the outset of the course in the pronunciation section. These are repeated later in key word sections and in statement and conversation examples. The student is thus exposed to periodic repetition. Further words specific to Thai are needed for polite conversation. These are provided in their own section on how to talk politely.
The principle behind the Keyword Method for teaching foreign languages is not new. Brain gurus and writers like Tony Buzan have promoted it for years. Educators, particularly in the US, use graded lists of keywords to ensure minimum competency standards for primary school English. So why have foreign language courses ignored the Keyword Method for so long? There really are no excuses.
Don’t spend time learning words you don’t need
“Of all the things we do need to know about grammar, the verb is first” Don WatsonThe days of learning “The cat sat on the mat” are over. Without doubt, nouns are the least important words to learn for any basic language skill, no matter what the language. For example, you may decide to buy a Thai handbag or a silk shirt. It is ridiculous to spend a week or two learning the words for items you may or may not purchase, when you can just point to them. It is much more important, and more widely useful, to be able to say “Do you have it in red?” or “May I have a larger one?” or “How much for this one please?”
Let’s Talk Thai does include pronouns and many useful nouns, which are either contained in the lessons or are in the Mini-Dictionary section of the handbook. To help further, there is a section devoted to English words - predominantly nouns - that have found their way into common use in Thailand. Such words represent an instant vocabulary for the student to use when practicing sentence construction and are a great confidence-booster.
“Without any doubt, communication is the most important skill in life” Stephen CoveyNo matter how many words are learned, if a listener cannot understand them then those words are useless. A language course must teach perfect pronunciation. There are two reasons, one is obvious, the other possibly less so until pointed out.
First, if you don’t pronounce the words properly, you will not be understood. Second, if you don’t know the correct pronunciation of words, you will not recognise them when spoken to you. Without recognition and understanding on both sides, communication fails.
Correct pronunciation is doubly important in tonal languages such as Thai. Both male and female Thai speakers are used in the recording. This is an essential feature because several words are gender-specific. Both speakers are highly educated multilingual experts with international experience.
Communication is a two-way process. We must learn to listen as well as talk. Talking and listening go together.
We also need to learn how Thai people pronounce some English words they have adopted, and there are examples given during the course.
First we need to learn the key words of everyday conversations, and then use them in simple sentences. Verbs, pronouns, adverbs and a few adjectives are more important to learn than long lists of nouns. Many common nouns are provided in Let’s Talk Thai, but it is impossible (and counter-productive) to provide the more specialised ones in a crash-course. Obviously, the nouns needed by an engineer or doctor are wildly different to those needed by a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. You can easily find those more specialised words later by consulting your professional colleagues in Thailand, or a good dictionary.
Phrasebooks don’t workOld habits die hard, and people keep buying phrasebooks in huge numbers despite the well-recognised fact that phrasebooks simply do not work for learning languages.
They barely work for day to day communication. (Try asking someone a question from a phrasebook. If they understand what you are trying to say, will you understand their reply? Remember, their reply will be in the language you asked the question. It will not be in English!)
So travellers need to learn the key-words, how to pronounce them and how to put them together into phrases and questions. Let’s Talk Thai makes that cheap and easy. When you understand why Let’s Talk Thai works, you will also understand why phrase books don’t work for learning languages.
Learning a language can be a long and difficult process if not done intelligently. Knowing lots of words is useless if you cannot pronounce them or apply them in a way they make sense to a listener. Learning a language by memorising hundreds of phrases from a phrase-book is simply impossible. They are just a jumble of strange sounds you can & understand, let alone remember. On the other hand, if we learn a basic vocabulary, how to put the words together and how to pronounce them properly, then we can start talking, listening and understanding.
Let's Talk Thai is published by PD Press, Australia