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  • Day172

    Quiet Adventures in Learning Thai-Landia

    November 20, 2019 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    OK, where were we? Way back at the beginning of October in Vientiane Laos. Here’s a catch-up. Back in Chiang Mai and all during the month of October, I was buried in eight weekly Thai lessons and tons of conversation and reading practice. Toward the end of the month I woke up and realized that there was an enormous amount of material to digest, so in November I decided to stop all lessons and review.

    Well, that stage lasted exactly two weeks, though I filled out over 150 flash cards with new vocabulary, and listened to and took notes from recorded lessons given by my most colorful teacher Andy. I went over my readings. By mid-November I was listless and sinking into the first trough of my two-year experiment in international living. A pernicious thought parked itself in my consciousness: “Why aren’t Thai people rushing in to embrace me and take care of me and show me everything about Thailand after I have studied Thai SO MUCH?” No one was paying attention to me at all.

    It took falling even lower, until a phone call to a wise friend finally jolted me to realize that I was suffering from “Cultural Entitlement.” So I stopped that, and became pro-active. I enlisted a new face-to-face teacher to speak with twice a week. I went on the excellent internet teacher source, italki, where I found a wryly eccentric young woman in Bangkok to converse with me twice a week. And I kept my lovely teacher in northeast Thailand for our twice-weekly chats. All this was just for talking. In regard to reading, I hooked up with my very first teacher from last year to guide me to high-level reading ability via original material. A brilliant teacher and an inspired decision on my part.

    My new approach is to digest each reading lesson before I schedule another one. But for conversation, my policy is to keep talking as much as possible. This is to start to create fluency and ease. Well, maybe too much ease. I encountered a man from my neighborhood in a far-off supermarket. He introduced me to his estranged wife. She took me to a deserted aisle and described how he had left her, BUT her evangelical Christianity put her in a euphoria that took her to Jerusalem, even though her house had just burned down, and she felt just FINE. At one of my coffee shops, I saw another man, whose wife wasn’t with him that day. He came over to talk to me. After I told him that my passion was learning foreign languages, he told me his passion was everything about air conditioners. Yes! Installing them perfectly, designing new inner mechanisms, teaching students to do the same, and loving every minute. Such a new perspective everyone should receive.

    When I was eighteen and studying the Suzuki violin method in Japan, families of violin students I observed, or English students, would take me places and show me things. I have had a small taste of that in Thailand, but not much. So, to get things started, I asked the manager of the nearby drag cabaret company if he would let me watch a rehearsal of his troupe. They practice a rare rehearsal scheme, if I’m not mistaken. After the show ends each night at around 11:30 PM, the audience leaves, and the girls and guys prepare a completely new show for the next night. They start rehearsing in the middle of the night! Although I shall risk contracting a serious illness by staging an all-nighter, I am going to watch the entire show AND rehearsal tomorrow night. I’m determined to discover their secrets. You’ll have to wait for the next blog post to read my report.

    Enjoy the pictures, which have nothing to do with language learning. And please don’t forget to sign your first name if you leave a comment.
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    Such a striking entry into your blog, Dorée! Not surprising that you had a low point. I think everyone who has a special project in their lives experiences that. What amazes me is that you have the energy and ability to think of ways to get back on your desired track. Your perception of being taken for granted by people in Thailand is actually a good sign! You obviously fit in now, and everyone simply includes your presence in their lives—no need for them to make a big deal about it. I agree with you about the critters. I too would prefer them cooked before eating them! Although I would have to be pretty hungry before putting one in my mouth…


    Oops, I didn't sign that. Lorraine


    Your dedication is second to none! Glad to know you've emerged from a low point and are now flying again. James.

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