Learn the right words.
You should always start learning the most commonly-used words first. This will allow you to progress at an incredible speed. The amount of vocabulary used in day to day conversation is relatively small. In the English language, having a vocabulary of just 2000 words will allow you to understand around 90% of the vocabulary used in conversation.
During the creation of HighSpeedThai, it has been our primary goal to make sure that you learn the most important parts of the Thai language first.
We will help you to build a basic understanding of the Thai language in the fastest time possible. We do this by focusing on the most common parts of the language first. After all, what's the point in knowing the word ‘pencil’ when you don't know the word ‘before’. You are 56 times more likely to come across the word 'before' in conversation than the word 'pencil'. According to a wordlist compiled from a one million word sample, 'pencil' is ranked the 6,317th most common word while 'before' is ranked the 111th most common word.
Here is how we have strategically compiled what you will be taught in the HighSpeedThai system.
Lists of the Most Common Thai Words - There are a number of lists of commonly used Thai words publicly available. The problem with using these lists alone is that they have been compiled solely from written sources. Written sources tend to use a lot of formal language which is not very useful when you want to improve your conversational abilities. We have converted the words in these lists to their informal counterparts and included them in the vocabulary which is taught in our system.
The General Service List - The General Service List is a list of high value commonly used English words. This list has been compiled and extracted from a sample of more than five million words. The 2000 words that are included in this list are of critical importance to people who are learning English. Although this list is designed for English speakers, it is an extremely valuable tool for learning any language. The words included in this list have been translated and incorporated in our vocabulary acquisition lessons.
Various Other Word Frequency Lists - There are a number of other lists that include commonly used language elements. We have hand picked all of the important parts from these lists and included them in our program.
TV Shows and Movies - TV shows and movies are a good way to gather a sample of real world language. They will expose you to real word grammar, slang and expressions. Our program includes lots of useful language that we have carefully picked and extracted from various Thai TV shows.
Advertising - We have broken down the language and vocabulary commonly used in advertising and combined it into our course.
Signage - It goes without saying that being able to read signs can be very useful. After you have completed our course, you will be able to read most signs with ease.
Packaging - How many tablets should you take per day? Being able to read packaging can be very useful. Our program includes the common vocabulary that you are likely to find on packaging.
You will be amazed at just how quickly you will learn Thai with HighSpeedThai. Teaching commonly used vocabulary and phrases will keep you interested in learning the language. Learning high value words first will allow you to quickly progress and help you develop a broad understanding of the language in a short period of time.
Learning How to Read Thai
When people decide to learn Thai, they often make statements like 'Learning how to read is not necessary,' 'Reading is too hard' and 'All I want to do is speak Thai.' Well, I am going to reveal some important facts on the matter. So read carefully.
Is it hard to read Thai? Well, it can be very hard or it can be quite easy. It all comes down to the method that you use. Let's look at an example.
Each Thai letter has a name. This name consists of two words. The first word is the sound that the letter makes with an 'or' sound appended onto the end of it. The second word is an actual thing such as a snake, child or fish.
So, below we have the letter called 'Ngor Ngoo' which makes a sound like the ‘ng’ sound in the English word ‘swimming.’ Ngoo means snake.
Ok, that's fair enough. However, if I told you the names of all the 44 consonants, you wouldn’t have a chance of remembering them all.
Then how can it be so easy? Ok, let's use some imagination to aid our memory. Let's add a snake tongue and an eye to our letter. Presto we have ourselves a snake.
So now, whenever we see this letter, we will see a snake. This brings us to the word for snake which is 'ngoo' which in turn brings us to the 'ng' sound that this letter makes.
Here are two more letters.
makes a J sound. This is relatively easy to remember because it looks somewhat like an upside down J if the inner circle is removed..
makes a O sound like the O sound in the word song but a little longer. This is easy to remember because O looks quite similar to
makes a NG sound like the “ng” sound in “swimming.” This is our letter from above.
Ok. So let's put them all together. makes a j sound, makes an o sound and makes a ng sound. So give this a go. Try and read this word . It should sound like “jorng.” This word means “to book or reserve.” This is only basic, but as you can see, learning to read Thai is not so difficult providing that you use the correct techniques.
We break down learning the Thai alphabet into 15 easy-to-master lessons. Each lesson will introduce you to a small number of new letters or rules. You will then practice implementing what you have learned by reading with the help of the software included in our program. All reading exercises are accompanied by the voice of a native Thai speaker. This ensures that you develop good pronunciation habits from the start.
There are a few reasons why you should learn to read Thai.
If you avoid learning the Thai alphabet you will have to rely on Thai words that have been translated into English letters. There are a few fundamental problems with representing Thai words with English characters.
1. Pronunciation - The Thai language has 32 vowels while the English language has only five. The Thai language has both short and long vowels. The character for the longer vowel often looks very similar to the shorter vowel. One difference, however, is that it has a longer line or dash to indicate that it is the longer vowel. For example, makes a short ‘ou’ and makes a long ‘oouu’ sound. As you can see, the long vowel has an extended line.
Representing 32 different vowels in a language that only has 5 vowels is very haphazard. I looked though some books on my shelf and in a couple of online dictionaries and found that the word meaning 'country' was translated 7 different ways in 8 different sources. Here are all the different ways the word 'country' was translated: Bpra L thaeht F (L and F indicate the tone), bprà-têt, bpra-tâyt, prates, prà-thêet, pra tayt and prathêht. Not being able to read Thai will mean that it will be very hard for you to ever have a concrete understanding of how a word is pronounced or spelt.
2. Tones - Learning to read Thai will make remembering the tone of a word much easier. This is because the spelling of a word determines the tone of that word. Translation systems sometimes use funny little arrows and markers to indicate which tone a word should be pronounced with. Many people have trouble remembering these markers as they are not present in their own language. This means that they end up forgetting the tone of the word and therefore have problems with pronunciation.
3. Reading - If you don't learn the Thai characters, you cannot read Thai. 99% of Thai people cannot read or write transliterated words accurately. This means that you won't be able to read Thai signs, books, advertising, timetables, websites, emails and so on. Imagine living in your own country but not being able to read! Your life would be hampered in many ways. Apart from this, reading Thai is probably one of the best ways to improve your pronunciation skills.
Here is what Glen from http://www.thai-language.com says. This is probably the best online Thai to English dictionary.
"In general, transliteration is a haphazard practice which suffers from many pitfalls:
- There is no prevalent or standard system of transliteration in Thai, and many codified systems are inadequate
- Geographical names may have multiple different, widely-used transliterations.
- Thai is a tonal language, and there is no predefined way to represent the five tones in Western alphabets
- There is no obvious way to represent the short versus long duration of Thai vowel sounds using a Western alphabet
- Many of the sounds used in the Thai language cannot be represented with a Western alphabet (or English regional phone set)
- Different people pronounce a given word spelled in a Western alphabet differently. For example, American versus Australian versus British pronunciation
- Every phrase book, dictionary, guide book, tutorial, or Western text uses a different transliteration scheme"
Spending a small amount of time learning to read will yield great returns. You will be able to remember the tones more easily, your pronunciation will be better, you will be able to read any of the vast amounts of material written in Thai and you will find it easier to pickup new words from others. Having the ability to read Thai will make it easy for you to progress beyond the basics. You will be able to use dictionaries and you will be considered literate. Learning to read Thai should take you a few weeks if you study one to two hours per day.
Breaking apart words
Breaking words apart enables you to learn a number of words in almost the same amount of time that it would take you to learn one word. It also makes remembering a word much easier because you will understand its logical makeup. Let's look at the Thai word ‘gankorrong’ which means ‘request.’ This word can be broken down into three component words.
Gan is used to change a verb to a noun (changing 'to request' to 'a request,’ 'to use' to 'usage,’ 'to study' to 'studies').
Kor is the verb used to request something. For example, 'Kor one glass of water?' (I would like one glass of water).
Rong means to sing, to cry out, to scream or to exclaim.
So, just by learning the make-up of this word we have actually learned quite a lot. We have learned the word ‘gan’ which is a very common component word that changes a verb into a noun. For example, it changes 'to date' to 'a date' and 'to communicate' to 'communication.' We have also learnt the word ‘kor’ which we need to use when we want to request something. It is equivalent to 'I would like' in English. The last thing we learnt is the word ‘rong’ which means to sing, to scream, to cry out and to exclaim.
So, if we take another look at the word, it is really quite logical.
Gan = Changes 'to request' into 'a request'
Kor = I would like
Rong = Out loud
So GanKorRong = A request.
Chunking is a very important strategy that allows us to hold a large amount of information in our short-term memory. Our short-term memory can hold around seven individual items. For example, remembering each individual number, 1, 6, 6, 7, 9, 2, 4, would fill your short-term memory. If we group these numbers up into two items, 1667 and 924, they become easier to remember. Additionally, we would still have space left over in our short-term memory.
So why is our short-term memory important anyway? If we are learning a language, we are surely going to want to put new words into our long-term memory, right?
Yes, but the entrance to our long-term memory is through our short-term memory. So, we need to first cram as much as we can into our short-term memory as efficiently as possible. Once we have the new words and phrases in our short-term memory, they will leak through to our long-term memory if we keep them there long enough.
Chunking allows us to jam pack our short-term memory with a large number of words and phrases. Instead of filling up your short-term memory with seven individual words, our program will efficiently fill your short-term memory with around 5 phrases consisting of 5 words each. That's a total of 25 words! We then force these words into your long-term memory by making your brain process and use the new words. Read more about this below under 'Using Words, Phrases and Grammar.'
Spaced Repetition Testing
Ok, stop right now and spend 10 seconds trying to lodge the number 925 into your memory. Are you done? Well, the number has entered into your short-term memory and is slowly leaking into your long-term memory. However, if you stop recalling or reviewing this number, it will slowly disappear from your short-term memory and any imprint that it made on your long-term memory will be erased.
Let’s say that in 10 minutes time, without any review, I asked you what the number was. You would likely scratch your head and be unable to recall it.
So will this number have totally disappeared in 10 minutes time? No, the number 925 is still in your mind but it hasn't made a deep enough imprint on your long-term memory for you to be able to recall it on the spot. So how do I imprint this number firmly into my long-term memory so that I can recall it easily?
The best technique to use is called spaced repetition testing. Let's apply this to our number 925. You have already placed this number into your short-term memory in an unstable manner. We need to do a bit of a 'work out' on it in order to keep it there.
The longer that you keep the number in your short-term memory, the longer it has to leak through to your long-term memory. So I would ask you to recall it 20 seconds after I first told it to you, 40 seconds later, 3 minutes later, 6 minutes later, 30 minutes later and so on. I would adjust these intervals depending on how easily you were able to recall the number. This testing process will keep the number firmly in your memory and won't give it a chance to disappear. With each recall it will be etched deeper and deeper into your long-term memory.
Spaced repetition testing is one important way that HighSpeedThai helps you to increase your vocabulary efficiently and effectively. The software section of our program will test you on phrases that you have learned according to how well you remember them.
If you have trouble remembering a phrase, you will be tested on it until it is deeply implanted into your long-term memory. Alternately, if you remember a phrase easily, the software will move this phrase out of focus for a longer period of time. This process allows you to efficiently review what you have learned.
Most other methods rely on you manually sorting through what you have learned and reviewing those things that you think you may have forgotten. Doing this is slow, tedious and ineffective. Think about it. Just imagine that you have 1000 sentences printed out on a piece of paper. The only way that you can review these phrases is to read or skim through the whole lot. You will end up spending a large amount of time inefficiently reviewing those things which you know well and shouldn't be reviewing. By the fifth time you read through this list you are likely to become bored of reading the same sentences that you know well over and over. It is likely that you will file this list away, never to be seen again. Meanwhile, you are slowly forgetting more and more of what you have learned. We feel that it is fruitless to spend time learning a word only to let it slip from your mind due to ineffective review.
With our program, when you learn a word, that word will be deeply implanted in your memory and will be ready for you to use when you need it the most. Our system will make sure that when you learn something, you will never forget it.
Using What You Learn
In order to remember a new word, phrase or grammar pattern, it needs to be reviewed periodically as stated above. The best way to review something is to actually use it. Using it well will force your mind to process it on a deeper level. Using a word in multiple different contexts will allow your brain to develop a fuller understanding of the word.
Most of us find it much easier to remember things that have some kind of logical meaning. In fact, when we try to learn something that is logical, we don't have to put any emphasis on storing it in our memory. For example:
2 + 2 = 4
125 + 125 = ? (Of course 250)
You didn't remember this fact, but due to your understanding of basic math, you were able to work it out. This same principle applies to learning a language. Once you start learning and practicing a language, things just simply snap into place.
HighSpeedThai encourages you to learn by usage. A grammar book may simply tell you that you must place an adjective after a noun. Here is how we do it.
Adjectives (describing words, for example 'red') must be placed after nouns (things, for example ‘a car’)
In English you say ‘red car', whereas in Thai you say ‘car red'.
You now understand how this rule works but in order to be able to apply this rule without thinking during a conversation you will need to practice it.
First we would get you to form new sentences which use this rule. We would ask you to form these sentences using words which you learned in previous lessons. The audio section of our product will ask you the following questions. You would be asked to answer aloud.
We ask: How do you say red car?
You answer in Thai.
We give you the correct answer. You take a mental note of any mistakes that you made.
We ask: How do you say "that big red car".
You answer in Thai.
We give you the correct answer. You take a mental note of any mistakes that you made.
We ask: How do you say "the small dog".
You answer in Thai
We give you the correct answer. You take a mental note of any mistakes that you made.
This is a very simplistic example, but we want to demonstrate that as soon as you are taught a new rule, it is very unlikely to sink in until you actually use it. HighSpeedThai has been designed to make you actually use what you are taught.
Has a foreign person ever asked you, 'Why do you say it like that?' and you were unable to answer them but you just knew that it was the correct way? You are unlikely to know all of the technical and grammatical reasons for why you say something in a certain way in your own language but you are able to speak it with perfect fluency. This is because you have learned your native language by example. Our program teaches you using the same methodology. You may not know all of the grammatical reasons for why you're saying something in a certain way but you will know that you are saying it correctly.
HighSpeedThai won't bore you with tedious grammar rules. We will give you a brief run-down of why something is said in a certain way, we will explain it in very simple terms and we will refrain from using any monotonous grammatical terminology. We will try to explain as many of these rules as possible with actual English examples. Then, most importantly, we will help you practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature to you.
Immersive speaking exercises
Our speaking exercises will ask you questions in Thai and you must also respond in Thai. The exercises reuse words that you have learnt in previous lessons. You will find that this is a great way to practice both your comprehension and speaking skills at the same time. These speaking exercises simulate real life conversations but with the advantage that they are performed in a controlled environment where you will only be exposed to the vocabulary that you are already familiar with. These exercises are perfect to be used on the go.
Reading is a very important aspect in learning any foreign language. If you simply learn a word from a list, will you know?
- Who normally uses this word? A child or an adult?
- Where this word is positioned in a sentence?
- Each word has many synonyms. Is this the best synonym to be using?
- What context is the word used in?
- Is the word used formally or informally?
- Is the word normally used by female or male speakers?
Reading is a good way to improve comprehension and recollection. Reading will help you to remember how a word is spelt. Reading allows you to develop a deeper understanding of words that simply cannot be attained from a wordlist or a dictionary.
Each lesson in the HighSpeedThai system has a multi-page reading exercise that is accompanied by audio. This will:
- Help you to practice recalling words which you have recently learned and therefore help to move them into your long-term memory.
- Help you to develop a deeper understanding of how and when to use a word by presenting words in multiple contexts.
- Help you with comprehension. If you do not work on this, when you hear someone speaking, you will be able to understand a lot of the words that they are saying but you will not be able to understand the meaning.
- Help you improve your listening skills as each reading exercise is dictated by a native Thai speaker.
- We encourage you to always read aloud and imitate the native speaker in the audio as closely as you can. Doing this will help you dramatically improve you pronunciation abilities.
It is a well-known and proven fact that when you learn a group of words related by subject, your memory will retain them with much greater efficiency. One study showed a 20.4 percent improvement in short-term recollection using this method. . This study had the following result:
'As can be seen, the results showed that the difference between the word related group and word unrelated group was significant. Therefore, it seems that the amount of information in short term memory was enhanced in the word-related group because the words or phrases presented in the article are around a certain category'
Our lessons have been built with this theory in mind. Every lesson is built around a dialog that focuses on a specific theme.
Learning similar sounding words at different times
If you have ever studied a foreign language, you will know that when you study two similar sounding words with different meanings at the same time, you are very likely to get confused about which one is which. It will take a long time for you to associate the correct meaning with the right word. For example, if I taught you the words enter (kao with a short vowel and falling tone), he (kao with short vowel and a rising tone) and rice (kaaw with a long vowel and a falling tone) it would be very hard for you to remember which one is which. You would probably spend the next six months using each one on a trial and error basis until someone understands you.
I remember that I had problems learning the words 'impressed' (bra-tup-jai) and 'surprised' (bra-laad-jai) due to their similarity. I spent more time on these words than any other words that I can think of. This is simply because they were introduced to me at the same time. If they were introduced to me at different times, I would have never had this problem and would have mastered the words in a fraction of the time. Our program separates similar sounding words into separate lessons to ensure you learn efficiently.
Thai is a tonal language which means that the tone of a word determines its meaning. For example, the word "mai" with a low tone means “new”, "mai" with a high tone means “wood” and "mai" with a falling tone means “not or does not”.
At first, this can seem daunting. Often people will use the tones as an excuse not to even attempt learning Thai. In reality the use of tones is not a big problem provided you approach learning the tones in a well-structured manner.
Our system has been designed to make learning the five different tones an easy and straightforward task. Developing the ability to hear the difference between the tones is the first step. It is very important that this is done first. Trying to pronounce the tones without being able to hear them would be like having a colour-blind person choose the colour scheme for your house.
We will break down learning the tones into small steps that are easy to accomplish. In the first exercises you will develop the ability to distinguish between high tone words and low tone words. In this exercise our software application will play a word aloud. You will then be asked to answer whether the word was high in pitch or low in pitch. After you have listened to a sample of these words, you will start hearing subtle differences between them. Before long you will be able to quickly and easily determine whether the word was pronounced with a low tone or a high tone.
This same process is repeated with rising and falling tone words; low and mid-tone words; high, rising and falling tone words; and finally you will practice listening to all the different tones mixed together. After you have completed these exercises, you will be able to determine the tone for spoken words quickly and easily. You will also have a good understanding of how each tone sounds.
During the next stage, you will learn how to pronounce the tones. In this section you are asked to listen to a short audio file in which you will hear a word pronounced with two different tones multiple times. For example, one audio file says maa (L) maa (M) maa (L) maa (M) maa(L) maa (M). 'L' means that the tone is low and 'M' means that the tone is mid. After you have listened to this audio file a number of times, you are instructed to record yourself reading the same words. You are then asked to compare both audio files, adjust and then re-record as needed. This method will allow you to actually hear where you are going wrong. At first you may think that you pronounced the tones accurately, only to find out when you listen to yourself that your tones are quite off. You will be able to rapidly improve your pronunciation of the five tones using this method.
You should not expect to be perfect with your tones when you start out. You will find that your ability to pronounce the tones will improve by itself when you are exposed to more spoken Thai. It is absolutely essential that you are bombarded with spoken Thai when you are a beginner. This will ensure that you develop good pronunciation habits from the start. This concept is an important part of our program. HighSpeedThai includes over 100 hours of audio.
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