Stuart Jay Raj – Joh Jai เจาะใจ TV Appearance 1 Mar 2007

Streaming from Youtube – If you’re having trouble viewing in this blog, search for video clips at http://www.youtube.com by username – stujaystujay

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to cross paths with a great cross cultural / language instructor here in Bangkok called Chris Wright. Chris is a mixed blood Thai (Brit), and has a TV show that helps young Thais get enthusiastic about learning English.

We were originally talking about putting a language / cultural video together for a client. After our first meeting, Chris mentioned to his producers at JSL that they ought to have me as a guest on Joh Jai – Thailand’s oldest (17 years) and most popular talk show.

That Saturday night they called me at about 11pm, the following day I met with the producer for about 4 hours and the next morning we were in the studios shooting the show.

We covered a lot of ground during the interview (originally over 90 mins, but compressed to around 40 mins). We speak about learning multiple languages, learning Thai, I.T., morse-code, jazz, perfect pitch, synesthesia, raising kids, cross cultural training and a lot more.

The interview is pretty much in the same vein as this blog -so for the regulars here, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Happy viewing – welcome your feedback.

Stu (Jay).

Stuart Jay Raj is a polyglot who specializes in the languages and dialects spoken in South East Asia and China. His talents have allowed him to earn a professional living as a simultaneous interpreter in Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Indonesian, among others, providing language and cultural training for multinational companies in the region and hosting his own TV programme on Thailand's Channel 5. He holds a degree in Cognitive and Applied Linguistics from Griffith University and has become an expert in the field of language acquisition with a strong track record of success. Stuart's background knowledge of Sanskrit, Khmer, Lao and various Chinese dialects and minority languages enables him to present a fascinating and unique perspective on the Thai language which makes everything fall logically into place.
  • gooo!

    Yes, I enjoyed your clip very much :-p. Thank for sharing your clip, I’ll let my colleague to see your clip.

  • tor

    Hi. I have watched you video already. That’s amazing. I,of course, am Thai but now i’m doing my Magister in Germany (Indology
    University Tübingen) I ve taken Sanskrit and Pali for five years and now I’m learning Avesta(ancient Persian for Zoroaster) Vedic Sanskrit and Hindi. First, i have a plan to learn Italian but i think ive no time. Fortunately, i watched your Vids and changed my mind. You are my Hero. I gonna learn Italian from now on. Keep updated. I will drop by.

  • JinLing-Li (Jenny)

    Hey, nice video clip!!!! I love the show so much, although I have to watch it after mid-night for a faster internet speed…but you do look good on the camera!!! But I love the contant the most, especially the translation part and ur childhood with ur grandpa……it was so sweet!!!!!I’ll ask my friends to take a look at ur video!!!

  • lucy

    Amazing!!! I was fascinated by these videos. I’m English, living in Thailand trying to learn Thai – I feel inspired. Thanks

  • Richard

    Hey Stuart,

    I just saw your video, enjoyed closing my eyes and translating your conversation with the presenter (I spend time regularly studying and practising conversational and written Thai and am semi-fluent after living in Thailand for about 4 years).

    Regarding Thai language, I’m impressed by your ability to re-create Thai sounds (khun puut chaat maak) and wonder what advice you have regarding the production of Thai sounds – when I speak Thai, I think that I’m producing the correct sounds in the same way that a Thai person would (and generally am able to converse in Thai with other people so I must be doing something right). However, when I hear a recording of myself speaking in Thai, what I can hear is an English guy speaking a flat version of Thai..!

    One of the ??possible?? myths that I hear is that after a certain age, the vocal chords ‘fix’ into a position making it difficult to be able to speak another language using another accent. However, since you learnt Thai later (I presume not from a young age) that you are living proof that this need not necessarily be the case. I wonder if this is something that you’re uniquely blessed with or that most if not all people have the potential to do the same.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading your blog in future. Greetings from Chiang Mai! Rich

  • The Language Guy

    Hi Richard,
    Thanks for your comment.
    In regard to pronunciation, if I’m really looking to build fluency with a language, I will focus on analysing the pronunciation of native speakers. That’s not just trying to copy things that we ‘think’ we hear when they speak. I’ll look at the way they move their mouths, teeth, tongue, the way they breathe and other little nuances. For example, have you ever noticed Danes when they speak (even in English)? There is a unique thing that many do when they say ‘Yeah Yeah’.. they actually INHALE when they say these two words. It’s little things like that that I will practise and copy.

    When it comes to sounds in Thai, you have consonant sounds, vowels, tones and then the general rhythms of speech that happen that aren’t really explained in text books.

    You’ll notice that for many Thais, the ‘s’ is a lot more forward than an English ‘s’, and most affricate sounds happen toward the very front of the mouth – most of them around the hard palate – front teeth area. The side of the tongue doesn’t do a lot.

    When it comes to tones, one thing that I try to do when thinking of tones is understand that the ‘pitch’ part of tones is only a side-effect of things that are happening in the throat / mouth. You can reproduce the ‘pitch’ of a tone seemingly perfect and still have Thais scratching their head. To really nail all these in Thai for me has meant really giving the muscles in my mouth a workout and being extremely aware of what my GLOTTIS is doing… all the time. In Thai, the glottis equates to ’42’ in the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy! 🙂

    Age has a bit to do with it, but it is possible to develop a good accent in any language if you work at it. A great tool to help you do it is a freeware programme called ‘Speech Analyser’. You can find an article in my blog about it here: http://stujay.blogspot.com/2006/11/speech-analyzer-graphical.html

    This will let you record native Thai speakers and visually compare what they’re saying to what you’re saying. Tones, vowel positions, stops, glottal activity, you name it. Many people might think that this is overkill, but I don’t think it is. In most cases, it is understanding the language I’m learning to the n’th degree like this that gives me the edge over others. … in saying this, there are many languages that I speak that I haven’t invested this much time in the accent (but would like to!)

    Feel free to mail me – stujay@hotmail.com

    Stu (เจ)

  • rebeca

    Hey, great clip! I am also a language lover, and hope to retain fluency in many languages as well. I speak fluent portuguese and english. I can also speak conversational french, understand and speak some Spanish (because of the similarities to Portuguese) and understand a bit of Italian.

    Im now dabbling with Asian languages and watching the clip amazed me at the books u were able to buy!

    Can you please inform me the name of the book you said every chinese learner should buy, and where you bought it?

    Also, can you please tell me where you bought the “young reader” books. the books that are printed in the target language for children?

    Thank you so much

    Rebeca

  • Ukendt for Now

    Hi Jay,

    Watched the extended program. It reiterates what I have found helps to learn a language: Total immersion, learning about the language, and linking the new language to what you already know. So far I’ve got 4 languages under my belt and immersion has been the key. Mother tongue is Danish, so I was tickled pink when I saw it was one of the many you’ve learned.
    I learned English of necessity as we moved to Canada while I was still in school – total immersion 🙂 And yes, by the second year I was beating the native speakers in spelling – I had worked hard to learn the language.
    While in school I took German classes – this is where you link a new language to what you know. For me, German was kind of in the middle of Danish and English so it came easy.
    Met and married a Latin guy, listened to Spanish for years before I got past my shyness (fear of sounding like an idiot :-)) Eventually began speaking Spanish so I could communicate with people who can’t speak English yet. Umm, yeah, actually using the language helps too.
    Thanks for the video. It makes a new language much less intimidating.

    Hanne

  • Leviwosc

    -Beste Jay,
    -Dear Jay,

    -Middels dit bericht wil ik reageren op jouw optreden in deze show.
    -With this message I would like to react on your performance in this show.

    -Ik schrijf dit bericht in twee talen. Namelijk in het Nederlands en in het Engels. Ik weet dat je graag met je grootvader nieuwe woorden leerde. Ik hoop dat je misschien ook woorden ontdekt in mijn Nederlandse tekst.
    -I write this message in two languages. Namely in Dutch and English. I know you liked to learn new words with your grandfather. I hope that you’ll discover words in this Dutch text too.

    -Ik vond je optreden in de show erg indrukwekkend, nog nooit had ik gehoord van iemand die meer dan 20 talen spreekt!
    -I think your performance in the show was very impressive, never had I heard of someone who speaks more than 20 languages!

    -Ik spreek Nederlands (mijn moedertaal), Engels, Zuid-Afrikaans, Duits, West-Fries en Frans. Maar ik leer op dit moment Mandarijn, met traditionele karakters. Het leren van al die duizende hanzi is niet eenvoudig wanneer je in een land woont waar de Chinezen vooral Cantonees spreken.
    -I speak Dutch (my native language), English, South-African, German, West-Frisian and French. But on this moment I learn Mandarin, with traditional characters. Learning all those thousands of hanzi isn’t easy when you live in a country where the Chinese speaks mainly Cantonese.

    -Hoe heb jij al die hanzi geleerd, enkel met behulp van je grootvader en dat boek wat je aan de kijker toonde?
    -How have you learnt all those hanzi, only with the help of your grandfather and the book you showed to the viewers?

    -Ik hoop dat ik je niet teveel heb verveeld met dit tweetalige bericht. Ga door met dit blog en het leren van talen.
    -I hope I haven’t bothered you too much with this bilingual message. Go on with this blog and learning languages.

    -Met vriendelijke groet,
    -Best Regards,

    Ron de Leeuw / 廖榮智

    -Nederland
    -Netherlands

    -P.s.: Ik ben lid van een talengemeenschap op het internet, genaamd: Unilang.org, we zouden het zeker leuk vinden je daar eens te mogen begroeten.
    -P.s.: I’m a member of a language community on the internet, named: Unilang.org, we would certainly appreciate it if you came by to say hi.

  • EdGaR

    ¡Qué onda stuart!
    Vi tu entrevista en youtube y eres
    asombroso, antes admiraba a ese tal ziad fazah, quien dizque tiene el record de la persona que blablabla, leí por ahí que falló en cierto programa de televisión pero pues quién sabe……..
    oie me gustaría saber cuántos idiomas dominas en conjunto, ¿cuántos son el total? dispculpa si la pregunta es tonta y la respuesta está por ahí pero pues me confundo.
    Adios!

  • Ryan

    Stu,

    Absolutely fabulous man! Your talent is astounding. Not only is your talent astounding but also the fact that you developed this gift that you have. I am truly envious of the fact that you took time at a young age to learn different languages. That was very smart.

    I watched your video several times and I agree with so much of what you said. I learned Spanish in southern Chile and I remember noticing a lot of the same things: language is much more than just grammar, it’s nuances, it’s breathing, it’s gestures etc.

    Have you ever heard of Ziad Fazah? He’s supposed to be the most accomplished polyglot in the world today speaking and reading 58 languages. Have you ever had any contact with the man? I have and spoke with him in the three languages that I know (Spanish, Portuguese and English) and he was really very impressive. You should drop him a line. I’d love to hear what you think of his mastery of Asian languages. If you’re interested, feel free to send me an email: bootheryan@hotmail.com.

    Sincerely,

    Ryan Boothe

  • Ryan

    Stu,

    Absolutely fabulous man! Your talent is astounding. Not only is your talent astounding but also the fact that you developed this gift that you have. I am truly envious of the fact that you took time at a young age to learn different languages. That was very smart.

    I watched your video several times and I agree with so much of what you said. I learned Spanish in southern Chile and I remember noticing a lot of the same things: language is much more than just grammar, it’s nuances, it’s breathing, it’s gestures etc.

    Have you ever heard of Ziad Fazah? He’s supposed to be the most accomplished polyglot in the world today speaking and reading 58 languages. Have you ever had any contact with the man? I have and spoke with him in the three languages that I know (Spanish, Portuguese and English) and he was really very impressive. You should drop him a line. I’d love to hear what you think of his mastery of Asian languages. If you’re interested, feel free to send me an email: bootheryan@hotmail.com.

    Sincerely,

    Ryan Boothe

  • cath

    Wow. And wow again. Who woulda thunkit? My brother would loooove to speak to you! (He’s only on 7 languages,-all european…but he’s a nut for the stuff:-)
    Me? English, German and Irish Gaelic (Oh and Latin, but that doesn’t really count). I’m so…I don’t know ‘proud’? of what you’ve achieved. You always were tagged in my mind as someone who would do something extaordinary:-) I sincerely hope you’re still tinkling the ivories? They are some of my best memories of High School.

    Warmest regards,

    Catherine xoxo

  • luke

    พี่เจครับ

    ลุคกำลังจะรอให้ภาพสุดท้ายขึ้นจอ และอยากจะบอกว่ารู้สึกโชคดีมากที่ได้เจอกัน แล้วหวังว่าจะมีโอกาสเรียนภาษาต่างประเทศอีกหลายภาษากัน

    -ลุค

  • kdsaipan

    hey I just finished watching your video clips. They are awesome. I’m really impressed.
    You absolutely inspired me to keep learning other languages and become a linguist.

  • James

    Hi Stu,

    What was the title of the book on Chinese characters that you held up?

    Your video was great! I am going to experiment more with sensory connections in my language study after watching your videos and reading through this blog.

    Thank you for volunteering your advice and tools online for free!

    -James

  • The Language Guy

    Hey James –
    The book is “Cracking the Chinese Puzzles” by TK Ann.

    I’ve had so many requests about that book since the clip went out over a year ago.

    Many people have told me that the book is now out of print. I picked the book up the other day and started toying with ways of conveying the brilliant methods in the book in an easy to learn way for your average learner of Chinese and Japanese. The research, analogies and lines of logic in the book are amazing … a mixture of real etymologies, ‘gustimables’ based on ‘hard wired’ logic that is part of most Native Chinese Speakers’ psyche and just normal every day way out memory peg techniques.

    The book is available in 5 volumes (hard cover) or the one you saw on TV – the Abridged Edition (soft cover).

  • James

    Thanks Stu!

    I’ll actually be using it for Korean hanja. To get my foothold in characters I initially went through the 2042 characters in “Remembering the Kanji,” but Sino-Korean words use a lot of other characters not covered in the standard Japanese list. Hopefully, your recommendation will help deepen my root-knowledge to bring that “balance” you keep mentioning.

    -James

  • The Language Guy

    James – I think the book would be good for that. I started to map out sound shift charts for Mandarin -> Middle Chinese and Middle Chinese -> Korean a couple of years back. This is a really helpful practice – and if combined with the insights provided in 'Cracking the Chinese Puzzles', will very much increase the potency of your Hanja knowledge.

    Actually the sound shifts fit in quite well with the Indic Consonant Map that I drew up in this post – http://stujay.blogspot.com/2009/01/wadafrackizet-or-soowizy-stuart-jay.html

    Understanding how sound shifts occur like this is like unlocking the universe!

  • James

    You weren’t kidding when you said this book was hard to find! I just got my copy of the 5 volume hard cover version this morning. Will let you know how it turns out.

  • The Language Guy

    James – I hope that the effort was worth it!

    I was just looking through my abridged edition the other day and still think that T.K.Ann’s logic in putting the whole system together is absolutely brilliant.

  • bathmate

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    Bathmate