Floobenflahter Analogy – Getting into the Right Mindset to Learn a Language with Stuart Jay Raj

Floobenflahter Analogy – Getting into the Right Mindset to Learn a Language with Stuart Jay Raj

Sometimes our mother tongue can over-complicate learning another language because simple principles aren’t present in our own language. When learning through another language, things can often become a lot clearer.

It All Makes Perfect Sense … Just Maybe Not In English

I came up with this story many years ago when I first started running my Cracking Thai Fundammentals course, after getting very frustrated with students that would have all the motivation sucked out of them from the get go as a result of their own negative thoughts about how hard Thai would be to learn.

The principles found in the story come from how I try to prepare my mind when learning a language. I will never think that a language is too hard for me to learn. I accept that there might be ways of thinking, systems or logic that I have never been in contact before.

For Thai, it might mean – don’t just look at how many letters there are and think ‘wow, Thai is harder than English’. This is trying to compare Green Tea with Red Tea.

The more languages I learn, the more tools I have to help me understand new systems and concepts, rather than just trying to learn through my mother tongue.

The Floobenflahter Story

A ‘Floobenflahter’ landed here on earth and found himself standing in front of a cup of delicious Japanese Green Tea. In Floobenflahter, water exists, but it’s a deep red colour.

Nevertheless, Floobenflahter water tastes just like earth water, and provides Flooenflahter with all the same benefits that water provides us earthlings.

There exists tea in Floobenflahter too, but it’s the same red colour as Floobenflahter water, it tastes the same as Floobenflahter water, and Flooenflahters only drink it for medicinal purposes.

Our Floobenflahter friend concluded that Green Tea must be made with green water. He was so taken by the taste of Green Tea on earth, that upon arriving back in Floobenflahter, he started his lifetime quest in search of a natural spring of green water. Only then could he make his Green Tea and live happily ever after.

It didn’t occur to him that

The green colour might not have come from the water

  • If Floobenflahter tea was put into earth’s clear water, it might turn it red
  • It was an extra ingredient that produced the taste of Green Tea that he is so fond of
  • The colour of the water did not produce the taste
  • The same water that was used to make tea could be used to make coffee, lemonade, hot-chocolate etc.

In courses like my Cracking Thai Fundamentals workshops, I have tried to develop models and communicate some of those concepts that seem ‘only natural’ in other languages, but might not be so apparent in English.

I have just set up a studio at home and will be starting to produce more and more language and other training courses to deliver online.

If you have anything in particular that you think would be good subject matter, let me know!

 

 

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.
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  • Joost

    How nice of you to use this analogy while the word for black tea in Mandarin is hōng chá which literally means red tea whereas the word for green tea, lǔ chá, actually literally also means green tea. Keep it going!