The participants were varied – ranging from people ‘fresh off the boat’ so to speak, to people like Peter Lo who has lived in Bangkok since he was a kid. Peter is Taiwanese and went to Ruamrudee International School while living in Bangkok. He went back to live in Taiwan for a time, but has now returned to Bangkok with his family and has been living in Thailand again for the past several years.
Keep in mind while you’re reading this review that Peter can communicate quite effectively in Thai already. I was actually a bit worried having him in the class at first as I thought that his advanced level of Thai might be a hindrance to others’ learning. I was wrong. Peter’s Thai IS good, but thanks to his enthusiasm and positive attitude, he became one of the stars of the class and continues to send me daily updates with his progress and findings since the class.
This month polyglot Stu Jay Raj arrived in Bangkok to give his Cracking Thai Fundamentals workshop. To give you some idea of what goes on, I asked several attendees to share their experiences. Scott Eddy went first, Claudio Sennhauser second, and now Peter follows.
Peter, how do you learn languages?
I was quite passive about language learning. I can’t recall myself being as excited as now about a language after Stu’s CTF.
What is your Thai level?
I can talk to Thais, no problem with asking them for directions and sometimes have a good laugh over a conversation. However, there seems to be an invisible wall and ceiling for me between my Thai friends. My Thai reading level never passed kindergarten.
How long have you been a student of the Thai language?
Ever since I was eight when I first came to Thailand.
What Thai language learning methods did you try?
I had some Thai lessons when I was in RIS and had some private tutoring where the Thai tutor made me do repetition drills on writing, speaking of different word blocks.
How did you hear about Stuart Jay Raj’s Cracking Thai Fundamentals programme?
I am one of the subscribers to his language blog.
Please describe Stuart Jay Raj’s style of teaching/instructing.
I would say Stu’s style of teaching is: “An education expert’s theory come true”. I have read about theorist and professors saying, “Oh we must engage ourselves to whole mind learning in order for us to learn at an accelerated state. Blah blah blah.” So far I hadn’t seen any experts doing any real whole mind teaching. All they gave were just the what and how but never really the front-end product like Stu’s workshop.
Stu’s style of teaching IS whole mind learning. He teaches his material through different senses. He would tie the ลระ(Sara) together with body gestures, not only that, he also ties in the sound together with the gestures, making it really hard for anyone to forget.
What were your Ah Hah! moments during the workshop?
I finally know how to get the tones right for pronouncing Thai words. The tones were all inside my head and but I never knew when which tone should I be pronouncing. What Stu did for me was getting all consonant classes right and which tone to produce when you have different tone markers ไม่เอก ไม่โท ไม่ตรี ไม่จัตวา. I didn’t know each consonant class has its own tone characteristics. Where the high class is “windy” and “rising”, while the middle class and low class stays the same. This was a serious problem for me when it comes to reading Thai fluently. This pretty much solved all of my Thai language problems.
The tone exercises in CTF made me more aware of how words were constructed in my throat and mouth. On the way back home, I was talking to the taxi driver for a while already. The taxi driver said that he didn’t even realized that I was not Thai! I now have Stu’s Phonetic Map of the Human Mouth which is a valuable tool for me to be aware of what going on in my mouth and other people’s mouth. I have say this again, the tonal exercises really opened up my ears not just to Thai, but people’s emotions when they are speaking to me.
I was in the car with my relative in the morning one day. We would greet each other in Chinese saying the word “早(morning)” The tone of that word from my relative was different. It sounded like a high tone in Thai. Right after he greeted me with the word “早”, he was talking about something that made him happy yesterday with a smile on his face. With training, I think I can start to tell the subtler emotion difference of people around me, that’s cool and didn’t thought I would be learning from a Thai language course.
Why would you recommend his workshop to other students of the Thai language?
Stu’s class is for anyone who wants to start learning Thai and wants to get pass by that foreigner limit. Not only does he provide you with information about the language mechanics, he also fills in the culture about Thai language, which makes you want to know more about what you are learning after the workshop. It’s unearthly believable educational and entertaining at the same time! It’s like watching “Inception” for 8 hours and you didn’t even realize eight hours just passes by.