Learn language from a native


I travel often to Thailand and have always wanted to be able to speak with Thai people in their own language. I have also wanted to be able to travel to areas of the country where there are few tourists and where there may be few people who speak English.

I’ve tried the usual phrase books and tapes and CDs. They were good for learning words and phrases, but they did not teach grammar and they could not answer questions about the language. I checked my local community college course catalog, but they had no Thai-language courses.

I finally placed an ad on Craigslist.org under “Services - Lessons” for a Thai-language teacher. A native Thai speaker who had been in this country for a few years answered the ad. We now meet once every week or two, usually at my office, for two hours. She charges $15 per hour.

She convinced me that learning to read and write the Thai language would be a big help in learning to speak it. She is well organized and has prepared numerous PowerPoint presentations and other teaching aids to help me study between lessons. We schedule the lesson times and days to fit our personal schedules.

In addition to teaching me to read, write and speak the language, she talks about Thai customs and practices. She has taught me Thai slang words and colloquial phrases and has helped me with my pronunciation. Although I will not be fluent in the Thai language unless I stay in Thailand for a period of time, at least now I can construct basic sentences with reasonably correct grammar.

I’m convinced now that taking lessons from a native speaker is the best way to learn, if you want to know more than a few travel words and phrases. After all, how often does the phrase “Where is the train station?” come up in a normal conversation?

TOM LANCASTER

Portland, OR