A Quest to Fluency: Thai and Italian. Italian?

A Quest to Fluency: Thai and Italian. Italian?

This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.

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Paul’s Quest to Fluency…

A little over a month ago Paul Garrigan launched his quest to become fluent in the Thai language. Impressed with the obvious dedication shown, Stu Jay Raj (jcademy.com) took Paul under his wing: 6 Months to Thai Fluency – Paul Garrigan Week One – Thai Bites.

From day one I was excited about Paul’s quest. But to join, I first had to discover my own motivation to raise the stakes in learning Thai. No doubt, motivation in language learning is key.

You see, Paul and I are both introverts. It’s a personal attribute that gets in the way of becoming fluent in any language. A no brainer, to communicate by speaking, you really do need to be interested (motivated) in talking with people.

My Quest to Speak Fluent Thai in Six Months: I’ve lived in the country for thirteen years, so it is embarrassing to admit I’m still not fluent. There have been periods when I’ve put in the hours to learn the language. I can read Thai, and I’ve got a reasonably large vocabulary, but I just don’t like talking. My goal over the next six months is to rectify this situation.

Paul’s week three post gave that “ah hah!” needed to find a motivation that has a decent chance of sticking with me.

5 Improvements in My Approach to Learning Thai: It is my goal that within one year, I’ll be putting out videos in the Thai language as well as the ones in English. This is my dream, and I’m passionate about making it happen. There might not be even one Thai person interested in what I have to say, but I know it will give me so much pleasure to do this.

After reading Paul’s main reason for becoming fluent in Thai, I realised that my own motivating factor should also be something tangible, not mysterious, or just because “it’s the thing to do”.


Now here’s the thing. When searching for my motivation to join Paul’s quest I decided to switch to Italian. Because motivation-wise, it just so happens that everything fell into place for me to learn Italian (for the interim) before getting back to Thai.

  • This week I found out that I’m headed to Venice at the end of the year.
  • Also this week, Glossika launched their Complete Fluency Italian Course.

The clock is ticking. I have under 200 days to get my head around Italian and the pressure is creating a RUSH of motivation. VENICE!! YA! ITALIAN!! YA!

Then, after the New Year, with the Glossika Method fully entrenched (hope, hope), I’ll get back to my regular studies with the Thai materials at Glossika and jcademy.com. How’s that for a plan?

The guts of the language quest…

Paul will study with Glossika’s Complete Fluency Thai course (pssst: the pre-launch price is US$49). And at the same time, I’ll be tackling Glossika’s Italian course (already launched). The two courses are designed the same so we’ll have plenty to discuss.

As mentioned, Paul will be working hand-in-hand with Stu and jcademy.com. As a polyglot, Stu Jay Raj is an inspiration for learning any language so I’ll be quoting him often. Plus, his site includes posts on getting your accent just right – none of that superimposing your native language over your target language. IPA warning: I’ve succumbed.

The Glossika Method…

I’ve written about Stuart Jay Raj many times but Mike’s Glossika is new to this site. Other than to say that the method is centred around GMS (Glossika Mass Sentences) and GSR (Glossika Spaced Repetition), there isn’t room in this post to get into much detail. I will later though.

Before I sign off I do want to quickly inject that I’ve been interested in mass sentences ever since Brett mentioned using sentences to learn languages effortlessly.

Mining sentences (finding sentences, getting the sentences approved by someone knowledgeable/trustworthy in the language, and then recording the sentences) is not effortless. But now there’s Glossika – and Glossika mined the sentences for us. So now there’s no excuse.

Until next time…

Please do read what Paul’s been up to during the first four weeks of his quest:

Care to tag along? We’d love for you to join the quest!

12 thoughts on “A Quest to Fluency: Thai and Italian. Italian?”

  1. Hi Catherine,
    Any news on the subject? I mean, what can you say about the Glossika approach now? It would be really good to hear your thoughts

  2. Ciao Catherine, I’ve been following you and your blog for awhile. Ti stimo!
    I’m a native Italian speaker so, if you’ll ever need any help with Italian, feel free to contact me 🙂

    Oh, you’ll love Venice. It’ an unique city.

    Buona fortuna! 🙂

  3. Dan, this is great, thanks! I’ve been working on IPA today, on and off. I want to get my head around it before getting back to the Glossika materials.

    I’ll be sure to share these files in a followup post on IPA. There are sure to be many of us who’re new to IPA (we’ll need all the help we can get).

  4. For the IPA, there’s a book called (a little dauntingly!) Comprehensive Articulatory Phonetics which can be downloaded from archive.org/details/ComprehensiveArticulatoryPhonetics (sound files at archive.org/details/Comprehensive_Articulatory_Phonetics_Exercises) which might be useful. It’s written as an introductory text for linguists so it’s super comprehensive (there are tons of sounds which you skip straight over) and a little technical but it includes a lot of ear training exercises which can help you learn to distinguish between similar sounds.

    I’ll be interested to see how your Italian project goes (especially relative to learning Thai) and I’ll certainly let you know how my 3 months pan out.

  5. Dan, that’s excellent news – so now that makes at least three (four?) of us on this quest.

    “No English websites, no English TV or radio, no English conversation, etc”. Impressive. I attempted it early on, but with an English speaker at home, it didn’t last a day. The idea was good, the reality, well.

    It seems to me that those of us who are not driven to chat put our time into learning how to read instead. I don’t see it as wasted time. As an artist, working with the Thai script has been a pleasure. But I do need to get the lead out and communicate.

    In the beginning I’m going to put a lot of work into learning IPA for Italian. Stu’s videos and Indic Compass have given me a good idea of the mouth and how it works. And like I mentioned, I have videos and papers just for Italian IPA. The Glossika materials also points out the differences to be aware of between English and Italian.

    Good luck with your three month Thai quest! After it’s over, I’d like to hear how it went for you. Especially if you found it difficult sticking to Thai only.

  6. I came across Paul’s blog a few weeks ago and it’s spurred me on to action, too. D-Day is 1st July and it’s Thai only for 3 months. No English websites, no English TV or radio, no English conversation, etc. Like Paul, I’ve been here long enough that my lack of ability is a source of shame. Although my reading isn’t too bad (maybe a low to mid B2, depending on the material), my other skills lag behind significantly and, like you two, it’s at least partly because I’m not naturally outgoing at all. I’m hoping that the passive vocabulary I have from reading will get transferred to other skills fairly quickly so with luck my listening and speaking (maybe less so writing) will improve fairly rapidly but I will find out on September 30th. Unfortunately, even with pretty optimistic reshuffling of my daily timetable, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do more than 3 hours of study a day so that will put a limit on things.

    On the subject of the IPA….of course. It’s not just learning a set of abstract symbols – learning the IPA (at least doing it properly) means understanding the mechanisms of speech production and in any language learning, that’s always going to be useful. My Thai accent is far (really far!) from perfect but knowing something about this at least means I know where I should be aiming, even if I consistently miss the target.

    And good luck with the Italian.

  7. Liam, I blame Stu as well! It took him ages to convince me to learn IPA. I fussed and argued for months, but I’m now onboard.

    I lucked out and found an Opera singer who explains Italian IPA. For Italian, I only have to learn about 30 IPA symbols.

    Also, on Stu’s site there’s interactive IPA, so you can see where the sounds are coming from in your mouth. Thanks Stu!

  8. “IPA warning: I’ve succumbed”

    Haha! I’ve finally succumbed as well. I guess I can thank Stuart Jay Raj for that. I used to to think it was way too complicated and only for linguists, but I’ve finally realized its value. If you’re going to learn any Romanization system, why not use the one that every country uses and works works with all languages. Not only that, but most of the main systems used in Thailand (RTGS, Haas, Paiboon) are all based on IPA anyway! I didn’t realize when I was studying at AUA that I had learned 90% of the IPA used for Thai already.

    It’s so nice when you start studying other languages like Lao or Burmese to easy tell which letters correspond to Thai letters and sounds I already know. Only IPA allows you do that.

  9. Lindsay, I’m going to try and avoid conjugating verbs by using the Glossika Method (absorbing 3000 Italian sentences) as my main study materials.

    I started collecting Italian courses/resources back in 2011 so I also have Fluenz (1-5), Rocket, Linkword (course with audio), Prego!, Dana Scheider’s materials (they go with Prego!), and many others. I’m going to have fun!

    You speak Italian? Sweetness 🙂

  10. How exciting, Catherine! Venice! Best of luck with Italian! After Thai (I don’t know much about Thai, so I could be completely wrong here!), I imagine the verbs in Italian will be a bit of a headache – but achievable none the less. 🙂 Looking forward to reading how you get on! If you have any questions about Italian, I’d be happy to help if I can!


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