Lani, a Thai Learning Thai: Part 2

A Thai Learning Thai

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This Thai learning Thai…

Learning Spanish seemed counterintuitive to retaining any Thai that I had acquired but that is exactly what I did. When I moved to Ecuador I thought I could keep up with my Thai and learn Spanish too but I couldn’t. There wasn’t enough room in me brain for both languages.

Acclimating to the altitude and culture was enough to contend with, but I was surprised by how much Thai still bounced around in my head. One of my colleagues had her students interview me for her Comparing Cultures class which was flattering and one of my own students showed interest in learning a little Thai which was endearing too.

Thailand might have been on the other side of the globe but it was never too far from me. So it is no surprise that I’m here again and picking my way though the vocabulary discard pile as I try to get back into the Thai language.

When I returned I kept saying Sí and Spanish words came to me quicker than Thai yet at the same time when I tried to recall words I needed to know for a particular task or transaction, the right words magically pop-tarted out of my toaster. And now that I have started taking Thai classes again, Spanish is fading like my memories of Ecuador.

Last year I took Thai 1 and 2 at Payup University but I decided to take a beginner’s class again – this time at AUA. And I’m really glad I did because it’s been a structured refresher’s course for me as well as a lesson in confidence building.


My classmates think I have great Thai because I know more words than they do but as I explained I came back to the basics because I feel like I learned bad Thai. My tones (if any) were wrong and thankfully the teacher I have now is motivated to teach us the correct tones.

I had heard somewhere that when learning a language it can be beneficial to take a break, a long break and even learn another language before coming back to the original language again. And I must say that that person is spot on the doggie.

I feel a little more attuned to the nuances that I missed before like spelling, correct pronunciation and sentence structure (damn classifiers). I try to learn words that I don’t think I’ll ever use because this time around I know that just because I won’t ever use that word doesn’t mean someone else won’t.

Maybe I have short memory but I think I am engaging in more conversations too. I’m not as afraid to try because I know that I need the practice. The good thing about the people I interact with is they know I’m trying so they stick with Thai.

Last year it seemed like there were more people who just wanted to switch over to English. I don’t know. But this year maybe I’m giving off the I’m Serious vibe. Perhaps I’m willing to sweat a little more. As they say in aerobics class, “Let’s do this together.”

Lani Cox
{the missing teacher}

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