Interview Compilation: Did You Stick to a Regular Thai Language Study Schedule?

Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners

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Did you stick to a regular study schedule?…

When it comes to a regular study schedule, I land in the not so regular pile. I work on WLT most days of the week (including weekends) but what I do isn’t traditional language study. Confused? So are the Thai teachers in my life. They love what I’m doing but aren’t really sure what to do with me.

I did manage to stick what could be called a study schedule during my 30 Day Thai Language Challenge, but over the following year I slid softly back into my slacker ways. Excuses? I have many. You?

Scanning through the answers below I counted eight no’s, three straddling the middle ground, and the rest were a resounding YES. So the YES’s have it this round.

Aaron Handel

Aaron Handel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Aaron: My schedule was determined by chance. Initially, I was not really learning Thai, but learning how to learn. I was collecting information. Whenever I would meet a Thai person who was kind enough to help me record a tape, I would seize the opportunity. Usually, I would also make a tape in English and share it with that Thai person.

Aaron Le Boutillier

Aaron Le Boutillier: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Aaron: Not so much a study schedule but I am disciplined enough to leave a dictionary in the bathroom, a Thai comic next to my bed, Thai twitter on my BB and surround myself with as many opportunities as possible to practice.

Adam Bradshaw

Adam Bradshaw: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Adam: 2 hours every morning and then throughout the day I would try to avoid speaking English as much as I could.

Andrew Biggs

Andrew Biggs: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Andrew: Yes I did. I was incredibly disciplined. I learnt the alphabet, then the tone rules, and then ten new words a day for at least a year. Then I went to Ramkhamhaeng University to study a degree in Thai. All the time I was working a full time job – sometimes two full time jobs.

Celia Chessin-Yudin

Celia Chessin-Yudin: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Celia: I have tried to speak everyday since I came to Thailand first.

Chris Pirazzi

Chris Pirazzi: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Chris Pirazzi: Yes, in fact I was almost the only student ever in the history of the informal Sunday school Thai class to actually do the homework and use flashcards to drill the language.

Daniel B Fraser

Daniel B Fraser: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Daniel: No – I’ve never had one but can certainly appreciate the benefits of one.

David Long

David Long: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners David: Yes, I attended classes regularly for 7 hours daily, Monday through Friday.

David Smyth

David Smyth: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners David: Yes. It was part of my degree course, the class was small and I was highly motivated. Like most language degree courses at the time, there was much more emphasis on reading, writing and translating than on speaking, although I did spend a good few hours in a language lab, doing drills like those in Marvin Brown’s AUA Thai Course and listening to comprehension passages.

Don Sena

Don Sena: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Don: It wasn’t very regular, as I could only do it when not assigned duty. Even now, my study isn’t really very regular.


Doug: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Doug: Yes.

Gareth Marshall

Gareth Marshall: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Gareth: Ah, sadly a goal I have never been able to achieve.

Glenn Slayden

Glenn Slayden: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Glenn: Khru Pikun’s class used the J. Marvin Brown AUA series which I found dry but very effective. The class was conversational and I remember a healthy amount of speaking–repeating back until Khru Pikun was satisfied. I made flash cards and used a micro-recorder to listen back to parts of the class. We also didn’t forget to have fun, with group dinners at local Thai restaurants and socializing.

Grace Robinson

Grace Robinson: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Grace: Yes, when I was studying, with regular tests and exams to keep you on your toes and so that progress could be monitored.

Hamish Chalmers

Hamish Chalmers: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Hamish: My only schedule was and is to try to speak, read and listen to as much Thai as possible every day.

Hardie Karges

Hardie Karges: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Hardie: I did for 2-3 years, at least an hour a day.

Herb Purnell

Herb Purnell: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Herb: When we got to Thailand, we were sent straight to Chiangrai and were assigned to work one-on-one with a tutor. After the initial period of having a set schedule with the tutor ended, the rest of my learning Thai was what I got on my own. Except that once, returning from a year in the States and feeling the need for some refresher instruction in Thai, I had three months in Bangkok with a very good tutor. By then I could go at my own pace. And in order to pass the Thai government’s Prathom 4 equivalency exam as it was required in 1980, I took a one-month intensive prep course at a language school.

Hugh Leong

Hugh Leong: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Hugh: My only formal training was that initial 3 months with the Peace Corps. I just like to talk and listen to people so that is what I did. Currently I am studying by writing an Advanced Thai Reading and Vocabulary Building series. At first it was for me alone. I had been teaching myself to read Thai newspapers and I compiled and organized these notes. I then thought that they might help others, especially learning new vocabulary, so I put them together and offer them for free download.

Ian Fereday

Ian Fereday: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Ian: Yes, daily classes of 2-3 hours with an experienced teacher, practice and review in the evening with my wife (a very patient teacher), and used Thai at every opportunity. Drove my wife crazy reading every signpost, menu, business card and leaflet I found.

James (Jim) Higbie

James (Jim) Higbie: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Jim: I used to study Thai in the morning and spent free time and weekends reading. That was before the internet, so there weren’t so many distractions.

Joe Cummings

Joe Cummings: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Joe: Peace Corps language training was six hours a days, six days a week for three months. At Berkeley, I kept a typical grad student schedule, with daily in-class discussion, a ton of Thai homework, and a lot of late-night drinking sessions with Thai students at UH, many of whom had fled Thailand in October 1976.

John Boegehold

John Boegehold: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners John: Yes and no. I still go to both the Saturday and Sunday classes at Wat Thai every weekend which helps keep me disciplined. The first 90 minutes is mostly for beginners so I just put my ear buds in and study on my own by reading various books, Thai newspapers, watching Thai YouTube videos on my iPad, etc. until the intermediate / advanced class starts. Outside of that I don’t really have a set schedule because my workload varies so much from day to day. I do try to study every day, even if it’s only a few minutes.

Jonathan Thames

Jonathan Thames: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Jonathan: Since much of it has been formal study, yes. But since I now have part of my life in Thailand and have relationships with Thai-speakers, I use Thai daily – through music, chatting, emails, forum posts, translations, prose, movies, etc. So in that sense, not so much regular as constant.

Justin Travis Mair

Justin Travis Mair: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Justin: As a missionary I had a 2 months intensive course(8 hours or more a day) all in Thai. After that I would would study Thai 30 mins every morning. Then I would spend the rest of my day full immersed in Thai, talking to Thais or just studying in the 5 mins I found I was free. Basically, my life was a constant language study.

Larry Daks

Larry Daks: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Larry: Yes.

Marcel Barang

Marcel Barang: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Marcel: Yes. I studied intensely for two-three years. A few years later, I got married locally, which helped a lot: Thai became my first language in daily life. Still is.

Marc Spiegel

Marc Spiegel: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Marc: Yes.

Mark Hollow

Mark Hollow: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Mark: It was only since leaving work that I was able to start learning seriously. On returning to Bangkok I immediately signed up with a private language school.

Martin Clutterbuck

Martin Clutterbuck: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Martin: I had a period of about 6 months when I was in an English teaching job when I had a Thai person able to help check and feedback on what I was doing.

Nils Bastedo

Nils Bastedo: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Nils: Unfortunately, no. I have learned new vocab only through use and there has been little structure to my studies, which is of course not very good. As a language teacher teaching 4.5 or even 6 hours per day, I must also admit that my energy for learning Thai was at a low point after returning from work. When in Thailand, I did not associate much with Westerners, which was good, but as an English teacher I did not speak as much Thai as I would have liked at work.

Paul Garrigan

Paul Garrigan: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Paul: I can get periods where I manage to have regular times for studying each day. These productive periods can last for a few months before life interrupts.

Peter Montalbano

Peter Montalbano: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Peter: Generally, I do, even when not studying formally. I review vocabulary and try to memorize everything, like everything, completely, spelling and all. And I do some reading aloud from the many books I have, and some reading of newspapers. I generally spend at least an hour per day on this. Why am I not เก่งกว่าที่เห็นตัวเองเป็นนะ ก็ไม่เข้าใจ? Just that this language is really hard to completely master for a Westerner, even one with an ear and experience learning languages.

Rick Bradford

Rick Bradford: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Rick: Yes. It is a very rare day that I don’t do some formal study. Depending on how busy I am, my daily study could be anywhere from a minimum of 20 minutes up to 2 hours.

Rikker Dockum

Rikker Dockum: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Rikker: At first, yes. I was in the classroom setting on a very regular schedule for two months. Then for several more months I did about an hour a day of explicit language study — tone drills, going through vocabulary lists, memorizing the consonants and practicing reading.

Ryan Zander

Ryan Zander: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Ryan: When I was a university student I was pretty good about getting all my Thai homework done. But since I stopped taking formal classes my study has been much more sporadic.

Scott Earle

Scott Earle: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Scott: Not even close. I never really have, I am afraid to say.

Stephen Thomas

Stephen Thomas: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Stephen: Once I started classes, yes. I have a regular schedule of 2 nights a week, which really isn’t enough, but it allows me to go off and do films or plays, then come back.


Stickman: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Stickman: Along with studying at the local temple every Sunday, I also worked my way through the Linguaphone course. It’s a really well-structured course which builds vocabulary, gives basic grammar instruction, develops listening skills and helps with pronunciation and even reading and writing although I did not work through that part of the course as I had already learned to read and write at the temple.

I was disciplined and would study for an hour a day after work, Monday to Friday. I never missed an hour! I cleared a desk in a spare room, set it up, and studied there. I had meticulous study habits and making it a routine worked well for me. Missing a day would be like a gym freak missing a day of exercise.

Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj

Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Stu: It was my life.

Thomas Lamosse

Thomas Lamosse: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Thomas: Yes, But I made a commitment right away to only speak Thai in Thailand. If I did not know how to say something in Thai, then that was something that was not important for me to talk about.

Tod Daniels

Tod Daniels: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Tod: I used to early on. I’d set a block of 2 or 3 hours and just review vocabulary, etc. But now, not so much. I do carry a notebook/pen to jot down words I’m unfamiliar with to look up later. Doing nothing here helps too, as I can study or review when ever I want to. In fact I’m so busy doing nothing all the time I’m gonna buy a day minder!

Tom Parker

Tom Parker: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Tom: Learning Thai at university meant that a regular study schedule was unavoidable, but I think the amount of extra work I put in really paid off. In the first year of studying Thai I was absolutely determined to master the language and studied it obsessively, that helped give me a good foundation in Thai which I think still pays off today.

Vern Lovic

Vern Lovic: Compilation Series: Successful Thai Language Learners Vern: At first I did – during breakfast, during lunch, and in the evenings I’d be rattling off the notecards. I haven’t formally sat down to study Thai since 2006.

The series: Successful Thai Language Learners Compilation…

And here you have it, the rest of the series:


14 thoughts on “Interview Compilation: Did You Stick to a Regular Thai Language Study Schedule?”

  1. Snap, it’s got to be difficult to study once the urgency has gone. And hats off to those who are successful learning a foreign language outside of the originating country.

    There’s a good reason why motivation is at the top of the list when it comes to learning a foreign language. Yeah. And I sure wish motivation could be packaged and sold to one and all. With high hopes, I often check the app store just in case…

  2. I only have three words…”I’m so ashamed”, wait, that’s four, technically 😉 I haven’t studied Thai for months and feel disappointed that we left Thailand just as we seemed to be getting a handle on the language. It’ll be interesting to see how much we’ve forgotten when we return briefly early next year.

  3. I am stick to my study schedule because it will makes me more competent. Taking seriously of the things that you want to learn is very important. Thanks for sharing this information.

  4. Talen, it could be that you are at a stage where you are more driven to live it rather than study. And as you are an outgoing person, living would be loads more fun 🙂

    “her in English and me in Thai” absolutely more fun!

  5. Although it helps that we have a regular study schedule, we know that it is very hard for us adults to do. I guess that the important thing is that we set aside some time to make sure that we can accomplish our language learning activities.

  6. Cat, it’s been getting tougher and tougher for me to set aside time for formal study. My classes have been going well but I find these days I am actually learning a bit more by just keeping my ears open and asking a lot of questions. A good Thai friend who lives in Bangkok has helped a lot in the latter regard as she is learning English and we often e-mail each other back and forth and when she comes to town we get a chance to really go at it…her in English and me in Thai, it must confuse the hell out of anyone listening in 😛

  7. Martyn, “Books alone, are not enough” I so agree. And with the internet quite a lot can be done if one doesn’t live in Thailand. Skype (with either teachers or language exchange) helps in a big way.

    Justin, a study group or buddy system to help with accountability could be useful. I know that if I don’t put something solid in place I find it awfully easy to let the days slide by – which is why the chain method worked for me. It’s a good app (time to dig it out again).

  8. I think it helps to set up a plan that you do regularly. Along with specific language goals. With out a plan of attack you just kinda go and do anything with out understanding why you are doing it. At the same time, as many have said already, you do need to live it. That’s why I am such an advocate of Speak Your Language, it lets you start living your language right away.

  9. Catherine- It’s quite impossible to learn any language without studying it. However, study comes in many shapes and forms. Language books, computer courses and school classes are an obvious way but actually getting among native language speakers is a study in itself. Listening and trying to make head or tail of a foreign language conversation is a subconscious study of words and is what pieces the pages of ones language book together. I think a good mix of language study would be a straight 50-50 split between course work and getting out and trying to talk and understand native speakers of your chosen language. Can you imagine someone learning English from a text book and then landing at Newcastle airport (I’m assuming they have one). Books alone, are not enough. True real life language, expletives and all, are a valuable language tool. You can’t beat being in the heat of the moment. Regular study must include field work too.

  10. Hazelyn, with classroom and one on one lessons keeping a regular study schedule makes sense – as does adding activities (when I go for traditional study I suffer from boredom so look for ways to entertain).

    ChAoS, I don’t listen to Thai radio so much, but I do a fair share of translating, which peppers my day with Thai.

    Which reminds me… I came across a quote on twitter by ‏@Arturo_Ulises

    “translation is the greatest education on how to write”

    I don’t know about translation being the greatest education but it’s become one of the ways I learn about quirks in the Thai language. Translating songs is especially fun and garners a few “ah hah’s”. Ah hah’s motivate me to want to learn more.

  11. I assume that I am constantly learning Thai throughout the day just by browsing news pages that I have ‘liked’ on my Facebook, and Thai friends posting status, commenting. Doing this because the fact is I am not residing in Thailand, trying my best to live inside the language, building a learning enviroment by using my Iphone. Listening to Thai Radios via Iphone, googling words and expressions by typing ex.’XXX แปลว่า’ then start to read again. Not to forget Benjawan’s Talking Thai app.

  12. Whether it’s about learning the Thai language or other lessons, I try to stick with a study regimen and schedule. Though, I try inserting some activities in between to at least perk up my studies and schedule, I do get good outcome from it. It decreases my chance of failing my lessons and homeworks.

  13. I’ve never stuck to a study schedule myself. This is due to both laziness and an unpredictable day to day life. I can definitely see the benefits of it, maybe that’s why my Thai is still a bit lacking.


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