Successful Thai Language Learner: David Long

David Long

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Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners…

Name: David Long
Nationality: American
Age range: 40-50
Sex: Male
Location: Samut Sakhon, Thailand
Profession: School Administrator, Consultant
Blog: David Long in Asia

What is your Thai level?


Do you speak more street Thai, Issan Thai, or professional Thai?

Street and Professional.

What were your reasons for learning Thai?

I moved to Thailand in 1987 and wanted very much to be integrated into Thai society.

How long have you been a student of the Thai language?


Since 1987.

Did you learn Thai right away, or was it a many-pronged approach?

I began classes during my second week here.

Did you stick to a regular study schedule?

Yes, I attended classes regularly for 7 hours daily, Monday through Friday.

What Thai language learning methods did you try?

When I arrived, I knew already that I wasn’t a very good student of traditional language programs. For this reason, I sought out what programs might be different and found the AUA Thai Program.

How soon did you tackle reading and writing Thai?

I found that by building my vocabulary through watching, listening, and guessing, I was ready for Reading and Writing during my second year of my stay here.

Did you find learning to read and write Thai difficult?

Not really. The only time it became difficult was when I was trying to learn to read words I didn’t already know.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength in Thai is being able to use it without forethought- I simply use it like I do English. My weakness is in translation. When someone asks me what a phrase or word means, it’s often the case that I’ve never thought about what it might mean in any other language, so it’s very difficult sometimes.

What is the biggest misconception for students learning Thai?

That language learning is difficult. I believe that the thing that makes it difficult is mostly centered on how we try to do it! It seems to me that If a 2 year old can do it, then so can I and it doesn’t have to be hard!

Can you make your way around any other languages?


Were you learning another language at the same time as Thai?


What advice would you give to students of the Thai language?

I would advise students to spend as much time looking and listening, and as little time speaking as possible. It makes sense to me that the more we’re talking, the less we’re able to hear, and if we want to understand Thai, we need to be listening to Thais as much as we can.

David Long
AUA Thai Program

The Series: Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners…

Getting advice from experienced Thai language learners is important. If you are a successful Thai language learner who would like to share their knowledge with those coming up, please contact me to make it so.

9 thoughts on “Successful Thai Language Learner: David Long”

  1. Hi There,

    Kudos!!! , to all the Team at Women Learning Thai… and some men too…

    I’m deeply impressed by the good work of you, guys for providing the students and the beginners of Thai with all the materials, suggestions and the other activities that dierectly or indirectly, supporting to learn Thai, more efficiently…

    I read each and every edition of, “Interviewing Succesful Thai Language Learners”.
    It’s not only, just an interview but a platform where the Person share Secrets of his or her experience of Success, Learning Thai,the more better way.
    I would suggest,to make a change in your FORMAT and put forth questions that would yield answer, more into a subject that enlighten, the methods or the tips that they used and followed,to pick up the Thai words, meanings and finally the language,in a more easy and effective way…

    Sincere regards
    Alok Singh

  2. Very interesting thank you, although not learning Thai I am interested in natural methods. Based on my own admittedly limited experience weakness in translation is a consequence of learning naturally and not a problem, I am sure that if somebody wished they could always add translation skill after mastery of the language but this is probably a separate discipline.

    I find even simple Chinese phrases that I hear and understand without thinking very hard to translate neatly into English if somebody ask me.

  3. Talen – I know what you mean. Listening to Thai as much as possible does amazing things when it comes to understanding speaking, as well as reading.

    When will you be back in Thailand? This year? During the holidays?

    Keith – it’s not the Thai script that is difficult, it is the tones. What learning the Thai script does for you is give you a leap into hearing the tones properly.

    Martyn – thanks. I’ve been rather lucky in my requests for interviews.

    Btw – David Long is with AUA, and it might be a program that would interest you. To give you a taste of how it works, next week I’ll post on the subject.

    ‘There is currently a Bangkok Ladyboy Show touring Britain’

    Goodness! I can just imagine what kind of reception they would get in the UK. They’d be hilarious, for sure 😀

  4. Catherine how do you continue to pull off these amazing interviews with these gifted people. There is currently a Bangkok Ladyboy Show touring Britain and I emailed them with a few questions for a post I wanted to do. So far….absolutely nothing, not even a bloody refusal has come back to me, I’m rather disappointed to say the least. What’s your secret.

    David you make it all appear so simple although your admitting of a weakness in translation does give us all hope that you are a mere mortal and if you can learn Thai then so can we. As with Catherine’s Thai 101 post the learning of reading and writing skills is prominent in your history as well. I really do believe that this is the road I must make my way down or perhaps a better way to put it is the mountain I must climb up. Best wishes.

  5. it seems this guy as a well structured and interesting approach to learning Thai i suppose i would be the student that gets bored easy and unless it was lots of practical i would not be interested

  6. Do learners of Thai find the Thai script to be difficult? I’m not learning Thai so I’m just wondering. How long would the determined learner need to learn the script?

  7. While not fluent I have to agree that listening is key. It has helped me over time to get the tone right on certain words and I find the more I listen, as long as I also pay good attention, I learn more words and understand how some words fit together better.

    It’s frustrating being in Amrerica at the moment while continuing to try and learn on my own because I’m not surrounded by the Thai language.

    Another great interview Cat…look forward to the next.


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