This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Watching educational Thai TV on YouTube…
The many ways to learn Thai thrills me. On top of course books and online Thai lessons, there is YouTube, iTunes and all the iProducts (iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, iPad, etc), recording devices, video software, and… what else?
As I no longer have a teenager in the house my technology skills are flaffing around at halfmast. Sure, I can find my way around a computer, but I draw a blank when it comes to anything to do with a TV. Don’t ask me why… For instance, last week a new MacBook Pro joined my family and I still can’t figure out why my channel changer has the ability to turn the screen on and off.
Regardless of my TV wrestling capabilities, I still like to get an earful about the available technology. And in the discussion on HandBreaking Thai Language Videos for the iPhone, Iñaki came out of lurking mode to do just that when leaving a fabulous first comment:
I have a TV Tuner card in my computer that allows me to record live TV programs to the harddisk. I watch almost exclusively TVThai (also known as ThaiPBS or ITV) because they have many documentaries and educational programs, most of them with Thai subs, which is a bonus for Thai learners.
I have already accumulated almost 30GB (roughly 100 hours) of my favourite programs, which I intend to upload to my youtube channel. Check it out, maybe you’ll find something that interests you.
TV Tuner cards? You got it, I just had to know more. And as I also liked what I saw on his YouTube channel, I fired off a short list of questions:
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in the Thai language.
My name is Iñaki, I’m a 45 years old Spaniard living in Bangkok. I came to Thailand in the year 2000 as a tourist. I was planning to backpack around South-East Asia for six months but I spend most of that time in Thailand.
I started learning the language from the very first day I set foot in Don Meuang. I fell in love with Thailand, the people, the culture and the language and when I went back home, I decided to come back to stay.
Do you follow the TV method? If not, what method are you using to learn Thai?
I think all “methods” are good as long as you are constant. Whatever you do, if you do it in your target language, it will make you improve. The worst approach is to spend too much time arguing (in your own language) on forums about what method is best. Having said that, the TV method is an artificial way of crippling your abilities. Why on earth would you refrain from using a dictionary or reading? The ALG method is similar but makes much more sense, because there are two teachers explaining new vocabulary with gestures and drawings and trying to keep the students focused. If you start watching TV 5 hours a day in a language that you don’t understand, 99% of the time your brain will simply disconnect and ignore the sound as background noise.
The best method, with 100% guaranteed success rate is the “swim or sink immersion” method (I’ve just made that up) which consists of putting yourself in an environment where your target language is the only language. All media (TV, radio, films, podcasts, internet forums, social media, newspapers, magazines, comic books, wikipedia, etc) has to be in Thai or dubbed in Thai; avoid your English speaking friends, colleagues and lovers and replace them with Thais who can’t speak English, and choose Thai whenever you have a choice of languages (mobile phone, computer, DVDs, etc.). With this method, anyone, regardless of intellectual abilities can get to a level that some (Irish) polyglots would refer to as “fluency”in three months, and to an intermediate level in about one year. This SOSI™ method is also know by some as the AJATT method, but it existed before Kazumoto was even born. Kazumoto is an amazing language learning guru; he is half my age but has double the insight.
Roughly how many hours of Thai TV do you watch each week?
I have hated television since I was a teenager. I saw it destroying family life, children’s games and songs, literacy, and lowering the general IQ level. I saw people being hypnotized, brainwashed and addicted to it. I’ve always tried to avoid watching TV, and in my first six years in Thailand I practically watched no TV at all. Now I watch around five hours a week. I prefer listening to the radio, my favourite stations being Chulalongkorn University 101.5FM and witayu sueksa the Ministry of Education radio station. I listen to them all the time, while working, doing the laundry, commuting, etc.
Which TV Tuner card do you have?
I bought a no-name tv tuner for 1000 baht two years ago. It works fine in windows, but it’s a pain to make it work in Linux. The system says:
saa7134: Congratulations! Your TV card vendor saved a few
saa7134: cents for a eeprom, thus your pci board has no
saa7134: subsystem ID and I can’t identify it automatically
What software do you use to convert the recordings for YouTube?
I record using the software that came with the card in MPG2 format and then extract the audio with TMPGEnc and convert it to AAC with foobar2000. I crop, resize and convert the video to xvid avi with VirtualDub and then mux the video and the audio into a mp4 container with YAMB. It’s not as easy as using some other programs, but it gives me total control of all the parameters, and I get the best compromise between size and quality in a format that plays fine in both my phone and my computer.
What advice can you give to those aiming to record TV shows via their computers?
If you intend to use the card in Linux or Macs, do a bit of research first to see if the card you want to buy works with your system. Any question about formats, quality and the video conversion process, just ask Google.
What type of programs can we look forward to seeing on your YouTube channel in the future?
I have some documentaries, a Japanese series dubbed in Thai with Thai subtitles, some educational programs for children and many reality shows about normal people or families and their everyday lives.
YouTube channel: krungthepkaki
TV Tuner card resources…
You already know that I have no background on this subject… yet – I’m still at the amusement stage of controlling my computer from across the room with that darn channel changer – but I do have a mean Google finger.
- Wikipedia: TV tuner card
- eHOW: How to buy a TV tuner for your computer
- YouTube: How to install a TV tuner card
- Review of the best USB Digital TV Tuners for the Mac
- Freevo: Open source HTPC media centre software
14 thoughts on “Krungthepkaki: Inaki’s Thai TV YouTube Channel”
It is not a foregone conclusion that the brain will ignore incomprehensible input. Anymore than it is a foregone conclusion that if I run up a hill I will be breathless (perhaps even collapse and be sick). You can learn to pay the attention required to gain from it in the same way that you can practice to get fitter. I wasn’t sure whether you could learn it or whether it was just something you were born with, so I experimented on one of my own (don’t worry nobody was hurt) children and yes you can learn it. I will post a blog post about this at some point.
Having said that I also sometimes use sub-titles and dictionaries, there is much to be gained from both approaches.
Btw – Stu just wrote a hilarious post about Thai translations found on the dubbed movies, etc, you buy around Bankgok: Pirated DVD’s and Thai Translations Gone Astray
Thanks Iñaki. The boring ones can be a problem. Many Thai learners in Thailand start with the Thai soaps because their wives or girlfriends are avid viewers. That might not be in their best interest.
After my favourite soap was over, I found daytime shows tedious (too many game shows). At the time I was interested in watching actual Thai TV (before I switched to YouTube), the weekends and evenings seemed to have more going on – the exact times that Thai TV is out of bounds at my house.
I’ll have to give Thai DVDs on sale around town another look. I don’t watch TV a great deal – but I will watch Thai shows on my computer.
The most important thing is to choose only interesting programs and avoid the boring ones. Now, each person has a different idea about what’s interesting and what’s boring, and the learner’s level is also a determining factor. In any case, one shouldn’t look at watching some Thai videos as a chore, but one should look forward to watching them and enjoy them. If you are not enjoying it, then you are doing it wrong.
For people living in Thailand, I would suggest watching live TV, flicking through the channels until you find something interesting. There are VCDs and DVDs being sold and rented everywhere with movies, series, karaoke, children programs and documentaries. Those outside Thailand can also buy Thai VCDs and DVD online, watch Thai TV online and look for interesting clips on YouTube and on manytv
English Breakfast is great (and excellent to know it’s online). No, I didn’t know that Thai Sesame Street is on TV. I asked on a forum several years back (before I even knew about Thai Sesame Street) and got a negative reply. I even contacted Sesame Street (they’ve never even heard of the Thai version). But I do have a stack of Sesame Street videos here (in the process of being converted to iPhone).
Which brings me to a question I should have asked in the interview – Besides the shows you’ve shared and those listed on HandBreak Thai Language Videos for the iPhone and FuKDuK.tv + ALG = Speed Metal Thai?!?!, what other Thai TV programs would be useful for Thai learners?
Todd was interviewed in an episode of English Breakfast (Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 am on TVThai). I used to save every episode and I uploaded one to my youtube channel, but then I realised that past episodes are available on and the producers also issued a book plus vcd, so I stopped saving that show and I won’t upload any more episodes. It’s a good resource though.
Also, did you know that Sesame Street in Thai is on TVThai Monday to Friday at 16:00?
Inaki, Agreed. You must put a lot of work into doing just that. I just got back from Pantip and I didn’t see any Thai TV shows, mostly copies of western movies and TV series.
I believe there is at least one Thai show that sells CDs but I’ll have to look it up to make sure I’m not remembering incorrectly – the show by Todd (Tongdee) Lavalle? Todd agreed to do an interview for WLT early this year… we’ll see…
If the videos I record were available for sale on the web or in stores, or easy to find in reasonable quality on the channel websites, then I wouldn’t waste my time saving, converting and storing them.
What’s also great is that his copies are better quality. Even if I’m interested, I won’t watch videos that are all pixely. Downloading to our computers is almost a must in Thailand (unless you want to wait while they load… slowly).
Ahh I don’t see much of a conflict occurring if the programs are available already. It would be nice to get them on YouTube as their infrastructure is better at coping with the demand.
Ashley, I asked about copyright when I sent over the questions for the interview. Iñaki has done his homework – ‘Many Thai TV programs are already available for free on the channels or producers websites, but usually in a low quality.’
There was more but I didn’t want to make this about copyright. Not in a country where you can openly purchase an entire set of Adobe products for around 600 baht, in one of the largest computer malls in the country, as well as elsewhere 😉
Although I think this is a fabulous idea I can’t help but think there might be some legal implications involved with uploading this content without permission.
Talen, a TV Tuner card is on my wishlist for this year. At some point anyway. My favourite time to watch Thai TV is on the weekends when it’s a no no. A card means I can record no matter what (something like that).
Cat, some great info on tuner cards and such…I never really knew much about them before now. Right now I am using Thai soaps to help me learn but later I would love to get into some documentaries.