White Boy Learning Burmese

The journey of an average white guy trying to learn a non-Indo-European language

Ignorance at its Best…

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While I’m currently writing a huge English blog post, I thought I’d put this here to make up for what I haven’t written.  This is a quote from a FB user on Paiboon Publishing’s Facebook Page. Paiboon Publishing, by the way, is the company that made the first book I used to learn Burmese.  (Detailed review on the book later).

Anonymous

I have your dictionary and book. It is more difficult than many other books to learn Thai for a UK English person and not recommended by the schools there. The biggest disadvantage is you seem to use American Webster’s dictionary not UK Oxford or Cambridge which to me is disadvantageous for British English. Probably because Brits are lazy at learning languages. I also find the phonetics not good from my perspective either.
I am learning at Thai Language Hut and I am creating my own vocabularies and meanings especially for business. I know they work with you.

What I have been trying to find and failed is to learn Thai as you would a child in Thailand? Translation is really the worst way to learn a language.

My feedback can be detailed and constructive if you would like to progress any of the points i have raised here. Thank you

My Response

As someone who is learning Burmese (started off with Paiboon’s, but now I’m using different materials to increase grammar and vocabulary) I can tell you first-hand that learning a language “as a child would” is simply the worst idea ever. We are not like children anymore, and our brains no longer absorb information in the same way — it absorbs it in a better way! We have the ability to make distinctions between things and pick up abstract concepts and make links inbetween what we learn in ways that toddlers could only dream of. I’m also sure, as Benjawan is a polyglot herself, that she knows what she’s talking about when she writes her series. Sadly, I must add that I don’t study Thai and cannot vouch for it on a personal basis, but judging by the reviews of others on her series, I don’t think her project was anything short of a success.
Best of luck to you in your endeavor to learn Thai,
ဝင္းဟိန္း

P.S.  As an American, I will note that I can understand British English just fine when I read it and have no problem looking up words in the Oxford dictionary. I don’t understand why American-English vocabulary is so hard for a Brit to understand. Tschüß.

Please express any thoughts in the comments below!

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