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  1. If you want to become truly expert at something, give it about 10 years. Well I've reached that milestone with Thai, and looking back, there are some lessons learnt, so listen up grasshoppers, and even you Thai gurus might learn something as well, so listen up yo'. 1. If your Teerak is speaking in a lingo you can't understand, it's either colloquial, a dialect or a different language (or you're tone deaf LOL). Given your 10 year deadline, just go ahead and learn that as well. I started trying to learn one language, but I ended up learning most South East Asian languages as well. Something I never planned from the outset. However I don't regret it. Your approach may vary of course. 2. Become a scholar of the culture. And I'm not talking about one of those coffee table picture books about temples. Find several good books about different aspects of Thai culture and history and read them. Don't rely on internet posters like me, because to be honest, I'm far from reliable. I won't provide a list because some of them are most likely banned in Thailand, better safe than sorry! Nod, wink. 3. Talk from day one. I am a very sensitive kind of person - a common remark on my school report cards was how sensitive I was. LOL I still mind my Dad reading out a line from one of them, 'displays an amazing and encyclopedic knowledge and understanding of space and the solar system, something the class never studied, but really is far too sensitve'. ' So being a sensitive person I put off talking, afraid of making a prat of myself. But really, that was being far too considerate. When you are in Thailand, always speak Thai first. The only exceptions are when talking Thai will actually make you a prat, like ordering for everyone at the table to a Burmese waitress who knows less Thai than you do. Also, unless you explain that you want to try out your Thai first, it can belittle staff, like at a hotel reception for example, whom are employed for their skill in understanding English. 4. Thai Tv is both your friend and enemy. You will find great joy here. It's where I learnt how to explain an affair as 'sometimes a man wants to eat a spicy takeaway, when the fare going at home is tasty...'. If you use this line, though - I wish you all the luck in the world. Better to have a go-between say it and come in on a wing and a prayer. 5. When you talk Thai be yourself. I like to joke around, but sometimes it gets me in hot water. Checking into a back country resort after a long motorbike ride, I might hit on the ageing Grandmother at the till for instance. Everyone laughs, and more than once I've got the Grand Daughter visiting me late at night to say hello to that nice young Farang! Jing, jing, lol. 6. More like a addendum to 3, but there are situations where it pays to just be a dumb Farang and mimic one who is only just learning. This list is not extensive, but you should do this when speaking to policeman, or most people in authority for example. Why? It's simple, trying to extort money from a water buffalo takes an enormous amount of skill for a Thai person, and potentially humiliating. Do NOT relegate yourself to such a foolish position. Also try not to speak Thai within earshot of other Farang also, owing to my 'sensitivity'. It attracts (unwanted) attention, and questions like where did you learn? The length of this post shows how I can choose to be abrupt, wrong, or just downright rude. Or if I'm in the mood and you buy me several drinks, then and only then will I 'fess up. 7. Well there's plenty more, so there is going to have to be a Part 2. In the meantime, appreciate your comments, and how your efforts to master this mind boggling language are really going. And if you're just starting out - mind this, it might take 10 years, but it's a hell of a lot of fun in the meantime!!! And if you make it so, so will it be - least that's how it rolls in my experience. Good luck!
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