Since the time I was 11 or 12 I remember having a huge fascination with Asian culture. I started training in the martial arts when I was 4 (and still going to this day), so perhaps my love for all things Asian started there. My Saturdays were spent watching Shaw Brothers’ movies on TV and wishing I could travel to far-off lands to learn the secret pancreas-crushing palm strike technique from a Shaolin kung fu monk high atop a misty mountain in a remote section of China. (Yes, I had a bit of an imagination.)
As I got older and my love for the martial arts grew, I started traveling to Japan to learn from a true martial arts master and satiate my Asianophile yearnings. My first trip was in 1999, and for several months leading up to that first trip I studied Japanese like crazy. I bought every book and learning aid, frequented every Japanese culture and language website, and tried to speak the language with a few friends.
I did okay in Japan; I knew enough of the basic phrases, kanji, and sentence structure to find my way around and walk away with a very positive experience. It also helped that most of the signs in the Tokyo metroplex are in Japanese and English, and that there were plenty of Japanese people willing to help me when I was having trouble. So the problem wasn’t when I was in Japan, the problem was when I got back home!
After that trip I convinced myself that I was going to learn Japanese. The problem I discovered, however, was that my approach to learning the language wasn’t sustainable. For those of you who don’t know, the Japanese language has three written forms. The kanji portion of the written language in and of itself has 3,000 – 4.000 commonly-used characters – not to mention that each character has both a Chinese and Japanese pronunciation which you need to know – and also not to mention that the kanji alone means one thing, but when combined with one or more other kanji can mean something completely different. I simply didn’t have an effective method of learning and retaining all of the characters and words I needed to know.
The second major stumbling block I ran into was that I didn’t have a native Japanese speaker to talk to and learn from on a regular basis. I am absolutely convinced (and I’m sure this is no real revelation) that in order to effectively learn a language you have to use it and practice it in practical applications EVERY DAY! You can’t just study it passively and expect to become fluent.
Needless to say, my desire to achieve Japanese language greatness didn’t last too long; I have since given up the pursuit. Perhaps someday I will take it up again as I think it will subtly enhance my martial arts training, but for now I’ll have to put it on my Bucket List.
(By this point you’re probably wondering why the long introduction that really has nothing to do with Thai. Don’t worry, I’m getting there; I figured some back story was both necessary and possibly interesting to everyone. Perhaps not?)
In Septebmer of 2008 I got married to a wonderful Thai girl, Su. I have immersed myself in her culture (as she has done in mine) and because I want to be a good husband I decided to learn Thai. Not only will I be able to communicate with Su better, but I will also finally learn an Asian language and have a much better understanding of Thai culture in general.
So all of that brought me here, to the creation of my blog. I essentially created this blog for four reasons:
- Although there is a vast amount of excellent information about learning Thai on the Internet, it does take a fair bit of poking around to find the “good stuff”; I’m hoping this blog will help other Thai language students navigate the waters a bit more easily.
- I hope this blog will help me to connect with other students (and Thai natives) to further my studies.
- Blogs are the modern-day versions of the journal/diary, obviously. Recording my journey will help me stay focused, organized, and hopefully headed in the right direction.
- I have always felt that I had something to say that others might benefit from, but I never quite knew what I wanted to talk about or what platform upon which to do it. Though I do have many other interests in life, I thought that Thai was the perfect subject to have my voice heard.
And that’s the story. Thank you for taking the time to visit, and I hope that as time moves forward and this blog develops it will become mutually beneficial to both me and those of you who take the journey with me.