How well do you know your alphabet?

As I’m sure you have guessed by now, I’ve been away from my studies for a little while now. For the past few months I’ve been working on a large web development project and it has literally taken up all of my free time. I’m happy to say that the site has launched, and as a result of finally getting it out the door I am starting to get my sanity (and time) back. The timing could not have been better, either, as my wife has taken some initiative to help me with my studies.

Consistency is certainly the key, and if you’re not studying and practicing Thai on a very regular basis, you might as well not be studying or practicing at all.

In our first “lesson” back, we needed to set a baseline to determine exactly how much I remember, how much I need refreshing, and how much I just outright have no clue. And so, of course, the first place to start was with an alphabet quiz; or, more specifically, a consonant quiz.

And so my wife sat me down with a piece of paper that had 22 consonants showing and 22 consonants missing. My task? Fill in the blanks, of course.

How well do you think I did?

Out of 22, I got 16 right. Not too bad. Actually, I was feeling pretty good. But just as I was patting myself on the back for being such a good learner, my wife hit me with this bombshell:

Okay, now tell me all of their names.

Uhhh…

(Damn.)

Yeah, I totally bombed on that one. Sure, I got ก (ไก่) (gɔɔ gài), ข (ไข่) (kɔ̌ɔ kài), ง (งู) (ngɔɔ nguu), ข (ไข่) (kɔ̌ɔ kài), and ด (เด็ก) (dɔɔ dèk), but when it came to consonants like ฐ (ฐาน) or which “s” was which (ศ, ษ, ส) I was pretty much out of the game and throwing in the towel. And sure, I could tell you what the sounds of each consonant is, but that’s not really knowing them all. And so, as I’m prone to do, I started to over-think the process and it led me to this post. How well do you really know the Thai alphabet?

I submit to you that if you cannot — in order and randomly — say, name, and write all 44 consonants then you don’t really know them. I’m talking the consonant, it’s name, how to spell it’s name, how to pronounce the consonant and it’s name, what class the consonant is (low, medium, high) and both it’s starting and final sounds are. (If you don’t know what I mean here, I recommend you start here.)

For me, it’s back to the drawing board. Until I am confident that I have them nailed I will continue to study them on a daily basis. There are a few things I will be doing:

  • Write them all out, in order, five times every day.
  • Read a little Thai every day where I concentrate on the consonants rather than the words themselves.
  • Study them via an iPod app. The one I use is called “I know my ก ข ค, but there are many similar programs available.”

I have decided that I will not only do this until I feel I have it mastered, but also using regular refresher sessions to make sure this stays solid and doesn’t slip away from me again.

Oh yeah… I almost forgot; this goes for vowels as well.