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How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:39 am
by PatrickK
I've often wondered this. Any idea or estimation with reason?

Re: How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:59 am
by Tod Daniels
Good question, although I'd imagine real statistics are gonna be hard to find... By using the "thai-f-word" for foreignerz, I assume you mean white people rather than asianz.

In my travels to the various thai language schools around Bangkok, I've had the occasion to meet some pretty adept foreign speakers of thai. With that being said, I've met far more asians than "white foreigners".

Sadly, for the thaiz almost to a person white foreigners over estimate the level of thai they can speak. This leads to a lot of people professing "fluency" in thai but in reality speaking it in a "effluent manner". I've had the chance to meet some "successful learners 'o thai" and I honestly didn't think their thai was all that.. I mean it was good thai, but I dunno that I'd rate 'em as anything more than pretty good thai speakers.

Now given the many many thousands of foreigners enrolled in private thai language schools scattered around the country you might get a false impression that foreigners are really serious about the language.. Mostly that's not the case, they're serious about finding a way to stay here long term and much more lacidasical about learning the language to any degree of proficiency.

I know a teacher for a big name thai language school here. She's taught there over 6 years, yet in all that time she's NEVER seen a person come into the school "cold" (not knowing ANY thai) and have them come out the other side speaking something that resembled coherent thai! And that's a teacher who's taught possibly thousands of students!

I was at thai immigrations out at the government center on Chaengwattana road watching foreigners attending thai language schools being tested. Some people who've allegedly attended several years of thai language instruction could barely speak any thai at all!! It was sad to see, but I'm not surprised in the least that immigrations is cracking down on people who say they're "studying thai" but really are just going thru the motions so they can stay here.

FWIW: the old ป.๖ thai government proficiency test they used to offer at the end of the year for foreigners always has a lot more asians taking it versus white people by a factor of 10 to 1 easily...

What do the people who post on the face book site think? It'd be interesting to get their take on it too...

Re: How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:31 pm
by PatrickK
Good insight as always.

I'll post this question on the FB group and post the results back here.

Re: How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:35 am
by PatrickK
I didn't get any reasonable answers, mainly because it is very difficult to reasonably predict. Stuart Jay said:
It's a good question and for someone who develops Thai learning materials, it's a catch 22. Do you invest time and money developing high quality courses that will take people up to native like levels only to realise it's targeting a handful of people, or do you just service the bulk of the market at the lower end? Could good resources encourage more people to develop fluency?


He also said he has met tons of farangs over the years who speak Thai.

Re: How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:20 am
by Tod Daniels
Well, I think we're gonna hafta delve into Stu's assertions that he's met "tons of foreigners over the years who speak thai" a little more.

LOOK at his resume, who he's worked for, who he's taught and you'll see he's interacted with a demographic of foreigner which is about as far from the "rank-n-file" people studying thai in schools here as you can possibly be! He's taught and worked for some real heavy weights.. Funny after visiting, hanging about, and intereviewing thai schools for the last 4-5 years (and studying thai for the last 8) I DON'T know tonz of foreigners here who speak thai, in fact I know far more who can't than who can..

I think he does have a valid point about material/attendance and I have seen it time and again in schools around the country. The early levels of conversation/reading/writing are well attended, but the higher you go in the levels the less students there are in any particular class.. The schools work on a "shot-gun" approach, comin' up with material which is a "near fit" for most of their target demographic. It's not perfect, but it can yield results.

I think once you're at the "I'm good enough at thai to know I suck" stage, http://womenlearnthai.com/index.php/the ... uck-stage/ private lessons can often yield more "bang-4-the-baht" than group lessons do, depending on the person.

Good Luck.
Tod

Re: How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Tue Mar 10, 2015 6:11 pm
by PatrickK
Certainly a valid point. What is a fair estimate with reasoning? We can estimate how many foreigners are residing in Thailand, and then take how many go to language schools, study on their own, don't attempt, etc.

I've been traveling almost constantly for the last 3 months so my Thai studying has been a bit on hold. While I do read almost everyday, I'm not actively studying vocab and drilling. In a couple months when I return to Thailand I plan to hire a tutor for a few hours a week.

Re: How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 4:31 am
by Tod Daniels
It is really hard to get good solid numbers as far as foreigners who speak coherent thai (as opposed to "horse-peak-thai", "2-word-tourist-thai" or "taxi-thai").

I'd say from personal experience the percentage of foreigners who speak coherent thai is quite low. Then again, are we talking about an ex-pat who got stationed here, had his international company put him thru an intensive thai course so he could interact with his predominantly thai staff OR are we talkin' about some retiree who came here and thought they'd go learn thai.

The motivation factor cannot be underestimated :D ! I learned thai because after three years here tryin' to wring what passes for engrish outta every thai I had to deal with I realized it'd be easier for me to learn to speak thai. ;) Plus, I live alone so don't have the luxury of a "thai-in-tow" or thai significant other following me around "speaking" for me like so many foreigners I see here :lol: ..

Patrick, did you see this site (which BTW; I have nothing to do with); http://www.thaifrequency.com/

It's got a really good set of resources for "top words". That guy put a LOT of time into taking that (mostly crap) Chula list and re-working it.

He's got ANKI decks and a lot of stuff on that site..

It's worth perusing, especially for the vocab building stuff :)

Re: How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 4:35 am
by Tod Daniels
Seeing as you get tonz of responses on your FCLT facebook site, you should make a "poll" asking foreigners to rate their thai ability.

You'd have to come up with some "criteria" for them to rate themselves and you'll have to factor in that to a person, foreigners who speak thai here overestimate their actual ability in thai.

Still given the number of people who post on your FB page, you could start to get some idea.

Re: How many farangs can speak Thai?

Posted: Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:43 pm
by PatrickK
I posted the poll on there a few weeks ago, but only got 9 votes. I set the standard with the CEFR. I'll see if I can try to get more.

Do you know of any standardized Thai language tests? Perhaps those may provide more info too.