Today was my first official Thai lesson! I’ve been having informal ones all over the place, but today we actually sat down in a classroom with a book and did a proper lesson. Turns out I already know almost everything in the first lesson! So, I’m a step ahead of the game already.
I had Lucy teach me the months and a few other phrases I wanted to learn, such as “if you speak only English for 10 minutes, you get 50 points!” hahaha. I haven’t actually used that one yet. She had me repeat all the months of the year back to her and we were both very excited when I got almost all of them right on the first try!
Writing and learning all this stuff is all well and good, but I actually need to start studying it at night, so I at least have some rote memorization going on. One thing new I learned from the book today is that when you ask someone how old they are, there is one word for “years old” for ages 1-10 and a different word for over age 10. It took a while for Lucy to explain that one to me in a mix of really slow English and really rapid Thai, but I finally got it. I was so excited; I was like “Oh! I get it, I get it!” I repeated what I thought back to her in English and she was super excited too. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can really boost your spirits!
When we were done with the book lesson, I told her a story about seeing the cleaning lady this morning using as much Thai as I could remember and Lucy would tell me the words as I said the English words. It was kind of cool. I’m picking it up pretty fast! The hardest thing for me is the word endings. I sometimes can’t figure out where to put my tongue to do the different stops. Like, is it just behind the teeth, or at the back of the throat or the roof of the mouth? It makes different sounds depending, you know? Also, knowing where the tones fall is hard. Like compared to a piano, is the low tone at a C, an E or an A? And is mid-tone at E, G or B? I can’t explain it very well in writing, but it’s hard.
After my Thai lesson I printed out some stuff for my English class, then I was supposed to hang out with some of the kids as they studied Thai language. Judy was like “Uh, how are you going to know if they are saying it right?” I just had some papers that the kids were supposed to do in groups and then I had some worksheets they were supposed to fill in. Judy and Lucy ended up coming into class and reading it with the kids. We had Willow, Amelie, Sunny and Molly. They had each kid read the paragraphs out loud around the table. I was sitting next to Sunny, so after she finished, she shared her paper with me and ran her finger along the Thai words, saying it two or three syllables at a time and having me repeat it. It was so cute! She obviously picked up that from people teaching English by pointing to the individual words. But, to me all the Thai just looks like squiggles on the paper, so I am following along, but having NO IDEA what I am saying or what the letters actually mean on the page. The best part was the end, when Judy and Lucy had the kids all read the paragraphs together. Sunny still ran her finger under the lines so I could follow along, but she kept looking up at me like “Why are you not reading?” not understanding that I have not learned any Thai alphabet yet. It was still really sweet though.
Then we had English class. I started out with the kids reviewing what we learned. This is a good chance for me to practice my Thai also. I say the word in Thai and have them tell me what the English word is. We did that for a few minutes, then played the memory game again with them. Today we had Gabby and Willow as well. They were absent yesterday, so they had to catch up a little with the new words. They seem to be getting better with the recognition of what the words actually mean in relation to Thai.
I printed out two types of family word finds, so that kept them occupied for a while. I was impressed that they really didn’t start cheating off each other til they only had one or two words left. Plus, they were SILENT while doing this, which is amazing considering the usual volume in that room! When they had all finished finding the words, I had them write the words in Thai underneath and had Judy check those.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I basically ran class by myself for the first 20 minutes before Judy was able to come in and I was able to make myself understood and to understand them! It was pretty great.
The word find took most of class, but they did such a good job with finding almost all the words with no help! After they finished and all got stars and points on the board for their work, we did a few rounds of hangman. They are so funny when they figure out a word, they all want to be the first one to shout it out. Then, they want to be the first to tell you what the Thai translation is, so it gets pretty cacophonous! Most of the time I can’t even tell if they are saying the right word or not. I feel bad getting mad at them for being loud because they are just SO EXCITED and proud of their knowledge. I’d rather have them exuberant and excited to learn than quiet and not wanting to learn.
After class and dinner was over, Inna and I walked down to the Night market and walked around a bit. On our way back, I stopped for some ROTI!! Alloy, Alloy! (Yummy yummy).
Right now the cat is sleeping so sweetly stretched out on my lap. She is much nicer when she is asleep and not gouging my arms with her sharp teeth!
Last minute thoughts: I forgot to say that I saw Aung, our tailor from back in November when the guys in our group got suits made. He is leaving for seminary in Burma in April, but I thought he would be gone by March, so I was excited to see him. He remembered me, and showed me a big posterboard they have on display with people who had suits made. There are 3 pictures of our group! One of them is the silly one of the guys in Oceans 13 pose. :) hahaha One of them is of our entire group, so I’m on the board too, even though I didn’t get anything made. Aung says hello to our gang though.
The other thing is I was telling Judy that I want to do piano lessons for kids who are interested. Ning was very excited by this and was telling me today that it’s been a dream of hers to learn piano for years but she couldn’t afford lessons! So, perfect. I told her there are 2 ways to learn: by hearing and by reading music. I am going to teach her to read music so that after I leave, she can still play any music she ever finds. Our lessons start next Wednesday after I get back from Singapore.
Also forgot to mention that I got my ticket to Singapore this morning. I’ll be there over the weekend and hopefully get the visa Monday no problem! Prayers still please!