Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog February 5th, 2011

Teacher Time Talks Turkey

Here at the Ban Phe headquarters of TEFL International we not only teach our students to teach, we give ‘em a quickie course in Thai culture and the Thai language.

I’ve always maintained that there’s nothing very tricky about learning Thai. It’s not a complicated language. If you can master “Hello”, “How are you?”, “What’s your name?”, “Where are you going?”, “Have you eaten yet?”, and “See you later” in Thai, you can have a very pleasant conversation with any Thai you happen to meet.

Our valiant Thai staff gives our students a good grounding in basic Thai, but since they didn’t grow up speaking English they sometimes forget that some of their vowels and consonants don’t exist in English, causing our students to fumble the ball, so to speak. And sometimes our students are not very attentive listeners (just like some of their own students will be when they are out in their own Thai classroom!)

So let me just bend your ear (or would it be grab your eyeball?) for a moment as we reverse gears and I teach you some Thai. That is, if you don’t mind my unpedantic approach.

I teach ‘em fast and I teach ‘em to remember – that’s my motto.

Let’s take, for example, “See you later”. So often farangs get it into their heads that when they say goodbye they should say goodbye – which is (according to the pedagogues) “laa gawn”.

Well, any Thai will tell you that’s for people you don’t plan to meet again, ever, such as store clerks or your future mother-in-law. No. What you want to say is (and this is the correct phonetics, I don’t care what the eggheads have written):

‘Pope gun my”. Easy peasy, mate. That’s the Catholic Pope, who has a gun, but it’s my gun. Repeat and rinse: Pope gun my. And the tones? Oh lordy, here we go again! If you ever hear a Bangkok Thai speaking to an Isaan Thai you’ll think they’re either singing opera or having a cat fight – the tones go right out the window, but they still manage to follow each other, because of the context.

If you must have your tones, then sing “pope gun my” on descending notes.

There, now you have a perfectly good phrase and you’ve learned to say it exactly right. Pretty painless, huh?

There’s plenty more I could teach you in just minutes, but our hour is up. That’ll be 500 baht, please. What? You thought I was giving you my golden knowledge for freebies? Nuh-uh, buttercup. Cough it up, or you’ll learn to say “jeb maag maag” pdq!

A blogger's prerogative is to write about anything & everything, even if it has nothing to do with his or her supposed blog.
Well, I'm exercising that prerogative today to celebrate a great American institution — Indigestion . . .no, wait! I mean Super Bowl Sunday. Enjoy, my friends — and pass me the Pepto Bismol.

There’s no use in denying it,

Baking, broil or frying it,

The Super Bowl will bring about

Heartburn, gas and major gout,

As fans from all vicinities

Gobble their affinities.

Whether ham or cheese or suds,

Chips or veggies, taffy cuds,

Dips so rich their calories

Equal Wall Street salaries,

Sandwiches of Dagwood status,

Full of mayonnaise, afflatus,

Pickles, mushrooms, sauerkrauted –

Weight Watchers completely routed!

Watching football by the hour

Takes a lot of staying power

Fueled by burgers, steaks and fries,

Guacamole, pizza pies,

donuts glazed to blazing sheens,

And don’t forget the refried beans!

Cookies, crackers, lemonade,

Peanut brittle – hard as jade –

Pralines, Slim Jims, and the Ding Dong

(Oh, I’m starving from this sing-song!)

All these fatty food invite us

to develop real gastritis.

I’m suffering from food fatigue . . .

I think I’ll switch to Little League.