Learning any language requires constant revision. Human is not like a computer that you can just download any program to install. Human brain needs practice. If you have a means, of course, learning language in a country that people speak the language seems to be the best choice. Nevertheless, most of us are working adults who, unfortunately, are not able to afford the time. So that immersion trip seems out of choice.
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From my experience as a language learner and a language tutor, I can say that typically you need to at least match the revision duration to your class duration, for those who engage a tutor. For those who don’t, first, you have to be disciplined. And basically that’s all you need to succeed in learning any language. On an average of 30 minutes revision everyday for 6 months, you should be able to get around the country fairly comfortably.
Since this blog is about Thai language, I will just zoom into this particular language instead. For my case, I am teaching in Thai in Singapore. Most of my students do not have much opportunity to converse with Thai people. Well, some of them do go to Thailand every few months, every month, or some even go there nearly every week. But there are also people who, since started, haven’t been to Thailand at all due to work constraint. Some people are gifted: some speak better, others listen better. My successful students know how to manage. If they know that they have to improve on their listening, they watch movies. If they know that their speaking is yet to achieve their expectation, they try to speak more during the lesson; some come to me for additional conversation lessons. If they want to master the writing, they write pages. I am not joking, I have seen someone practising nearly 10 pages of writing in one week.
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One thing – and I cannot stress this enough: The best way to practice your Thai is to watch Thai movies and TV series. You get to see the situations, you get to hear whatever we have learned during the lesson, and the best thing is that you get to have a feeling of being between two Thai persons who are conversing. Don’t worry that it is fast. Yes, it is fast. Hence, please watch with a subtitle. Watch them for your own entertainment. And don’t feel stressed. Someone told me he would watch a show twice: first round is to get a gist, second round is to listen to phrase by phrase. I was impressed.
Learning language takes time. Give yourself some time, and you will succeed.