Language Thai Learning Mountain View

How I Figured Out Why Learning The Thai Language Is Confusing – And How To Fix It.

Now Im not the sharpest tool in the shed – but I not a dummy either.

So I wondered why a reasonably intelligent guy like me couldn’t work out how to read and write Thai after multiple attempts with different teachers and institutions.

Then I worked out why – and it was staring me in the face the whole time. A blinding flash of the obvious.

When Thai teachers put together a system for English peeps to learn their language, they used the same words (low, middle and high) many times to explain different things.

The academics had arranged the consonants into 3 groups and called them Low Middle and High Classes.

Unfortunately they also used the same words eg Low Middle and High to explain the Tone groups; which is a different thing altogether. Instant confusion. It was havoc to try and make sense of.

And that’s why you so often hear that Thai is hard to learn. It’s no wonder if they are going to intermingle the same words to describe different roles.

There are 2x LOWs that mean different things (eg Low Class consonant and Low tone) and 2x HIGHs that means different things (eg High Class consonant and High tone) and many MIDDLEs that all mean different things = super complicated. Here’s the solution.

So I had a brainwave and renamed the old-fashioned consonant classes into colours, and separated them into 3 groups based on easy to remember positions in the earth eg

red = SUN is high

green = earth is middle

blue = sea is low

Simple as. See below.

Ahhh the clouds parted and sunshine came through. I could see clearly now …

Think of the RED group as the SUN (previously known as “high class”)

accelerated learning uses colour with an associated idea; thus RED & SUN high in the air

Think of the GREEN group as the EARTH (previously known as “middle class”)

colour plus idea makes it easier to remember; thus GREEN & EARTH the middle ground

Think of the BLUE GROUP as the SEA (previously known as “low class”)

BLUE is the colour of the SEA which is the lowest level

How An English Person Easily Explains Thai Tones

I must give thanks to Rachelle Nelson for this brilliant concept of How To Learn Thai Tones.

What made tones finally click for me was thinking about them as different intonations in English, which this video using the word “hi” is very close to.

For example, think of the MID tone as a incomplete thought, perhaps the way you would greet someone if you’re concentrating very hard and don’t want to be disturbed, as in “Hi…”

The FALLING tone is more of an “excited” sound, like exclaiming “hi!” to someone you are excited to see.

The LOW tone sounds like the way you say hi as a formality, just to get on with the rest of your statement – “Hi. I’m calling about…”

The HIGH tone is like a lead-in to a question, as in “Hi, are you there?”

And the RISING tone is like a prompting question – I imagine a parent saying to their child, “Are you gonna say hi?”

And that’s another example and instance why Ive found that non-Thai people make the best Thai teachers (no offence intended).

Chiang Mai community

Why I stayed in Chiang Mai after my internship finished

As I was packing my bag to travel back home to Australia after my four-month internship* had finished in 2014, I decided that Chiang Mai was just too good to leave. All I needed to do was make my online income my MAIN income.

From 2014 until 2018, I rented condos around Chiang Mai. From Sang Serene to Hillside 4 and Convention Condominium, I finally settled on The Trio Condominium because of the awesome location, large studio space, pool with a view of Doi Suthep mountain and minutes walk to Maya and Nimman.

popular co-working space

I had a fantastic time in and around Chiang Mai. There was an active Digital Nomad (DN) community of smart people who loved working online and were willing to help me succeed. I mostly hung out at a now-defunct but legendary co-working space called Coffee Monster.

From long benches, fast internet speeds, recreational activities like ping pong to parties and salsa lessons in the evenings, Coffee Monster was a sprawling house that was converted to satisfy the needs of DNs. It had a green-screen video recording room and a separate and totally silent podcasting booth. Brilliant.

perfect for working online with a partner

There were many local Facebook groups – and I ended up in a weekly MasterMind that rapidly accelerated my business.

These DNs also loved to travel and knew a lot about the best places to go and how to get there for a bargain. It felt like I had hit the jackpot.

But just like technology changes, the digital nomad movement itself was constantly morphing into something new every month.

So being at the beginning of the DN movement in 2014, I decided to make up my own definition of what being a digital nomad meant. And use Chiang Mai as my base for travelling the world.

nomad coffee club promo
Great friendships and bonding over a common love of saying NO to the normal average grind

I was MC for the Nomad Coffee Club for nearly 3 years. That opportunity introduced me to hundreds of newbie and experienced nomads; so I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what the nomad movement was and where it was headed.

One thing I did know was that we didn’t resemble backpackers in any way shape or form. Most of these intelligent guys and gals had previously slaved away in a corporate environment and they all came to the same conclusion: it sucked. So they saved their money and went looking for answers. First stop: Chiang Mai.

As opposed to the breath-taking growth we witnessed in the first few years after 2014, it has plateaued now; but becoming a digital nomad will always be the best way for educated people to break out of the boring corporate 9 to 5 treadmill and earn a living online from anywhere in the world AKA ‘location independent’.

*PS The internship was purely being in the right place at the right time. I wanted to travel to South East Asia after my divorce in 2011, so I took up an offer to visit a friend in Jakarta. BIG mistake. I got taken to the cleaners by a professional gold digger and lost all the money I had to a very beautiful but totally corrupt and ruthless liar.

I returned to Australia with my tail between my legs; feeling bashed about the head and heart – but not beaten. As luck would have it, my second chance came when an email arrived asking for experienced marketers to join a small group re-launching a clever software called Copy Sniper. After sending off my intro video plus a 90 minute Skype interview, I was chosen to be included for a four-month internship. It was a successful launch – and it changed my life dramatically. I’ve never looked back.