Before I describe my experience learning Thai at AUA via ALG, I should first briefly relate my experiences with Thai in the U.S. during the roughly year and a half period that ended with my arrival in Thailand in June 2011. When I first began to seriously consider going to Thailand, I did some research on language schools, and discovered AUA’s ALG program in Bangkok. I decided that that was the route I wanted to pursue and that therefore I would eschew traditional book and practice-based study and instead simply try to get some exposure to the language. This was not easy given the limited materials that I was able to find, but I did watch a number of TV programs and listen to some music (sung in Thai), thinking that this would help me to at least start to tune into the sound system of the language.
I also watched some DVDs and VCDs of conversations in Thai; the VCDs included not only conversations, but a narrator/instructor who gave English translations of Thai words and phrases, as well as going over the numbers in Thai. However, I pretty soon gave up on the TV programs (because I couldn’t understand them and found them boring) as well as the DVDs and VCDs (which I also found dull). I continued listening to the music, which I enjoyed, but which I now tend to believe didn’t actually help me at all in learning the language.
A few months before coming to Thailand I bought Benjawan Poomsan Becker’s “Thai for Beginners” book and audio CDs, but then changed my mind and never touched the book. I did however listen to the CDs quite a bit, but without trying to consciously memorize what I was hearing; nor did I try to practice speaking. I now tend to think that this had a negligible effect (if any) on my learning the language.
And so when I arrived in Thailand in June 2011, I knew hardly any Thai at all – maybe just the few phrases corresponding to such things as hello and excuse me.