7 January 2013; AT5 = 764 hours; total time = 1702 hours; TV = 294 min
Today I’ll return to school having had a three week break while AUA was closed for Christmas and new year’s, during which I took a week-long trip through central Thailand. In my travels I got into several fairly long, involved conversations in Thai. As usual, my listening and speaking abilities varied quite a bit. It can be very frustrating when the topic of conversation exceeds my abilities – often this is simply a matter of my lacking the vocabulary necessary to reply to a question or express a thought. At other times my abilities in Thai declined simply due to fatigue after a couple of hours of conversation. All in all though, I’d say my abilities are vastly better than a year ago.
I remain frustrated by my comprehension abilities while watching movies or TV, listening to songs, or listening to other people’s conversations – all situations where the communication isn’t aimed at me personally, as it would be in a one-on-one conversation. Often I will understand a good number of the words that are used, but somehow things don’t come together enough for me to “get” the overall meaning of what is being expressed. Sometimes little patches of meaning will come into focus here and there, as when listening to a song and understanding a line here and a phrase there. With TV and movies the visuals provide a lot of information, of course; but say I’m watching a scene where the characters are just talking and it’s not clear from the context what they’re talking about – in this case my understanding often remains vague at best, nonexistent at worst.
However, things are getting a little better – the other day, listening to some Thai songs that I’ve had since before coming to Thailand, and that I hadn’t listened to in a number of months, I understood a good deal more of the lyrics than in the past.
I’ve decided to make a change in my learning strategy. I’m going to cut down on the number of hours I spend in the classroom each week, and make up the time by watching more movies and TV. I already started doing this when I got back from my trip a few days ago – hence the TV (“Thai video”) number of 294 minutes – almost five hours – from the three movies that I watched over the last three days.
I’ll be keeping a record of the time I spend watching Thai video. The “rules” are simple: what I watch counts as long as it’s in Thai, there are no subtitles, and I’m paying full attention as I would in class. (So casual TV watching in a restaurant while I eat a meal doesn’t count). I’m doing this because although I feel like I’m still getting something out of classes at AUA, I also feel like it would soon be time to “move up” to the next level. But there is nothing beyond AT5. Movies and TV in Thai feel like the equivalent of the next level.
Oh, for the record, I’d guesstimate that since coming to Thailand, but before I started tracking my “video time” a few days ago, I’ve probably watched something like 25 hours worth of subtitle-less movies, etc.