Paying Attention

6 April 2014; AT5 = 1063 hours; total class time = 2001 hours; TV = 706.8 hours

Man directing traffic on Thanon Ratchadamri, in Bangkok.

Man directing traffic on Thanon Ratchadamri, in Bangkok.

A few weeks back I was watching a lakorn that I was none too taken with – the 1999 preng ngao เพรงเงา, which I thought wasn’t bad but wasn’t really more than just ok either. I realized that a lot of the time I was paying less than full attention, because my mind kept wandering off. Nonetheless I was usually still able to understand what was going on, at least the main gist of the scene. And if I really didn’t get something, rewatching usually wouldn’t help much.

Well of course, I thought to myself, it’s a soap opera, not a lecture in metaphysics; it’s the kind of narrative that doesn’t really require much in the way of mental gymnastics to “get.” You either get it, because your understanding of the language, non-verbal cues, context, etc, is sufficient, or you don’t get it – and that’s that.

It’s not the kind of thing that requires 100% laser-focused attention – right?

* * *

One day during that same time period I’m running errands in Bangkok and find myself standing on a crowded street corner, waiting for the stream of cars pouring out of Central World and onto Thanon Ratchadamri to come to a halt so I can continue on my way.

One of the men who’s directing this traffic is continuously yelling something, but I’m not paying him much attention and whatever it is he’s yelling doesn’t even really sound so much like language as it does just part of the general background noise of the street.

But as I’m standing there, the thought occurs to me that I shouldn’t waste this opportunity – a free micro-lesson in Thai! – but should instead see if I can understand what this man is saying. And as I think this my attention shifts a little, becomes a bit more focused, and within just a few iterations I can clearly discern left hand, left hand! shouted over and over as he motions at the cars passing him by and turning left onto Ratchadamri.

So…I should really pay more deliberate attention – right?




One thought on “Paying Attention

  1. Pingback: A Radio Day | learning thai without studying

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