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Quick teach English advice for volunteers in Thailand and Laos

Quick teach English advice Some intriguing differences between Thai/Lao and Western languages! How could you teach English if you don’t understand the Thais/Laos?


Final consonants, what’s that?

Thai/Lao people hardly pronounce the final consonant in a word, if at all.

They think it should be the same in English!

So hire and high are both hi.

Light becomes a lie!

And mouse and mouth both become a mow, whatever that is!.

This makes for many, funny misunderstandings between farangs (foreigners) and Thai/Lao people. Welcome!

Thai consonants

More consonant troubles

Thais don’t like them!

Russian is a nightmare to learn, a tongue breaking exercise, and you can try the kitchen and chicken game. The kitchen is as likely to end up in the chicken as vice versa!

Or, is it electricity or electric city?

So what to do as a volunteer teacher?

Ask Openmind Projects or come for our monthly volunteer training in Thailand.

Thai/Lao are not very strict about the order of the words

They are very context based. For you to understand, you need to know the situation, the context!

And then the grammar

·       Verbs have no special place. Listen to your Thai friend speaking English, you may be surprised. But you can learn Thai grammar that way!

·       Subjects and pronouns are mostly dropped in daily talk. So when your friend says eat already it could mean he had eaten or she or it, or John or they. And it does not mean they are already eating. Guess why?

·       The plural is expressed by extra words not by any s or similar, so mostly forgotten when speaking English.  The ‘elephant coming’ can mean one, two, many or the elephants are coming. Watch out! - Or maybe wash out, the consonant thing again.

·       Articles are not used. See above

·       Most tenses do not exist. Don’t give your poor Lao/Thai friends a headache by trying to explain the perfect tense. Don’t even consider the conditional! Your friend does not like a headache!

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