Saturday, May 05, 2007

I officially know Thai better than French

At the park today I met a grandmother with her grandson and when I started chatting with her, she said she only spoke French (en franciais, bien sur!). I studied French for about 4 years in community college back in the late 80s and early 90s in addition to the two years required in high school. It was my dream to become fluent in another language, because in my opinion, that was the mark of a truly educated person. Trouble was, I never created an opportunity for myself to study abroad in an immersion program, and once my studies finished, I no longer practiced French.

Then I spend nearly 4 years in Thailand, and marry a Thai man and hear spoken Thai every day. Although Thai, in my opinion, is infinately more difficult to learn than one of the romance languages, I've been around it more intensely in recent years.

So I chatted with this grandmere francaise, and my brain kept getting French and Thai words mixed up, making it difficult to speak to her. It was amusing but frustrating and I tried to tell her what was going on. I'm glad I had an opportunity to speak French today, and even though I could not speak it very well, when she spoke to me, I understood 90% of what she said.


Michelle said...


Wow, you did better than I could do. I studied French for TWELVE years and doubt I could hold a conversation in it :-) Like you though, I do understand 90% of it.

My Thai is coming along very well though. I've now have 120 hours of Thai lessons (3 hours a day, every day, Monday thru Friday for 2 months) and it's amazing now what I understand and what I can say. I can actually have a conversation with a Taxi driver and understand 50% of what he's telling me - not bad to say I've only been studying for 8 weeks!)

My goal is to be relatively fluent by the end of the year - we start learning reading and writing in 3 months!

Amy said...

Great job, Michelle! Knowing the language, and even knowing how to read it too, helps tremendously and makes living there much easier.

Let me know how the job hunt is going when you have some time.