Saturday, March 16, 2013

Thai Language Acquisition

Language acquisition is an interesting thing. We all do it naturally at children, but very differently when we learn something beyond our native language. Some people are visual, while others just need auditory cues, yet others may like a mix of both. There is outright immersion 24/7, or learning in (in)formal classes. We practice reading, listening, speaking, comprehending, and so on until we become confident in our foreign communication abilities.

I feel, however, second (and third, fourth,..., nth) language acquisition requires experiential learning. People need to be able to link the vocab, chunk, sentence, etc. to something in real life, whether it is a motion that is learned in accordance to the learned material, connected to a prior life experience, or learning on the fly in the midst of a situation. Experiences are absolutely critical to adult language learning.

Peace Corps (Thailand, at least), by and large, does a good job of introducing both language and culture into the language classes. Trainees have numerous opportunities to practice speaking the new language to become confident in both their language skills and ability to adapt to their new community. Additionally, we receive enough cultural training to understand the linguistics of the language as well. While fascinating in its own right, it aids in comprehending both Thai language and culture. But again, so much of the PC language acquisition process is experiential in nature. See/hear it, do it, learn it.

On an unrelated note, I learned the word for plunger today. It's luksub.

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