Culture and the Thai Program


Taken from Long in Asia – david long: Culture Shock

“One thing I realized as a student in the AUA Thai Program is that through sharing their lives, our teachers gave us more understanding of culture than was even imaginable. I realized that in fact, understanding culture was more important than being able to use Thai, and preliminary to being able to use Thai as a Thai. There is so much added value in that, the for me, becoming fluent in Thai was merely a by-product.”

Hi there – if you are reading this post and have not been to AUA – do so. I can honestly say that going to AUA was one of the best things I have done since I arrived in Thailand, originally for one month in 1996…..My principal regret was not startng to learn Thai at AUA sooner than I did (but then I was only going to be here for one month, correct?).

The way the teachers are able to weave into lessons subjects such as etiquette, social custom,traditions, history, politics, slang, humour – you name it…. at some point in time it gets done…fire eating in one class I remember 🙂 I have learnt more about Thailand and Thai culture in this way, than from any other source.

I have not been an ideal student for sure but progress continues in leaps and bounds and I attend class whenever I can. One thing I can vouch for is that the language that “goes in” for a student at school invariably stays in your subconscious; the language is there, even though you may not use it for a long time, when last year I spent almost 10 months outside Thailand.

I just wish that in the early days I had had the opportunity to view some of David Long’s excellent videos as to the rationale of language acquisition(they were not available then of course) as I think I would have been more committed to the programme and not wanting to carry a “parachute” around with me whenever I attended. I think it is exceedingly difficult to break adult learning ideas and go back to child like ones, for we are adults and various learning styles seem to suit different adults with different temperaments.

Like the guy who always wears his watch – he may feel naked without one, it sometimes feels exactly the same to me if I don’t have my dictionary with me in my bag of tricks. Now I will probably get told off for that but at least I hardly ever get the dictionary out in class now, rather guess the words and if curiosity gets the better of me (it usualy does) have a quick look after.

Do go and speak to David Long and of course, buy him a beer!