Certain subjects require a level of seriousness to learn, but when it comes to Teaching Yourself Thai it is the fun factor that matters most. The vast majority of adult language learners quit after a few weeks or months out of boredom or because they find the language too difficult. This is not the case though when Thai language learners supplement their study with LivingHour.org. Having fun is where our easy Thai language books outshine all others. Our Learning Thai e-books and books are filled with material that you will have fun learning from and enjoy using.
Fun isn’t the only reason why our Thai language books are so popular with expats, English teachers, and tourists. All of our books are edited by both professional Thai editors who are fluent in English and foreign educators who are conversant in Thai. This unique combination results in a level of accuracy that is rarely found in other Thai language learning resources.
As everyone knows, Thai people value fun above almost everything else. In the kingdom of Thailand, “sanuk” (fun) is a way of life. That is why you want to teach yourself Thai with words, sentences, and phrases you can use to have fun and joke with Thais.
Using LivingHour.org’s entertaining easy Thai language books, you will have fun learning and using such material as:
You like that song? I think it’s so lame.
เธอ ชอบ เพลง นั้นเหรอ ชั้น ว่ามัน ห่วยแตก จริงๆ นะ
Thuh châwp phlayng nán rĕu? Chán wâh man hùay-dtàek jing ná.
You like song that (p)? I think it lame truly (p).
I think your brain is lame.
ชั้น ว่า สมอง นาย ต่างหาก ที่ห่วย
Chán wâh sà-măwng nai dtàhng-hàhk thêe hùay.
I think brain you on-the-contrary that-is lame.
The Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary & Learning Tool
dance v. – เต้น – dtên
I can dance, but I don’t like to show off.
เต้น ได้ แต่ ไม่ ชอบ อวด เก่ง
Dtên dâi dtàe mâi châwp ùat gèng.
lit. dance* can but not like show off excellently
Learn Thai Top 40: How to Flirt in Thai
No need to flatter me, I’ve already fallen for you.
ไม่ต้อง ยกยอ ฉัน ก็ หลง เธอ แล้ว
Mâi dtâwng yók-yaw, chăn gâw lŏng thuh láeo.
lit. not must tempt, I (joiner) into you already
dtâng-jai – ตั้งใจ – v. – to intend to (lit. heart established)
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I was really drunk.
ขอโทษ ผม ไม่ ได้ ตั้งใจ ผม เมา มาก
Khăw-thôht. Phŏm mâi dâi dtâng-jai. Phŏm mao mâhk.
lit. sorry, I not did intend, I drunk a lot
For decades the Thai government has attempted without success to reform Thailand’s education system and better prepare Thai students for the demands of the modern professional workplace. This failure continues to impact all areas of Thai life, and is among the root causes of recent political instability.
The frustration felt by those government officials in charge of reform was illustrated a few months ago by Thailand’s Education Minister Chinnaworn Boonyakiat, who on hearing recent teacher test scores wondered publicly, “Even teachers fail, so how can we raise the quality of students?”
Writing for the Bankok Post, Dr. Sawai Boonma (a former economist at the World Bank) recently offered one answer, stating that now is the time for Thailand’s wealthiest citizens to stand up and contribute substantially to education reform and social development, much in the way Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Star Wars’ George Lucas have done in the United States.
Such private intervention is undoubtedly needed when we consider the inability of successive Thai governments to enact and enforce meaningful education reforms. It has been over a decade since Thailand’s National Education Act (1999), which aimed to finally make the break from traditional Thai educational norms, such as lecturing and rote activities, to embrace a more creative, questioning approach to learning. The Act also set out to decentralize finance and administration, giving individual teachers and institutions more freedom to set curriculums and mobilize resources, which in turn would increase accountability and ensure that funds are targeted in the right areas.
In reality, little, if anything, has changed in Thailand’s education system since 1999. Rote learning continues to be the norm and schools rarely have freedom when it comes to curriculum and the allocation of funds provided by the national government. More often than not funds are required to be used for building projects and the purchase of hard assets such as buses, even when such projects and purchases are unnecessary.
The failure of the National Education Act to result in any fundamental changes in the Thai education system is often attributed to resistance among teachers and administrators, as well as a lack of training in new teaching methods. When training sessions are conducted, they are usually simply cut and pasted (and translated) from material used in the West and do not take into account Thai culture and the unique hurdles which Thai students and teachers face.
Education reform is obviously a complex issue that involves many factors. But there are some simple things which could be done to get the ball rolling. At the Ysaan Institute, we suggest that serious education reforms should begin with the following: 1) The establishment of new teacher training programs; 2) The creation of meaningful incentives for teachers and administrators; and 3) The recruitment of skilled teacher trainers and new teachers. We refer to this as a three prong TMR (Training, Motivation, Recruitment) approach which could be conducted rather easily with help from the government and private sector.
TMR: Training, Motivation, & Recruitment
- Current problem: The failure of past teacher training in Thailand is due to the fact that real training has never taken place. In many cases, teachers have only been handed books on new teaching strategies—ones which have simply be translated or copied from English texts, with no thought as to how they can be adapted to the unique Thai classroom setting. In other instances, teachers have attended workshops delivered by Thai trainers who spend most of their time lecturing on theoretical issues rather than providing the practical tools that teachers need to become better educators.
In all cases, the vast majority of teacher trainees (being products of a failed system themselves) lack the thinking and language skills to fully understand what they are being taught and how these new teaching theories can be applied in their classrooms.
- Suggested solution: All teacher training programs should be activity based rather than lecture oriented. These activities should not only surround the implementation of new teaching strategies but also on the development of 10 Basic Thinking Skills: 1) Observation and Recall, 2) Comparing and Contrasting, 3) Grouping, 4) Labeling, 5) Classifying, 6) Sequencing, 7) Inferring causes/effects/qualities, 8) Predicting, 9) Imagining; and 10) Questioning.
Trainers should be hired who do nothing but travel their province training teachers. Training sessions at one school should last a minimum of two weeks (depending on the size of the school) and include two parts. The first part of the training should involve activity workshops for teachers. The second part should involve the trainers observing the teachers implement what they have been taught in the classroom, providing helpful feedback and assistance when needed.
An online teacher training forum should be established where teachers can seek further advice from their trainers online after they have left the school. This forum will also be a way for trainers from different provinces to discuss their experiences with each other and develop new ideas.
MOTIVATING TEACHERS & ADMINISTRATORS
- Current problem: There is an old adage that says, “Without necessity, nothing budges.” This is especially true of human behavior. For education reform in Thailand to succeed, teachers and administrators need to feel that reform is a necessity—not simply because their students truly need it but because they need if they want to succeed in their careers and keep their jobs. Currently that feeling of necessity does not exist. In fact, the situation at most Thai schools is quite the opposite. Many young teachers who are reform minded are either ignored or quickly brought into line by their colleagues, while others simply quit and leave the teaching profession altogether. Meanwhile, foreign educators are often viewed simply as token figures, and thus rarely are involved in decisions related to curriculum development, much less awarded leadership roles.
- Suggested solution: Increase competition between schools by attaching funding programs to 1) the implementation of education reforms and new curriculums; 2) improved student results; and 3) increased academic and extracurricular competitions between schools at the provincial level.
Offer fast track associate professor and professor status to university teachers who develop innovative curriculums that are proven to enhance thinking skills and creativity in Thai students. Additional teacher rewards should be given to those teachers who write truly original textbooks designed specifically to meet the unique needs of 21st century Thai students.
Credentialed foreign teachers who make long term commitments to Thailand should have full access to all the rewards and professional advancement opportunities allotted to Thai teachers.
- Current problem: On starting employment at a school, new Thai teachers have three primary complaints: 1) The salaries are insufficient to meet their basic needs; 2) They are overworked due to excessive administrative duties and have little time to prepare classroom activities; and 3) Classroom sizes are so large and unruly that it is impossible conduct the teaching activities they learned while at university. Due to these three factors, more young teachers are quitting and fewer new teachers are entering the workforce—talented education majors often choosing to enter a business related field instead. With regards to foreign educators, many who arrive hoping to make a positive impact leave after a year or two, disillusioned by the knowledge that they likely will always be treated as an outsider and never be treated as an equal colleague with equal professional opportunities.
When it comes to the administration of Thai schools, the main problem is the tendency among administrators to create a cushy and unaccountable existence for themselves, one that is detached from student results and first-hand experience of what is happening inside the classroom.
- Suggested solution: Salaries should be increased to the point where non-professional service and retail jobs do not look like attractive alternatives to new teacher candidates. Additional financial incentives should be attached to the creation of unique education materials that encourage thinking skills and creativity. More part time and full time teacher assistants (no university degree required) should be hired to handle simple administrative tasks and disciplinary measures, thus providing teachers with the necessary time to develop classroom activities and learning materials.
The government should create an inexpensive, fast track path to permanent residency for credentialed foreign educators who make a long term commitment to Thailand and achieve intermediate skills in reading and speaking the Thai language. Equal professional opportunities and rewards for these foreign educators should also be guaranteed, as well as long term open-ended work permits.
New administrators should be recruited by attracting professionals who possess strong academic credentials and a track record of success in the business world, including those who may have retired from their business careers and are looking to “give back” to their communities. All financial bonuses should be directly attached to school/students achievement levels and the successful implementation of reforms.
How can Thailand’s private sector help?
As Dr. Sawai Boonma mentioned in his Bangkok Post article, it is time for Thailand’s wealthy citizens to become philanthropists and help education reform become a reality. They could begin by funding a Thai Teacher Training Institute to send Thai and foreign trainers at no cost to schools and universities across Thailand. They could fund financial incentive programs for the creation of new curriculums and innovative textbooks that focus on the development of thinking skills and creativity. They also could fund innovative “new school” projects like the GREEEN School initiative. Lastly, retired business professionals could donate their time by becoming teacher trainers themselves or donating their services to the administration of local schools undergoing reform.
If you would like to get involved please email us at living (at) livinghour.org for more information. More details on the GREEEN initiative follows:
PROJECT ONE: GREEEN SCHOOL INITIATIVE
GREEEN School is a proposed integrated community & activity-based educational institution where children enjoy learning as a part of daily living without being compelled to do so. The school’s facilities and environment are children/eco-friendly: children play and learn through innovative technologies in harmony with nature. Teachers and administrator are capable and mindful.
GREEEN School will be a local institution established to accomplish social and economic missions to build and enhance children and social capacity, generate local economy, and sustain and improve the quality of the environment and people’s lives.
Global (comprehensive) Revolution in 4 dimensions of typical traditional schools will be implemented.
At GREEEN School a holistic philosophy of education and modern pedagogy will be properly established. Teachers and teaching & learning technologies will be harmoniously integrated to ensure academic success for students; and will include Edutainment and PLEARNing (Play & Learn) activities.
School Administrator and Teacher performance will be enhanced continuously through open and equal opportunities to strengthen their profession’s capacity on the job.
Apart from being a social institution, GREEEN School will be managed and operated as a business-like organization. School affairs and expenses at every level and dimension will be efficiently and sufficiently managed to set a good example for children and society. Principle and practice of Sufficiency Economy will be encouraged and thoroughly blended in with all activity-based curriculums.
ENergy and ENvironment
Every GREEEN School will facilitate the creation of a demonstration and learning center for conservation and sustainable management of environment and energy. The center will function as a part of the learning process of school-based activities in green electricity generation and the production of green fuels. The school’s energy consumption in every section will be self-sustained with a goal to gain an overbalanced capacity to generate school economy, improving the quality of education.
GREEEN School will be a neo “Plato’s Academy” operated democratically and collaboratively with other local, national, and global institutions to lay a strong foundation for sustainable development by cultivating knowledge and integrity as a tool to re-establish social harmony, eradicate poverty, and finally create a more just, sustainable, prosperous, and peaceful local and global community in which everybody can live.
PROJECT TWO: GREEEN VILLAGE INITIATIVE
In compliance with Royal Initiatives, GREEEN Village is intended to set an example for the Thai government and show Thai society that communities can live happily and sustainably with Nature.
This proposed “Ecovillage” will be a place where villagers as local and world citizens spend their lives enlightening themselves and helping each other build better societies from the community level to the global level.
The “Sufficient” way of life exercised in the village will be knitted with the “Economy” activity-based, learning process of the GREEEN School system. GREEEN Village development will pave a right path to sustainable development and will help bring peace and prosperity to communities in rural areas and eventually the rest of the country.
To advance HM Queen Sirikit’s initiative on wise environmental conservation and the proper utilization of natural resources, GIFT and UFT are in the process of collaborating with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to brush up and brighten an environmental ideology under Her Majesty’s patronage (“Small House in the Big Forest”) with an aim to eliminate Forest Encroachment and Degradation, and Deforestation, which are a serious national concerns.
Apart from collaboration with Government agencies, the GREEEN Village’s development will also be urged and encouraged in other sectors (religious, education, hotel & tourism, real estate, etc. ( to ensure a solid and widespread knowledge of permaculture).
In addition a GREEEN Village Network will be, gradually and globally, built to facilitate the education and promotion of World Harmony through the practice of Eco-Friendly Living, Harmonizing People and Nature.
Development Plan (2010-2011)
UFT has entered into an agreement with the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Administration Organization to GREEEN 16 secondary schools under its administration to improve the quality of education and strengthen the performance of their teachers and administrators.
In parallel with the transformation of the 16 trailblazers, another 42 schools of the PAO will also be urged to participate in the program.
In collaboration with Ministry of Education and DPs, GIFT and UFT are currently GREEENing 2 adjoining primary and secondary “non-target” schools in Kai Bok Warn sub-district, a suburb of Nong Khai city.
This project is intended to set an example for the Ministry on how to innovatively solve “non-target” school problems; a paradigm-shift procedure (“Stop Shuttering, Start GREEENing Local Schools”) will be officially and publicly introduced as a total solution to the “low” education quality for which the Ministry is being strongly and widely criticized by the public.
The Ysaan Institute & LivingHour.org continue to rewrite the book on English teaching and education in Thailand with the release of student workbook versions of its popular paperbacks Generation Next (Slang & Colloquial Talk) and The Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary & Learning tool.
The workbooks are for English students in Thailand, as well as expats learning the Thai language. The release of the two books follows the Ysaan Institute’s production of two online Thai Scholars English Reading Programs that take science and liberal arts students from a 3rd grade reading level to the college level over the course of one academic year.
“English and Thai language students both face the same problems,” says Ajarn David, an English specialist who has taught for ten years in Thailand and is an adviser to the Ysaan Institute. “More often than not the Thai and English books they use are littered with mistakes, lack word for word literal translations, and/or are filled with material that wouldn’t be spoken in the same way by the average Thai or English person on the street.
“Spoken Thai and English are much different than the written forms, yet most Thai language books and English books for Thais ignore that fact. In addition, Thai and English students both struggle with the very different ways that the English and Thai languages arrange thoughts and words, yet current language books rarely show them the differences.”
The Generation Next and Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary workbooks address these problems by using both figurative and word for word translations with all of its material, by including sentences and dialogue that both Thai and English speakers would naturally use, and by having professional Thai and English editors work on the books together. While some English teachers in Thailand might think that their young students need to be taught more formal English first and that idiomatic talk and slang is best left for advanced students, Ajarn David disagrees.
“The current methods of teaching English in Thailand are a total failure for the vast majority of students. This isn’t only my opinion. This failure was something talked about quite publicly a number of years ago by a former Thai Education Minister, who said that everything about teaching English in Thailand needed to be radically overhauled. One could say the same thing about the teaching methods applied to learning the Thai language. Unfortunately, English and Thai language students continue to be taught in the same ineffective ways.”
“As all experienced English teachers in Thailand know, it is often difficult trying to get students interested and motivated to study English. Students often find the material either too difficult or too boring. They get frustrated easily and think that they’ll never be able to learn English. As teachers, we are continually trying to help students get over their frustration, shyness, and confusion, and have fun learning English. The book Generation Next (Slang & Colloquial Talk), which was co-authored by Sam Kittayapong, helps teachers do just that.”
“The important thing about both the Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary and Generation Next books is that they engage students with material that interests them. You must first get students interested before any learning can take place. And just because both books focus on colloquial Thai and English, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be effective in helping teach these languages at a more formal or professional level. In addition, we don’t expect teachers to only use these books, but to use them as a valuable supplement to other language learning material.”
The Ysaan Institute provides English teachers in Thailand with free help should they decide to use either The Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary or Generation Next (Slang & Colloquial Talk) in their classroom. The following are a few suggested sample activities:
1) Write some of the word for word English translations on the board. Then have the students try to figure out (without looking in the book) what the sentence is and how to write it correctly. This is an important activity because it gets students thinking about how thoughts and words are arranged differently in Thai and English.
2) For the Thai vocabulary words which are derived from English words, show students how the pronunciation and stress changes when the Thai language adopts an English word.
3) Have students learn the transliteration system of spelling Thai words phonetically for English speakers and randomly select different Thai words found in the book to spell phonetically. Learning to visualize the Thai language in English helps students better visualize English words too.
4)Place students in small groups and have them write new sample sentences using the slang or colloquial English words. Write them on the board and correct as needed.
5) Rewrite sample sentences and/or dialogue using more formal English, instead of the slang or colloquialisms that are used.
Contact the Ysaan Institute today at living(at)livinghour.org to order your copy of Generation Next (Slang & Colloquial Talk) or The Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary. Teachers who order ten copies or more pay only 110* baht per copy, which is over 50% off the 225 baht price for a single copy.
*All proceeds from the sale of the Generation Next workbook is either being donated to The Foundation For Underprivileged Children in Chachoengsao or used for development of free learning material at the Ysaan Institute.
LivingHour.org is pleased to announce the establishment of the Ysaan Institute, a cyber learning center for students, scholars, and teachers in Thailand and surrounding countries. Our mission is to enhance the curriculums of schools and universities with unique online educational materials which can be integrated easily with existing courses of studies.
We are currently accepting proposals from university instructors who would like Ysaan Institute to host their courses, tests, quizzes, readings, videos, audio books, or other educational materials. We are particularly interested in proposals from university teachers involved in the fields of sustainable development, eco-travel, green living, community-level entrepreneurship, and the Thai, Isaan, and English languages.
Affordable digitalization services will be offered by the Ysaan Institute to those instructors who need help placing their educational material in a digital format which can be offered online.
We are currently working on several projects, the first two of which are the Science Scholars English Reading Certificate (SSERC) program and the Life Scholars English Reading Certificate (LSERC) program. Both programs take ESL learners slowly and systematically from a 3rd grade English reading level to the college level over a period of 30 weeks (two academic terms), with quizzes and English passages of 100 words, 250 words, and 500 words. To learn more please click on the following link:
If you are a university or college instructor with a proposal (or if have any special request for learning materials), please contact us at: living(at)livinghour.org.
On May 26th, a rather remarkable essay appeared in the Bangkok Post. Titled “A guide to the perfect Thai idiot,” (แนะนำคนไทยไร้ปัญญา) it is written by Dr. Sawai Boonma, a former economist at the World Bank.
The essay is remarkable for it is the rare instance of a respected Thai citizen speaking candidly and critically of Thai culture in a public forum. Such frankness and self-reflection is necessary now more than ever for Thailand.
As with any opinion essay, there are omissions in “A guide to the perfect Thai idiot”, as well as statements which are worthy of debate and further analysis. For example, there are certainly more reasons for why Thai women enter prostitution and marry foreign pensioners than the laziness which Dr. Boonma talks about. The important thing is that his essay can be used to get that important debate and discussion started.
We have been in touch with Dr. Boonma and he has kindly granted us permission to reproduce the essay, along with a Thai translation.
In the future, the Ysaan Institute plans to create a teacher’s guide for those teachers who wish to use this essay as the basis for a lesson. If interested in the Teacher’s Guide to “A Guide to the Perfect Thai Idiot,” please visit us again in the coming weeks.
What follows now are an English and Thai audio reading of the essay, as well as the original text and its Thai translation.
A guide to the perfect Thai idiot (แนะนำคนไทยไร้ปัญญา)
by Dr. Sawai Boonma (ดร.ไสว บุญมา)
In 1996, three Latin Americans wrote a best-selling book in Spanish which was later translated into English as Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot.
เมื่อปี 2539 ชาวละตินอเมริกัน 3 คนเขียนหนังสือภาษาสเปนขายดีมากออกมาเล่มหนึ่งซึ่งได้รับการแปลเป็นภาษาอังกฤษว่า “แนะนำละตินอเมริกันปัญญาอ่อน”
Their main contention is that Latin American problems are not caused by outside influences as Latin Americans generally believe. Rather, they result mainly from actions of Latin Americans themselves. Correcting Latin American problems, therefore, must come from Latin Americans.
พวกเขาเสนอว่า ปัญหาของละตินอเมริกามิได้มาจากเหตุปัจจัยภายนอกดังที่ชาวละตินอเมริกันโดยทั่วไปใช้เป็นข้ออ้าง หากเกิดจากพฤติกรรมของชาวละตินอเมริกัน ฉะนั้น การแก้ปัญหาต้องมาจากชาวละตินอเมริกันเอง
Ask Thais about the causes of last week’s shameful event – or of any problems in Thailand for that matter – and they will readily point the finger somewhere else, never at themselves.
หากถามคนไทยถึงเหตุปัจจัยของเหตุการณ์อันน่าอดสูเมื่อสัปดาห์ที่ผ่านมา หรือของปัญหาอะไรเกี่ยวกับเมืองไทยก็ตาม เขาจะโทษสิ่งอื่นนอกจากตัวเองเสมอ
I am a Thai so I am part of this well-practiced response. But I now believe that if we continue with this long-running charade of self-deception, Thailand is on its way to becoming a failed state shortly.
ผมเป็นคนไทยคนหนึ่ง ผมจึงมักตอบคำถามตามแนวที่ทำกันมาจนชินนี้ด้วย แต่ในปัจจุบัน ผมมองว่า ถ้าพวกเราคนไทยยังใช้การหลอกตัวเองที่เราทำกันมานมนานนี้ต่อไป เมืองไทยจะเดินเข้าสู่ภาวะรัฐล่มสลายภายในเวลาอันสั้น
We present Thailand as the Land of Smiles full of gentle Buddhists. We regularly give alms to monks and often make donations to temples, believing that those are selfless acts for the welfare of others.
Deep down, however, we do that only because we wish to get something in return – to go to heaven or have a richer next life. It is a trade, pure and simple, nothing kind or selfless about it.
แต่ลึกลงไปจริง ๆ เราทำสิ่งเหล่านั้นเพราะเราต้องการสิ่งตอบแทน เช่น การไปสวรรค์หรือการมีความร่ำรวยในชาติหน้า มันจึงเป็นการแลกเปลี่ยนชัด ๆ มิใช่การให้ด้วยจิตใจเปี่ยมเมตตา
Few of us give for the sake of giving. We are basically very selfish.
พวกเราเพียงส่วนน้อยที่ให้ด้วยจิตใจจริง ๆ เพราะโดยพื้นฐานแล้วเราเป็นคนเห็นแก่ตัวมาก
Every time we go to the temple or attend a Buddhist ceremony, we duly accept and recite the Five Precepts as a guide to our daily lives, but we leave them there, as we always make promises without ever intending to keep them.
ทุกครั้งที่เราไปวัด หรือเข้าร่วมพิธีทางพุทธศาสนา เรารับและเปล่งศีลห้าออกมาอันเป็นการให้สัญญาว่าเราจะนำศีลห้าไปใช้ในการดำเนินชีวิตประจำวัน แต่เราก็ทิ้งศีลห้าไว้ตรงนั้นเพราะเราเป็นคนที่ให้คำมั่นสัญญาโดยไม่คิดที่จะรักษาสัญญานั้น ตามความเป็นจริงแล้ว
Actually, we understand little about Buddhism.
Even among the ranks of the monks, most do not know the teachings in-depth and lead their lives accordingly – all they know is how to conduct ceremonies from which they earn easy income.
แม้กระทั่งในหมู่พระสงฆ์ ส่วนใหญ่ไม่เข้าใจคำสอนของพุทธศาสนาอย่างลึกซึ้ง รู้แค่การทำพิธีกรรมซึ่งนำรายได้ง่าย ๆ มาให้ตน
This reflects something deeper – we are generally lazy and like to take short-cuts to the sabai (do-nothing) state. Lottery tickets, therefore, always sell out at premium prices; prostitution is rampant and young women readily marry foreign pensioners.
พฤติกรรมเช่นนี้สะท้อนสิ่งที่อยู่ในส่วนลึกของเรา นั่นคือ เราเป็นคนขี้เกียจและมักง่ายโดยแสวงหาทางลัดไปสู่ความสบายโดยที่ไม่ต้องทำอะไรเสมอ หวยจึงขายหมดทุกงวดด้วยราคาที่สูงกว่าราคาตามหน้าใบหวย โสเภณีจึงเต็มบ้านเต็มเมือง และเด็กสาวจึงพร้อมที่จะแต่งงานกับฝรั่งเฒ่า ๆ เพราะเขามีบำนาญ
We love to talk but rarely listen. Even when we do, we often fail to hear, as we never learn to think critically.
เราชอบพูด แต่ไม่ชอบฟัง แม้แต่เวลาเราฟัง เราก็มักไม่ได้ยิน ทั้งนี้เพราะเราไม่เคยเรียนรู้วิธีคิดเชิงวิพากษ์
We cannot put up with different points of view nor can we work cooperatively.
Many of the over 30,000 Buddhist temples were built next to one another because when we disagreed with one, we just built another.
ในบรรดาวัดที่เรามีอยู่กว่า 30,000 แห่งนั้น จำนวนมากตั้งอยู่ติด ๆ กัน ทั้งนี้เพราะเมื่อเราไม่เห็นด้วยกับวัดหนึ่ง เราก็ไปสร้างขึ้นมาใหม่ในย่านเดียวกัน
That the cooperative movement has never been successful here is another indication of our inability to tolerate different points of view.
We readily forgive, so we believe, as our most common utterance is mai pen rai (it doesn’t matter) when someone makes a mistake. But that is only a reflection of the culture of indifference and ready rationalization.
เราเชื่อว่าเราพร้อมที่จะให้อภัยเสมอเพราะเรามีคำพูดชนิดติดปากว่า “ไม่เป็นไร” เมื่อใครก็ตามทำผิด แต่นั่นเป็นเพียงการสะท้อนวัฒนธรรมจำพวกดูดายและแก้ต่างให้แก่ตัวเอง
We can always cite a well-known proverb, a famous poem or a sage’s sharp utterance to justify everything we do.
เราสามารถอ้างสุภาษิตซึ่งเป็นที่รู้กันอย่างกว้างขวาง อ้างบทกลอนที่โด่งดังและอ้างคำพูดคม ๆ ของปราชญ์เพื่อแก้ต่างให้แก่การกระทำทุกอย่างของเราได้เสมอ
We complain so much about corruption. But we do little about it.
Worse, we keep electing the same corrupt politicians because they have money and influence from which we hope to benefit.
Survey after survey shows that the majority of us do not mind corruption as long as we get something out of it.
One of the surveys last year showed that almost 85% of us believed that cheating was a normal business practice, making us practically a nation of thieves.
การสำรวจประชามติของสำนักหนึ่งเมื่อปีที่ผ่านมาพบว่าเกือบ 85% ของพวกเรามองว่าการโกงกันในการทำธุรกิจเป็นของธรรมดา ความจริงข้อนี้ชี้ว่าเราเป็นเมืองโจร
When I raised the matter in this column, I received the angriest responses from fellow Thais, using expressions so colourful that they should not be printed nor uttered within earshot of other humans.
This long-running self-deception has created so much moral deficit, to employ Joseph Stiglitz’s terminology, that has put Thailand into a state of moral crisis for some time now. Some of the symptoms of this state are the economic crisis of 1997 and the protests culminating in last week’s events.
การหลอกตัวเองเป็นเวลาอันยาวนานนี้ก่อให้เกิดการขาดดุลคุณธรรมตามคำนิยามของโจเซฟ สติกลิตซ์ จนทำให้เมืองไทยตกอยู่ในสภาวะวิกฤติทางคุณธรรมมาเป็นเวลานาน วิกฤตินี้มีอาการแสดงออกมาในรูปของวิกฤติเศรษฐกิจเมื่อปี 2540 และการประท้วงที่นำไปสู่การเผาบ้านเผาเมืองเมื่อสัปดาห์ที่แล้ว
Of course, we will never admit this, for we are perfect and will continue to be very angry when a foreigner utters something non-complementary about us.
But I do hope that the events of last week shock most of us into re-examining ourselves, our values, and start reducing the moral deficit as well as trying to generate some moral surplus: doing more genuinely voluntary work for the common good similar to the street cleaning carried out by Bangkokians last weekend, but on a regular basis.
แต่ผมหวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่า เหตุการณ์เมื่อสัปดาห์ที่ผ่านมานั้นจะกระตุ้นให้เรามองดูตัวเอง มองหลักยึดของเรา และเริ่มลดความขาดดุลคุณธรรมลงพร้อมกับพยายามทำสิ่งที่มีคุณธรรมเกินดุล นั่นคือ อาสาออกมาช่วยสังคมในแนวที่ชาวกรุงเทพฯ ออกมาช่วยกันทำความสะอาดถนนเมื่อวันสุดสัปดาห์ที่แล้ว และทำกันเป็นประจำอย่างต่อเนื่อง
ถอดความจากเรื่อง A Guide to the Perfect Thai Idiot ในหนังสือพิมพ์ Bangkok Post ฉบับประจำวันพุธที่ 26 พฤษภาคม 2553
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If you are teaching in Thailand and want to quickly add to your working Thai vocabulary, then the Original Thai-English Cognate Dictionary & Learning Tool is an excellent easy Thai book from which to learn. The book and eBook are filled with hundreds of easy Thai-English loanwords, as well as English words that sound similar to the Thai word or a related Thai word.
The colloquial sample sentences are unlike the kind you find in other Thai language books and will get you talking more casually and naturally with your Thai students and Thai colleagues. Here are a few entries from this new Thai dictionary:
dictionary n. – ดิก – dìk
That’s not what it means. Where is the dictionary?
มัน ไม่ ได้ หมายความ ว่า อย่าง นั้น ดิก อยู่ ไหน
Man mâi dâi măi-khwahm wâh yàhng-nán. Dìk yòo năi*?
lit. it not does mean that like that, dictionary be where
*In the Isaan dialect the word săi (ไส) replaces năi (ไหน) in referring to where.
fluke n. – ฟลุก – flùk
You passed? That must have been a fluke.
สอบได้ หรอ มัน ต้อง ฟลุ๊ค แน่ๆ เลย
Sàwp-dâi lăw? Man dtâwng flúk nâe nâe leuy.
lit. pass* (question), it must fluke surely surely (emph.)
*pass (สอบได้) = sàwp (สอบ) test/examine + dâi (ได้) get/ receive
function n. – ฟังก์ชัน – fang-chan
I don’t have any teaching function. I’m just a token farang (Westerner).
ผม ไม่ มี ฟังก์ชัน* การสอน เป็น แค่ ฝรั่ง โชว์
Phŏm mâi mee fang-chan gahn-săwn, bpen khâe fà-ràng cho.
lit. I not have function teaching, am just farang show
*The symbol above the letter ก in ฟังก์ชัน is called mái-than-thá-khâht (ไม้ทัณฑฆาต). It means that the letter below it is not pronounced. It also means that the word has likely been adopted from another language.
lower v. – ลด – lót
Put your hand down.
ลด มือ ลง ซี
Lót meu long* see.
lit. lower hand down (urge)
*When the word long (ลง) is placed before the word for a vehicle, like a car or bus, it means to get out of it, since one steps down when exiting.
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In Thailand the ubiquitous phrase “mai pen rai” is well known to foreigners who have visited the Kingdom. Used in a variety of situations, mai pen rai is often translated as “never mind” or “it’s no big deal” in guidebooks, but a more accurate, albeit wordy, translation would be “this matter is so insignificant, let us not give it another thought.” Mai pen rai encapsulates much of what is admirable in the Thai character, and it is a phrase that one expects Jesus would have used liberally had it been available to him.
Mai pen rai1 is perhaps most commonly used as a substitute for “you’re welcome,” a phrase which basically has no equivalent in the Thai language. You’re welcome is also a phrase that we never see Jesus using in the Gospels. The reason for this is that you’re welcome is really a command. You are welcome to do what? You’re welcome to return my kindness some day; that’s what. In other words, you’re welcome carries with it the feeling of “you owe me”.
That is not how Jesus (or Buddha) taught us to perform kindness and charity. Instead the prophet taught us to act kindly with no expectation of anything in return. We are to behave kindly because that is what we are expected to do as Sons and Daughters of God. Kindness is part of our divine natures, thus when acting kindly and generously we are tapping into that divinity.
It is for similar reasons that Thais never developed an equivalent phrase for you’re welcome. Behaving with kindness and generosity is expected of you because that is the way good people behave, and you are expected to be a good person. Mai pen rai is thus the perfect response to those who thank us. It takes the ego out of our charity and kindness, erasing the idea that there is anything special about it, and casting away any notion that we desire something in return.
Mai pen rai is ultimately an SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) term, and one which all Westerners (especially Progressive Christians) could benefit by using daily.
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- Also spelled mai pehn rai, mai ben rai, and mai bpen rai [↩]