Home > alg, aua, els, language study, learning, linguistics, second language acquisition, Thai language > So you’ve lived in Thailand for 10 years and still can’t speak Thai?

So you’ve lived in Thailand for 10 years and still can’t speak Thai?


I know of few things more tedious and boring than language study. I’ve always found it so.  The problem is that I’ve never been very good at remembering all the parts and pieces.  As soon as I learned 10 new words, the 10 I learned before always seemed to vanish.

My comfort has always been from my observations that I was part of the majority.  Indeed, many people have commented on the fact that over 90% of the people who try to learn a foreign language fail!  This is an incredibly high percentage.

I would love for the world to take a step back from everything we think we know about language learning, and look at a few generally accepted facts. 

1.  Young children always learn languages fluently, without study, without teachers, and without classrooms.
2.  Adults who study never achieve the results that the child does.

If we consider this, I say to you – You can do the adult thing, with a 90%+ chance of failure, or you can do the child thing, with a 100% chance of success – for the same investment of time and money.

Which do you choose?

I know that there are many answers from academics about why we can’t learn like children any more, because we’re not children, etc., etc.,  In fact, my experience has been the opposite.  I’ve learned Thai (at least in many ways) much as a child learns a new language. 

I know that the people who say things can’t be done, never do those things. 

Sometimes the only real reason we can’t do things is because we are sure they can’t be done!

So… what if?
What if you could learn a new language just by soaking up experiences in that language?
What if you didn’t need teachers, classrooms, and study?
What if you could become fluent while doing fun things, play, and going places?

In fact it’s not very hard to imagine – because that’s exactly what children do. 

So you’ve lived in Thailand for 10 years and still can’t speak Thai?  For many reasons, you may choose to believe that as an adult you can no longer do what the child does. 

I believe that we can.  So…

What would it look like to collect experiences the way a child does? 

What would it look like for you to do inside yourself, what it appears the child does inside herself?

Given the differences in results between the child and adult, this certainly seems to me like something worth thinking about.

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