Completed: Module 2 week 1. We have a different khruu (teacher), different classroom, and a new classmate that’s repeating module 2. Still 20+ vocabulary words each day but the focus is on speaking and using sentence patterns to create our own sentences. We struggled the first few days but time and better preparation makes each day a little better. There is so much material that it feels like our brain is overfull and we retain only a smidgen, but a smidgen is more than we had previously and gives us a little more foundation to build on. One of our classmates reflected that 5 years from now we’ll all be speaking Thai if we persevere, even though some of us are slower and may struggle more than others; ’tis true. Our word of encouragement to each other is “suusuu” which is defined “to contend, or fight” but our paraphrase is “never give up!”
And Thai language does have positives. There are verbs but no conjugation! There are tenses but they are indicated by addition of “time” words in the sentence. That simplifies the vocabulary a lot. The highlight of the week for Irene is that the new teacher agreed to let me do homework on my laptop. A sign at the office said we could make copies for 2 baht each but I learned too late that the copier is broken. Khruu had me send it to her on Line (the prevailing social network in Thailand) and had it corrected and back to me within a few hours! The next day she offered to let me send an audio file of my answers orally! I declined. The typing helps set spelling and tones in my memory. Fellow student, James, offered to print my homework and bring it to class, that’s a huge blessing.
A few pics of the school. It’s on a busy 6-lane street with an electric train overhead and (handily) a stop nearby. But as soon as you turn off that busy street — within 20-30 steps the din of the street fades and it's very green and park-like. Our school occupies the 7th floor of a 14 story building.
We learned this week that we have three days off for Songkran, the traditional New Year’s day in Thailand celebrated April 13-15. One of the Thai traditions is for younger people to honor their elders by asking forgiveness for any wrongs during the year and then pouring water over their hands I liken it to Christmas/New Years for the USA (except snowball fights are replaced with water fights!) Government offices and schools all close and people go home for the holidays. Most people working in Bangkok grew up elsewhere, so there is a massive exodus at the beginning and end with huge traffic jams. Unfortunately the holiday is associated with drinking and traffic deaths double. During the week of Songkran, 2018 there were 3724 accidents, 418 deaths, and 146,000 people arrested — 40,000 for failure to wear a motorcycle helmet and another 37,000 for not carrying a driver’s license. As much as we’d like to visit our kids in Chiang Mai, we plan to stay off the roads and study Thai instead.