Question

Kath Burke in Thailand has a question for the group:

Dear Ben –

I am developing a story book for adult learners of Thai. I would like some tips from the group:

1. There are no official word frequency lists for Thai – e.g. a list of the top 200 words /500 words. I know of one for top 1000 words. Should I be taking words from a common words list? Or do I just use the words I need and keep a log of them all for a glossary?

2. If I create an overview of the story in even simpler language, with pictures, as a cartoon strip, do you think this could be useful?

3. Someone suggested to me that a Thai cartoon series could start out mainly in English with some words in Thai and then gradually phase out the use of English. Is this a good idea?

Kath

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3 thoughts on “Question”

  1. Hi Kath – I love Thai language. I was a summer exchange student there and still remember some Thai. Chinese & Thai are structurally similar and you may recall I’m a Chinese teacher so that is my bias. I’ll offer some opinions:

    – Good idea to aim for frequently used words & I think a glossary of all words used is the right thing to do (including chapter in which the word first appears, maybe?). But I would say don’t try to force yourself into using all words at the top of a frequency list and then warp the storyline. Make the storyline as compelling as possible and maybe aim for a limited amount of words used.

    – Are you writing for beginners, intermediate, etc? Do you assume they can read Thai letters already? Do you plan repetitive phrasing and content so the reading becomes easier and reinforces meaning? That can be really helpful if the story is still compelling. (I speak with reference to a Chinese reader I know.)

    – Your question 2: that sounds like a short version of an embedded reading of your whole text. Might be useful to some. Will it have spoilers though? It might be a way a learner could determine more easily, “Yes, this is going to be interesting and I will learn Thai from it.”

    – Question 3: I have a reader for year 1 Chinese students that does this sort of. Terry Waltz’s book has a lot of English proper nouns and names in the first couple of chapters. She uses fewer as the book progresses. It helped my students because they could see at a glance that there was something about “Cheesy Tuna Surprise” in the chapter and they giggled about it despite themselves. By contrast, I have a really cool-looking Chinese comic book supposedly designed for Chinese learners. It’s all characters, has almost no repetitive language, and is really not at all easy to read – WAY beyond my students and was enough for me to find a mild challenge. So I think simpler is way better. “Too” simple is okay as long as there is interest in it.

    I hope this helps. I’d love to see what you create!

  2. Dear Diane

    Thank you so much for your enthusiastic reply and useful comments. I only just saw this … I thought Ben hadn’t yet got round to posting the question.

    Thank you for offering to take a look at the text – that would be amazing. If you have time.

    To answer your questions…
    1. Level – most Thai learners are beginners to elementary – most I think listen better than they read.

    So tit would have Mr Men / Mr Bean surreal feel but with an adult theme.

    Reading level – I’m assuming they’ve already learnt the alphabet and like me they read letter by letter unless it’s miniwords – like “at” or “and”.

    Question 2 – yes I’m thinking of having 3 levels of embedded reading… for each episode / story so learners can use this for scaffolding on the next layer of language / vocab.

    Other ideas I had include.

    1. audio version of the text –

    2. Story versions told from different characters’ points of view. Eg as their blog / twitter account, or radio interview (in which the interviewer asks the character easy PCQ style questions) / love letter / private diary.

    1. Audio version sounds great. Most readers I’ve seen do have audio. I have a storybook in Chinese on CDrom that has sentence-by-sentence clickable audio. That’s really awesome.

      Story versions from different points of view sounds fun, too.

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