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This two level course provides introductory materials in modern spoken Thai for students who want to learn to speak and understand the language of the over 22 million people in Thailand. The first level is concerned with basic dialogues, grammar, and vocabulary. Level Two continues the dialogues with exercises in comprehension and vocabulary, for students who wish to go on to greater mastery of the language. Level One come with 19 CDs and a book; Level Two 17 CDs and a book. And we now have a digital edition for Thai Level One, with a PDF text and MP3 audio files, all on one CD-ROM!
This is the first volume of a two-volume course designed to teach spoken Standard Thai. Standard Thai is the national spoken language of Thailand and is the dialect of educated speakers of Bangkok and Central Thailand, and in spoken and written form is known to some extent by nearly all Thais, of which there are approximately 25 million speakers. The materials contained in the two volumes consist of the following: (1) a Programmed Introduction to Thai Phonology; (2) a standard text with a text glossary; and (3) a series of recordings of recorded portions of the text and other supplementary materials. The recordings are designed as an integral part of the course, and were designed to be used in a course of instruction where the main focus is on teaching the student to speak and understand Thai; this is not to say that reading and writing should be ignored, but that additional materials would be required for that purpose.
There is a basic dialog at the beginning of each lesson. It consists of a limited number of exchanges between two or sometimes more persons. It represents a somewhat modified version of a real dialog, since hesitation phenomena, false starts, and other features regularly occurring in real speech have been eliminated. It does present what two educated Thai speakers might say in a given situation if they were being particularly careful to avoid the features referred to above.
If the student has memorized the dialogs, he or she will have a store of language that is readily available when needed (assuming they are in a situation comparable to that of a particular dialog). It is therefore suggested that a significant amount of time be spent for this purpose.
There are three kinds of notes in this text: notes on the dialog, vocabulary notes, and grammar notes. Notes on the dialog present some information that is useful for understanding the dialog, and is often cultural in content and import. Vocabulary notes are used to explain the meaning of a word in somewhat greater depth than is included in the lesson glossary. Grammar notes provide a general understanding of Thai grammar. They are written in such a manner as to be useful to even the most linguistically unsophisticated learner.
The drills in this textbook are for the purpose of providing an opportunity for the student to isolate a particular feature of the language (grammatical or semantic) and to practice it in a limited context until he understands well how to use it and can say it with acceptable fluency and pronunciation. It should be clearly understood that drills of any kind are simply devices for practice having a particular focus and with a limited objective, and as such they do not represent real communication in language no matter how cleverly they are arranged.
All this is not to say that drills do not have a place in language teaching. It is probable that a certain number of drills are very helpful if not absolutely indispensable in learning to speaking language well. Various kinds of drill (substitution, transformation, etc.) are found in this textbook. In most cases it is obvious from the format of the drill what procedure (substitution of an item in a sentence, rearrangement of a sentence, expansion of a sentence or phrase, etc.) is called for. In those instances where it might not be clear special instructions are provided.
Exercises (as the term is used in this textbook) are distinguishable from drills mainly by the type of response they elicit. Drills are designed to elicit one particular response and any other response (even if it is correct in form and meaning) is unacceptable; whereas, the only requirement in an exercise is that the response conform logically with the original request (i.e. if you are asked where a certain building is, you don't respond with a description of it instead).
The exercises in any particular lesson in this text have two basic purposes: to provide (1) a setting in which communication of a restricted kind can take place and (2) if an instructor is part of the course, it provides a means for the instructor to test the ability of the students to use the material in the lesson in more realistic situations.
The exercises in the lessons are an especially important part of the lesson and should be done at the end of the lesson. If you are unable to perform well, you should review any parts of the lesson that seem necessary for successful completion of those tasks. In no case should one go to the next lesson until they can do the exercises easily, rapidly, and correctly.
At the end of each lesson there is a list of all words occurring for the first time in that lesson and at the end of the volume there is a complete list of words in the first volume. All entries are listed in alphabetical order (English alphabet) and are written in a phonemic transcription using Roman letters. With each noun is its unit classifier. A limited number of the more useful noun and verb compounds are included. Two examples are given below:
Besides the recordings which form a major part of the Programmed Introduction to Thai Phonology, there are recordings of various kinds that accompany each lesson. The dialogs and most of the essential drills are recorded on the lesson audio recordings; however, they are recorded in such a manner as not to be an exact duplicate of the way in which the drill will be conducted in class, since the purpose of the recordings is to supplement not replace classroom work. Special pronunciation drills and remarks are included on the audio recordings.
The purpose of this material is to acquaint you with the significant features of the Thai sound system. ‘Significant' as used here refers to those features which distinguish words; for example, in English the words 'sit' and 'set' are distinguished only by the quality of the two vowels; therefore, we can say that vowel quality is significant in English (I.e. if you say sit instead of set, you may be misunderstood.) It is therefore important that you learn to hear and produce vowel quality. On the other hand, it doesn't matter whether you pronounce the vowel in 'sit' long or short. You may find it a little harder to understand a Southerner who pronounces 'sit' with a slightly longer vowel than you do, but you will not confuse it with 'set', which has different vowel quality. We can see then that vowel quality is significant, but vowel length isn't in English.
The significant features of the Thai sound system referred to here relate to contrasts in pitch contour, length of vowels and diphthongs, aspiration of consonants, and syllable prominence. In addition to the sound features referred to, you will be taught to read and write the special phonetic transcription which is used in the Thai Basic Course that follows this instruction.
The following procedure should be used with these materials: