Many things set the Thai Program at AUA apart from other language study programs. When I was a student here, I enjoyed the fact that there were no tests – but I wasn’t sure how students were assessed! Several years later, many students are still unware of how we assess progress. I also liked the flexibility the program offered and flexibility is something we’ve increased over the years. I enjoyed going home and not having to worry about doing homework, but sometimes I wondered am I really learning the language by not speaking it?
I went through the program and stayed with it full-time, watching while some of my peers decided to ‘study’ and practice at the language. This idea that you don’t learn unless you work at it seems to be so deeply ingrained in most of us. I realized before I ever entered the classes that AUA was challenging most of those assumptions! So what was the potential benefit?
The ability to really understand Thai people, culture – not only language has been truly one of the best things about living here. Tthe ability to really know this culture and language is one of the true values offered here and to know it without translating means you’re able to truly understand it as it is.
I’ve often used the English word ‘pig’ to illustrate this point. In Thai, the word which means pig is หมู. While it’s possible to say these two words mean the same thing (i.e. they refer to the same animal) the sameness ends there! The feeling and emotions that are experienced by speaking this simple noun are nearly as opposite as can be. Knowing this intellectually is much different than ‘feeling’ the difference! Translations block that natural process and this is vital to real fluency in a language.
While you may be anxious to start speaking, the Thai program at AUA offers you the long-term advantage of true fluency – the ability to think Thai, to feel Thai, and to speak Thai.