May 2008 Archives

Last Friday, I was interviewed by a reporter from the Daily Express, a new newspaper in Bangkok that published by the Nation Group. The interview was about our Learn Thai Language website, ITS4Thai, and as far as I could tell, it went pretty well. Although I have to admit that he completely stumped me with one fairly simple question. After rambling on and on for about five minutes, I finally came up with a good answer. I'll be ready the next time I am asked, though!

The resulting article is running in today's paper, but I thought I'd reprint the full text here.

Log on to learn thai

Published on May 5, 2008

New site offers foreigners the chance to learn the Thai language online

By Pongphon Sarnsamak

Daily Xpress

An American computer engineer has developed an interactive Thai-language tutor for tourists heading here.

It was 38-year-old Stuart Towns' own efforts at learning the language that led to the Web-based learning idea.

It's simple to use and all it takes is your own time.

"I was inspired by learning Thai myself," Towns says. "It can be difficult for most foreigners. My friends and I found it hard, even though we were living here," he adds.

Lost in translation

Back in 2003, Towns was finding it hard to communicate with the locals - he couldn't order food, buy a bus ticket or find his way back home. He got lost in translation, a lot.

So, Towns bought a book and then started taking lessons. None of this worked.

"Many others have trouble with books and lessons, too. The biggest problem is tones. It takes us a long time to hear and pronounce the tones."

Using his extensive background in computer engineering with some of the biggest dotcoms around, he set to work with friends to set up

The site provides multimedia learning, presenting interactive vocabulary and grammar exercises and audio clips spoken by native speakers. Games help with practice in different settings.

The site keeps track of a student's progress and tailors exercises to reflect needs.

"In the long term computers will become teachers, and that's why we are going there. We want the computer to be able to look at what the student knows, and help them fill in the blanks. No site or program I have ever seen does this well," Towns says.


Matter of course

>> its4thai courses cost between Bt199 and Bt499.

>> The cheapest option gives students access to 30 words a lesson.

>> The Bt499 option provides unlimited access in 60 lessons.

>> New users get 10 free lessons.

The original article can be accessed on the Daily Express website.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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