Native language: Thai
Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand
Birthday: July 2nd, 1987
Email address: [email protected]
Chulalongkorn University (Japanese major)
Triamudom Suksa school (Japanese program)
Private tutor & PickupThai Podcast producer, PickupThai
Customer Service Professional, Exxon Mobil Corporation
Freelance translator, Eqho Communications
Freelance translator, Lionbridge
Thai Teacher, Oliver Wyman
English Teacher, DigitalCom
Years of Thai Teaching Experience: 2009-Present
Foreign Language Abilities: English (fluent), Japanese (advanced), Vietnamese (beginner)
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, everyone. My name is Miki Chidchaya. I’m in my late twenties. I was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. I speak Thai as my mother language and I also speak English and Japanese. I have been interested in language learning and teaching since I was very young. I started teaching Thai and English as a part-time job when I was in college and after my graduation, I used my language abilities to work for large-scale international corporations like ExxonMobil, Lionbridge and Eqho Communications. I have taught Thai classes to expats at Oliver Wyman and English classes at DigitalCom. Presently, I work as a full-time Thai teacher as well as the co-developer/producer of the Thai teaching materials “PickupThai Podcast” with my sister “Yuki Tachaya.” Currently, I have been helping people from all around the world learn to understand and speak Thai for more than 6 years. I currently reside in my hometown of Bangkok, where I offer both online and in-person classes to individuals and groups of expats.
What kind of Thai do you teach?
I focus on teaching my students practical and natural-sounding Thai. I think it is very important to know whether the words that you learn are actually used in speech or writing, whom they are used by, and when it is appropriate to use them. It’s also important to know what sounds natural and what doesn’t, because that’s what separates good Thai speakers from the merely decent ones. Learning Thai is much more than just memorizing vocabulary and grammar and translating sentences in your language into Thai by putting all those words and rules together. You need to know the proper context in which to use each word as well as its meaning, and you have to keep in mind the sentence structures particular to Thai. Forget about the way you structure sentences in your native language when you construct a Thai sentence, and about trying to translate word for word. My primary goal in teaching is to help my students learn to speak the most natural-sounding Thai possible.
What is your teaching philosophy?
In my class, I always encourage my students speak as much as they can, so I can check to see if they really understand what I’ve taught them. When they make mistakes, I’m able to discern any misconceptions they’ve gotten, and that enables me to correct their misunderstandings and better explain whatever confused them to begin with. If I find my students struggling with certain words after my explanation, I don’t ignore it. I continue to work with them until they’re able to get things right, by giving as many examples as necessary until they’re able to get a good grasp of whatever they’re trying to learn. I’m a very patient teacher and what I care about the most is that my students learn things at the paces appropriate for them.
What advice do you have for people who think Thai is impossible to learn?
If you are one of those people who’s had trouble learning Thai in the past and now thinks it’s impossible, or if you’ve been trying to learn Thai for years and still can’t speak it, you need to change your learning approach. If your old style of learning doesn’t work, why stick with it? Failure to progress means that whatever you’re doing doesn’t work for you. There are many, many people out there who speak foreign languages, including Thai, very fluently, and the fact that all of these people exist proves that Thai is quite possible to learn. It can be done, and the first step for people who have been having difficulty is to change your attitude. If you forget about your old experiences, and start fresh learning Thai a different way with a positive attitude, you’ll likely find that you make progress much more quickly and easily. The most important thing prior to carrying out any task is having the attitude and belief that you can do it. Thoughts are powerful, and adopting the right attitude is the first key to success in learning Thai, just as in any other endeavor.
In your experiences, what kind of students succeed the most in learning Thai?
If you want to become a successful Thai learner who can speak and understand Thai at a near-native level, first you need to be curious, because curiosity drives you to knowledge. Second, you must be willing to try applying new things that you have learned such as new words, expressions or sentence structures, in real life. And don’t restrict yourself to textbook Thai, if you want to speak like a Thai person, you need to listen to Thai people talk as much as you can. If you’re not lucky enough to be in Thailand, watch movies and listen to songs, soap operas, talk shows or PickupThai Podcast! It’s OK if you don’t understand everything; just by listening to Thai, your ears will get more and more attuned to the language. Listening will help you become familiar with the accent, the pronunciation and with frequently used words or expressions. All of this will pay off as you progress in your Thai studies. Finally, you have to eliminate any shyness in speaking Thai, because practice makes perfect. You won’t be fluent just by listening, you need to attempt to speak the language, even if you aren’t always sure if what you’re saying is completely correct. Just put aside any worries about being embarrassed, because no one succeeds without making thousands of mistakes. Always keep in mind “The more mistakes you make, you closer you are to success.”
What do you like the most about the Thai language?
I can say without reservation that I am proud to be Thai and speak Thai as my mother tongue. I think Thai is a very beautiful language. With its 5 tones, 21 consonant sounds and 32 vowels, Thai has often been referred to as sounding musical, and I’m sure that anyone who speaks it thinks just like I do. Besides its musical sounds, there are a lot of other enchanting elements to the language, things like ending particles used to express the mood of the sentence, special terms for use with elders, monks and the royal family to express respect and politeness and unique terms used with close friends and family to express intimacy; not to mention all the interesting proverbs and idioms that derive uniquely from our beautiful culture, both past to present. Thai also incorporates new words every day, reflecting the transition from the older traditional culture to the current modern one. If you speak Thai, you have probably realized that there are numerous ideas and concepts that can only be expressed in Thai and not in any other language. The foreigner who undertakes to learn to speak Thai is truly beginning a journey into an unseen and fascinating world, that lies beneath the unique beauty of the culture visible to the eye in Thailand. Thai truly is a complete language, both in terms of its sound and its communicative power. If you don’t know Thai yet, begin your journey and experience this incredible language now! I am here to help you get started.