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Women Learning Thai - Interview

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    Thailand Language

     

    Expat women interview with Catherine Wentworth from Women Learning Thai.

     

    The website Women Learning Thai has many great resources for learning about Thailand and specifically the Thai language and should be required reading for all expats in Thailand. Catherine's blog has also entered the competition for the Top 100 Language Lovers 2012. If you feel that Women Learning Thai is a valuable resource for the Thai language learners community, please show your support by voting. You can find more details below.

     

    Expat Women Thailand - Women Learn Thai

     

     

    About Catherine

    About me

    I was raised by expat parents. As I continue the expat lifestyle into adulthood, the older I get, the slower I move. Overseas tours started out with two year stints, soon grew to six, and I’ve now been in Thailand over seven years.

     

     

    What makes you tick?

    What makes me tick. Hmmm, let’s see. For hobbies I enjoy travel, learning about Thai culture, reading, writing and photography.

     

    I don’t work. My site, Women Learning Thai, is basically a hobby but the way I’m going about it sure seems like a real job. It’s a great fun but the researching, writing, and managing is time-consuming. Which is sort of the point, really.

     

    Having too much free time on my hands is not something I’m good at, so keeping WLT rolling along suits my nature quite well.

     

     

    Women Learn Thai

     

    About Women learn Thai

    Why did you start with Women learn Thai?

    When I came up with the concept for Women Learning Thai, creating a simple site was the plan.

     

    While googling Thai learning resources I found that they were all over the Internet, most with broken links. So the idea was to create a personal site to gather Thai resources all in one place. I also wanted to use WLT as a vehicle to improve my writing and photography skills.

     

    A trifling site was my aim, but that’s not how it turned out.

     

    Looking back, I believe the change in direction occurred when Women Learning Thai was accepted into the Top 100 Language Learners Blog competition. Following their instructions on how to improve WLT, I became immersed in the process.  

     

    So there you have the simple explanation of how an insignificant site turned into quite an adventure. And seriously, I’m loving it. I especially enjoy meeting the interesting people who stop by the site to chat. 

     

    I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but the name of my site is tongue-in-cheek. In the early days most of the learning Thai resources I found were created for men. Then one night, in a fit of giggles, I bought the domain name womenlearnthai.com.

     

    To emphasise the comedy of it all, the full name with tagline is: Women Learning Thai… and some men too ;-)

     

    As some men don’t see the humour I do get the occasional disgruntled email. But when I asked male readers about changing the name they all said “no way!” So I won’t.

     


    What is the main purpose of your website?

    The main purpose of Women Learning Thai is to share tips and resources about learning Thai. For the Thai language learning industry there are a few forums and websites but not many Thai language blogs. My goal is to fill that void.

     


    What have been the negatives & positives experiences?

    Due to Thai politics, the most negative thing that’s happened to Women Learning Thai can’t be discussed online. ไม่ใช่เสื้อสีใด แค่ฝรั่งรักไทย. But [shrug] it is what it is.

     

    On a positive note, the emails and comments thanking me for creating a learning Thai resource are an absolute pleasure.

     

    Another positive is finding myself in the position to help deserving Thai students finish their studies. To do so, I don’t accept money for ads. Instead, donations go directly to the SET Foundation.

     


    What makes your website stand out from the others?

    The strength of Women Learning Thai would have to be the wonderful guest authors (over 16 so far), the learning Thai resources (some free, some not), and the various series with a focus on learning Thai.

     

    There are four main guest authors: Hugh Leong (gives tips on learning Thai), Tod (reviews Thai language schools in Bangkok), Luke (hosts Farang Pok Pok, a show on Thai TV), and Rikker Dockum (serious academic of the Thai language).

    * Hugh Leong: Thai Language Thai Culture

    * Tod Daniels: Reviewing Thai Language Schools in Bangkok

    * Rikker Dockum: Thai 101 Learners  

    * Luke Cassady-Dorion: Farang Pok Pok

     

    Here are a few of the top series on Women Learning Thai:

    * Successful Thai Language Learners

    * How to Learn Thai via Skype

    * Thai HouseTalk

    * Learn Thai on Your iPhone

     

    A huge draw on WLT is the Mother of all Thai Language Resources page (linked on the BBC website and others): Learn Thai for FREE.

     

    There are many subjects covered on Women Learning Thai – too many to list here. Please check the Tidy Archives to find any you fancy.

     


    What are your future plans for your website?

    Last year when Women Learning Thai came 10th and 19th in the Top 100 Language Learning competition, I decided to take the site up a notch.

     

    I settled on two projects. One: Compile information from the Successful Thai Language Learner’s series (there’s a possibility of a book). Two: create a mini Thai course for those struggling to find a foothold in the Thai language.

     

    The compilation will start soon after this interview. The mini course will take awhile longer (and I just might need people interested in learning Thai to experiment on).

     

     

    About Living in Thailand

    Why did you move to Thailand and how long have you been living here?

    Starting in ’94, I’d drop by Thailand several times a year. I finally made the decision to make the move because of my preference for living in SE Asia. And for me, Thailand was the best pick in the region.

     

    I arrived in Thailand shortly after the tsunami hit. Actually, as the tragedy unfolded I was living out of boxes while waiting for paperwork to be finalized. A similar disaster occurred when I was packing to move from Scotland to Brunei: 9-11. Both events momentarily took away concentration away from my new abodes.

     

    But soon after moving to Bangkok I discovered that there’s a marked difference between being a regular visitor and actually living in the country. It took about three years for the shiny bits to wear off and several more years to come to terms with the realities of Thailand.

     

    I’ve had my disagreements with Thailand. Absolutely. But no other country makes the grade. In Thailand I feel alive, I’m hardly ever bored, and I’ve yet to lose my curiosity for Thai culture. And unless something drastic happens I’ll be here awhile longer.

     


    Why do you think foreigners relocate to Thailand?

    I imagine foreigners move to Thailand for many different reasons: work, retirement, and relationships are only a few. I was told by several friends that they came to Thailand on holiday, fell in love with the country, and just never left. How great is that?

     


    What is the worst & what is the best thing about living in Thailand?

    For me the worst part about living in Thailand is the violence during political unrest. It’s scary. The best would have to be the people, the food, and the laid-back living.

     


    What is the strangest thing that has happened to you in Thailand?

    When I first moved to Thailand I ignored advice about renting a house instead of a condo. The mindset was that it takes time to adjust to Thai culture and mistakes can be made by unaware newcomers. Several months after I moved in a peeping tom was caught standing outside my window, watching me undress. As it was my immediate neighbour I quickly switched to condo living. It was the right choice but I sorely miss being able to garden (and no, pots don’t count).

     


    What is the biggest challenge about living in Thailand?

    It might not seem like the biggest challenge ever, but I do enjoy cooking, and not being able to find all the ingredients is an ongoing hassle. I’ve been in SE Asia since ’94 so I’m used to getting around the problem. Being creative sometimes works but when it doesn’t it means not cooking favourite dishes until I’m back in the west. But really, it’s a small price to pay for living in Thailand.

     


    Do you have Thai friends?

    Yes. But it’s swings and roundabouts. I often have more Thai friends than western but as life is constantly changing it doesn’t always stay that way.

     

    I’ve read on forums where foreigners don’t get chummy with Thais but people are people everywhere, only with different cultural twists. So as they say in Thailand, it’s usually “up to you”.

     


    How is your Thai?

    Pretty much from the beginning of my studies I knew that to learn any amount of Thai I had two choices. And what with being both an insomniac and a hermit, one option would win over the other.

     

    I crave quiet so I figured that I could either start talking to myself or focus on learning to read and write. I do manage a bit of all three (speaking, reading, and writing) but my reading and writing skills are far superior to my speaking. Blame my tired hermit brain!

     


    What advice would you have for those considering moving to Thailand?

    If you are a women considering a move to Thailand join Chicky Net and make friends before your arrival. Sign up for the forum and ask questions specific to your personal needs.

     

     

     

     

    About (expat) women in Thailand

    Thailand is still a male dominated society but times are changing. What is your opinion about this?

    Agreed. Thailand is a male dominated society (and not just amongst Thais). But the Thai women I know are modern, oftentimes more than I am. So I’m not really the one to answer this question on personal experience alone.

     


    Do you think that foreign women in Thailand face different challenges then foreign men?

    I’m not involved in the dating scene (thank goodness) but I can imagine how living in Thailand would bother single lasses.

     


    What do you think about a website like Chicky Net? Do women in Thailand really need their own social networking site?

    Chicky Net is a great resource to help expat women get up to speed in Thailand. Do expat women in Thailand need their own networking site? For sure. Forums with a focus on Thailand are crowded with the male persuasion. I’m not dissing them (nope, not me) but expat men posting in Thai forums do come off as having a different agenda.

     

     

     


    Last but not Least

    Anything else you would like to mention?

    Now isn’t this a timely question!

     

    Each year I enter Women Learning Thai in the Top 100 Thai Language Blog competition. The international competition is put on by the dedicated people at bab.la and Lexiophiles.

     

    Last year I was surprised at where WLT placed because the competition is loaded with sites focusing on popular languages such as English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, etc.

     

    This year I’m hoping that by placing somewhere in the top 100, people who wouldn’t normally give Thai a consideration will do so. And ok, I won’t lie, being listed amongst the Top 100 Language Learning blogs would be awfully grand!

     

    And this is where I need your help. If you feel that Women Learning Thai is a valuable resource for the Thai language learners community, please show your support by voting.

     

    Vote for your favorite Language Learning Blog 2012