Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 4 – Episode 87 – Questions & Answers – No, I Won’t Learn Thai!

There has been a growing controversy around me learning Thai. It’s funny because some of the associates, who I will let go very soon, told me: “if you learn Thai, you can earn so much money.”

But then it defeats the purpose of teaching English, right? What use would I be to my Thai students if I speak Thai? None AT ALL! So, it’s time to address this topic — as a teacher.

There’s a teacher by the name of Ajarn (meaning teacher in Thai) Adam. He came here as a mormon missionary and learned Thai pretty quickly, as most missionaries do. He came to this country when colorism wasn’t in full effect, let alone the borders were still wide-open. Being a teacher in Thailand was looked upon as a god rather than a liability, and with Adam learning Thai, it was much easier for him to find work. At the dawn of social media, he quickly made multiple platforms and started YouTube, reaching out to millions around Thailand.

And how does he teacher English? Just like Thai teachers: TEACHING IT BY SPEAKING THAI.

No offence to the Instagram teachers and teachers around the world. Explanations in foreign languages are most times needed, but if an individual wants to learn conversation, there’s no way it could happen, KNOWING your teacher speaks your language.

Tutors in Hong Kong, who are more famous than actors/actresses, teacher conversation class by speaking the entire duration of the class. How can a student learn about conversation without having the ability to use it?

At my previous job, they would hire teachers (anglo) who spoke fluent Thai. When the students knew? They spoke only Thai in the classrooms. Meanwhile, “Asian” looking teachers, who can/couldn’t speak Thai, were asked NOT to speak it in the classroom. What’s that called? You can fill in the blank.

The overall purpose of this podcast and blog is if you, as a foreigner, learn a native language fluently outside of yours and you’re residing in that country, make sure you don’t tell your students because then they’ll only feel comfortable communicating with you in the language.


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