My English

The article continues. A Thai from head-to-toe.Thai is my first language. I speak, read and write Thai with excellence. English was introduced as soon as I attended next door nursery at the age of three.

My English

Then, many years later, things got really strange for me in the English speaking department. I was married by now, and my husband and I moved to Bangkok where we stayed for more than thirteen years. I'm not sure if my speech pattern had altered, but it must have. I had the greatest difficulty understanding colleagues who are British, other European, Australian, and others who speak with such accents. Still, all of our children -except for one- were born in Bangkok, and we could never exactly say whether Thai or English was their first language since their first words were from both languages and spoken side-by-side. My children attended an international school (where my husband taught) and they spoke a lot of both languages at home. We are a bi-lingual family. Almost everyone in Bangkok (and in other major Thai cities) speaks proficient English, but it is influenced from various parts of the world where they went to study: England, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, America, Australia, and New Zealand, etc. There has been, also, a vast number of students coming out from the many good international schools in Bangkok. Our Bangkok years were indeed among international people. There was even an ocassion when I was honored to join HRH, the late Princess Galayaniwattana at her dinner table. Now, in the Thai language there are clear distinctions among the levels of "formalities." There is the language one uses when addressing the King, another level for when speaking to other royal members, and yet another used with those who are royal but farther in distance from the King. There is also a separate language used to address the head of the Buddhist religion (an equivalant of the Pope), and yet another for monks. Anyway, the Princess was so kind in that she didn't want the guests to feel awkward in conversation; therefore, she permitted us to speak foreign languages to her. It so happened that her languages of choice were French and German, as well as the obvious English.

The more one does something is the more one gets it, and (thankfully) I'm no exception. It struck me that ever since I relocated -once again- back to the small town in America where I grew up, that people seem to have trouble understanding me. I often have to say things twice to get my point across. When it kept happening it began to bother me. I was worried: Had I forgotten how to speak (American) English? I wasn't sure what the reason was, since my husband, children and close friends could understand me almost perfectly. I worked hard to try to find out the cause of all this, for it had made me start to lose self-confidence, something I could not have happen.



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