Your Dog Can Help Coach Your Tones when Learning a Tonal Language

“You Speak So Well!”

Have you ever been learning a language like Thai, Chinese or Vietnamese and received a compliment in the very beginning stages along the lines of “You speak so well!”

While providing that much needed motivation to keep going in the language, receiving such compliments can start to be detrimental to your learning as you go further and further down the learning path and struggle to get real feedback from native speakers.

In Cracking Thai Fundamentals, we train our minds, ears and mouths to become acutely aware of what we are saying and how we’re saying it so that we can then start to ‘self correct’. It’s always better to have a coach that can really let us know whether we’re ‘hitting the mark’ or not. I have found that one amazing coach that we have is our little dog ‘Bear’.

Animals Don’t Lie

Bear only speaks (understands) Thai, and it would seem that she will only react to the vocabulary that she knows when the Thai words are pronounced in the correct way and with the correct tones.

In this clip, you can see how when the Thai word ขนม ‘kʰa-nǒm’ meaning ‘cake’, ‘candy’ or in this case ‘dog treat’, is pronounced with the wrong (Farang) tones, Bear doesn’t react in the expected manner. When the correct tones in Thai are used however (kʰa – High Tone | nǒm – Rising Tone), bear responds excitedly with HER word for treat – that is, to spin around anti-clockwise.

If you are living in a household that speaks the language that you’re learning, try spending time with the household dog (if there is one). If there isn’t one, suggest buying one and have them speak to it in the language you’re learning. As the dog grows, you will be able to use it as a great language learning tool and get some REAL feedback for your language progress.

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