I admit when I first planned
To teach English in Thailand,
I forgot to carefully consider
There's a serious language barrier.
Off I went with no negative mind set
Realizing only later that the students I've met,
Had a low level of English proficiency
In an almost uniform consistency.
At first it's difficult to pay attention,
When they speak, I am lost in thoughts,
I pondered much on their pronunciation
And missed the point that I have sought.
Day by day I soon discovered
The secrets of Thai language slowly bared,
As I listened, I watched their simple gestures,
I felt I'd get by, hmm there's a future
The "r's" they change with "l's"
The "l's" they change with "n's",
When they tell you "the answer is wrong"
You will of course hear, "it is long".
Sometimes the "b" is changed with a "p",
So you can exactly tell and see
That the King's name "Bhumibol"
They will pronounce it "Phumipon"
Consonant clusters is another struggle,
Coupled with the letter-change tangles,
They omit, change or add a letter,
Easier to say, but definitely not better.
For red they say "led", for blue they say "boo"
For orange, it's "olange", for pink (I prefer the Thai "chompoo")
For black they say back, for brown it's "blown" (like clown)
You know why I prefer "chompoo" for pink?
'Coz when they say it, I hear "prink".
It is a struggle to make them say "hotel"
because it always comes out as HO-TEW
in the same way that they say "bell"
when they try it , it sounds like BEW.
When they try to ask "What time is it?"
What comes out is "What time it is?"
Which color is it, when they want to know,
'What color it is?", it will show.
They have trouble saying the letter "h"
When you ask them to spell an h-word
Most probably they will say "hetch"
You will be puzzled, but sure not bored.
Most of the time simple greetings,
Could sound like real tongue twisters
They've perfected 'thank you" and "good morning"
They say it gladly with smile and laughters.
There's a drink they concoct, it's my favorite,
It is red, deep deep red, and so sweet,
The brand name is "Hale's Blue Boy"
Yes you guessed it, they say "her-boo-boy".
After each day's task I feel relieved,
The tension and tiredness, I believe
Come mostly from too much straining,
Trying to memorize new word meanings.
I will go back home soon in April,
Not rich in baht, savings was nil,
But I am sure I used a lot of courage,
Trying to teach English and learn Thai language.
At the end of these all, there's a confirmation,
That in this whole world, whatever nation,
There's nothing less than universal,
than a language taught with and by a SMILE