Center for Language Studies

BSLE Experiences | April 17, 2015

Since the moment I arrived on campus last fall, I have been seeking out all of the different language activities Brown has to offer. Being the language lover that I am, I thoroughly explored the many options, taking classes, joining clubs, and attending events and talks. So, when I first heard about the Brown Student Language Exchange in November, I decided that I would try it out in the spring. I figured that if I didn’t like it, I could just drop it—no problem. So, on an average Thursday evening, I went to my first day of Thai class. Ten minutes into the class, I knew there was no chance of dropping. While the teachers didn’t put any pressure on us with tests or homework, somehow, even after only one night, everyone came out of the experience feeling that they had a significantly better understanding of the Thai language and culture. I’m not saying that we were fluent after the first day, but we all suddenly knew a lot more about a language and culture that none of us had been familiar with previously. Now, after having taken the course for several weeks, I have experience with the grammar, number system, writing system, and vocabulary of Thai. While I definitely couldn’t write an essay in Thai, these lessons have been important steps to not only understanding Thai itself, but also to understanding the ways in which languages differ from one another (I had never previously had experience with a tonal language or with a non-Roman alphabet). However, this course introduced me to more than just the nuances in grammar and writing, but also to Thailand’s extraordinary culture. In fact, perhaps my favorite part of the course is the culture section that we have for the second half of class. From religion to cuisine, and from family life to film, everything about Thai culture has completely fascinated me. In fact, I now desperately want to travel to Thailand. This course has undoubtedly been one of the best extra-curricular experiences I’ve had at Brown. For such a small and stress-free time commitment, I have come out of the experience knowing so much more about Thailand, and with a new dream of someday visiting the incredible country.

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