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Multi-Language Reading Practice


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A little off-topic perhaps, and probably a very long shot.

I wanted to ask if anyone knows of reading material that is available in several different south-east Asian languages, including Thai.

On a scale of 1 -5 (5 being native understanding), my current reading level for Thai, Lao, Khmer and Mandarin is 3,2,1,1

It would be very useful to find a resource of short stories or articles which are written in English, with any or all of the above languages also included.

Any advice much appreciated.

Totally OT, but I'm very interested in polyglots, (those who know many languages). My late father who was a language professor was proficient to fluent in something around 15 languages - probably much more, (including Arabic, Icelandic, Irish and Latin). Whilst I do not think I will come near his total, I did a quick list and I do have at least a basic spoken or reading level in 12-14 languages (including Farsi, Burmese, Arabic).

I'm sure there are many TV members who know more languages!

Perhaps I should start a new thread on polyglotism?


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You're not going to find a lot in Bangkok. You will find some multi-lingual dictionaries around the place. Mostly in second-hand book-stores. There's one book seller at Jatuchak that has tonnes of books both in many different languages and teaching many different languages, but you have to hunt for them yourself. I will often go there on a weekday (just near the fence on the road that runs up to อ.ต.ก. The books are packed a few rows deep and about 2 meters high.. and are covered in dust, so be prepared to get sweaty and dirty, but I have found some gems.

Another good place in Thailand is the Ramkhamhaeng University bookstore. They have all their own books printed for the various language courses there. I have about 30 books from there covering many ancient and modern Thai languages, Chinese, Russian, Burmese, Khmer, Lao and a few others.

In your normal Thai bookstores like Se-Ed, Kinokuniya etc, you will probably find a few kids books in Thai - Mandarin (Hanzi / Pinyin) - English.

The best place I've found though is China and Hong Kong. There are some fantastic comparative texts in the University bookstores in Beijing, and there's a whole zone in Mongkok (Hong Kong) that specialises in Language / linguistic books. Many of these books are bi and tri-lingual depending on the languages / topics that they're covering. Many of the academic texts are bilingual Chinese - English.

The Chinese books I have on Lao, Urdu, Farsi, Thai, Burmese etc are fantastic - much more detailed and great reading texts compared to many of the English books I have.

If you're looking at learning Burmese, one of the best books I've found can be found at the Chula bookstore at Siam Square - about A4 size, creamy / yellow cover with red writing. It's been much easier learning Burmese through Thai than through English.

If you go into the Muslim communities in Thailand, you can track down many texts teaching Arabic and Jawi / Malay based in Thai. These often have English too, as they've been translated from English texts.

I went on a shopping spree in KL a few months back and picked up about 40 books that are in a mixture of Malay / Jawi Script / Arabic / English. Some have all four, some are just Malay / Jawi / Arabic or Malay / Arabic / English.

I've also managed to acquire several books in mixtures of Burmese / Pwo / Sgaw / Hindi / Nepali / English from different travels ... and different people traveling into those areas.

In Vietnam, I was able to pick up several books that are French / Vietnamese / English and some with Chinese too.

They're hard to find but the hunt is a lot of fun.

Edited by Jay_Jay
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