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Seeing as reading is mostly done silently to oneself, NO pronunciation takes place. In fact reading isn't even done character by character, its done by recognizing a group of characters (BTW: also called words) and having that group tied to a specific meaning in your head.
I also believe saying that learning Thai via a phonetics based system will foster "bad pronunciation habits" is more exaggeration than truth too.
Go to any Thai bookstore, look at the PILES of "learn engrish" books; they all have phonetics for teaching Thais english; it's just written in Thai like this;
Nice to meet you = ไนซ์ ทู มีท ยู Now if that was read aloud by a Thai it'd sure sound close to engrish.
I believe a good phonetics based system gets a foreigner speaking something resembling Thai pretty fast . The most prolific author out there in the "teach Thai to foreigner" market; Benjawan Becker wouldn't have come up with a phonetics based system and used it in EVERY one of her many books if it didn't work. Heck, there are more than a few private Thai language schools here in Bangkok using ONLY Becker's material.
Learning to speak Thai from a phonetics based system is way faster than front loading the time it takes to learn 44 consonants (21 actual sounds), 32 vowel sounds, 5 tone sounds, 4 tone marks and the plethora of rules which govern the pronunciation of Thai words. It can certainly get a foreigner close enough in the pronunciation that ANY thai who wants to can understand what is being said.
I honestly believe phonetics should be used in conjunction with both the English translation and the Thai script of what is being said, so people can start to see how Thai words "look", how they "go together", and that students should start learning to read Thai at the same time, but that's just me .
I know a LOT of foreigners who learned to speak Thai from a phonetics based system and then transitioned into reading Thai script. I haven't see all that errant of pronunciation in their spoken Thai. Other than the fact that all foreigners here speak Thai with a 'foreign accent', it sound pretty darned Thai-like to me . Then again speaking a foreign language with a foreign accent isn't all that much different than most every Thai here speaking English with a Thai accent is it ?
I've been to more private Thai language schools in Bangkok, than I care to count, sat lessons, perused materials, questioned staff, teachers and students. Most every one of the schools I've toured uses some phonetics based methodology early on, before transitioning to Thai script.
I honestly I dunno know what "angle" the poster known as "Rapid" is working, but I personally believe it is the wrong angle to present to foreigners wanting to start speaking Thai.
Sorry for the long overly verbose first post, but the Thai language is a "hobby" of mine I take pretty seriously.
Tod Daniels (BTW; NOT affiliated with ANY Thai language school !)
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