I realize that it sounds all too incredible to be true. Some people believe it’s a scam or a marketing gimmick of some kind. That’s understandable considering that we are bombarded with dishonest or misleading messages all the time.
To understand exactly what you can (or can’t) achieve with the ‘Rapid’ method, please also read this article.
Feedback from actual workshop participants
So rather than take my word for it, read what other people, who actually attended my workshops or followed the self-study course have said:
Gary, what a great day. Thank you so much. I was on the way home on the BTS reading the signs everywhere... What an experience... Your course is fantastic! Stephen Reynolds, Stephen Seminar
It was like taking down the shutters from the windows and being able to see out for the first time. Colette Baily
I wanted to thank you for an excellent weekend. I asked my Thai teacher today if she thought it possible that someone with no prior knowledge could learn to read Thai in two days. She said no. When I read some Thai to her she said, "It's a miracle!!" This morning I was behind a minibus and was able to read that its route was Krungthep to Baan Beung!! I was still smiling when I arrived in Pattaya, so many thanks for the opportunity. Simon Gunn, Managing Director, Hannah Thailand
This course was fantastic – exactly what I needed in my quest to learn to read Thai. I must admit I was a little skeptical at first, but the course exceeded my expectations by miles. We were really reading Thai script by the end of the week and I am continuing to learn more every day with the online resources and follow on suggestions from the instructor. I’ve tried other methods of learning the Thai alphabet but Gary’s pictures are just what I needed to help me remember. I highly recommend this course. Cheron Gelber, Seattle
I've just finished the four half-day course learning the Thai script almost effortlessly and now I can read Thai. I am not often sure what the word means but I can read it in Thai. The course is based on associating each letter with a drawn character, sometimes funny, sometimes rude and always memorable. After a couple of lessons you can read some of the signs in the street and by the end of the course you are fluent in the Thai alphabet. This painless way of mastering the alphabet gives a sense of achievement and learning the language itself becomes less daunting, more interesting and great fun. Paul Sullivan, author, Chiang Mai
Thanks again for the class - so much fun to be able to break through the illiteracy barrier :). I'm sounding things out and enjoying discovering some words that I already know. I'm going to keep practicing recognizing the modern fonts - your sheet, listing the [font equivalents] is helpful! Your class has given me a great base to work from. Cheri Boyd
I was amazed at how I managed to absorb your material and able to apply it. And now with some help from my Thai colleagues, who play word games with me, I am really reinforcing my reading and writing. Well done mate - your depraved teaching methods really work! Jeff Lefaro, Uhdeshedden
I’m 60 and the smarter 20-year olds in my spoken Thai course are in awe of how I’ve jumped ahead of them. I now know the entire Thai alphabet and it happened so quickly in the Read Thai Workshop, I almost feel I cheated. But I can read Thai signs in real life, by golly, and the person I’m most impressing is me! [As for the reading exercises] using Sydney Remember, that would work great for me and would be great for confidence-building… your workshop’s already a cool confidence-builder. Chris Hacker, Mascom
I had a great time in the workshop which is amazingly effective. I [am looking forward to your follow-on] course! Ian Chapman, Mayer Brown JSM
I’ve been reading a lot of the signs in the street though, my girlfriend was impressed ;-) I’ve recommended your course to some of my friends, I think it is very good for people who speak a bit of Thai already. I believe for pure beginners it’s not so fun when you don’t understand a single word of what you read.* Damien Kerneis, Geodis Wilson
* Since this response, the course was modified to make it much more accessible for complete beginners…
Thanks again for a great day. You made it fun and interesting. I have been driving very poorly since Saturday, I keep slowing down to try and read the signs!!
I managed to read "Tesco Bangna" while at lunch the other day and I cheered out loud :-D This is fun and I have started doing the reading exercises, [as a daily routine] with a cup of fresh coffee!! The biggest challenge at the moment is finding where one syllable ends and the other begins, but I am sure with practice that will get better. I will continue to recommend your course to others. Linda Belonje, KIS International School
I enjoyed learning how you teach your method and benefited from the tone portion most of all. You are a very enthusiastic teacher and I think that this will go a long way in helping all of your students to see reading Thai as both doable and fun. I’ll be sure to mention your program to people I work with who want to learn how to read Thai. Thank you for all of the resources, lunch, lovely walk through the gardens and, most of all, for your generosity, enthusiasm and creativity. Lauren Vitrano-Wilson
I know Gary - I've heard that he personally put in a lot of $$ and effort in putting the product together. Gary is a very creative guy - I think he may hold the De Bono license for Six Hats here. I looked over the original material - there were a few linguistic glitches there in the version that I saw, but on the whole, the concept works.
When teaching Thai, I'm a strong advocate to get people into reading the Thai script and understanding how it relates to the tone rules as soon as possible. For many, this seems to be a huge obstacle. Hopefully Gary's programme can help a lot of people get over that speed hump.
As for the cost - if it works, I think it's worth it. I've seen people spend a lot more over years and still struggle with it.
Stuart Raj, Mnidcraft [sic] – watch Stu’s youtube video for TV interview about learning Thai
First of all, I really enjoyed the weekend. Of course, there were moments of frustration when I couldn't remember, and I'm still having some trouble with the odd vowel combinations. It was hard work, but you added some elements of fun, too.
I'm beginning to recognize some of the modern fonts. I've had great fun reading signs, and trying to tackle product labels, etc. I'm also able to see signs I never noticed before and actually read them!
Because I was able to work with the ebook prior to the workshop, I was pretty well versed in the basic consonants and the basic words that went with them. Repeating them in the workshop was good reinforcement, but the later material hasn't sunk in too well yet.
This made the stories a bit too complicated for me, but good learning just the same. I think Winnie the Pooh was a good choice. I would have enjoyed something also in the form of a basic dialogue. I don't think word-for-word translations are all that helpful… the idiomatic stuff is important.
[...]The hotel conference room setting was good, and lunches were excellent. On the reading exercises, it might be helpful to separate the words (even though Thai doesn't ordinarily do that) to facilitate word/syllable recognition. And perhaps some specific attention to some of the odd combinations (vowels and consonants both).
Your picture illustrations, as silly as they might be, have really helped to embed in my mind most of the letters and their sounds.
I have been practicing on signs and with my personal trainer, who likes to put a word under my face when I do push-ups. The Thais laugh at the muttered "dead thin ladyboy thin, meditating", etc. but are excited when I read the words. Now I just need more vocabulary.
Suggestions for the course:
- Do less words for each letter on the exercises. Pick 5 to do as students can practice later online. That way you could get to more letters. [...]
- Do not put as many exceptions or weird ones in when students practice. Perhaps group more of them as exceptions and talk about them specifically [later]. I would have preferred more everyday Thai words.
- I thought the stories were a bit hard and found it a bit frustrating to keep flipping my paper over to see the vocab words. However other people did not seem to have the problem. I am not sure if you could find a simple story with common words most new beginner Thai speakers would know.I would do one short story and then the newspaper article.
- I think some of the rules were a bit rushed at the end, dating consonants and double rolling ladyboys for example. I feel cutting back on the words would give you more time to make sure all this is covered. [I've since modified the workshop content in response to these excellent suggestions...]
Just wanted to say thank you again for your patience in answering my questions. I think I have a better grasp of singing and dead sounds. And I seem to be getting my tones right. I just need to get my PT guy to print like he is in primary school. :)
The download is good, but I preferred the class. Next to paying my tax preparer, this has been the best money I spent this year!
I enjoyed your workshop very much and felt that I got a lot out of it. I spent a few hours on the Friday before the class going through the materials, which I think was pretty essential to getting full benefit from the class. On the whole I tended to focus more on the "reading" and much less on the meaning of the words, but there are limitations in learning so much in a short amount of time, so I will need to focus on that later.
The length of the word lists was about right for me. You mentioned in one of your materials that learning to read Thai is like solving a puzzle. I enjoyed that aspect of it. The story translations were an important part of the process because it introduces the task of picking through words that are strung together. The stories were a bit long, however. Maybe spicier stories would help. It's a bit of a let-down to go from depraved ladyboy stories to Winnie the Pooh. I did however learn that Pooh is rather dumb; I never knew!
I like the format and consecutive days. Your presentation and classroom skills are great, and you have a good personality for it. In addition to the quality of your material, I think your personal qualities are also a big part of the reason people enjoy your workshop. Needless to say I will recommend your workshop highly. David Washenfelder
I agree that reading is very important. But so are the other skills - listening, speaking and writing. Most people's ultimate goal is conversation. And while I agree that all the skills reinforce each other, reading reinforces conversation for example, I think saying that the best way to learn is reading undervalues the other skills.
I feel that you are making promises you can't keep, like so many others trying to sell their products.\
“Speaking is actually not really a 'language' skill” Totally disagree. The four basic skills are reading, writing, listening and speaking. You can make up your own definitions, but this one is widely accepted.
Your going around telling everybody speech isn't a skill makes you sound uninformed, and annoys those of us who are somewhat familiar with the linguistic terms.
How do you define fluency? It is deceptive to try to convince people that learning a language is easy.
I would be impressed if you can take raw beginners and teach them all the characters and all the rules in such a way that they will actually stick by the end of 16 hours. This would necessarily involve the reading of simple words and sentences. But you go beyond the claim of simple sentences, and say they can read native material (a newspaper for example) with correct pronunciation by the end of your class. This is impossible… Would you like to change your claim? … Don't tell people they'll be able to read native material with correct pronunciation after 16 hours if in reality they'll only be able to read simplified texts.*
R Flaherty (in response to my review of Everyday Thai for Beginners)
* Yes, you will be able to read native material, even newspapers - except you will probably not understand what you are reading if you try to run before you can walk... and the very stylized fonts in newspapers might confuse you. Nevertheless, we do also cover how to read modern fonts in the course.
Forum comment in response to my postings about the ‘Rapid’ method:
[This is] classic self-made internet guru behaviour.
- Develop amorphous "enemy" to attack with vague undefined references. "the Thai way", the "widely accepted approach”, etc.
- Attribute end-point failure to speak fluently and/or accurately to these buzzwords, rather than the quality of teaching…
- When someone comes along who knows you're misrepresenting what's already there, or that you're abusing standard terminology, you simply attack them as being brainwashed by orthodox methods. This line makes your opinions impervious to all attack from anyone with half a clue, and the internet guru preys on the uninformed and easily led.
- If you want the easily led to believe in your authority, you're going to need to quote "research", but not explicitly. You'll say a vague statement and mention Krashen, and say something more specific and mention your own research, which isn't usually anything accepted as academic research…
- And if all else fails, put on those puppy dog eyes and say "why are you being so mean to me? I'm only trying to help people. All you people ever do is criticise, at least I'm actually doing something." Nìall Beag, Lingua Frankly
It is amazing that anybody can take a person seriously who claims that you can learn to read Thai in 16 hours.
I haven't dealt with Thai yet, but even though its alphabet may be more complicated than the Greek or Cyrillic ones I do think that it is worth learning and using the alphabet of any language from the beginning. A romanization is only relevant if it represents a fairly precise rendering of the phonemes of the language, and then only as a supplement to reading stuff written in the original alphabet of the language. Iversen, De Berejstes Klub
Avoid Gary Orman's rubbish like the plague, the guy is just a con-artist and a rip-off artist. The other guy who is backing him up [Stuart Raj], is quite obviously in league with him. I purchased the ebook, and it's a complete rip-off of "60 Minutes to Learn the Thai Alphabet book. “therealthing”
This rather scathing attack needs a comprehensive response:
Firstly, "therealthing" didn't buy my ebook (and if he did and didn't like it, he would have been refunded). Secondly, the 60-minutes idea was arrived at independently. I had already developed my ideas several years before, having produced an online course to learn basic Hebrew in 40 hours (in 1997). Besides, Rudolf Steiner beat both of us to the post by inventing this technique 100 years ago. Not to mention that the Chinese and Japanese have used similar approaches to teaching children to read for centuries. I was hoping to collaborate with Damian (author of 60 Minutes), but he said he only spent six months in Thailand and was busy with another project. 60 Minutes is, in my opinion, on the right track – but there are a few fundamental mistakes and the course only covers the individual letters – completely omitting the tone system, as well as how to recognize and read and correctly pronounce whole words.
As for Stuart Raj, the man who is fluent in over a dozen languages, we were hoping to collaborate on this project in the early days (in fact, 'aaaahh', the 'bread' and 'two breads are bad' are his ideas!) We are not assiciated with each other in any professional capacity. In fact he is a competitor, with his own series of courses, including Cracking Thai Fundamentals and Mnidcraft (not a typo)...