I was pretty scared before coming to Thailand, being that I knew absolutely no Thai dialect. My friends kept asking me how I was going to navigate through the trip, if I didn’t even know simple words like “yes” and “no,” and to be honest, I really didn’t know what I was going to do! Shortly after we arrived, I realized that these fears we’re silly, because so many Thai’s speak English! I thought wow, this is so cool, no work for me! There are English signs everywhere, the bathroom, banks, restaurants, menus, street signs, etc., it’s not too hard to get by knowing absolutely no Thai! But when looking closer, what have we done in America to accommodate and learn about other’s dialect…not much, not much at all. Here and there you will see a sign with Spanish translations, but it’s not too common. America consists of a melting pot of different cultures and heritages, but we don’t really worry about any other dialect than English. It’s pretty much our way, or the highway, and in Thai culture, it is the exact opposite.
Why do so many Thai’s learn English and accommodate to Americans, but in America, there is not much accommodation done in return. For instance, if a strictly Thai-speaking individual came to America, what do you think their experience would be like? Unless this person comes into contact with an American having similar heritage to their own, they probably won’t be able to communicate with the majority of our population. It will be pretty hard for this individual to navigate the airport, read a menu at a restaurant, or utilize any transportation, due to the language barrier! When I entered the airport in Thailand, I didn’t need to seek out specific profiles of people to communicate, because most Thai’s speak English. When a Thai individual comes to our airport, they more than likely are going to need to seek out others with similar cultural/ethnic profiles, or they will have no chance at successfully navigating. Basically what I am trying to say is, why as American’s do we not feel the need to try and accommodate to other’s as much as possible…sometimes we don’t seem to return the respect that we are given.