FSI - Lao - Basic Course - Volume 1

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Foreign Service Institute Lao  - Image This is the first of two volumes designed to teach spoken Lao to English speakers. Some dialect of Lao is spoken and understood by approximately three million persons in Laos and about ten million in Thailand. The Lao presented in this book is the Vientiane dialect, which is used in all governmental communications. It is spoken in the central part of Laos by approximately 2,000,000 persons and is understood throughout the Kingdom of Laos and in Northeast Thailand.

The material in this text is in the form of a series of 85 'cycles' in the 'microwave' format originated by Dr. Earl W. Stevick of the FSI, and first used in two 'modules' of a course in Swahili.' The description of the microwave format that follows is based on these two texts. Each 'unit' of a microwave course is called a cycle and consists of two 'phases' In the first phase (M-phase) the student learns a small amount of the language and in the second phase (C-phase) he puts it to use, The term 'microwave' (a very short wave) emphasizes the short span of time between the presentation of new material and its actual use in real communication.

The teaching methods used with the M-phase and C-phase may vary a great deal and the teacher should feel free to use the one that seems most effective to him. The sentences in the M-phase are provided with cue words and they may be done like substitution drills, but other types of drill such as mimicry drills, transformation drills, translation drills, etc., should also be used whenever they seem appropriate.
In the C-phase the instructor should exert himself to the fullest extent possible to make everything that is said in class be 'real communication'. Communication can occur only if this condition is met: One person is giving information that another person doesn't have but is interested in having.

The C-phase will normally consist of questions and answers, which may be joined together to form short conversational exchanges. In the beginning this will be the limit of the student's capacity. Later on short narrations will be possible and normal. If the students are going to be interested in what is being said it follows that they may wish to have some control over what is being talked about. The instructor should encourage this. This may mean any of several things, depending on the nature of the class and their spirit of independence, etc.

You can find the other volume of the FSI Lao Basic course here: FSI - Lao Basic Course - Volume 2

Lao or Laotian is a tonal language of the TaiKadai language family. It is the official language of Laos, and also spoken in the northeast of Thailand, where it is usually referred to as the Isan language. Being the primary language of the Lao people, Lao is also an important second language for the multitude of ethnic groups in Laos and in Isan. Lao, like many languages in Laos, is written in the Lao script, which is an abugida script. Although there is no official standard, the Vientiane dialect has become the de facto standard. The Lao language is descended from Tai languages spoken in what is now southern China and northern Vietnam (probably by some of the various peoples referred to as the Baiyue) in areas believed to be the homeland of the language family and where several related languages are still spoken by scattered minority groups. Due to Han Chinese expansion, Mongol invasion pressures, and a search for lands more suitable for wet-rice cultivation, the Tai peoples moved south towards India, down the Mekong River valley, and as far south as the Malay Peninsula. Oral history of the migrations is preserved in the legends of Khun Borom. Tai speakers in what is now Laos pushed out or absorbed earlier groups of MonKhmer and Austronesian languages.

Lao is spoken in: Laos

Lao is also called: Eastern Thai, Lao, Lao Kao, Lao Wiang, Lao-Lum, Lao-Noi, Lao-Tai, Laotian, Laotian Tai, L?o, Lum Lao, Phou Lao, Rong Kong, Tai Lao

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