November 08, 2012

LLR (book): Lao for Beginners: An Introduction to the Written and Spoken Language of Laos

Title:  Lao for Beginners: An Introduction to the Written and Spoken Language of Laos
By:  Tatsuo Hoshino and Russell Marcus
Publisher / Year:  Tuttle Publishing, 1981 onwards (multiple years and editions)
ISBN:  9780804816298
Price:  $15+-

Lao literature reviews (book) - Lao For Beginners - An Introduction to the Spoken and Written Language of Laos by Tatsuo Hoshino and Russell Marcus
(covers from over the years)

When I first started learning how to read Lao I desperately tried to find books at the local bookstore or library.  I needed a resource that would teach me in an easy to understand kind of manner.  I ended up finding this book at one of the larger bookstores in my city (the one in the middle, shown above, is the one that I bought).  At the time there were few books on the topic that were widely available in North America.  So I bought this one. I figured I'd give it a try.  I found it invaluable!

I utilized this book and one other Lao language book.  Though I primarily used this one from Hoshino.  I suppose for me, since I can speak Lao already it was easier for me to learn from this.  I knew what the sounds were so when I read the phonetic sounds in English, it was easy.  My primary challenge was learning and memorizing the combination of the writing and sounds.

The book clearly explains the consonants and vowels and it separates each of the components of the word so you can clearly understand how to write it and learn the appropriate sounds.  In the lessons, it pushes you right into words and sentences rather than just small vowel and consonant fragments.  It's a method that works well.

Years ago, this was one of the few books you could buy on learning how to read Lao.  Of course there are many other resources now.  But seeing as how helpful it was to me, I must recommend it.  And it is still in print today and reasonably priced, I might add.

Tip:  Make sure you practice reading and writing the text often.  It's the fastest way to memorizing.  And it worked for me.  After using Hoshino's book, I then used a first level Lao book as a secondary tool and exercise practice book.  Of course it's basic first level Lao but it was what I needed at the time so it fit my purpose.  Also don't let pride stand in the way of getting children's level story books.  Those are great tools when you're learning to read.  And they can be surprisingly entertaining.  Check out Big Brother Mouse as they have downloadable children's books.

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