Help me learn Khmer/Cambodia
May 22, 2011 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Language filter: What's the best way for me to learn Khmer/Cambodia?

I will be spending some time in Cambodia, near, in and around Siem Reap. I don't know how much time yet, maybe just a few weeks a year, or maybe semi-permanently. I'm interested in learning the language. Mostly for conversing, but maybe to assist me in teaching English if that need should arise.

In searching around, I mostly find vocabulary learning tools for tourists (which I'm sure will be helpful at some point). In order for me to learn a language, I need to understand the grammer and semantics, or at least be learning them while learning the words. I had a hard time learning Greek vocabular until I understood more about how the language worked.

I'm hoping to find some local people with experience in the language, but I want to learn some of the basics first, and to see if I can even grasp it.

What are some good resources? Books, DVDs, computer programs, websites? There's an old MeFi post that recommends the following two sites, but they are quite old, and I'm having font issues on my Mac:

This will be a big challenge for me, and I'm aware of that, but I'd like to dive in while I've got the itch to learn it.
posted by peripatew to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I strongly recommend My Language Exchange. It is, (believe it or not), a language exchange site, and definitely well-worth the subscription. I did a search for Khmer-natives who are learning English, here are the results.

Most of the people on the site are serious about learning whatever language they're interested in, so it's definitely not one of those shady deals.
posted by Senza Volto at 8:53 AM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Foreign Service Institute Language Courses. They're pretty good about each lesson having grammar content as well as rote memorization of vocabulary and standard phrases.
posted by solotoro at 9:39 AM on May 22, 2011

There are several decent books to learn from, but you really want to find someone local or online to work with you on speaking. My advice is not to try to learn the written form first as it's a complex alphabet, but to focus on speaking and listening. The Huffman series & the Tuttle Practical dictionary helped me most, but that was nearly ten years ago and my Khmer has rusted to very basic now! The books are pretty cheap on Amazon, and there are several new types, get a couple and pick one.

To find a local Khmer-speaker, try your local university and buddhist temples in the area. If you put in some time ahead of going to Siem Reap, once you're there, your language will improve pretty quickly and there are plenty of good Khmer-language teachers who are used to working with English speakers.

There are a bunch of sounds not in English and the formal language is not quite how people speak, so I would strongly recommend getting a conversation partner or a tutor.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:06 AM on May 23, 2011

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