Story for Learning Khmer with Audio and Transcript: Buying Coffee

Buying Coffee Story Khmer smallIn a previous post I shared a set of 60 free “mini-stories” that I had translated into Khmer and recorded to help myself and other learners pick up the language through listening to comprehensible input.

Here I share a simple story about buying coffee that I wrote in English and had translated into Khmer:

Buying Coffee story – Khmer transcript and English original (Google Spreadsheet)

Buying Coffee story (mp3)

Buying Coffee – Questions & Answers (mp3)

Like the mini-stories, this story is told and then many questions are asked about each sentence in the story.

For this story, many different questions are asked for each sentence from the story: Yes-or-no questions, and who, what, when, where, and why questions.

An advantage of this kind of content is that you are hearing the same language over and over again in different ways.

All this repetition makes it easier to follow and understand the story, and also helps you to remember and pick up the words and structures that are used.

You also get to hear many common grammatical forms again and again, such as how different kinds of questions are asked in Khmer.

By paying attention to the questions and trying to answer them, you are also learning to think in Khmer.

Enjoy! Any corrections, suggestions, and feedback are welcome. As well, I would welcome additional recordings of these stories, so that learners can hear a variety of voices and speaking styles.

Buying Coffee រឿងទិញកាហ្វេ
It’s nine o’clock in the morning. ម៉ោង០៩.០០ព្រឹក
Chris arrives at his office. គ្រិសមកដល់ការិយាល័យរបស់គាត់។
He has to work, but he is too tired. គាត់ត្រូវតែធ្វើការ ប៉ុន្តែគាត់ហត់ពេក
He feels very tired because he didn’t sleep enough last night. គាត់មានអារម្មណ៏ហត់ខ្លាំងព្រោះគាត់មិនបានគេងគ្រប់គ្រាន់កាលពីយប់មិញ។
He wants to drink some coffee. គាត់ចង់ផឹកកាហ្វេ
He thinks that if he drinks some coffee, he will feel less tired and be able to work. គាត់គិតថាបើសិនគាត់ផឹកកាហ្វេ គាត់នឹងលែងសូវហត់ និងអាចធ្វើការបាន
So, he goes outside to buy some coffee. ដូច្នេះគាត់ចេញទៅក្រៅ ទៅទិញកាហ្វេ
He sees a coffee shop near the building where he works, but it is closed. គាត់មើលឃើញហាងលក់កាហ្វេមួយនៅជិតអាគារកន្លែងធ្វើការគាត់ ប៉ុន្តែហាងនេះបិទទ្វារ
So he walks down the street to look for another coffee shop. ដូច្នេះ គាត់ក៏ដើរទៅរកហាងលក់កាហ្វេមួយផ្សេងទៀត។
He finds a Starbucks and he goes inside. គាត់ឃើញហាងកាហ្វេស្តារបាក់ ហើយដើរចូលទៅខាងក្នុង
He orders a large cup of hot coffee. គាត់ទិញកាហ្វេក្តៅមួយកែវធំ
The cup of coffee costs three dollars. កាហ្វេមួយពែងថ្លៃបីដុល្លារ។
He pays three dollars for the coffee. គាត់ចេញថ្លៃបីដុល្លារសម្រាប់កាហ្វេ។
He adds milk and sugar to the coffee. គាត់ដាក់ទឹកដោះគោនិងស្ករសចូលកាហ្វេ
He goes back to his office with his coffee. គាត់ត្រឡប់ទៅការិយាល័យធ្វើការជាមួយនឹងកាហ្វេរបស់គាត់
He drinks the coffee and feels more awake. គាត់ផឹកកាហ្វេ ហើយមានអារម្មណ៏លែងសូវងងុយដេក
Now he is ready to work. ឥឡូវ គាត់ត្រៀមខ្លួនរួចរាល់ធ្វើការ។

Pick up Khmer with Free Khmer Language Lesson Videos

Free Khmer Lessons - Natural Khmer YouTube channelThe Khmer language school LINK, or Language Institute of Natural Khmer, closed down in 2016, but its YouTube channel remains online with more than 60 videos that you can use to help you pick up Khmer.

What makes these different from almost all other language teaching videos is that they’re designed for everyone, regardless of first language, to pick up the language from without translation.

The Khmer teachers do this by using a lot of non-verbal communication like pictures, drawings, props, and gestures to make the meaning of what they are saying understandable.

With this kind of understandable experience with language, known as comprehensible input, we can learn languages without conscious study.

This is the basis of the Automatic Language Growth approach used by LINK, which suggests adults can learn languages as well and as easily as children routinely do with the right experience and approach.

If you’re unfamiliar with this approach, the best way to understand it better is to just watch some of the videos, starting with their sample beginner classes, or their set of 60 lessons:

These lessons cover many topics from Khmer family words to Khmer numbers to cultural differences like Cambodian and Western breakfasts.

Some of the videos have conversations where a Cambodian person speaks Khmer and a foreigner speaks English or French:

In the ALG approach used by LINK, conversations like this where each person speaks their own language are known as Crosstalk.

With Crosstalk, each speaker uses non-verbal communication as needed to make themselves understood, and as participants understand more and more of each other’s language the need for non-verbal communication decreases.

(This playlist has just the videos with Crosstalk, while this one has the other videos that use Khmer only:)

In all these video lessons total around two to three hours. While this isn’t enough content to learn a great deal of Khmer from, this content is still a way for beginners and even more advanced learners to pick up vocabulary and hear how it is used in context.

In the near future, we may see much more highly understandable content like this, perhaps even enough that one can learn a lot of the language just by watching it without any other study and practice.

Beginner Khmer Lesson Videos

If you’re new to the Khmer language, there are some videos that provide a great introduction to the language of Cambodia entirely in the language.

These YouTube videos are demonstrations of beginner classes at LINK (Language Institute of Natural Khmer), a school that taught Khmer using a natural approach of picking up the language through listening to interesting comprehensible input.

The videos contain a lot of basic vocabulary, phrases, and concepts from everyday life in Cambodia, and are worth watching repeatedly.

Here is the first one:

Even if you are a total beginner in Khmer, you will find that with repeated viewing, the meanings of more and more words start to become clear.

You might find that you even understand some words on the first viewing, but if you feel like you don’t understand anything, don’t be discouraged.

Focus on what’s happening and what the teachers are communicating with their pictures, just making guesses rather than focusing on trying to work out the language.

After watching a few times this way and perhaps coming back to it after a day or two, you may be surprised to find that many things suddenly make more sense.

Here’s another video with a similar beginner class demonstration:

If you watch this video after viewing the first one a number of times, you may find that some words “click” for you when you hear them again in a slightly different context.

You may be wondering: why not just give translations of the words to teach them?

One main reason for this is the approach used by schools like LINK, called Automatic Language Growth, which is intended to provide the foundation from which you can develop a very high level of fluency.

Really knowing a word and being able to use it fluently like a native speaker means among other things, being able to pronounce it clearly, understand its correct usage, and having it come to mind without having to translate.

These things come not from simply knowing a translation for the word, but from having many understandable experiences with that word that come from hearing it in a variety of contexts.

The focus of the teaching at schools like LINK is to provide these kind of experiences in abundance.

With this in mind, the approach also recommends a “silent period” listening to a new language with understanding for many hours, without trying to produce it or analyze it by doing things like comparing it to one’s first language.

By allowing speaking to emerge naturally and gradually without forcing it, you can avoid the problems many adult learners have in second languages such as unclear pronunciation and “broken” grammar.

As words become clearer over time through understandable experience, you will eventually start to be able to produce the language correctly and with good pronunciation without conscious effort.

This blog will look at methods and resources to get these understandable experiences in Khmer.

While the school has since closed, LINK’s YouTube channel remains and beyond their sample beginner classes is a lot more content, which we’ll take a look at it in another post.