Raising Bilingual Children with Rikker Dockum: Thai Language Series 4 – Bangkok Podcast (1.16)

2017-10-18T21:48:02+07:00August 29th, 2010|Bangkok Podcast Season 1, Thai Language Series|4 Comments

In our continuing Thai language series, we talk to ‘Thai Language Jedi’ Rikker Dockum about the complexities of raising a bilingual child.

In this episode Rikker elightens us on what it’s like to raise a child in a bilingual country and household. Seeing that Tony and Greg have exactly 0 children each, Rikker – as a father of two – is much more qualified to tell us about what teaching methods work best, how a child percieves language, and the fears that any parent has when trying to teach their child the skills that will help them in life.

Greg also vents about an injustice toward a Thai garbage collector, and Tony talks about his video project with Prae ‘Fluke’ Sunantaraks (who you may remember as our first guest), which may see them chosen to attend the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

Show Links:

Losing Light


  1. Brook September 3, 2010 at 11:15 am - Reply

    We’re in Tony and Greg’s shoes in that we also are yet to have children. But, when moving to Thailand a bit more than a year ago, we were joined by a Swedish family who’s children spoke exactly zero English and zero Thai. Over the course of our 6 months together we were all amazed at how much the kids were able to learn of both languages while also learning to speak more and more of their Swedish, native tongue. The key? They played with kids.

    Kids playing together need to communicate to play. They are forced to learn in order to play and get to know each other. Now a year later, they came over for a meal at our new home here in Bangkok and these kids were running around yelling English, Swedish and Thai depending on how they felt. I was amazed. So, my thoughts without having children myself? Get them playing with other kids who natively speak the language you want them to pick up…

    Another great Podcast guys!

    • Tony September 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      I totally agree about children playing together. I do Japanese/English language exchange and I’m always amazed at how fast my student’s children learn just by playing with other kids. In many ways I think they learn more than what is taught in school

  2. Arthur Longhurst August 2, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    I was born in Chile and my mother is Chilean and my father English. I went to England as a baby. My mother hated learning English and my Dad had become fluent in Spanish. They always spoke Spanish at home. When I went to school at 5 I couldn’t speak English. When I went to school I was completely lost. The headmaster of the school teacher told my mother that he never wanted to hear me speak anything other than Engish. From that day on my parents never spoke to me in Spanish again. When I was at University I went to Chile for the first time and none of my Chilean family spoke English so I had to learn Spanish quickly. I found that after 2 months I became quite fluent. 4 years later I went back again for a 4 week holiday and I had to relearn Spanish again. After that holiday I did evening classes in UK in Spanish.

    No Spanish is by no means fluent. I hardly speak it now (some 25 years later) but I found learning Spanish fairly easy. I was amazed how much was buried in the back of mind, I almost knew some it subconsciously.

    Despite being in my early 50’s I still feel a pang of regret that my parents missed the opportunity of me being bilingual English-Spanish. I think my parents were frightened that I would suffer prejudice (1970’s UK wasn’t as cosmopolitan as it is now) and they might have been right because I did suffer some discrimination as a child.

    Now I’m learning Thai and I like it a lot.

    Thank you for a fascinating podcast.

    • Greg August 4, 2017 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Thanks Arthur, interesting insights! Things were definitely different back then. My mother bemoans the expectation of women when she was younger – she was expected to marry a guy, pop out some kids, and let him take care of her. No one ever told her what to do if she ended up a single mother. 🙂 But like you said, it’s usually buried back there in the dark corners of your brain.

      You might also enjoy listening to a recent episode (2.41) where we talk with polyglot Stu Jay Raj, if you haven’t already.

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