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Speaking Khmer in Cambodia

Hi everyone,

It is widely agreed that speaking Khmer is essential for a successful integration in Cambodia. Do you agree? Share your experience!

Do you speak Khmer? If so, where did you learn this language? Where can one attend a language course in Cambodia?

If not, how do you cope with daily activities? Is it easy to communicate in a different language with Cambodians?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Dear Prisila,

the first time you can learn on youtube, and for daily activity you can learn from your khmer friend.
for me khmer native.
thx Nita,

Moderated by Bhavna 10 months ago
Reason : Foul language
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I'm hopeless at foreign languages. I've been here 10 years and only know a few useful Khmer words. Fortunately, my family is better at languages and even the kids speak English. I wish I could speak the language, but even when I try i mispronounce words. Sometimes that can be embarrassing because a slight mispronunciation can be a word with a completely different meaning.

No...... It's dangerous. The medical sucks and the corruption is just crazy. I saw a Moto driver get into a crash with a car. Blood all over the road. Honestly. I cried..... I'm leaving it's way to dangerous here.

Yes

Hello everyone,

Thank you for your contribution.

Just would like to make a little reminder that the topic here is "Speaking Khmer in Cambodia" so do not hesitate to share your experience concerning the topic.

Thank you,
Christine
Expat.com

My wife and I have lived here for the last 18 months and intend on staying here. I am slowly learning Khmer. My wife has picked it up really quickly. Even if you have only a very limited vocabulary it still opens doors with the locals as you are trying. We live in an exclusive Khmer area so it forces us to learn to communicate in the local language. We also have two Khmer girls that live with us who also have very good English.

Its not Very  easy to learn Khmer, there should be a language course in Phnom Penh but also you can have a friend, in this case always better someone who needs help, and practice with him or her. There are volunteer jobs where you can work with childeren, this also another option but at first try to learn numbers or introducing yourself where you are from etc. that would help a lot, its make them happy even if you speak some.  Good luck

I know more Thai than Khmer. It's a better language, harder, but you can communicate with Lao people since the language is somewhat like Portuguese to Spanish or Irish Gaelic to Scottish Gaelic.

Just moved to Phnom Penh and would love to learn Khmer- if anyone knows of a tutor could give couple classes a week would be great thanks . Fiona....

Speak Thai or Lao. They love it and you get local pricing

I speak German or french or Spanish... no Thai or Lao- hence the search for a Khmer tutor.
F

If you are interested I can put you in contact with my Khmer teacher. He is a young Khmer who has decided to branch-out and free lance. Easy going and will teach you what you wan to know.

Would love that thanks. No time like the present in starting. If you could send me his email or number if he is ok with that that'd be cool.
Enjoy your weekend
Fiona

Learning the language of the country you reside is a must to do. The language is the heart of the culture. Living in a country without understanding what your neighbours say or think is to live "lost in translation". You lost probably 70% of information around you. You know the "National news" of Cambodia throughout the news of your own country that mentions Cambodia very seldom.

It is already a challenge to understand the deep meanings of culture, traditions and mentality. Therefore, the language is the first entrance area to the country. Spending some months to learn Khmer is a real great investment if you want to spend a part of your life in Cambodia. Phnom Penh is, without doubt, the first headquarters of the best Khmer Language Schools (KLS), being the Royal University of Phnom Penh the first good recommended one. But most provinces have some KLS that you could detect asking friends and locals. Tutors can be good, but it is more advisable to learn in groups and to frequent local environments such as markets, sport clubs, etc, where you will have the opportunity to get in touch with Cambodians (not your "Cambodian-English-Speaking friends", who will not help you to learn Khmer at all, because they will keep you in the English zone, making your mind more lazy and comfortable in an eternal Translation-World).

Khmer Language is difficult - but which foreign language is easy? Evidently, languages related to your own native language will be easier for you. But for an Asian, your language could be far beyond any logical human comprehension too. So keep away that idea of Khmer Language as difficult, because it is also a human language, able to be talked as any other human language on Earth.

I would recommend the following things for those who want to get some Khmer Language (KL):

1) Establish the level of KL you want: basic conversation (it is enough if you need to be in Cambodia for a short time such as one year) or an intermediate level if you want to be longer. Make it clear to your teachers and people around you.

2) Take the two main topics of KL learning: a) Conversation & b) Reading. You can get these two topics in 3 months / 4 days per week / 24 hours month. Don't be lazy to face the long Khmer alphabet. At the beginning you will see monsters, but in one week of work you will get the sense. If you know some reading, you will get a better pronunciation and, the best part, the word around you will get more sense (just reading signs on the street and labels on the food). Advice: Ask a Cambodian to write for you words you know in Khmer letters, for example your name, the name of your country, words in Khmer taking from other languages such as cafe, computer, Internet... For example: អ៊ីនធើណែ is Internet... so you can start to match phonemes: អ៊ីន = In / ធើ = te / ណែ = ne

3) Try to talk with Cambodians who does not speak English. Don't lost your temper if they don't understand at the beginning or if they find your talking so funny. Actually it will help you to correct. Children, teenagers, sellers, farmers... are the best informal teachers.

4) Learn which sounds are not in Khmer Language. It helps you to improve your pronunciation. If your language has a strong R or S, get to know that Khmer does not have such phonemes (at least so strong).

សំណាងល្អ :)

many thnks for your detailed reply and quantifying it by hours - yes i start my first conversation tomorrow with a gentleman who seems enthusiastic to teach me so i look forward to it - i have taken on board your suggestion re khmer alphabet and will also throw that into the mix!! lots of khmer sounds not already in my language hence difficulties pronouncing and hearing same.
the kids are great but all i'm getting is hello so am gonna start practising with some of them soon!! god love them...
fiona

I would like to study with a khmer teacher ..
xxx
Ezekiel

Moderated by Bhavna 9 months ago
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Albeiror24 :

Learning the language of the country you reside is a must to do. The language is the heart of the culture. Living in a country without understanding what your neighbours say or think is to live "lost in translation". You lost probably 70% of information around you. You know the "National news" of Cambodia throughout the news of your own country that mentions Cambodia very seldom.

It is already a challenge to understand the deep meanings of culture, traditions and mentality. Therefore, the language is the first entrance area to the country.

I like your post a lot (the rest of it as well, but that's my favourite part). I've seen so many expats living a great life, but unfortunately they don't know what they're missing if they don't speak more than a few dozen words of the local language.

I speak two foreign (European) languages fluently, and I know a little bit of Thai, but the big problem with Khmer and Thai is the alphabet, it's almost a "deal-breaker". Most beginner courses include transcriptions so that you don't have to learn it right away, but that won't get you very far (in my opinion), since you'll always depend on someone else's interpretation of how a particular word is pronounced, and you can't use a dictionary to look up new words. So, although most tutors will probably tell you otherwise, my advice would be to start with the alphabet.

Right now, I'm in the process of learning the Thai alphabet (Khmer will be next) with the help of a flashcards app on my smartphone (I'm using an app called Flashcards Deluxe, I think it wasn't free, but it allows to add sounds and images to each card, and it has a big database of sets to download from, but I'm sure there are other apps that are just as good...). I highly recommend to consider either using actual flashcards or an app, I think it's the fastest way to learn stuff.

The great thing about learning the alphabet is how good it feels when you start being able to read little words you see on a menu, or part of an advertisement on a truck that's passing by: that's when you say to yourself: I just have to keep on learning!

Just my 2 cents... ;)

I'm considering a possible move to Cambodia next year. At 72 the thought of learning still another language leaves me cold. I do speak serviceable Vietnamese and have 21 semester hours of Vietnamese language credits on my B.A. transcript. I grew up speaking some Spanish and in the mid 1970s, while stationed in Japan for a couple of years, picked up serviceable, but now long forgotten Japanese.

Will Vietnamese and English do for getting around? Is Cambodian tonal like Vietnamese and if so are the tones similar? Is it anything like Japanese with separate dominance dialects where men and women speak different dialects?

During the War, I did have a number of Cambodian Sailor friends. I got a kick out of seeing the used ammo boxes attached to the patrol boats filled with soil and growing green tea.

Also, I understand that my VN Driver's license is good ASEAN wide. Is this true?

Thank you.

At 63 I'm trying to learn Khmer to the amusement of my teacher. It's good as I'm learning a lot about the culture as I go. Try it out on the locals and they help you work through what you are saying. As for the license now you don't need a moto license up to 125cc. To get a car license take your current license and passport to an agent, many around the place, they will organise it for you.

Hi! Where do you take your classes? Am moving to PP in a month and would like to pick up the language...

"Khmer Language is difficult - but which foreign language is easy?

Probably one that doesn't have 72 letters in the alphabet as Cambodian does.  Plus consonants are divided into two groups and thanks to a set of complicated rules vowels usually have two pronunciations depending on the consonant they follow.  Added to this there's no separation of words in a sentence.  I.e. no space between the words.  Sentences just chug on like a freight train.

And no the language is not tonal, Thank God.

If Khmer is anything like Thai, the written language should be much simpler than Japanese. While learning Vietnamese, I was fortunate enough to at the Intermediate Level to have an Instructor with a PhD in Phonics stick his hand in my mouth and twist my tung into positions and locations that it had never been before. Does Khmer have any of that?

Does Khmer have anything like this?

https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/japanes … -language/
Feb 5, 2014 - Talk like a girl or boy in Japanese, depending how you want to sound. ... is to make female speech sound “softer” and more “submissive.

. While learning Vietnamese, I was fortunate enough to at the Intermediate Level to have an Instructor with a PhD in Phonics stick his hand in my mouth and twist my tung into positions and locations that it had never been before. Does Khmer have any of that?

Khmer has a few vowel sounds that English speakers make only when they are extremely sick.

. While learning Vietnamese, I was fortunate enough to at the Intermediate Level to have an Instructor with a PhD in Phonics stick his hand in my mouth and twist my tung into positions and locations that it had never been before. Does Khmer have any of that?

Khmer has a few vowel sounds that English speakers make only when they are extremely sick.

I have the Vietnamese ASEAN Drivers License and a 1963 Jeep CJ-5 registered in Viet Nam. What do I need to drive my jeep into Cambodia? I'm particularly concerned about insurance.

You also can drive car in Cambodia, but you have to go to ask permit or license from Ministry of transportation. If you need my assistance, I will tell you about it more detail.

Of course, i speak Khmer because I am Cambodia. Learning Khmer is not different to other language, you have to remember more word and sentences. If you want to learn it faster, please hire  a Cambodian Teacher.

As it is a six hour drive from TP HCM to Phnom Penh, I may be bringing some one with me who speaks Vietnamese and Lao to translate for me on Cambodian portion of the drive. Are Lao and Khmer related enough to be understandable?

No Laotian is tonal and more closely related to Thai.  You will need a Khmer speaker unless you are lucky enough to deal with an official who can grunt understand me  monosyllables of English.

Thank you. It looks like about a six hour drive. But having an English or Vietnamese/ Khmer along for the ride would be a good idea.

I am new to this platform. It's an old topic but hope this can help. If Priscilla is in Siem Reap, I can suggest some good flexible lessons for basic or higher lever.
Of course, speaking the language of the country you are in is very crucial and helpful. Not everyone can converse with you in English or another language... And knowing the native tongue is just another adventure into a culture of hearing and understanding... Thanks everyone for your great love of Cambodia..

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